Monday, April 23, 2012

The Vow

Monday, February 27, 2012

Around the table [another lent meditation]

I'm convinced the most important piece of furniture, at home or in the church, is the table around which the family gathers for meals. While growing up at home, we always, or as much as possible, gathered around the table for the evening meal. Rare was the time when that didn't happen, and if it didn't it was because of an emergency or dad worked overtime. There we enjoyed the company of the whole family; laughed and discussed the deep issues of life that were troubling us. Yet sometimes there was as much conflict as comfort, sibling rivalry between my sister and me; correction and direction that needed to be meated out. But regardless of the atmosphere, prayer always began our meal, and somehow we always got through it knowing the bottom line was family was greater than anything else.

So its still a great joy when family gets together around the table ... its a special time!Its a special time in the church family also. Matter of fact our common table sits right in the center of our worship space, and has the words "In Remembrance Of Me." Its no coincidence that the greatest tool Jesus left us, that brings both memories and promises, is a table laden with bread and juice. Table fellowship is crucial to the lifeblood of our church family.

Yesterday I rejoiced as we shared, after AM Worship, a "homemade bread and stew" luncheon. The food was good, but the fellowship was even better; yet it always saddens my heart to see anyone eating alone, so my meal is always more of a hit and miss, as I nibble from chair to chair; something my mother certainly would not have allowed. Even in our church family we don't always see eye to eye, and sometimes conflict seems to take priority over comfort., tensions seem to strain everyone's nerves and stretch our patience ... in those times we look again to the table in the sanctuary.

This Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we'll gather around another table, same motto, different style, and we'll celebrate the beginning of this Lenten Journey. We'll start the route back to where it all took place - the cross; the road back will hold many memories, and perhaps even create some future ones. Though the path will be well trodden, there will be new challenges if we dare to open the eyes of our heart, and block out the cacophony of noises from the world. We'll share some selected scriptures, lift our voices of praise, we'll receive the Sign of the Cross in Ashes, and then we'll eat and drink together his symbols of love and grace and promise. And we will all be reminded again, that which makes us family is far more important than the issues of life that would divide us - we're blood relatives, through His blood.

The Station

Good morning.
Last night was my first Hastings City Library Board meeting since Mayor Bob had appointed me this past Dec. to the council. I really enjoyed the meeting, although I wasn't up to speed on half that went on .... but nonetheless, my fellow Board members are really nice people and have a 'community' love at heart that is refreshing.

In doing a little research on our town early this morning I came across a poem, "The Station," quoted by our recently retired Judge Fisher. I've really enjoyed this poem because of its 'transcendence' of going from one phase of life to another, knowing that no phase is permanent, only eternity is. A few points of interest before I share a portion of that poem with you. The author's name is Dr. Robert J. Hastings; no no ties to Hastings, he was born, lived in Illinois. The author was a writer for Broadman Christian press. Some artist drew a train depot on the same paper as the poem and in many ways it looks like our old train depot on Apple Street ............. now maybe these are coincidences or I'm just seeing things. I guess the older you get the more you see things more thru the lens of what you want to see!

Here's the part of the poem I really enjoy:
Sooner or later we must realize there is no station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The station is an illusion ... it
constantly outdistances us. Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrows
a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.
So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn't the burdens of
today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow.
Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
"Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24
'This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.'"

Rejoice now, there is a divine reason why God has chosen life for you today!
HIS peace

Lenten devotional

Its not the ideal place to begin one's career, or ministry, or business. No one would chose a lonely, desolate place to celebrate a high water event, especially after a spiritual mountain top experience. Nonetheless Peterson interprets Mark as saying that "this same Spirit pushed Jesus into the wild." [Mark 1:9-13] At best it's as though Jesus had to be persuaded somewhat against his will to enter the desert. But who can blame Jesus, this becoming 'human' was proving to be not such an around great thing. First, in polite society, he was said to have been born in a barn, then because of him the family had to flee to Egypt for a number of his early formative years before returning to Israel. Its seemed no one understood his true mission in life, and his family wasn't exactly excited about his leaving home to hunt up his erratic, unstable cousin John, who himself lived in the wilderness.

