The Best and Worst of Times

   The Best and Worst of Times 

Charles Dickens wrote of the advance of the French Revolution that it was both the best of times and the worst of times.  It was a time of anticipation, borne along by hope, but it was also a period during which the oppression of poverty and despair abounded.

Christmas affords a similar duality of sentiment, though more a spiritual than a social one.  We are presented with two seemingly alternate expressions of Christmas, the one ostensibly at fundamental odds with the other.

Ten Years Have Passed

September is a sensitive month.  Summer enters decline, children return to school and (for some) ragweed provokes allergic responses.

It began catastrophically and insidiously in 1939, when the Nazis stormed Poland, thereby consigning the world to the 2nd World War.  W.H. Auden wrote:

“I sit in one of the dives/On Fifty-Second Street/Uncertain and afraid/As the clever hopes expire /Of a low dishonest decade:/Waves of anger and fear/Circulate over the bright/And darkened lands of the earth,/Obsessing our private lives;/The unmentionable odour of death/Offends the September night.”

Women in Ministry: Bold or Brazen?

   They carry and nurture our children.  They both beguile and infuriate.  They have stood behind successful men.  They both break hearts and build homes.  They soothe, cook, clean, plan and instruct.  And they put up with men.

One woman was forever memorialized for having a face that “launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Illium!”  The poet was enthralled:  “Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!”  (Truthfully, I think she would have been high maintenance!)

The resurrected Jesus entrusted to women the consummate task of relating to His disciples the blessed fact of His resurrection.  NT scholar and Bishop N.T. Wright remarks here that “This is of incalculable significance.” 



My guy Leo likes to perch himself atop high places, especially the china cabinets in our dining room.  He parades himself as king of the room, proudly preening before the assembled guests.  I don’t really think he would or could hurt a fly.

Let’s hope that, if I was attacked, he would come to my defense!  It is a vicious world, one in which you may find yourself on the receiving end of all manner of attack, whether physical assault, slander or litigation.

Death Be Not Proud

   It leaves utter devastation in its wake.  It has no mercy or discretion.  It is not discriminate.  It comes to rob, steal and plunder, though we have all been duly warned.
Death embraces everyone.  It is the destiny of us all.

It seizes entire generations of youth, like it did during the four years known as the 1st World War.  It grabs huge swaths of populations, like it did during the epic of the Spanish Influenza or the Black Death.  Its day-job is to pick us off one-at-a-time.

Who Am I, Pop-Pop?

    The lovely little lady is constantly asking me, “Who am I, Pop-Pop?  Who am I?” 

It’s not as if she is having an existential crisis, as she is too little for such complications of personal psychology; she is simply playing out various television characters to whom she has been attracted – hence, she is Austin or Tyrone or some other enchanting persona.

I happily play along; it does, after all, contribute to Amber’s sense of imagination and, to be frank, there are worse things an adult like me with both child-like and (alas!) childish ways could be found doing.

Architect, Archeologist and Adventurer

   I know him as Jack.  C.S. Lewis was known as the same by his friends.  Lewis was a literature professor, children’s writer and Christian apologist.  My Jack is an architect, an archaeologist and self-described adventurer.

He is also a novelist, having written and had published a fine novel entitled, Second Sight.  I have read it, with pleasure and to profit.  The man is as good at writing fiction as he is at designing churches and being a friend.

Jack is one who accommodates both brilliance and humility in his person at one stroke.  I have always enjoyed his company, appreciated his spirit and gleaned much from his conversation; I now boast of the sheer pleasure of his writing.

A Day both Glorious and Sober

 It had to have been glorious to be present in Philadelphia when the bells began to ring.  The date was July 2, 1776, a day that, to quote John Adams:

 “…will be the most memorable Ephoca, in the History of America.  -  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.  It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.  It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Labors of Love

Sometimes it’s more labor and other times its more love, but all Christians are called to loving labor.  No one is exempted, as everyone is granted the gift and grace of service to God, to His people and to the world around us.  We are laborers in love and of love.

Human history is replete with tales of the sheer drudgery and stupefying oppression of labor.  It is the “thorns and thistles” reality accruing from the curse that God placed upon our work as the result of our act of disobedience (Genesis 3:17-19).

Human aspiration is expressive of more rewarding and fruitful endeavors.  Our redemption has brought new meaning to our work, as those of us who are entrusted with harvesting the Kingdom are assured of fruitful and not futile labor.

Fatherly Foibles and Faithful Fathers

   It’s been almost 22 years since my dear father passed from this earth, and nearly 22 years later I begin to miss his presence in my life, let alone on this planet, with increasingly elevated longing.  He was a good man who loved me very much.

It may be due in part to the Boston Bruins hockey team.  They won the Stanley Cup Championship in recent days for the first time since 1972.  I well remember those days, especially of my lovely parents and, in this instance, of my father.

My brother and I were hockey fans in those early days of our lives.  The Bruins boasted Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk, Ken Hodge, Gerry Cheevers and a supporting cast of tough, skillful and great players.  The Bruins owned the hearts of all Bostonians.

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