The Friday after I retired my friend and younger colleague Chris Barrett called from his hospital bed to ask if I could preach for him the very next Sunday. So on my first Sunday after I retired, I preached at St. James United Methodist Church. The congregation was very gracious to me. All of us were, of course, concerned about Chris, Elise, and their children.
For several years Chris has battled the same form of cancer that my brother-in-law Bruce Cash had. Chris has been in and out of remission over the past several years. The people of St. James have been steadfast in their support of Chris and his family.
Last week I spoke with Chris and Elise by telephone. He was at the University of South Carolina Medical Center in Charleston. He was very sick with a fever of 106. His cancer has returned with a vengeance. Still, the three of us were able to talk and even laugh together. Clare and I along with many others have been praying for the Barrett Family. We will continue to do so.
When I spoke with Chris last week I said that sometimes what we give up for Lent is more significant than chocolate. He agreed saying that he was learning to give up the idea that he was in charge. He had decided that for Lent he would relinquish control.
I commented that Easter was going to come just in the nick of time.
Today, I received a copy of a letter that Chris wrote to his congregation this week.
On our Journey to the Cross it is important to keep in mind that the Cross was not the final word. Beyond is resurrection, the core of the Christian faith.
Please pray for Chris, Elise, their children, and all of the family.
Here is the letter Chris wrote to the good folks of St. James. Read more…
Clare and I still have children’s books in our home – a lot of children’s books. Clare treasures books as much as I do. Children’s books are among her favorites. She has saved books from her childhood, and most of the books our five children enjoyed as they were growing up. Now our grandchildren love coming to our house and delving into Miz Clare’s Children’s Library. Clare has even set up her own check out system so the grandchildren can borrow books and return them after enjoying them for a while.
My job is to keep the books in good repair. I patch the treasured volumes with tape when little hands accidentally tear a much-handled page.
I was at that task not long ago when I realized how many books we have that were written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss.
The Cat in the Hat is regarded as the defining book of Dr. Seuss’ career. The popular book was developed through a joint venture between Houghton Mifflin and Random House. Houghton Mifflin asked Dr. Seuss to write and illustrate a children’s primer using only 225 new-reader vocabulary words. Random House obtained the trade publication rights because Seuss was under contract to them, and Houghton Mifflin kept the school rights. With the release of The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss became the America’s best known children’s book author and illustrator. Read more…
On this Lenten Journey to the Cross we find Jesus in the wilderness facing three-fold temptation. Here is the account from Matthew.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Matthew 4:1-11 Read more…
I watched television several times over the weekend paying special attention to Christy Henderson of WSPA Channel Seven, John Cessarich of WYFF Channel Four, and Kendra Kent of FOX Channel Twenty-one and their ever-changing forecast for winter weather in the Upstate.
All three meteorologists kept mentioning various models that were helpful in predicting the severity of temperatures and the amounts of precipitation. I don’t think they had in mind the annual appearance of swimsuit models in Sports Illustrated. The weather models are computer-generated cyber images showing a big capital letter L gilding across the southland. They say the virtual pictures are useful tools in prognostication.
In winter, many of us become amateur meteorologists. We try to discern the winter forecast, whether we observe the color of wooly worms, the number of acorns, hickory nuts, or pecans, or the thickness of our pet’s hair. The phenomenon of El Nino, the groundhog’s shadow on the second of February, the perils of global warming, or even a copy of The Farmer’s Almanac will probably not improve our accuracy. Weather forecasting for the Upstate is an inexact science. Read more…
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
For some time I had wanted to meet Sid Luck, a fifth generation potter from the historic pottery region of Seagrove, North Carolina. I finally met him at a funeral because our sister-in-law Wanda is a cousin to Sid and his kin. Clare and I have several beautiful pottery items given to us as Christmas gifts by Bill and Wanda. They were fashioned from Seagrove clay turned on Sid’s wheel. In his youth Sid Luck learned at the pottery wheels of his father and grandfather. Because a career in pottery seemed unlikely, Sid enlisted and served in the Marine Corps right out of high school. After finishing college, he taught chemistry and science for eighteen years. Throughout his teaching career Sid continued making pottery in his spare time, eventually building a shop onto his property. Read more…
The season of Lent and our Journey to the Cross begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for the forty days before Easter. Sundays are not counted in the forty days because Sunday is the day of Resurrection
Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a time for reflection and self-examination. Lent originated in the early Church as a time of preparation for Easter. It was the time faithful Christians rededicated themselves as followers of Christ. New converts to Christianity were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism on Easter Sunday.
By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days at the beginning of His ministry. It is a time of spiritual discipline accompanied by fasting and prayer.
The idea of giving up something for Lent is derived from the customary practice of abstaining from meat. It is not a time of physical starvation or dehydration. It is rather a time of self-denial and self-emptying. Read more…
In 1960, on the prairie below Pike’s Peak, I shook hands with the President of the United States. I was attending the National Scout Jamboree in Colorado Springs, Colorado. President Dwight David Eisenhower spoke to the more than fifty thousand scouts. Senior Patrol Leaders from every troop were invited to stand along the roadway as the president’s car traveled through the city of tents. At one point, the man, affectionately known as Ike, got out of his convertible and shook hands with seventy or more of us. I was in that group.
In 1885, President Chester A. Arthur signed a bill making Washington’s Birthday a federal holiday. President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 never became a federal holiday but was celebrated in many states outside the Old Confederacy. In 1968 Congress passed the Monday Holidays Act, moving the official observance of George Washington’s Birthday from February 22 to the third Monday in February. Many Americans call the holiday Presidents’ Day in honor of all of our Presidents.
President’s Day is an appropriate time for presidential trivia. Here are some facts that interest me. Read more…