Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Silent Night (Christmas Music)

It seems Fred and I have the same favorite Christmas song. This lovely arrangement is in both English and German. Enjoy, and a blessed Christmas to all.

Lynn K. & Fred S.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas And Children

Have you ever shared a hospital emergency room with a child?  Ever visited a foreign country like Viet Nam or Laos or Cambodia or Nigeria or India where children suffer from malnourishment?  Were you aware that each and every day between 20,000 and 27,000 children die from hunger each and every day?  When was the last time you went to the bathroom and flushed the toilet?  Sounds pretty basic but when you did that two miracles happened!  Your plumbing swept away about 40 diseases and incubation problems and it was done with running water!  Both of those luxuries most people in the world DO NOT enjoy.  So guess what, we have three basic needs met (food, water and health) and most of the time we do not even think about them.  

Your thinking to yourself, well what is this crazy person trying to do?  Ruin my Christmas?  After all it is Christmas and I am trying to get ready with and for my family.  How is it that someone is trying to intrude on my Christmas with all this depressing talk of hunger and death?  And, you ask yourself, how is this my concern?  Well, first, Matthew 25 tells us it is our concern.  And yes, statistics show that the wealthiest 4,000 people of the United States could wipe out hunger almost over night, if they chose to do so.  But they do not and so we, as the Good Samaritan are the next best thing, maybe the only next thing.  

And, yes, it is Christmas!

Yes, there was no room at the inn when Mary and Joseph arrived and so the innkeeper shared a stable with them.  You are busy and we all know it.  Certainly you cannot change the fact there was no room at the inn but you can, today, make room in your heart.  You can dedicate a small piece of your heart to the Christ.  (Suffer the little children).  And now you ask how can I do that?  Well there are many organizations all over the globe but I am going to suggest just one.  http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/about/who-we-are?OpenDocument&lpos=top_drp_AboutUs_WhoWeAre  Yep, it is World Vision  Adopt a child or give a goat but this Christmas add to your wish list the ending of world hunger -- and then adopt a child.  Don't like this one, find one you do like and support it.   Don't let another child go to bed crying from hunger.  Let's make this a Christmas to remember!

Fourth Sunday Music

The mellow voice of Josh Groban singing My Confession, with scenes from The Nativity.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Second Class Citizens

It has been a month since Proposition 8 passed.  I do not know about you but I am unwilling to go back to the way it was.  In fact, the word on the street is that the "suspicious church burning" in Wasilla (Sarah Palin's hometown) had something to do with the LGBT community.  What an incredible assumption! So, as you can see, some think we are back to status quo.   Until full rights are guaranteed to all classes of people we need to do what we can to move the discussion to that point.

I looked for this song in video format and I am disappointed to say I could not find it.  If someone can locate it for me please let me know.  In the meantime:  Thank you Peter, Paul and Mary.

Jesus is on the Wire

(Thea Hopkins)

Run down church
Red clay
River covered
In a smoky haze

Sunday morning
The fire is out
Sunday morning
No one about

The earth is soft
This time of year
Boots get caked
From there to here

Down the road
Route 25
They found this boy
He was barely alive

Jesus is on the wire
So far away, higher and higher
Jesus is on the wire

They took him down
Off the fence
Cold as ice
Almost dead
They said that he
That he slept with guys
They said that he
Deserved to die

Jesus is on the wire
So far away, higher and higher
Jesus is on the wire

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Come Holy Ghost (Sunday Music)

An interesting twist on Martin Luther's hymn, "Come Holy Ghost, Come God and Lord," by Paula Best and Tara Ward. From the Church of the Beloved, Edmond, WA.

Follow the link...it will open in a new window. Hope for a Tree Cut Down

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

God sent me an Episcopal priest*

My friend Lee is dying: dying of end-stage, decompensated cirrhosis of the liver. Impending death always tears at your heart, but this one is a bit too close to mine. My late ex - Chuck - died the same way, and I suppose it could have happened to me, too.

I didn't want to go to the hospital today, but I had to go for him and his wonderful Lady M. There were a lot of things the lovely M. needed to know - most of all that she didn't have the power to stop the lure of the bottle, and that no love is strong enough to save someone driving 75 on the 55 MPH path of self-destruction.

So I called a friend for an update on Lee's condition, and took the long way to the hospital. I know that hospital, all too well. But when I walked into Lee's room to say hello, there sat a man in a clerical collar - chatting with my atheist friend. This man was a stranger to me, visiting after work as a neighbor and friend of the family. "What denomination," I asked, and it just so happens the answer was "Episcopalian." Things do just happen, at exactly the right time, every now and again.

My time with that priest was a very small bit of my visit, as a few minutes later he left for home. Before he left, he said a simple prayer for Lee's family and caregivers, and even slipped in a quick word for the patient. Lee chuckled and asked, "I don't know what to say, you slipped that in pretty fast!" I looked at the priest, and then grinned at Lee saying: "The correct response is 'Lord, hear our prayer.'" Sometimes there's nothing like an inside joke to give you a little strength.

As I sit here, I know God managed quite a two-for-one deal in that hospital today, sending a man who could be both neighbor to Lee and priest for me. Perhaps someone was praying for me? So, let us all pray today, to know the small gifts that come our way in troubled times. For life, and for the living, and for all who fight death and despair. For love remembered, and love's gifts yet to come. For inside jokes to keep us laughing along the way.

Lord, hear our prayer.

*Actually, I think this was all Scott's doing. He has this pesky habit of praying for me every time I ask. Thanks, my friend.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


The Lead has an article in which Mr. Iker writes:

"Bishop Jack Iker of Forth Worth says that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is wrong. He has not renounced his orders, and therefore should not have been removed as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth."

