Saturday, March 29, 2008
Is it just me or did it seem REALLY weird that Easter fell SO early this year? I like it best when Easter falls in April, especially when it falls around the 2nd Sunday of April. It just kind of seems like that’s “where it belongs”. I also know that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead around Passover time, so it always seems to me that it should fall during Passover. Many years, Easter DOES fall during Passover, but many years, it DOESN’T.
If you’re into news and politics, you may remember that Ted Kennedy’s “Traditional Easter Weekend” of drinking and frivolity took place on the last weekend of March in 1991. I also remember that Easter fell on Sunday, March 30 in 1997 (which would be like THIS weekend instead of last weekend). I remember that because on Easter Sunday, March 30, 1997 the high temperature was around 70. It was a beautiful summer-like day. Ironically by 12 Noon on Monday, Marcy 31, it was snowing like it was late December. In fact, that was the year we had the “April Fool’s Blizzard”. Technically the snow stopped around 5 a.m. on April 1 but it started around Noon on March 31.
I learned some interesting facts about the DATE in which Easter falls from the “Smart Shopper” which goes to homes in Webster, MA. The publishers are Cheri MacKinney and Jim Winslow. (Tim McCarthy, one of our church Deacons brought the article from the “Smart Shopper” to show me.) According to MacKinney and Winslow, Easter will NOT fall as early as March 23 again for another 220 years! They also stated that the date for Easter is based upon it being the first Sunday following the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. (Incidentally, most Eastern Orthodox churches do not celebrate Easter on the same date as Catholics and Protestants...it’s usually later, and I don’t know the reason for that.)
I looked ahead and found out that Easter in 2009 will be in April and I’m glad about that. For me, having Easter on March 23 was about what it would be like to have Christmas on November 30 or Thanksgiving on Columbus Day. Hey, wait a minute- in Canada Thanksgiving Day IS Columbus Day!
I’d better stop... I’m all “calendared out”. I hope you had a nice “traditional Easter weekend”!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
On Tuesday in the middle of the day I drove into Boston’s Logan Airport for the first time in over five years. I haven’t flown internationally for five years. I don’t fly more than a few times a year, and when I do, I usually fly out of T.F. Greene airport in Rhode Island. I drove in because I drove my daughter Amy and her new husband David in. They were catching an Air Tran flight to Atlanta and from there connecting to Springfield. Missouri.
In the past I have HATED driving into Logan Airport. I remember the days of having to use the Sumner and Callahan tunnels and of being in bumper to bumper traffic in East Boston and even on the roads leading in to East Boston. I remember the drive to Logan being a confusing nightmare.
The drive on Tuesday wasn’t TOTALLY easy, but overall it WAS a big improvement on trips to Logan in the past. I drove Amy and David in the car they’d been using which is my brother-in law’s 1999 Audi Quatro. The car is SO “high tech” it’s kind of scary. (You’ve gotta understand I usually drive a 1989 Volkswagen Gold hatchback that’s about a half step removed from Lieutenant Columbo’s 1950 Peugeot convertible!) It WAS cool taking the MASS PIKE/Interstate 90 East all the way to Logan Airport. I did feel a little sad driving through the connector tunnel where the woman from Jamaica Plain was killed in July 2006. I have driven through the Ted Williams tunnel before, but I remember when it was only open to noncommercial vehicles during certain hours. It’s great that now it’s open to everybody. It was so fast getting in there!
I always HATED the poor “sineage” and confusion in trying to find the correct terminal and parking at Logan. That’s a LITTLE better, but only a little better in my opinion. We did make our way into “Central Parking” and were directed by an attended to a place were we could park for short-term. The paying procedure is now totally different. In the old days, you got a ticket going in, and when you were leaving, you handed the ticket to an attendant, he told you the price, you paid and that was it. NOW, there are all sorts of signs and announcements telling you to take your ticket with you when you leave the car. You have to go to a ticket paying area and pay beforeyou go back to your car. I actually found a ticket paying area pretty easily. It reminded me a LOT of the new system of paying to use the “T” - which I frankly HATE. However, having used the “T” system, I had SOME idea of what I was doing. The paying is designed to be a LITTLE easier if you’re using a credit card, but you CAN pay cash and get change. I was glad of that because my bill was $3 and all I had was a $20. bill. I WAS a little confused about how to use the paying machine and I had to ask a middle-aged female MassPort employee to help me. She was obviously annoyed and obviously thought I was completely stupid (well, I kinda WAS) but she did show me what to do, and it was pretty easy.
