Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Guilty as charged?

Controversy has run rampant over the last couple of years concerning Chick-fil-A's stance on issues of marriage and homosexuality.

I have linked to an article by Shane Windmeyer (an activist in the LBGT community) concerning his talks with Dan Cathy (Chick-fil-A's president)...talks that were carried out as "people with opposing views, not opposing people".

In the end, it is not about eating (or eating a certain chicken sandwich). It is about sitting down at a table together and sharing our views as human beings, engaged in real, respectful, civil dialogue. Dan would probably call this act the biblical definition of hospitality. I would call it human decency. So long as we are all at the same table and talking, does it matter what we call it or what we eat?

Take a few moments to read and reflect on two people in the middle of a divisive issue who desire honest dialogue based on trust...

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Year

Since our Christian faith finds it's beginnings in Judaism, I am always curious about it's customs. 

I was surprised to find that last Friday (1/25/13) was Tu B'shevat, the New Year for the Trees. It has to do with Tithing of trees which produce fruit and nuts and counting their recent years it has become a celebration of ecological awareness and trees are planted.

Who knew the ancient Israelites were in the forefront of conservation...

Which are you?

(I tried to find the author of this story but could not...if you know, please let us know!)

Carrots, Eggs, Or Coffee

A young woman went to her Grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was go
ing to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.

Her Grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.

She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her Granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft and mushy. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardened egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.

The daughter smiled as she tasted its deep flavor and inhaled its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What's the point, Grandma?"

Her Grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin, outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her Granddaughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong? But with pain and adversity, do I wilt and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a fluid spirit but, after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water - the very circumstance that brings the adversity, the pain, the hardship – into something quite wonderful. When the water gets hot, it releases it's fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better, and change the situation around you for the better.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?


~ Author Unknown

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gifts in Community....

Nadia Bolz Weber has a unique way of putting words together. More than once, as I have read copies of her sermons, I've had to pause...because she just explained something, in words I understand, that I had been struggling to wrap my head around...this week is no different. Her sermon is on Spiritual Gifts...

And the gifts he lists are awesome: wisdom, knowledge, faith, discernment, miracles, prophesy. But the point is this: It all makes sense to me that we need some people who are wise and some who are discerning and some who have knowledge.  But what struck me this week was that included on the list of gifts from the spirit that some have and some don’t but that are given for the good of the whole: is faith.
Faith.  The thing Christians torture themselves about having or not having or having enough of.

And unlike singular gifts of prophesying or knowledge, or teaching yoga, we assume faith is the mark of the Christian.  Weren’t most of us taught that we must, as individual Christians have the right quantity and quality of faith?  Yet faith is listed among all the gifts allotted to some people for the sake of the whole.  In a way, it kind of takes the pressure off.  That is not to say that Faith is not critically important.  It is.  Clearly it is.  It’s just that I think God doesn’t necessarily give faith in sufficient quantity to individuals.  God gives it to in sufficient quantity to communities.

Which is really kind of beautiful. It’s a real hang up to a lot of people…maybe even you…you worry you don’t have faith, because you don’t always intellectually ascent to a certain set of theological ideas.  But what Paul seems to be saying is that maybe faith isn’t everyone’s spiritual gift.  Maybe the Spirit creates more faith is some people than others but that their faith is for the common good of us all.  That feels like a blessed relief to me.

I encourage you to read the entire piece...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What we do

...or don't do!

Chatty Baby!

This was too funny not to share...obviously the "captions" are a joke...but then again, who knows what she is actually trying to say. We know that children learn by imitation...could it be that her parents are rather "chatty" themselves?

I'm really glad no one made a video of my children when they were that age!

Friday, January 25, 2013


How can we show grace in such a way that all men know that it is a gift from the Father? Do we so order our lives that all can see the esteem with which we hold this gift? After all, God's grace implies "the state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God". And yet, as with any gift, we can set it aside at any time. God does not force His grace upon us...and we are nothing without it.

Holes in the darkness...

On Tuesday, Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas was the preacher at the 2013 Inaugural Prayer Service at the National Cathedral.

You can read a transcript of his message here...

In it, he mentioned a story from the childhood of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island...

