09.17.2021 – Upon Entering the “By Reason of Strength” Years

We will be heading to the shore of Lake Michigan today as at least some of our family will gather for a long weekend to celebrate my seventieth birthday, Monday being the actual day.

More than any other, this feels like a milestone birthday.  According to Psalm 90 (printed in full below), traditionally held to be a prayer of Moses, seventy years are what we might expect of life, perhaps eighty “by reason of strength.”  Improvement in medicine, nutrition, and technology may have nudged the scale slightly, but Moses’ truth still holds.

With the great day approaching, I have read, reread, and meditated on Psalm 90 each day for the past couple of weeks.  John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon were helpful guides as I made my way slowly through Moses’ words.  It has been a rewarding experience. Continue reading

09.10.2021 – 9/11: How Shall We Remember?

We will remember September 11, 2001, and we should.  From thoughtful analysis to social media memes, we are being reminded to remember that day twenty years ago tomorrow.  Young adults will remember their parents’ reactions to something awful and those of us middle age and older will recall exactly where we were when we first heard the news. The memories will be somber.

How will we remember 9/11 and what should we remember about it?

The President’s speech writers were already preparing for a remembrance that would no doubt honor victims and first responders, but which would also be a celebrative occasion for scoring political points.  We assume all first drafts have been shredded.

Among the things I will remember is a community service that same Tuesday evening in September when the pastors and the people of the churches and the town in Beaver, Pennsylvania, gathered for a hastily planned but profoundly moving time of prayers and hymns.  I remember how, having been in front of our television sets all day, we were hesitant to leave the company of friends and strangers. Long after the final benediction, people lingered in hushed conversation on the sidewalks outside the host church. No one wanted to go home.

Three years ago, one of the members of our pastors’ group in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, wondered if we should start planning a service to commemorate the Twentieth Anniversary of 9/11.  Back in 2001, they, too, had called the community together for a service of prayer and hymns.  But as we talked, it seemed as if we mostly wanted to celebrate the last time the church had anything to say to its community.  I am no longer in Langhorne or a part of that group, but it looks as if there will be no event. That is probably a good thing. Continue reading

09.03.2021 – On Knowing When to Hold ‘Em

I don’t play cards much, though just this past week we got out the old UNO deck when our granddaughters spent the day with us.

I don’t play cards much, but I know cards teach us about life.  We learn to keep our cards close to the vest and that we must play the hand we were dealt. We should be on the watch for the person with an ace up the sleeve. We’ve got to be ready for a wildcard and aware that no matter how well we’re doing someone may play the (little t) trump card and end the game.

And, as Kenny Rogers taught us, we got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away.

The granddaughters got the basics of UNO pretty quickly but are still learning the best strategy for when to play the wild Draw Four card.  You don’t want to hold it too long, but neither do you want to use it too soon. Continue reading

08.27.2021 – Our Interest in Afghanistan

This piece was written prior to yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Kabal, but has not been altered in response to them. 

Last Friday President Biden addressed the nation regarding the situation in Afghanistan as the United States ends its 20-year mission there.  A thousand wiser minds, along with some others, have commented on what the president had to say. I will leave the punditry and the politics to them.

Something the President said, though, has had me thinking all week.  About halfway through his remarks, Mr. Biden said, “Look, let’s put this thing in perspective here. What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with Al Qaeda gone?”

The “what interest do we have?” question is rhetorical.  The President believes we no longer have an interest in Afghanistan.

To paraphrase one of the President’s predecessors, however, it may depend on what the meaning of “interest” is. Continue reading

08.20.2021 – Was it worth it?

Becky and I are just back from a week with our son’s family at the Air Force base where he is an active-duty chaplain.

Potty training with the three-year old is going well, the six-month old just learned to roll over both ways, and we read “Are  You My Mother?” to the two-year old dozens of times. And the six-, eight-, and eleven-year olds are dong are doing well. Despite the trip to the ER.

In answer to the question, “Was it worth it?” the answer, as always, is “absolutely.”  We help as best we can and love doing it.

But it is not potty training and Lego pirate ships I have in mind in asking the question.

Christopher serves as a chaplain, and while we were visiting, the chapel posted this on its public page: Continue reading