When you’re driving out of “Central Parking” you follow the signs for “EXIT” and ESPECIALLY for “EXPRESS EXIT”. Ultimately, you end up at one of those bars that blocks your car until you prove you paid. You merely slide your card into a slot, and the bar lifts and you go.
Then, finding my way to the MASS PIKE/Interstate 90 West was pretty easy. I remember the old days when sometimes you just couldn’t find your way out of there and would end up in Revere or someplace like that. So, I realize the Big Dig has been very controversial, but I’d have to say the Big Dig made MY trip to Logan very easy on Tuesday.
Even so, most of the time, I’ll still prefer to use T.F. Greene in Rhode Island!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Today, March 25, not only would have been my late brother Eddie’s 52nd birthday but it ended up being a traumatic day for my sister Dianne. Dianne was a passenger on the commuter train that crashed just outside Canton Junction station late in the afternoon. I was listening to the Howie Carr Show on WRKO, doing some ironing, and starting supper (yes, I’m pretty domestic and Mary Ann was not home) when it was announced that there was “breaking news” that a train crash had just occurred at Canton Junction station. I immediately felt uneasy, knowing my sister commutes to Boston’s Back Bay area by train from Canton every weekday. I tried to tell myself that there are several trains each afternoon and that might not have been her train, but five minutes after the announcement on WRKO, I received a phone call from her very close friend Robbie Fregeau. Robbie sounded worried and OMINOUS.
“You better put the channel 5 news on,” he began.
I interrupted and said, “Dianne was in that train crash, wasn’t she?”.
“Yes,” he said, “and she’s hurt. She said there’s people all around her on the floor and bleeding. At least she is not bleeding and can walk around but she’s hurt.”
Robbie told me he would try to get to Canton Junction, find Dianne, and take her to a hospital. About an hour later, I called Robbie’s cell phone and learned that he and Dianne were on their way to Needham’s branch of the Beth Israel/Deaconess Hospital (the former Glover Hospital). Norwood Hospital and Brockton Hospital were overwhelmed with victims of the train crash pouring in so they called Needham and found out the hospital wasn't busy. Dianne had hit her head and her knee and wanted to be checked out. She was understandably very shaken up.
By now you probably know that a freight car full of lumber had rolled onto the track. Dianne was in the FIRST passenger car where most of the injuries happened. Dianne said the train was just about pulling into the station when the conductor verbally warned the passengers that a freight car had just rolled onto the track. She turned to look at the conductor and was suddenly and violently thrown forward. Since she was looking at the conductor, she hit the side of her head, but otherwise would have hit her face and might have had a broken nose and other serious problems. When trains are pulling into the station, people usually are up out of their seats and walking toward the door. (Admittedly, I usually do that.) Those who were out of their seats were the most seriously hurt. Dianne was just about to get out of her seat when the impact happened. Her injuries could have been so much more serious!
Once again, this incident reminds us we never know what may happen in a day.
I know this is going to sound like a nagging, Southern evangelist, but I don’t care: Are you right with God? I don’t know what day you’re reading this but, would you be ready to meet God if you should die today (or tomorrow)?
For my sister Dianne and me, March 25 is a holiday of sorts, and a solemn holiday, at that. Today would have been our brother’s 52nd birthday. “Eddie” (his formal name was Edward Stephen Baril) died in the summer of 1983 at the age of 27. Bluntly, a relative of ours sort of took issue with me a year ago because I stated on the blog that he died “of natural causes”. Well, he wasn’t shot or stabbed. He didn’t die in a plane crash or in a car accident. He didn’t die in a fire. He collapsed in a bathroom at his place of employment, went into a coma, and died eight days later. I think an objective group of 12 middle-aged suburban people would agree that technically the way he died fits the definition of “natural causes”. However, Eddie DID abuse alcohol, and POSSIBLY other drugs (although that is not known for sure) so it can be deduced that substance abuse probably had a significant amount to do with his death.