In 19th century Scotland Robert Louis Stevenson, and his family lived on a hillside overlooking a small town. Robert was intrigued by the work of the old lamplighters who went about with a ladder and a torch, lighting the street lights for the night. The lamplighter would approach first one street light then another, lighting each one along the way. 

One evening, as Robert stood watching with fascination, his parents asked him "Robert, what in the world are you looking at out there?" With great excitement he exclaimed: "Look at that man! He's punching holes in the darkness! 

I must admit this is the first time I've heard that story...but it resonated with thoughts and ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for some time now. You know, those nebulous type that you can't really put into words and you can't seem to organize because you can't name them?  But now I can, "punching holes in the darkness" this is what we are called to be about!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Right and Wrong

Facebook envy?

I've always looked at Facebook as a way to keep up with Youth and with friends / family I don't get to see often...didn't realize there was envy associated with it...

 A study conducted jointly by two German universities found rampant envy on Facebook, the world's largest social network that has more than 1 billion users and has produced an unprecedented platform for social comparison.

The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.

You can read the rest here..

Then ask yourself, if I am envious of the lives of others, what can I do to change my life or outlook? Or am I really taking this casual information way too seriously?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This was originally posted on 9/19/08 but I felt it was time to pull it out again...

It has been said that truth, goodness and beauty are the 3 fundamental values. Anything worth anything can be judged by these 3 standards. Everything is either true or false, good or evil, beautiful or ugly. But do we see the beauty in our world?

Have you ever heard "Stop and smell the roses"? Not only does this statement encourage us to slow down but also to observe the world around us.

Not long ago Gene Weingarten staged an experiment during morning rush hour in Washington DC. A normal looking, youngish white man in jeans, long sleeve t-shirt and a baseball cap went into the subway station, removed a violin from its case and began to play. He left the case open and put a few dollars in it to encourage people to give but the main focus was to see how many people would stop and listen to the beautiful music. You see, the young man playing was Joshua Bell who is one of the finest classical musicians in the world and he was playing on a Stradivarius violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

During the next 43 minutes he performed 6 classical pieces and 1,097 people passed by...did they recognize the beauty in their midst? No. He was almost entirely ignored...out of all the people who passed (1,097) only six or seven people even noticed.

Some might say that it was because of the type of music as many are not classical music lovers; but this goes deeper than that. We have become so wrapped up in our own lives that we cannot (or do not) take the time to observe what is all around us. God is beauty and true beauty, wherever it resides, is a glimpse of God Himself. Take some time to see Him in your world.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


 These are excerpts from a blog called "Barefoot and Pregnant"....
She has some excellent insights to the way so many of us cling to our own doctrine and refuse to hear truth from any other place. Why is it we refuse to accept that those who practice their faith differently from us are not totally wrong. Just like we are not totally right. Truth is truth and can be spoken by anyone willing to open their mind, heart and mouth...regardless of the price.
“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do.
What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God. ”       Flannery O'Connor

  I don’t have to defend the faith on all sides lest it collapse; it won’t collapse, because it is truth. Most of all, though, I no longer have to be afraid of finding truth outside my own belief system. There is truth everywhere, in all religions. God loves us so much that he reaches out to us in every way he can. I believe that Catholicism is the most fully realized, most complete path to Christ on this earth, but I also believe that truth is not confined to one set of doctrines, one branch of Protestantism, one prayer that must be prayed to achieve salvation. It cannot be, or it would be nothing more than Flannery’s electric blanket, keeping a select few warm, requiring nothing from them, and leaving all the rest out in the cold. Truth is so much larger than that. God is so much vaster than we imagine. And we are not passive vehicles in the terrible drama of redemption, dung-hills being covered by Christ just because.

 Do not be afraid to doubt. Truth will always stand against honest examination. Only the lies will crumble. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Wilderness Time

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays many of us find ourselves in the wilderness. Our schedules are not so full, the shopping is finished and the gifts have been given, we've visited with friends and family that we don't see but once or twice a year. The winter cold hits us full on and forces us to limit our activities. So what do we do with ourselves?
We cannot live and love and engage life in meaningful ways without sometimes ending up in the wilderness. It is those times when we feel we are tested to our limits. I've heard it described as dry, desolate, lonely, trying, difficult, agonizing. But it's important that we realize that the wilderness is a time for learning. And prioritizing.

