Tuesday, October 27, 2020

And I Mean To Be One Too!

My PhD studies focused on Church History, especially American Church History.  No wonder, then, that one of my favorite holy days is All Saints Day.  This coming Sunday, November 1, we will celebrate that auspicious day here on Sanibel.

In many Christian traditions All Saints Day, November 1, is designed to honor all officially canonized saints, folks like St. Peter, St. Francis, St. Mary and so on.  The following day, November 2 is called All Souls Day in such traditions.  It is a day when prayers are offered for all those who have died.  In our tradition the two days are conflated, and we honor all those who have died, recognizing that all who are followers of Jesus are considered saints.

I see it as a time to remember our history, a time to remember that we as individuals, and as a church, didn't just spring out of nowhere, but rather we stand on the shoulders of those who've gone before us.  It is a time to remember that we are part of a long line of men, women and children who have claimed the Way of Jesus as their own way.  As my mother would say, we are all connected.

One of may favorite hymns, one of the ones sung at my Service of ordination, is called "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God."  It has a lively tune, and it concludes with a challenge:  

                                        They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds of thousands still,

                                        For the world is bright with joyous saints, who love to do Jesus will.

           You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea

In church or in trains, or in shops or at tea;

For the saints of God are just folk like me

And I mean to be one too.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Oh, How I Miss Singing!

Late in September the Sunday newspaper supplement Parade published the results of a survey conducted in cooperation with the Cleveland Clinic.  The survey, taken in June, asked people about different ways the pandemic has changed their lives in terms of  a health and wellness.  While the pandemic is once again surging, there certainly are some interim lessons to be learned, and they are reflected in that survey.  For instance, 62% of those surveyed indicated that had adopted at least one healthy change in their lives.  Changes focused on diet, exercise, stress management and so on.  25% indicated that they are more likely to get a flu shot this year than in the past.  And so on.

The statistic that most intrigued me indicated that 65% of those questioned said they had gained a new perspective on what really matters in life. I know that's true for me.  For instance, while I have always valued music, and really enjoy singing, I now understand more fully just how important congregational or group singing is my life.  I so miss being able to sing hymns with my congregation, or the club song with my fellow Rotarians.  Such singing creates a sense of unity, a feeling of togetherness, and a bit of harmony midst a world filled with dissonance.

Unfortunately singing in group settings is a potential super-spreader, and highly discouraged by medical experts.  Sure we can hum together, we can listen as a soloist sings (so long as we are at a distance)--but it's just not the same.  When the day finally comes when such singing is deemed safe by medical experts I for one will sing out, "Hallelujah!"--and not necessarily Handel!

There are more significant things that I've learned to treasure anew because of the pandemic--the ability to spend time with distant family members, the importance of faith and in particular its communal expressions, the value of community.  All of those in many ways are more important than singing.  But still, I can't wait (well, actually I will wait) for the day when I can stand up with others and belt out a good tune.

(Note:  The full results of the survey were reported in "America's New Normal," Parade, September 27, 2020)

Monday, October 12, 2020

Computers, Serenity and Relationship Issues

This Saturday I spent almost two hours on the phone with Tech Support for our desktop computer.  It was a rather frustrating two hours.  I couldn't fully explain the problem but once the nature of the issue got figured out by the technician and he "took over" my computer remotely he still was unable to fix the problem.  As of this writing it remains unresolved.

Life works that way sometimes, doesn't it?  Sometimes you have a problem and you can't even put a finger on it.  You know something's not working the way it should--a friendship, a marriage, a relationship with one of our kids--and but can't really pinpoint why.  And even if you get professional help, and give them the authority to help you deal with it, it still doesn't get "fixed".

In terms of my computer, I am, for the moment, just ignoring the problem.  It still "works"--I can still do most things I want and need to do on it.  But that doesn't work in relationships.  At least not for long.  We can ignore an issue when it seems unresolvable.  Or we can acknowledge it is beyond our capability to fix.  At that point we have a choice.  We can be nurse a resentment--or we can turn it over to God.

I always find it helpful to use the Serenity Prayer in such situations, maybe it will help you as well:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

It may not work when it comes to computer problems--but I find it very helpful when it comes to challenging relationship issues.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

No Respecter of Persons

The announcement that President Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, have contracted Covid19 demonstrates rather clearly that the corona virus is no respecter of persons.  Anyone can contract it.  Anyone can be impacted by its potentially devastating impact, even the man often referred to as the most powerful man on the planet.

As people of faith and goodwill, I would suggest that we do well to remember the President, along with all others who have fallen sick, in our prayers.  We do well to hope for a full recovery for Mr. Trump, Mrs. Trump and anyone else who is suffering from the disease.

I also trust we will remember that while anyone can be struck down by this disease certain persons suffer a much greater cost:  those without proper medical coverage, minimum wage workers who live paycheck to paycheck, single parents who have no childcare, homeless persons, and the list goes on. The President is receiving first rate care, as he should.  But so should all Americans.

I have held up all those who are sick in my prayers every day over the past six plus months.  I have literally added the President and Mrs. Trump to my written prayer list as well.  But I also pray daily that we will, as a nation, come to realize the need for a more just and equitable approach to providing quality healthcare for every citizen in this great land of ours.

Meanwhile, wear a mask dear reader.  Wash your hands frequently.  And practice good social distancing.  It is the compassionate and patriotic thing to do.  Because Covid19 is no respecter of persons--it doesn't care who you are.  But it does respond to taking steps to protect yourself and those around you.