Within our extended family I think it’s kind of sad that Eddie is best remembered for his death (much the way John F. Kennedy is to younger generations). There was so much more to Eddie than that. The loss of Eddie was felt at Amy’s wedding reception this past weekend. Cathy Mondor, the woman who’d been Eddie’s fiancé, was present with her “significant other”. She took a lot of pictures. She came SO close to being “Amy’s aunt”. It’s sad.
Eddie was a year and a half younger than me. He did not look like me. I look very French. When I went to Montreal in the early 1990s, people would just come up to me and start speaking French. I’ve got SUCH a French look, they assumed I was a fellow Quebecois! Eddie looked like our Scottish MacDonald and MacPhee relatives. We did not look alike, at all My sister has characteristics of both of us, although she tends to have more of Eddie’s features than mine. Not only did Eddie not look like me, but he was nothing like me. I’m a public speaker. Eddie was a man of few words with a very dry sense of humor. I tend to be very “unhandy”. Eddie was an outstanding mechanic. He also had quite an artistic flair, and even liked to cook. As teenagers in the early 1970s, my sister and I were part of what religious historians call the “Jesus revolution” or the “Jesus generation”- a “mini-revival” in which hundreds of thousands of teenagers became born-again Christians between roughly 1967 and 1973. Dianne and I really were NOT such “goodie/goodies”. Had we not “gotten saved” I hate to think of what each of us would have done. But in our parents eyes, our “being religious” tended to make him look really bad. Eddie started drinking (secretly) at age 12. By age 16, he was a full-blown alcoholic. I’m sure you may wonder how someone can have a drinking problem right under your nose and you can’t even see it. I know by experience how “possible” it is. Around 16, Eddie began getting into accidents, and various troubles with the law, all accompanied by drinking. My parents tried and tried to turn Eddie into a good, wholesome, responsible, obedient, dutiful, Catholic boy. It didn’t work. Those were hard years.
I will never forget the day Eddie moved out of the house in Canton. It was January 1, 1980. There was yelling and swearing between Eddie and my father like you’d see in the most intense of an “R”-rated movie. Eddie stormed out and never lived there again. Some months later a law enforcement officer called looking for him. I called Eddie and told him about it, but I assured Eddie I would never tell my parents about it, and I never did. I’m glad Eddie was in my wedding on August 28, 1982. He was dead less than a year later.
Eddie was in a lot of emotional pain. I loved my parents, and in many ways they were good parents, BUT... my father was very intense and authoritarian and expected his kids to be perfect. He expected teenagers to think and act like very moral and conservative 40-year-olds. He expected hard work and achievement. He was a very hard guy to please. My mother was very emotional and a devout Catholic. She expected her kids to be dutiful, obedient, and wonderful Catholics. All three of us let them down, big time! In my case, (believe it or not) I’ve struggled with depression and low self esteem off and on throughout my life. It’s ONLY my “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” that has kept me sane and given me a sense of accomplishment. In Eddie’s case, he drank.
I was not close to Eddie. Lest you think that made his death easy for me, it DIDN’T. Six months after Eddie’s death, I went through the darkest depression of my entire life. There was such GRIEF and what they call “survivor’s guilt”...the whole thing of “why am I alive and why is he dead?”. I haven’t spoken a lot about my sister in this piece because she can be a very private person and may not want a lot to be said about her, but she took Eddie’s death harder than I did and has always been grief-stricken by the loss of her brother.
So, I’m letting you know that today is Edward Stephen Baril’s birthday. I don’t want him to be forgotten.
Incidentally, Eddie LOVED Ford automobiles (including Mercury and Lincoln) and Eddie LOVED The Beatles. I think Ford cars and Beatle music were his favorite things in life. So if you see a Ford today or hear a Beatles’ song today...think of Eddie.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I hope you had a nice Easter Sunday! Overall, I had a very nice Easter Sunday. It was great to have our daughter Amy and her new husband David at our morning worship service. The atmosphere at church today for the most part was very upbeat and positive. It was a truly enjoyable day at church!
