Monday, May 25, 2009

"They Have Become Our Sons As Well"

On this Memorial Day we remember all those who laid down their lives for their country. A few years ago I visited the World War I battlefield in Gallipoli, Turkey, where thousands of troops from Australia and New Zealand lost their lives. A large stone marker records the profound and moving words of the Turkish president at the dedication of the ANZAC cemetery. (Click on the picture to read the words.) May all of our soldiers who lie in fields far from their native land be so honored and remembered.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Birdies and Boys

Well, there will be no more basketball in my drive way for awhile. Two little birds (I think they are robins) have found a home on the backside of my backboard. When I got out of my car this evening, they were chirping away, waiting on their Mom to show up with something good to eat. Welcome to the neighborhood, my little friends.

Interesting timing, too, since we have a boy who is just about ready to leave our nest and go into the U.S. Navy and an older son headed back to Washington D.C. for the summer. It is just about time for birdies and boys to learn how to fly. Exciting days ahead.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Blessing for the Beginning

Congratulations to all the graduates, especially our son, Jake. Here are some words of blessing from an old Bob Dylan song called "Forever Young." Dylan's words echo my hopes and dreams for Jake and all those just beginning the journey:

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young. . . .

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young. . . .

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Magical Moment on Mother's Day

It was one of those rare, unplanned moments. If we had tried to stage this little bit of drama, it would probably have flopped.

Like just about every other church in the country, we had a special time of honoring all the mothers present during our worship services on Mother's Day. Kristine, our children's minister, asked all the mothers to stand, and then enlisted all the young children to help present each mother with a long stem carnation. The kids grabbed a few flowers and scurried all over the sanctuary bringing big smiles to every woman's face.

But wouldn't you know it, we came up one carnation short. Little Ali, three years old, needed one more carnation to give to her own mother, Candi. Someone suggested sharing a flower, but Ali was not going to be denied. She hurried back to the altar, but found no more kids and no more carnations. That's when her eyes spotted the large, beautiful bouquet of roses on the communion table. Everyone in the sanctuary knew what little Ali was thinking. In a heartbeat she was up the steps and up on her tiptoes reaching up for the big red rose in the center. There was no time to react. Everyone held their breath, afraid that the whole thing might fall over on her. But Ali was just barely tall enough to reach that one special rose which slipped out into her eager hand. She turned around with a huge smile and ran down the aisle into her mother's arms holding up her red rose with a hug and a kiss.

It was Mother's Day, all right. A day at least one mother will never forget.

And I knew the rest of the story that others did not. I had brought that big bouquet of roses to the church from a cemetery the day before. I had conducted the funeral of a wonderful mother named Joyce who died after a long battle with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. I had shared the words of tribute and love from her daughter and two sons, and what a wonderful testimony it was. So, when little Ali plucked that big red rose from Joyce's funeral bouquet, I have to believe that somewhere in Glory, Joyce smiled a big smile, too.

Thank God for all good and godly mothers, those present and those absent.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kingdom Come

Here are a few insightful thoughts from Frederick Buechner on what has to be considered Jesus' favorite subject - the Kingdom of God.

If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don't know its name or realize that it's what we're starving to death for.

The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.