At different times during our lives, we are presented with many options as to how to use our resources, time, abilities, and influence. Without a clear sense of what is most important, we can spend it all and at the end of the day find that we have not taken care of what matters most.

Jesus’ time in the wilderness was spent getting a clear picture of God’s will for His life. Satan tried to tempt Him with wealth, fame, and power to get Him to deviate from His mission. If He had been less than the Son of God, or if He had not spent these lonely hours understanding what His ministry was to be, Satan may have been successful.

Wilderness time can test our values and our priorities. Even though this time may be lonely and oh, so painful, it can yield more spiritual growth than the good times. These are the times we learn about ourselves...who we are at our core. If we don't take stock of ourselves, life can just go along without much thought or purpose. We may come to the end and recognize how much we have squandered.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Again from Busted Halo, a take on the spiritual side of some of the films nominated for awards this year...whether or not you agree with their assessment, the article will provoke some thought. And in my case,
perhaps some discussion with the young people I lead.

Time and again I am disappointed with the amount of history taught in our schools these days. I suppose the focus has changed since I was a child but I cannot help but worry about the lack of education in this area. While I recognize a couple of cliche's...such as "those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it" and the ever present "the history of an event is written by the victor", it is still no excuse NOT to fill those eager brains with as much knowledge as possible.

I have personally only seen one of this year's crop...Les Miserables, but having seen the play more than once, there were no surprises there. I hope to see Lincoln, Life of Pi and perhaps Argo but must confess I probably won't until they are released on DVD. From the descriptions and trailers, I don't intend to see either Zero Dark Thirty or Django Unchained. I'm not making a commentary about either, it's just a personal choice.

With any film that delves into controversial subjects or contain more than a little of the director and / or producers personal beliefs, I feel that if our young people watch movies like these, we should be there with them. More times than not it provides an excellent opportunity for discussion and for teaching and those instances are never a waste of time.

Body Image

As always happens, the "New Year" brings body image (and self image) issues to a head. After all, we seem to be constantly inundated with gym memberships, diet plans, and a hundred other ways to spend our money and make us "look" better. But according to whom? To those who love and cherish us, or to those whose pockets we are filling?

Why aren't we encouraged to focus on being healthy in our mind, body and spirit rather than to just be a size Zero? However are we supposed to compete with the cult of celebrity? Those who say that if you are larger than this, you're fat and not worthy...if you don't use these products, your hair, teeth, face, fingernails aren't perfect so you are not worthy...if you don't wear these clothes, shoes, sunglasses or drive this car or take these vacations you are not worthy. If you don't fit into the media stereotype then you deserve to be ridiculed because you are not worthy. Really? Am I supposed to judge myself against society's photo-shopped, surgically enhanced standards? Are we to believe that our outward appearance is the true measure by which we should be judged?

It is no wonder that studies show our children are suffering. How could they ever hope to compete? Even worse, why are we teaching them that they are supposed to compete on these levels? What about the hundreds and thousands and millions of beautiful minds and souls? Doesn't the Bible teach us that God looks at our hearts? If you feel then need to make a resolution for the New Year, why not choose one that really matters? Commit to love, nurture and encourage yourself and those around you to be as beautiful as you and they can be...from the inside.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I saw this at Busted Halo today...thought it was worth sharing...

Unable to rest in anything we achieve, we determine to forget our discontent in a ceaseless quest for new satisfactions. In this pursuit, desire itself becomes our chief satisfaction. —                                          Thomas Merton

For the rest of the day, lay aside all wants, desires and wishes, and try to be content with the things you already have.


Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday is actually January 15th although it is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of January. A clergyman with tremendous speaking abilities, a non-violent activist and icon, he was a driving force in the civil rights movement. 

Whether one agrees with his ideals or not, it must be said that he did his job well...which brings me to one of his quotes:

 If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

There are times in my life when these words have been an inspiration to me. 

I have been blessed to be allowed to work with the young people in our church and in that light, have had no need of these words. It has been in the secular work that I do that they have more than once put my feet back on the right path. To remind me that although this may not be the work of my heart, it does keep the bills paid and should be seen as honorable....and if honorable, then worth my best effort.

It's all too easy to give less than our best effort to tasks that we don't love. To make believe that my employer should be happy that I show up each day and do the things that only I know how to do...sounds silly doesn't it? I can't imagine the boss would be too thrilled if he knew the thoughts that run through my head at times. 