Our family went to my sister’s house in Canton for Easter dinner, and I hate to admit it, but we ate way too much! I think I’m about ready for a Spring diet!
Last night, the internet “went down” at our house. After we got home from Canton, I tried to get on the internet at home a couple of times and was unable to. We also were having a minor Verizon telephone problem, so I decided to telephone Verizon repair service about each problem. The minor telephone problem was corrected quickly and easily. The internet was another matter.
The Verizon person ran some tests and found that there were no Verizon FiOS outages in Massachusetts and that we had a good strong signal coming into our home. Although I’m not technically savvy, she had me look at the router and some settings on our Apple iMac computer. My son helped me with this because he had much more of an idea what she was talking about than I did. “In any event” the Verizon tech support person was unable to help us. She concluded that we had an Apple computer problem and gave us the number for Apple tech support. Unlike Verizon, Apple tech support was not up and running on Easter Sunday evening.
My son was NOT convinced that we had a computer problem and was NOT convinced that our problem was not a Verizon problem. My wife has a Dell laptop, so he tried to get on “WiFi” with her Dell. IF he would be successful, it would pretty much prove the Verizon tech was right...that there was a problem with our Mac computer...BUT if we could not get on “WiFi” with the Dell, it would pretty much prove the Verizon tech was wrong.
My wife suggested shutting off the Verizon router and turning it back on. Jon had thought of that, but (like me) had been afraid that doing that could cause more problems. However, Jon did shut off the Verizon router and turn it back on. When he did, BOTH COMPUTERS HAD INTERNET UP AND RUNNING!
Jon’s comment was “Why didn’t Verizon tell us to try turning the router off and turning it back on? That would have solved the problem, and the part about calling Apple would have been unnecessary?” Jon’s absolutely right.
My, how dependent we’ve become on computers and the internet! Twenty years ago, I had never used a computer and would never have believed what the world of 2008 would be like!
It WAS great to have the internet up and running again! In a sense IT WAS AN INTERNET RISING FROM THE DEAD! But Verizon and computers and routers are FALLIBLE. I am so thankful that JESUS IS ALIVE AND THAT JESUS NEVER FAILS!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
It had all been very frustrating.
I don't want to bore all the non-technical people to tears, but my 24-year-old son Jon downloaded something to the home computer that enables me to post entries on the blog AND edit entries from home! IT IS WONDERFUL! (This has been a LONG 10 months!) I have been embarrassed by a lot of spelling and grammar errors on the blog that I'd notice from home, but I could not FIX them at home...and at the Library there's a time limit on the computers, so I had to be content to just "post and run". Well, the focus of Easter is "Resurrection" so there's been kind of a "resurrection" to me of being able to post on the blog from home...like I'm doing now AFTER Midnight! (We got home from watching my daughter Rachel in a play in Westfield and I'm just trying to "wind down"!)
Yesterday, a friend contacted me by e-mail and asked me if I planned to write about the Barack Obama controversy regarding his Pastor, Jeremiah Wright on my blog. I’d actually had fleeting thoughts about it, but since I am ridiculously busy with trying to get work done on this Holy Week (having returned from being out-of -town for over a week) and since my daughter and new son-in-law’s Massachusetts reception is on Saturday, I was probably going to just let the whole Obama/Wright matter “go by the boards”. HOWEVER, since my friend contacted me and encouraged me to comment, I am going to take a stab at it:
Bluntly, when Protestant clergymen (and women) put other matters ahead of preaching the Gospel, they put themselves out of the will of God and open the door for all sorts of trouble and problems. That’s true for the religious right as well as the religious left. Many of you know that for many years I was part of the hard-line religious right. I was certainly to the right of Ronald Reagan, although I loved him, and I still do greatly admire his legacy. Twenty years ago there was a “Pat Robertson For President” sign proudly displayed (outdoors) at my residence. For many years I equated being a “good Christian” with being the most right-wing Republican possible. Very gradually, between around 1992 and 2000, that changed in me. I woke up and saw that immersing myself in far right causes did not make me a good Christian. In some respects, it probably made me a lousy Christian. That’s why although I am opposed to “gay marriage” I was much less involved in fighting that issue. (Incidentally, in the interest of full disclosure, I know my name is listed publicly as being one of the HANDFUL of citizens petitioning the Court to reverse the Massachusetts Goodrich decision. I am embarrassed to say that when I agreed to allow my name to be used, I THOUGHT I was merely going on record as being against gay marriage, and I STUPIDLY had no idea my name would be listed in AS AN ACTIVE PLAINTIFF against it for all eternity!) Anyway, today I consider myself a moderate Republican (who leans conservative on most political issues) but that identity is secondary to my primary identity as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and a minister of the Gospel.