This was in response to the Presiding Bishop accepting Mr. Iker's renounciation of his ordination and consecration vows. Mr. Iker said this:

"Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will."


"Since November 15, 2008, both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and I as the Diocesan Bishop have been members of the Anglican Province of the Southern
Cone. As a result, canonical declarations of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church pertaining to us are irrelevant and of no consequence."

If the Presiding Bishop has no power, never had power, never will have power there is only one way left Mr. Iker. You have always had the power to go home. All you had to do was put on your ruby red slippers and click your heels twice and say "There is no place like home. There is no place like home."

Thursday, December 4, 2008


It is interesting to note that at this critical time in our nation we are ignoring some of the most basic of values. We, as a middle class are going up in smoke! It has been coming for some time now and we are to blame (with a little help from some prominent Republicans and Democrats). Think back on how many businesses such as United Airlines have gone into bankruptcy and done away with labor contracts, health benefits, retirement benefits have been cut or eliminated, jobs shipped overseas and havoc and mayhem heaped upon those of us squarely situated in the middle class. One example is that Hershey's chocolate closed several plants and shipped all the jobs to Mexico. The CEO stated that with the cost of wages there the company would not only make a far bigger profit but also be able to develop a whole new line of candy! Whopee! 576 persons are out of jobs but we have a new line of Hershey's Chocolate. Hey get a job at Taco Bell, they are hiring!

In the late 1940s there was a bill passed by both houses affirming that every American should have a right to own their own home. If you may recall, our grandparents had some radically different facts to deal with in buying a home -- including a down payment that approached 35 to 50% of the total cost. Now, not only are thousands of persons being thrown out onto the streets but the Federal government, we the people, are giving bailout money to we the big financial industry? How the hell did that happen? Now the big three automakers are seemingly on the verge of a collapse and guess who they are blaming for all of this? Yep, the middle class, those that work the lines. Cheese whiz, you want a home to live in, some clothes to wear, and some medical care to take care of your family? What in the world has gotten into you! Don't you know there is a war on terorism going on? That's okay, get a job at Walmart, that will take care of it. Have you noticed there is less full time full benefits employment and there are more part time no benefits jobs available? The Walmart folks got really excited about a time management system that helped them balance more work among more people so that there was less overtime and no chance to slip into a position where benefits would accrue to the worker. Give that guy a $10 million bonus!

If you are feeling a little pinched this Christmas think about this. If you are feeling a little smug this Christmas then just wait, the "good news" will come your way. Keep in mind Ronald McDonald "WANTS YOU!"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships - and sealing wax - of cabbages and kings

   from Lewis Carroll,  Alice in Wonderland

I do not ordinarily write about  the ordinary, day to day life stuff.  Lots of different reasons, everyone has them and certainly everyone lives life.  Good things come and good things go - so do bad things.  In fact, we all frequently write about, think about, and talk about why bad things happen to good people.  It is my fondest hope that this does not come out that way.  What I want to write about is the quiet strength that so many people have that we so frequently overlook.  It is that strength that comes from God and yet looks so incredibly ordinary that we oftentimes miss not only the results but the source.  The next few minutes will be about just such a person.

I have a very close friend (not many of these mind you) who we have known since our days in Washington, DC -- nearly 30 years.  Our family and his family grew up together.  He had a boy and a girl and we had a girl and a boy. We each have three pictures of our families together from Calico Ghost Town and similar places at different stages of our family's lives. You all know what these look like, the early settler days, the Civil War days and the gunslinger days. We were decked out in a wide array of duds! We raced our children in their small strollers up and down the paths of the swamps of Virginia and the paths of the Shenandoah Parks and we ate chili and hot chocolate on a warm October weekend the weekend after a terrible snowfall that had us all convinced the new ice age was upon us. Jerry and I would "pig out" on all you could eat steamed spice shrimp at the Chesapeake Seafood House while the families sat in the cars (after they had eaten) listening to Waylon, Willie and the Boys. They now have three grandchildren and we have two grandchildren. Jerry spent almost 15 years in the army and the balance of his career in the intelligence community.  He runs, bikes, plays softball, builds cars and is generally in outstanding health.  Certainly never has smoked a day in his life.  At age 53 he was running a sub 8 minute 2 miles. He Rides motocross and really could keep up with just about anyone half his age (at least that is what he tells me).

About two years ago he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Turns out that hietal hernia he struggled with all his life came back to bite him one last time. Jerry under went radiation and chemo-therapy and then had his esophagus removed and the docs recreated a new one from a portion of his stomach. (The docs nicked his lung on the way out which caused him some discomfort but for the most part Jerry just moved on). He struggled with that for several months. Then just when you think it can't get any darker the lights went out! Up jumped the devil hisself -- lung cancer. Just when you think you have it all figured out God jumps up and says, "where were you when I created the heavens and the earth and the stars and the oceans?".

Yet, what continues to amaze me is resilience. Jerry said he would only go "next door" kicking and screaming and that he has built or rebuilt pretty close to 20 cars and he has another 6 or 8 he has yet to finish. His pride and joy, his '41 coupe is still in it's infancy. He works on this one slowly, patiently, creatively. It is not nearly half done and he still works on others to pass the time. He will not go until he is finished and he is not nearly finished. We visited last week-end. He took me through his shop once again and showed me everything he has yet to accomplish and that which he will accomplish. Jerry talks with Matt, my son, about building a car for Matt's wife and the plans begin anew.

Resiliency, a gift from God. Resiliency, a gift from Jerry. Prayer, a gift to Jerry. Answer to a prayer, a gift from God.