Monday Morning Musings for 06.27.16

  1. I have seen so many signs and shirts over the past week about "Love wins" and "love is greater than hate." In many ways, that has been true for our community. In this instance and for this time, love did indeed win. However, let's not kid ourselves that this is now a reality because we have a slogan on a shirt. In fact, I see this current era as one of the most hate-filled in human history, one in which people not only disagree, but spew vitriol in the process. There IS a better way. Here's an example: The leaders of our different faith communities - Jews, Christians and Muslims - profoundly DISAGREE with each other over something that is central to our very being: our faith in God. Even so, we genuinely care for each other. We laugh. We share. We dialogue. We respect each other. And yes, we even care for one another's communities of faith. We're not perfect by any means, but I hope this is a lesson that our larger community can learn such that our behavior can be more than words on a shirt following a tragedy, but an enduring way of life that extends far beyond that tragedy.
  2. I attended the General Assembly of the EPC this past week, and it was a rich blessing to be in worship with the larger Church - to sing and pray and feed on God's Word together. The many expressions of prayer and support for me and for Orlando were incredibly encouraging. I am also thrilled by a new partnership with the NATIONAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF MEXICO. We have joined together to focus on planting churches in both our countries. NPCM has millions of members and thousands of churches, so we will learn from them as they help us plant multi-ethnic, bilingual congregations in Florida and across our country!
  3. I am so encouraged by NEW HOPE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH in Ft. Myers as they prepare to begin ministry in their new facility and sanctuary. Congratulations to Eddie SpencerStu Austin, Lowell Hamric, Steve Shimp, Jim Larkin, Warren Jalving and the many others who have led that church to a grand new beginning. I said to several people last week that New Hope is "the little engine that could." No matter what hardship they have faced, no matter what pain, they have bowed their necks and carried on to the glory of God - truly an amazing group of Christ-filled servants.
  4. SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Last week, after conducting a funeral at First Pres and then watching the marvelous outpouring of love as hundreds surrounded St. Luke's to prevent a protest by Westboro Baptist at a funeral for one of the Pulse victims, I was driving home and beheld a completely obtuse group of people holding signs. Keep in mind, this was ONE BLOCK from the site of the funeral for a Pulse victim - just on the edge of Lake Eola. Funerals were happening all over this grief-filled city, and these 100 or so people were holding signs saying "Stop the Bear Hunt." 51 innocent lives had been lost in the past week and they decided it was time to go out in the middle of a mourning community and protest what may or may not happen to a bear? I love animals as much as the next person, but there is a time and a place for such things - and that was decidedly not it.
  5. CONFESSION: I was totally wrong about you, Detroit. I offer my apologies. Granted, I did not see the depressed areas and I did not visit Flint, but the southwest part of the city was fabulous! It was clean and well kept with friendly people and great (no humidity!) weather. We ate at several fantastic restaurants and could not have had a better time. So, Detroit, I'm a fan!!
  6. Play-Doh smells like childhood.
  7. BOOK REVIEW: I recently read one of the best books I have found in quite some time: When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi. It is Paul's story, a bright, gifted PhD in English from Stanford who then went to Yale medical school to become a neurosurgeon. He was looking for that place where he could draw most closely to the space between life and death - to be with people there and to serve them - help them. Before he could finish his training, he died of cancer at age 37. His wife, Lucy, writes the last chapter. Paul's writing is rich and deep and profound. I was actually reading the last chapter in a public place (a gym, cooling down) and sobbed openly at its conclusion. Trust me when I say that you will be blessed when you read it.
  8. LITTLE KNOWN FACTS: We often hear or say something is "the greatest thing since sliced bread." So, when exactly, did bread start getting sliced? How long has that been? Answer: 1928. Otto Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa invented a bread-slicer in 1912 but it took him til 1928 to get a fully functioning machine ready. So now, when you say "this is the greatest thing since sliced bread", you are actually saying, "This is the greatest thing since 1928. There may have been some greater things prior to 1928, but this is the greatest thing since 1928." You're welcome.
  9. GOOD NEWS: Churchgoers live longer! Researchers (published in JAMA) used data from 75,000 people over 16 years and found that compared to those who had never gone to church, attendance at church ONCE A WEEK was associated with a 33% lower risk from death by any cause, TWICE A MONTH a 26% reduction, and infrequent attendance a reduction of 13%. Dr. Tyler VanderWeele, Harvard professor, said "this suggests there is something powerful about the experience...." You think? See you Sunday!