I think a minister or priest or rabbi SHOULD be able to run for public office. I was not a Huckabee supporter, but the fact that he was a Baptist minister running for President did not bother me. The fact that the late Robert Drinan was a Catholic priest and a Congressman is fine with me. BUT, I reiterate that the calling to preach the Gospel has to be first and foremost. When someone from the far right or from the far left adopts and pushes some other agenda in the name of religion or in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have a MAJOR problem with that!
I know that the far left tends to tearfully support hate mongers like Jeremiah Wright under the banner of “social justice” and “speaking prophetically”. I know that the far right tends to loudly support hate mongers such as that nut from Kansas who holds up the “God hates fags” signs under the banner of “taking a stand for the Bible”. In my opinion, it’s all swill and anti-Christian.
Now, to the fact that Barack Obama has stayed in that church for twenty years, I do problems with that. I HAVE heard some radio talk show hosts say things like, “As soon as the pastor says something that’s ‘off the wall’ you need to leave the church..” I don’t agree with that. Have I ever publicly preached something that I later came to regret? Yes. Have I ever publicly DONE something that I later came to regret? Yes...such as adding my name as a plaintiff to that Court case that I mentioned. I thank God I had church people who loved me enough to stick by me, realizing that I’m a fallible human being. BUT- when it comes to making statements of racial hatred and statements that are clearly contrary to the Spirit of the New Testament (who I believe is the Holy Spirit), well, this is what I think a lay person should do: Follow a “three strikes and you’re out” rule. Go to the pastor. Have a heart to heart talk with him. Tell him clearly that you believe he is wrong and that you cannot support him in what he’s preaching. In love, give him another chance. Then, in the spirit of “going the second mile” I’d give him another chance. But the 3rd time? I’d be out of that church and I’d be all through with that pastor.
I know this posting is pretty blunt. But that’s how I feel about the matter.
That verse, from the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, is certainly an appropriate one to read and meditate upon at Easter time. For true Christians, death is NOT the end; it’s really only a new beginning. During my recent trip to Springfield, Missouri, I picked up a copy of the local newspaper, the Springfield News-Leader. This may sound morbid, but I’m one of those people who enjoys reading the Obituary pages. The Springfield paper called those pages, “Funeral Notices”. The wording of the obituaries (or “funeral notices”) was very different from the wording of the obituaries in most Boston area dailies. Here are some examples:
From the “funeral notice” of Julia “Julie” L. Sweet, age 79:
“Julia ‘Julie’ L. Sweet, 79, Springfield, Mo., went to be with her Lord on Thursday, March 13, 2008. .... Julie was a long time member of Trinity Lutheran Church. She was a member of the Sweet Adeline’s. Julie had a great love for music, which was always playing in her home. She loved the lake and the river. Julie loved to go boating and loved sitting outside enjoying nature...”
From the “funeral notice” of Randy S. Gist, age 36:
“Randy S. Gist, age 36, of Nixa, Mo., was called to Heaven to be with the Lord on Thursday, March 13, 2008... His strong work ethic and willingness to lend a hand helped him to turn coworkers at Turblex into life-ling friends. Randy spent his leisure time traveling, camping, restoring vehicles and chasing around his grandbaby whom he lovingly called ‘Fancy’...”
From the “funeral notice” of Kenneth Quigley, age 92:
“Kenneth Quigley, 92, of Springfield, Mo., went home to be with the Lord March 13, 2008, at Maranatha Lodge. ... He loved the Lord and was very active within his church. He enjoyed growing vegetables in his garden to share with friends and neighbors. He also enjoyed hunting and fishing...”
