11.24.2023 – Giving on Tuesday

Call it Baby Boomer nostalgia, but I kind of liked it when there was only one special day at the end of November (and early December). You know, Thanksgiving – family, food, football, and even a healthy dose of civil religion (see yesterday’s Special Edition).

Black Friday became a big deal sometime in the 80s. Small Business Saturday began in 2010. Cyber Monday showed up in 2005, and the first Giving Tuesday was in 2012. Plus, there’s Don’t Travel Unless You Have To Sunday. It looks like the Wednesday after Thanksgiving is still open if any of you want to claim it.

Remember when it was just Thanksgiving and then “shopping days ‘til Christmas” (Sundays excluded)? Those were the days.

I tend to avoid shopping at all costs all year, so I don’t have much use for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. But Giving Tuesday, something of an antidote for too much shopping, appeals to me.

GivingTuesday.org talks about “radical generosity,” and I am tired of the overuse of the adjective. Generosity is a good thing and, however, all and all “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

I am staying home on Black Friday, enjoying family on Small Business Saturday, traveling only as far as church on Sunday, and ignoring Cyber Monday.  But I think I’ll do some giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

If you would like to be a giver on Giving Tuesday and don’t know where to give, I can offer two very good suggestions:

HUNTING PARK CHRISTIAN ACADEMY:  Located in a tough neighborhood in North Philadelphia, HPCA “provides quality, Christian education to at-risk children from low-income families.  We maintain a very low tuition with a good scholarship program so that Christian education can be accessible to the poor in our community.  We have tutoring for students who enter the school behind their grade level.  Our students have made great progress academically since implementing the Foundations & Frameworks material into our overall curriculum in 2006.  And since most of our students are not raised in Christian homes, we do all we can to train them up in the ways of the Lord.  Many of them have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time at HPCA and have come to know the Lord.  Some students have been influential in bringing their parents to church.”

Becky and I know firsthand about the quality of work, the integrity of leadership, and the joy of service that marks HPCA.  You can donate to this wonderful school here.

EYE LOVE AFRICA (John and Jess Cropsey): Today, the majority of people suffering with blindness are found in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and Southeast Asia, 8 out of 10 being needlessly blind. They simply lack access to affordable eye care.

The vision of Eye Love Africa (ELA) is to eradicate needless blindness in Africa. ELA’s mission is to empower Africans to be the hands and feet of Jesus for the blind.

Training is focused at the Rwanda International Institute of Ophthalmology (RIIO) where Dr. John Cropsey, Serge missionary, serves as the Director of Clinical Training and Global Ophthalmology. This is the region’s first and only residency training program for eye surgeons. Six residents are accepted per year into the four-year training program, meaning 24 young doctors will be in training as eye surgeons at RIIO!

Just this year ELA been used by God to bring sight to the people who are blind in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. You can see more here and donate here.

I don’t care much for those other days after Thanksgiving, but Giving Tuesday is something worth remembering.

11.23.2023 – Thanksgiving – Bonus Edition

There have been debates on some pastor forums and a lot of nastiness on Christian Twitter regarding Thanksgiving and civil religion. The theological left doesn’t like civil religion, and hence Thanksgiving, because it is prone to patriotic jingoism at best and has often been a tool of oppression.  The theological right doesn’t like civil religion, and hence Thanksgiving, because it is theistic at best and often lacks credal integrity. Possibly fair criticisms on all accounts. But if getting rid of civil religion means we don’t listen to wise words from the past, we have lost much.

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation:

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged,

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

11.17.2023 – I think I know what time it is

I read a political column earlier this week, and it got me thinking.  But not about politics.  So, please, lay aside your political biases for a few minutes and I’ll tell you what I am thinking.

The column had to do with Senator Tim Scott withdrawing from the race to be the Republican nominee for president in next year’s election. The columnist acknowledged what many have said about Senator Scott, that he has a sunny disposition, a positive attitude, and is faithful, kind, and good.  You may not like his policies and positions, but it is generally agreed that Tim Scott is a nice guy.  And that, according to the columnist – his personality, not his policies or positions – was his problem.

“The senator, to borrow the post-liberal lingo of the hour, doesn’t ‘know what time it is,’” the columnist wrote. Continue reading

11.10.2023 – It’s beginning to look a lot like…

This past weekend was filled with wonderful fall weather.  The skies were blue with a few puffy clouds floating by and temperatures near 60 degrees.  A good guess might be that Saturday and Sunday were the last such days until spring. Maybe so or maybe not. In any event, several of our neighbors took advantage of the fair weather to put up Christmas lights and other seasonal decorations – an inflatable Grinch and Christmas tree among them.

Sunday was November 5. There’s something not quite right about Christmas decorations up before Veterans Day.

This is not going to be some tired rehash about putting Christ back in Christmas or the commercialization of the sacred.  Those battles, even if they were worth fighting, are long since lost. Continue reading

11.03.2023 – I’m feeling fine, thank you.

The Saturday Evening Post, March 15, 1958

I had my annual wellness exam this week and all is well. Everything in the blood tests is where it is supposed to be, and my blood pressure is good. The nurse practitioner listened to my heart and had me take some deep breaths in and push some deep breaths out. She tested my reflexes and they reflexed just fine.I was also asked if I had fallen recently, felt down or depressed, and if I can use a telephone by myself. Apparently I answered the questions correctly. I seem to be healthy. My current plans are to go return to the doctor’s office in a year.

With no symptoms to show or test results to raise concerns, the NP asked, “How are you feeling?” several times. “I’m feeling fine,” I assured her. What I didn’t say because I’ve worn the line out, is “Yes, but I was feeling fine, not a symptom in the world, when I was diagnosed with some serious cancer 21 years ago.”

I guess health, in a way, is in the eye of the beholder – or in the “feeling fine” of the patient. I’m glad to be healthy, to be feeling fine (and I really do). Even so, though I’ve quit using my tired line, there’s always that “Yes, but” hiding in the corner.

Just because I’m old, doesn’t mean I get to bore you with my health issues, however. My exam has me thinking about the church and its health and those are the observations I wish to share. Continue reading