But then I am pulled back to the quote and recognize that although there isn't anyone  trained to do my work right now, I am not the only one who can do it. I'll bet there are many out there that would jump at the opportunity to be where I relative comfort and without someone looking over my shoulder. I certainly don't have to work as hard as a street sweeper!

I know that Dr. King didn't have me in mind when he wrote this quote...but I owe it to those who depend on me (both at home and at work) to strive to be like the person who inspired his thoughts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Measuring by Jesus

....Over one hundred years ago, a well-respected teacher of ethics said that there are basically two ways to determine moral obligation. One way calculates the kind of end desired by action. The other way stresses the value of those receiving our action. The first emphasizes subjective prerogative and our ability to determine outcomes. The second emphasizes the objective worth of others. These two are not automatically in conflict, but when a desire for outcomes uses others, something is wrong.

 ...Let’s face it, few outside the church care if our respective denominations live or die, and I don’t blame them. Time and again my friends (many non-Christian) tell me that they could care less about fashionable attempts to attract them. If anything, they want Christians to be – well, Christian. By that they mean loving in the way that Jesus taught. I work with some hardboiled characters, and they tell me that the only thing that gets their attention is a life well lived. They admire unceremoniously compelling people. They say that such examples challenge and invite them into a more meaningful life. The last thing these friends respond to is one more “brand” concerned about its survival. They know when they are valued because of their intrinsic worth and when they are being considered targets of some organizational agenda.

Read the rest of the article, here...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another's wounds. Let's remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.
                                                                              Henri Nouwen

Monday, January 14, 2013

The real Schindler's list...

According to the LA Times, Leon Leyson died this past Saturday at the age of 83. Mr. Leyson was the youngest Jew saved from persecution during WWII by German industrialist Oskar Schindler. At the time he was chosen, he was an emaciated 13 year old who had to stand on a box to reach the machinery in the Krakow factory where he and his family were sheltered by Schindler.

Mr. Leyson was reluctant to speak about his experiences mainly because “he didn't think anybody was interested...” but also because having been given a second chance he just wanted to get on with life. He never let the Holocaust define him. He did not want to give his children a legacy of fear but of freedom.

After viewing the movie “Schindler's List”, Mr. Leyson said it felt like an out-of-body experience. “Because those little kids who were running away from the Nazi's, and hiding in attic crawl spaces, that was me and my friends.” His only criticism of the film was that he felt it “over-emphasized” Schindler's imperfections. The film did not show enough of the the businessman's “basic human decency”. By sheltering those that he did, he put everything on the line...”even to treat us as human beings was against the law”. Mr. Leyson did work 12 hour shifts like an adult but because he was so weak, Schindler doubled his rations and even took him off the line when it affected his eyesight. He added Leyson's siblings and his mother to his list to keep them together.

Mr. Leyson saw him again when Schindler made a trip to L.A in 1974 (just before he died). Leyson joined a group of survivors who wanted to meet the man that they regarded as a savior at the airport. Even after all the decades, when Mr. Leyson started to introduce himself, he found it wasn't necessary. “I know who you are,” Schindler said to the middle aged man before him, “you're Little Leyson”.

Most movies are meant purely for entertainment but from time to time they can remind us of people and events that should not be forgotten.,0,3835673.story

Thursday, January 10, 2013

God's plan

We have heard it said, "Everything that happens to us passes through God's hands" other words He either causes it to happen, or allows it to...

I cannot tell you how many times I've been in situations where I ask (sometimes through gritted teeth)..."Father, what am I supposed to be learning from this?" I wish I could say I look at every situation that way, but I don''s prayer is that I face each moment of each day open to God's direction.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Maternal Love

Excellent sermon by Caitlin Kennell Kim:

Oh, My God: Maternal Love and the Cross

On March 7, 2008 at approximately three o’clock in the afternoon Theodore Xavier Kim had his first shots … four of them. Now, it should be noted that I love my son’s pediatrician. I’m using the word LOVE here. But when she stuck four very big needles into my very little baby as he screamed and cried so hard that his perfect little inny bellybutton became an outie, I had several thoughts:

#1: The part of my mind hard-wired like that of any self-respecting tigress screamed: “This little 90 pound … witch … is hurting my son. It is incumbent upon me as his mother to hurl her like a javelin into the waiting room, grab my poor half-naked shrieking baby, and run screaming through traffic, half ambulance siren and half Amazon battle cry.”