Those obituaries would frankly be considered very weird in the Boston area. I can imagine someone laughing right out loud if they read such an obituary in the Boston Globe or even in the MetroWest Daily News. No, we’re much too SOPHISTICATED in the suburbs of the northeast to speak of being “called to Heaven to be with the Lord”. WE say, “passed away” or “died”, or frankly, neither one! We prefer an obituary something like:
John A. Smith, 77
“John A. Smith, 77, of Framingham, husband of the late Harriet (Jones) Smith, son of the late Zachary and Mable Smith, father of James and Marilyn Smith. Following graduation from Boston College, Smith served with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War 2. He was an employee of the Nimrod Electrical Company for more than thirty years. Visiting hours....”
I do love the Boston area. I’ve lived here most of my life. I love the Patriots and the Red Sox. I love the Boston Pops and Channel 2. I love 96.9 WTKK. I love Cape Cod. But there’s something about that “down home” “I love Jesus” stuff in the Missouri Ozarks that I frankly love even more than anything in New England!
If my obituary someday reads, “Bob Baril was called to Heaven to be with the Lord”...do you think people will laugh?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I have come home to a pile of mail and "stuff" at home and a pile of mail and "stuff" at my office. Especially since this is Holy Week and next Sunday is Easter Sunday, AND the fact that Amy and David will be flying in for their MASSACHUSETTS reception which will be on Saturday afternoon; well...it means I am going to be amazingly busy for the next few days. I don't mean to sound unfriendly, but if you can give me the "space" I need over the next 2 days or so to get a LOT of things done, I would be very grateful!
REMINDERS: There IS "Praise & Prayer" as usual on Wednesday evening, March 19. There is NO Friday night Bible Study on Good Friday.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I just wanted to give you a very fast update and say that the wedding in Springfield, Missouri yesterday went very well. I am now typing on a laptop computer in a hotel and I am very uncomfortable with this so I will not write much. I hope to share quite a bit when I get home, but I do expect to be ridiculously busy for the first few days that I am home. I hope to be home sometime late Tuesday.
Friday, March 14, 2008
In general, I have not had too much time for relaxing or sightseeing over the past couple of days as there is SO much to do to get ready for a wedding! I will say I did have a chance to relax for a short time yesterday afternoon and I watched the late afternoon news on the local ABC affiiliate. The weather man was wearing faded jeans and a casual polo shirt! It seems he was bowling at a local bowling alley, and someone from the station dragged him out of the bowling alley and put him on-air because some of the local counties were under a severe thunderstorm watch. I cannot imagine Harvey Leonard or Dick Albert on Boston's ABC affiliate wearing such clothes on-air, nor can I imagine either of them bowling at a bowling alley!
One of the news stories was (I believe) from Kansas. It was about a woman who sat on her toilet seat for 2 YEARS and would not get off of it. Authorities had to cut the seat off the toilet and carry her off seat and all! She ate on the toilet seat and slept on the toilet seat for 2 years! I guess that's one for the Guiness Book of World Records!
One thing I am very happy about is that the Springfield, MO area now has ice coffee (at McDonald's). The nearest Dunkin Donuts is 45 miles south of here in Branson. McDonald's had introduced ice coffee throughout America over the past year. Before that it was almost exclusively a beverage of New England, New York, and New Jersey;with probably Mass. and R.I. being the top ice coffee drinking areas.
I need to hurry and post this as I'm writing on my daughter's laptop and having all kinds of problems for which I have to keep calling for my son. Contrary to what some of you think I am VERY "technically challenged"; and I tend to need lots of help with almost ANYTHING that's even remotely technical.
Well, Saturday's the wedding!
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Some of you may know we had quite a scare on Sunday night! The Dodge Caravan made a loud grinding noise and there was a strong smell like burning plastic! We live very close to the edge financially, and time-wise getting ready for the wedding has been "something else"! My mechanic friend and brother in Christ, Bill Lincoln checked out the Dodge Caravan on Sunday night. It turns out the air conditioner compressor burnt out! The vehicle was safe to drive to Missouri!
