March 22, 2018

My Favorite Easter Story

George and Rosie loved each other deeply, so much so that during the forty years they were married, they did everything together  They were inseparable in every area of life . . . except one. When George drove Rosie to church every Sunday, she went into church, and George sat out in the car and read the Sunday papers.

In time, Rosie died, and for many Sundays after that, church members looked in the parking lot, but George’s car was no longer there.

Several months later, on Easter Sunday morning, George’s car appeared again, and this time, George went into the church. The preacher delivered a stirring message on the resurrection, and then, as was his custom, he invited the members to respond.

At that moment, George stood up, and with deep emotion, announced boldly and loudly, “ROSIE LIVES.”

Then George began to sing, “My wild Irish rose, the sweetest flower that grows . . .”  One person joined in, then another, and finally the entire congregation was joyfully singing what someone described as, “The most beautiful Easter Hymn ever sung in our church.”

So it was with Rosie. So let it be with you.

January 17, 2018

Don’t Let the Devil Steal Your Joy II


Recently, Nancy and I had breakfast at Simply Crepes in Canandaigua, New York where the menu is especially seductive for anyone who is anxious about being overweight. 

Despite my concerns about the calories, I opted for the oatmeal topped with crème brûlée, banana, strawberries and powered sugar with a cinnamon crisp on the side. For the rest of the day, I was in a guilt funk until a friend reminded me that oatmeal is a good source of fiber, fresh fruit is healthy and breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

My “Gloomy Gus” mood changed, and I began singing, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” which incidentally, in a recent study replaced Frank Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” as the the most popular song, other than hymns, played at funerals.

I ate judiciously for the rest of the day, and when I stepped on the scale the next morning, I discovered I lost weight!

I am grateful to my friend who encouraged me to take a second look at my culinary adventure and treat. The Devil tried to steal the joy I experienced eating my remarkable breakfast at Simply Crepes, but my friend reminded me that my attitude toward any experience is always my choice. 

In his book Strengthening Your Grip, Pastor Charles Swindoll described the power of attitude:
“I believe the single most important decision I can make on a day-to- day basis is my attitude choice . . . Attitude alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope.”

December 16, 2017

There Was Room in the Inn

Wallace Purling, a second grader who had trouble keeping up in the classroom, was chosen to be the innkeeper in the church Christmas Pageant. Wally was big for his age, so his refusal of lodging for Joseph and Mary would be convincing. Besides, he only had a few lines to learn.

On the night of the pageant, Joseph appeared, slowly guiding Mary to the door of the inn where Wally waited.

When he heard Joseph knocking, Wally opened the door and asked brusquely, “What do you want?”

“We seek lodging for the night,” Joseph answered.

“There is no room in the inn,” said Wally loudly.

“Sir, we are weary and my wife is heavy with child.”

Now Wally looked down at Mary, and there was an embarrassing pause until the prompter whispered his cue from the wings.

“No, be gone,” said Wally. 

As Joseph and Mary began to walk away, this Pageant suddenly took a turn that made it unlike any other.

“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally ad libbed. “You and Mary can have my room.”

A few people in church that evening thought the Christmas Pageant was ruined. Others considered it the best Christmas Pageant they had ever seen.

December 10, 2017

A New Look for A Christmas Pageant

The annual Trinity Church Christmas Pageant was always eagerly anticipated by the congregation and the children who were involved. Mrs. Andrews, the director for thirty years, knew precisely how the Pageant must be performed for it to be perfect.  

That’s why she suspected that an angel descending on a wire from the church balcony when the shepherds appeared on stage was not a good plan, but the idea was promoted by the pastor, and she couldn’t say no. 

A few days before the performance, the pastor tested his idea, and when he discovered the angel moved too slowly down the wire, he put several  hymnals inside the hollow cherub for extra weight. Unfortunately, he never took the time to test the heavier angel, and the night of the performance, it charged down the wire so fast, it nearly decapitated poor Joseph.

Then the time came for Mrs. Andrews to retire, and Sarah, young drama student from the local college took her place.

On the night of the Trinity Christmas Pageant under the new director, when Mary placed the baby Jesus in the manger, she was smiling from ear to ear, a look that replaced the pensive and sedate appearance Mrs Andrews had required for her Marys. Some people in the audience were surprised by Mary’s smile until they realized the mother of the Christ Child was displaying her genuine delight over her new born baby.

Then when the shepherds appeared, the children dressed as sheep who accompanied them wandered all over the sanctuary. Where were the disciplined sheep who followed Mrs. Andrews’ shepherds?

Some people in the congregation that night thought the Christmas Pageant was spoiled. Others thought Sarah’s new approach to the Christmas Story was perfect. Maybe it was even better than perfect. It was real.