#2: The part of my brain that still had some sort of grasp on rational thinking offered the following: “Yes, but throwing the doctor would be wrong and Theo getting polio or hepatitis or any of that other awful stuff would be very bad.”
You’ll be pleased to know that the second part of my brain retained control, but only in the sort of way you have control over a spooked horse in a cheap bridle. Nevertheless, I clenched my jaw as my eyes welled up with tears. On the cab ride home, I kissed his little fingers over and over again as he slept and I prayed a silent prayer to Mary. “Oh my God,” I prayed, with both complete reverence and horror. “Oh my God.”

In my church, a painting shows Mary standing mournfully in the shadow of the cross and I am absolutely convinced that all such images are produced by men. In my head, as we come home from the doctor’s office and the heat of my first real brush with the power of the maternal instinct is still humming in my veins, I imagine her pulling that cross right out of the ground (in the same way you’re always hearing on the news about some adrenaline filled mother pulling a car from atop her child) and then, with her half siren-half Amazon cry, pulling the nails from her son’s body with her bare hands. At the very least, I imagine the two other Mary’s holding her back, grasping desperately at her limbs as she tries to make her way toward him.

“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother,” Toni Morrison writes in her novel Beloved. “A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing.”

Now I obviously cannot compare our relatively mundane misadventure at the pediatrician’s office to Mary’s experience at the foot of the cross but the feeling I got that day … however fleeting … broke open the way I see Mary and the way I understand the cross and, for the first time, made me question whether I could really envision God as Mother. After all, I reasoned, how could such a horrible thing happen to a boy with two mothers, one of whom is the Creator of the Universe? How could they bear it when the people assembled argued back and forth about the semantics of the inscription that hung above his head and callously picked over his few belongings like vultures? It is utterly beyond me.

In my head … I imagine [Mary] pulling that cross right out of the ground and then, with her half siren-half Amazon cry, pulling the nails from her son’s body with her bare hands. At the very least, I imagine the two other Mary’s holding her back, grasping desperately at her limbs as she tries to make her way toward him.

But then I step back. I take a giant step back as if I’m standing in front of a huge painting at a museum and need some distance to take in the whole scene. I remember that the boy wounded and crumpled on the cross is more than a boy. I remember that he is both the fragile child of Mary and the Eternal One. Standing at a distance from the picture painted in John’s Gospel, I can see that he is in fact his mother’s Mother. He returns her look of anguished desperation, torn open as much by her pain as she is by his. On the cross he enters into the fullness of what it means to be human so she and we will never have to be alone, so that there is no terrain in this life that he has not traveled before us. Like our mothers who have crept stealthily into our rooms to watch us as we’ve slept, who have felt our pain sharp and deep, who have rejoiced in our small victories, who have claimed us even in defeat, Jesus is God promising to love us fiercely, vigilantly, intimately, and ultimately. He is God saying that all of the tears and holes our brokenness has rent in our relationship with God can be mended if we are willing to bring them to him, sit still, and let him work.

It’s this Jesus, ragged Son and mending Mother, who looks at Mary and says, “Woman, here is your son.” It’s this Jesus, who promises us through the cross that there is no place that God will not go with us, who looks at John and says, “Here is your mother.” As Blessed Julian of Norwich reminds us, “He did not say, ‘You will never have a rough passage, you will never be over-strained, you will never feel uncomfortable, but he did say You will never be overcome.’”
This year, as I pray the Stations of the Cross with my Church family, the 12th station, the one that asks us to meditate on these words Jesus speaks to his mother, I will see the powerful gaze of two fierce mothers whose hearts are breaking but whose love is furious and holy and for us … all of us … and if it is not there in the image I will paint it there with my heart. I will know that the intensity and ferocity with which I love Theo is like one drop of water in the ocean compared to God’s love for each of us and every night before bed when I trace the Sign of the Cross on my son’s forehead I will pray with reverence and stupefied awe “Oh my God. Oh my God.”
(This is a sermon based on John 19:17-27 written for a preaching class the author took at Union Seminary in New York City. It received the 2008 John Kneeland Award for best exegetically-based sermon in manuscript form.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The night sky

Son's girlfriend has lived all her life in Charleston, SC. Now while we do have larger cities within the United States, compared to our little part of the world, Charleston is LARGE!