Believe it or not, we could have used A/C here in Missouri. It was 73 degrees today...sunny with moderate humidity. In the Dodge Caravan it was kinda warm even with windows down, but thank God we got here OK!! The drive went fine. I drove the entire trip. (Sitting while others drive makes me nauceous and nervous!) The wedding is Saturday. The "stuff" to do is still unbelievable! I am nervous but it's a mostly good nervous. Many of you know I went to Central Bible College here in Springfield, Missouri 30 years ago. I love the Missouri Ozarks and I have many happy memories here. Now, with Amy's wedding, there will be another one.
"There are places I remember, in my life, though some have changed..."
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Some of you (especially guys) will remember a comedy song from the 1980s called, “The Curly Shuffle”. It was a silly song about “Curly” of The Three Stooges and how he would whip himself into a frenzy, literally spinning around in circles on the floor while yelling the nonsensical, “Wooo Wooo Wooo Wooo Wooo...”! I think the reason a lot of men LIKE The Three Stooges is that they say and do things you’d LOVE to be able to do in real life, but can’t.
Lately I’ve been telling people that I’ve been “running around like Curly Howard”. And I have been! All that’s missing is the shaved head, and the yelling, “Wooo Wooo Wooo Wooo Wooo...”. Pretty much, everything else is there. My daughter Amy gets married in Springfield, Missouri on Saturday, March 15. She and her new husband David will also have a “Massachusetts reception” at the Eagles’ Club in downtown Framingham exactly one week later. At our tiny church, I’m the pastor and “chief cook & bottle washer” as I tell people. In a typical week, I do the work of 3-4 people, and that’s the truth. I do have a volunteer secretary about 5 or 6 hours a week. Otherwise, I wear more hats than I’d care to! My wife Mary Ann is the Treasurer. It really should NOT be that way, but right now there’s pretty much no one else to do that job. My son Jon pretty much runs the worship team and handles the sound system. We have not ALL been away on a single Sunday in several years. Mary Ann and I are also the only Sunday School teachers.
What goes on at a little church? Well, just TODAY, Mary Ann (who works full-time at Marian High School) and I have been dealing with a gas shutoff notice for the parsonage (our residence), an electric shutoff notice for the parsonage, a telephone shutoff notice for the church building, and trying to figure if we arrange a delivery of oil for the church building or if that’s too risky. (Mary Ann has to pay the church mortgage, and that will pretty much “clean out” the account.) I took out some trash at the church only to discover I had mold and mildew growing in the trash can so I had to clean that up with bleach and water. I tried to get some paperwork done this morning...well, some of it got done.
I probably have at least 65 things to do before we leave on Monday to drive to Missouri. (Incidentally, someone will be staying at our residence part of the time we’re gone, and the other part, it will be pretty carefully watched, in case anyone is thinking about doing something they shouldn’t do!) Will I get those “65 things” done? I need to, and yet it doesn’t look likely!
So for you “guys” who know how to pray, please pray for our trip! On Sunday, March 16, Craig Bellisario of New Covenant Christian School will be speaking at our church. THAT week, church will start at 9:30 a.m. rather than the usual 10:30.
I don’t know if I’ll get to do any blog posting while in Missouri or not. I will just have to see how things go!
Well, back to the Curly Shuffle, ”Wooo Wooo Wooo Wooo Wooo...”
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
My wife reads a supermarket womens’ magazine which has a regular feature entitled, “Was My Face Red?!”. It always features the most embarrassing moment in some woman’s life. (O.K., I read the magazine, too, that’s how I know about it!) I could not think of a better title for this posting than, “Was My Face Red?”.
Most of you know that I pastor a very small church. In our District (like a Diocese in Catholic or other liturgical churches) I really don’t have very much clout. When you’ve been around for many years, your church is small, and you’re eccentric (as I am), you just don’t have much clout. That’s just how it is. Our big annual District meeting (kind of like a Convention) is usually held in early May. A few days ago, I received an official letter from our District Superintendent (like a Bishop in liturgical churches) asking me to serve on the District Resolutions committee. I have served on that committee before, but it was a long time ago. I think I served in 1989 and 1991. The letter stated that I needed to refer to the “enclosed sheet of paper” to learn the details of EXACTLY what I was being asked to do. I looked at the other piece of paper, and nearly gasped when the heading said, “CHAIRMAN OF THE RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE”. I was stunned. “Chairman?” I was being asked to be the “Chairman”?!