Though he certainly wasn't about to disobey his Father's will, he was a bit perplexed as to what the desert and wild beasts would have to do with his growing into "humanity." But it had certainly been reassuring to have had his Father just moment's earlier publicly proclaim
his joy and affirmation of Jesus' progress. Maybe this desert thing wouldn't be so bad?!

As we journey into this new week perhaps the greatest beast we will face will the unknown.
But the promise we have is that our heavenly Father is with us, he knows the route we're to take, plus Christ has already traveled it, and we know the HOly Spirit will never lead us astray. Maybe I should learn to enjoy the desert, rest my care in God's hands and be more
quick to obey. No one said it was going to be easy growing into my spiritual maturity.

A New Home

Last week I had to tell my mother that she would be taking up a new residence the last of this week in a nursing home. Of course this is not good news for anyone, especially for a woman that for the last 25yrs. has come and gone when she pleased, and gone where ever she wished .... but the time is at hand. According to all my relatives [her 98yr old mother, brother, sister and my wife, and my neice]I'm about a year late in making the decision. This past weekend her younger sister stayed with her which helped to convince her, though it didn't lessen her fears, it was time to find residence in the nursing home.

I know that this in no way pleases mom, but its come to that phase in life when I must, for her safety and well-being, make the hard choices. It reminds me of when I would have to make a decision for my kids well being when it was the opposite of what they wished, and in many ways what I would have wished for them. I was still holding on to the hope that there were other options available until I had a nerve-racking experience when I stayed with her last week - it totally convinced me there was no choice any longer.

With great anxiety I fear the coming moving days; for a couple of days I had such an upset stomach I couldn't keep anything down, but that seems to have settled. This morning mom just cried on the phone; and tonight she acted distant - quite distant, and this I never really expected, but I guess its part of that hated transition. Its almost as though she fears the whole world is against her, and I can't get her to see that there's new possibilities in this aging phase of her life.
But I'll keep trying.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Slash and Burn"

Another classic by Colin Cotterill in his "Dr.Siri" series set in Laos. Colin lives in Thailand with his wife. I think there is a lot of subterfuge about how government quite often deceives the people it serves. Aside from that this thriller is very good, and involves old Dr.Siri's new wife in a mystery. But I must say I'm more than ready for the author to take us to new places and new incidents .............. then he did! For it seems our ageless coroner at last has some information to keep the troublesome judge Haeng off his back - at least for awhile! I look forward to the next book.
Cotterill, Colin. "Slash and Burn" 2011 New York, New York. Solo Press,Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-61695-116-0

Let me in!!

A couple weeks ago I went home for my regular weekly visit. Arriving home after a two hour road trip, the front light was on so I figured mom was waiting for me. Upon approaching the front door I found the opposite ... mom was not up, and had forgotten that I was coming.

For 50 minutes I banged on the front door, her bedroom window, and kept calling her phone. I heard the phone ringing at her bedside, and finally began to panic....was she just deep in sleep; had she suffered a stroke, or worst of all "was she even alive?" Finally, about to back out of the driveway and go to the police station she answered the phone. Mom is always confused when woke up from a deep sleep. She approached the front door and asked who was there, I replied, "Timm." Timm who? she asked. Finally I convinced her I was her son, and then she said, "I can't unlock the door, I don't know where my keys are." Once inside she told me, "I know you're not going to believe this, but a lady was in here talking to me about ten minutes ago!" You're right I said, I can't believe you because I've been outside trying to get in, so unless this lady was a ghost she wasn't here. But I was too shook, and tired to talk this one out .... so I just said, "Mom, lets go to sleep, and we'll talk about it in the morning." This is just further evidence that that inevitable day when mom
must go to a care facitilty is fast approaching.

This is one of those life experiences that you can plan for; mom long ago purchased nursing home insurance, and even told me when the time is upon us to let her know. But planning is good, but actually beginning the process is hell. I know mom knows her mind is playing tricks on her, and memory hardly exist; but she's also distraught to think the time is near. It's also a life experience no child wants to
go through, and until you do, you never know all the 'invariable' this journey involves. I know that it's not going to get any easier, I just pray it gets less complicated and somewhat smoother.