The first night she saw the stars while standing in our front yard she was amazed...without the ambient light of the city to distort the view, imagine the number of stars she saw! 

Even better, grandson received a "decent" (at least for a 9 year old) telescope from Santa this year. While we've only had a couple of cloudless nights since then, we've all spent time outside viewing the wonders of the universe. 

I ran across this picture today...

The series is called "Darkened Cities" (by Thierry Cohen) and shows what the night sky would look like from some of the famous cities of the world...if all the lights went out.

Now tell me you'd rather see fluorescent light... 

The Anchoress Online added this:
 Does the fact that we can no longer see the stars have anything to do with our loss of wonder? These things, the stars, and all creation – they are more splendid, perfect, beautiful and lasting than anything man can create or even conceive.

It seems like when we were more aware of milky ways and horizons, it was easier to believe. Could Joan of Arc have led her army, could she even have thought to, could she have trusted enough, without having a sense of something greater, bigger than herself? 

We have obliterated the stars with our artificial light – but perhaps we’ve blinded ourselves, too. Without the wonder, the greatness of the galaxies in our sight, we’ve lost the ability to believe in, or expect, miracles.

When you cannot see the glory of God’s creation, how can you wish to glorify the Lord? No longer seeing anything greater than ourselves, we turn inward, we worship our own thoughts, our invention, our desire.

More thoughts....

on Happiness!

But, then again, these are also words of wisdom...

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Sacristy

In our church, it's known as the closet and hallway behind the choir loft! Glad to know the area actually has a name!


Thursday, January 3, 2013


I suppose most all of us try to come up with New Year's resolutions. And everyone knows the hard part is sticking to them. Instead of something specific like...working out every day or watching what I eat or saving more money (all of which are good resolutions)...this year I will just keep a Chinese proverb in mind:

"If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come"

I may not have joy or complete happiness every day of 2013, but I can strive to make my heart a place where contentment lives.

It's silly to believe every day will be sunshine and roses, life isn't like that...but it's not silly to trust that all things that come to me first pass through the hand of God my Father...and He wants what's best for me.

I guess this is the long way around saying that my resolution is to never doubt: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tree of Life

In addition to the Hebrew Bible verses, the tree of life is symbolically described in the Book of Revelation as having curing properties: "the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." (Revelation 22:1-2)
In Catholic Christianity, the Tree of Life represents the immaculate state of humanity free from corruption and Original Sin before the Fall.
In Eastern Christianity the tree of life is the love of God.[6]

Until the Enlightenment, the Christian church generally gave biblical narratives of early Genesis the weight of historical narratives. In the City of God (xiii.20-21), Augustine of Hippo offers great allowance for "spiritual" interpretations of the events in the garden, so long as such allegories do not rob the narrative of its historical reality. However, the allegorical meanings of the early and medieval church were of a different kind than those posed by Kant and the Enlightenment. Precritical theologians allegorized the genesis events in the service of pastoral devotion. Enlightenment theologians (culminating perhaps in Brunner and Niebuhr in the twentieth century) sought for figurative interpretations because they had already dismissed the historical possibility of the story.

John Calvin (Commentary on Genesis 2:8), following a different thread in Augustine (City of God, xiii.20), understood the tree in sacramental language. Given that humanity cannot exist except within a covenantal relationship with God, and all covenants use symbols to give us "the attestation of his grace", he gives the tree, "not because it could confer on man that life with which he had been previously endued, but in order that it might be a symbol and memorial of the life which he had received from God." God often uses symbols - He doesn’t transfer his power into these outward signs, but "by them He stretches out His hand to us, because, without assistance, we cannot ascend to Him." Thus he intends man, as often as he eats the fruit, to remember the source of his life, and acknowledge that he lives not by his own power, but by God’s kindness. Calvin denies (contra Aquinas and without mentioning his name) that the tree served as a biological defense against physical aging. This is the standing interpretation in modern Reformed theology as well.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


A prayer for the New Year

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.   2 Chronicles 7:14