I nervously phoned my wife.
“Bob,” said, “You shouldn’t hesitate to take this position. The Superintendent has great confidence in you. He wants YOU to be the Chairman.”
I knew she was right.
I phoned the District Superintendent’s Secretary and told her I’d received his letter and that I was saying “yes” to his request.
“Do you have any special instructions for me?” I asked.
(Usually the Chairman would be told the names of those who would be on his committee and some other details.) I was a bit surprised when she replied, “No, nothing for now!”.
I told the Board Members of our church and an old ministry friend or two that I’d been asked to be the Chairman of this year’s Resolutions Committee for District Council. I was nervous, but I did feel somewhat important and validated. Over the next few days, my wife stressed to me how encouraged I should feel and that being placed in this position meant God’s blessing and the respect of the District Superintendent.
On Tuesday of this week, I went to (what we call) a Sectional meeting at Leominster Assembly of God. (Our District is divided into Sections. Framingham is in the Central Mass. Section.) Pastor Mark Boucher of the Leominster church enthusiastically greeted me.
“Bob,” he said, “so YOU are going to be on the Resolutions Committee. That’s great. Well, we’ll be meeting on April 15, and I’m sure we’ll get more information by then.”
He said that like a guy in charge. Too much like a guy in charge. He knew the DATE we’d meet. He knew who was on the committee. ..... stuff the CHAIRMAN would know.
It hit me.
HE was the Chairman.
Suddenly, it was obvious what had happened. A Secretary at the District Office had put the wrong job description in my letter. Now, it made SENSE that I was asked to be on the committee but NOT as the Chairman. It made perfect sense. It made good sense.
For the “umpteenth” time in my life, I’d felt validated and important, and suddenly that was all taken away. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and a little stupid.
Was my face red? Kind of.
For the first fifteen minutes of Tuesday’s Sectional meeting, I wasn’t there. Mentally, I asked God, “How could that happen?” and “How could I think I was the Chairman?” and “Well, they TOLD me I was the Chairman. How could they do that?” Mary Ann would be disappointed. My friends and Board would be hurt and embarrassed FOR ME. “HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?”.
You know what?
Not audibly. But in that “still, small voice” deep in my spirit, the Lord spoke to me.
“This is quite a teachable moment,” God said.
“Really?!” I disgustedly thought, “How so?”
“Bob, imagine if you had done something like this to someone in your church. Imagine if you’d have promised them some big position, and then abruptly taken it away and said it was all a mistake. How do you think they would react?!”
“They’d be FURIOUS.” I mentally replied. “They’d tell me off. They’d turn others against me. They’d probably leave the church. They might get others to leave the church.”
“Exactly right.” said the Lord. “This is your opportunity to show them how a mature and godly Christian handles such a thing. You’re going to serve on the committee and be pleasant and respectful to the District leaders and workers. In doing so, you’re going to show them how I want them to handle disappointments in the church: with forgiveness, with class, and with grace, and with love.”
I wasn’t upset anymore. I was actually very happy. I almost started laughing.
So my face was red. Now I’m beaming with happiness!
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
At first I could not find it on-line, but my friend Jennie Maroney tells me it can be found at
Then click "NEWS" then find "COLUMNISTS"
Sunday, March 2, 2008
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16)
After the morning service today (Sunday), my son Jon pointed out to me that NEXT WEEKEND, MARCH 8-9 we turn the clocks AHEAD one hour!
I felt stupid because I'd meant to put that information into our church bulletin and on our church calendar, and I totally forgot!
I'm still used to the day for the clocks to go forward being in early April, so in late Feb. as I prepared the calendar and bulletin info. it was just not on my mind. (From 1987-2006 the clocks went ahead in early April. Effective last year, it's the 2nd Sunday of March.)
Actually they get turned at like 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 9. Most of us will want to turn our clocks AHEAD one hour on Saturday evening, March 8. So please make a note of it; don't forget! What's really going to get confusing for my family and me is that for about ten days in the middle of March, we are traveling to the Central Time Zone and will have to turn our own watches BACK again!