Monday, July 29, 2013


"And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:" (Genesis 5:3)

"The night was humid." You film buffs out there will remember that as a famous line from the Billy Crystal movie, "Throw Momma From the Train". I will explain that later in this piece! He may want to shoot me after this, but this article is in honor of my son Jon's birthday. On Tuesday, July 30, 2013, Jonathan David Baril (much better known as "Jon Baril") will be 30-years-old. That's a very sobering thought for me. I was 28 (almost 29) at the time of Jon's birth. In many ways, it feels like "only yesterday".

The title comes from a line often used by my late Aunt Milly. Aunt Milly and I are alike in some ways as she was quite a correspondent. She wrote lots and lots of letters and cards. She typed the letters on an old fashioned typewriter and she hand addressed greetings in cards. My Uncle Raymond died in 1972. Not long after Raymond's death, Aunt Milly converted to become a Jehovah's Witness. I guess she was given quite a sales pitch by them, and was told that if she wanted to live in a perfect earth with Raymond for all eternity, she'd need to join, and she did! My brother, sister, and I were very close to Aunt Milly and Uncle Raymond. They were a lot older than our parents, and my Dad's parents were dead. Aunt Milly and Uncle Raymond really did the role of paternal grandparents for us. They were much more like a Grandpa and Grandma to me than an Uncle and Aunt. We were very surprised when she joined the Witnesses because she loved Christmas and she love birthdays. It must have been hard for her to give up these special days. (Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas nor birthdays.) Despite that, each year there was a "sort of" Christmas card from Aunt Milly to the family in the mail. It was a general "thinking of you" card with a nice note. And, for each birthday, she'd send a "thinking of you" card, and in the card she always wrote, "Thinking of you near your day". Jon's actual birthday is tomorrow, so "Thinking of you near your day" seems quite appropriate.

I vividly remember my own 30th birthday. It seems like just a few years ago. My mother went to a lot of trouble to order me a special, expensive birthday cake from a gourmet bakery. When she brought the cake home, she was horrified. It was small! It was humorously small! The cake also was quite a heavy cake with some kind of jam in it. It was like some kind of expensive tart dessert, but certainly not a birthday cake! My mother was so embarrassed! I actually just got a big kick out of it, and we all kind of laughed about it! All these years later, I vividly remember that! I also vividly remember the night Jon was born. Jon loves films and in fact is quite an expert about movies and the motion picture industry. So, "the night was humid" fits here, and the night Jon was born was hot and humid. This month has been one of the hottest Julys on record in Massachusetts, but July 1983 was hotter. My wife Mary Ann had gone nine days overdue. Jon was our first child. That month was an emotional roller coaster. My brother Eddie had died unexpectedly on July 8. The family was confused and devastated. Throughout Mary Ann's pregnancy, my mother had a premonition. She told us many times that an inner voice was telling her, "One life is coming and one life is going." I had not really taken my mother seriously; yet her premonition came to pass. Jon was born just eleven months after we were married. David Milley who performed the ceremony strongly discouraged any couples from having kids for at least two years after the wedding. Initially, he was pretty disgusted with us. Listen, I really don't think it's a good idea for newlyweds to have kids for at least a couple of years, but in this case, it really was God ordained as it greatly helped my parents in their times of terrible grief to have a new grandson. I don't know whatever happened to Maura Tomaso, the childbirth instructor we had, but I was a typical "guy" in those classes, and Maura frequently made sport of some of my comments and questions! Mary Ann and I went to the Norwood Hospital very early on Saturday July 30 and were there all day. When the girls were born, we used the hospital's "cool new birthing room" which had "all the comforts of home" but for Jon, Mary Ann was in an old-fashioned labor ward, and she delivered in the very sterile and medical delivery room. Well, she did not deliver until after 10 p.m. Around 6, I went home for about an hour and a half. I still remember that I made myself English muffins and peanut butter and I had a cup of coffee. I also called a friend and asked for prayer that Mary Ann's labor would be over soon. Jon's birth was fascinating and overwhelming for me. It was wondrous and amazing. I have no words to describe it. Jon was a very beautiful baby and a very good looking little kid. In those days, there was still a "Father's Waiting Room" leftover from the 1960s. In that room was a chalkboard where proud fathers wrote down the name of their new baby and the weight. I nervously and excitedly wrote down Jon's name and weight and drove home. I got up the next morning and taught Adult Sunday School at Christian Life Center church in Walpole right on schedule! That afternoon, my parents came in to "meet" Jon and bond with him. It was a very special time.

There's an episode of Northern Exposure where Holling and Shelley are expecting their first child. He is actually very stressed out about it, because he does not feel like he will do a good job if he has a son. (They end up having a girl.) Honestly, I had the same fear that Holling did. I didn't want Jon to be too much like me. I hoped maybe he'd be like my brother Eddie who had died that month. I'm emotional, and I'm overly sensitive, and I sometimes take things too personally, and I'm unconventional, and (much as some folks don't like me to use this word) I'm eccentric. I also have been known to have a terrible temper. I know the Bible speaks of "temperance" and that's an area I've struggled with. I very much did not want Jon to have these qualities, because I know the hurt, misunderstanding, and rejection they've brought me at times. Well, Jon pretty much has all of 'em! That's genetics for you! He also has a very high I.Q. that he did not inherit from me. Jon taught himself to read when he was very young. He was lots of fun as a toddler. I have shared at times how my mother struggled with deep depression, and I've struggled with deep depression. Well, Jon got that, too.

Please don't misunderstand. I don't want readers to think I don't love Jon or that I am not proud of Jon. I just wished I had not passed these things on to him. Jon very much marches to the beat of a different drummer and is very independent. Sadly, I've heard some people criticize Jon for these qualities, but what they did not understand is that at times I've seen a compassion and a depth of love for needy people that "blew my mind" as they say! When my little grandson Ben was visiting just a few weeks ago, Jon did such a great job relating to him and bonding with him as an uncle...I have to say I was very happy and very moved about that!

Jon works a very simple job and makes little money, though he's got a degree from Emerson. He does not aspire to be some cutthroat guy caught up in the rat race. I know that seems very foolish to a lot of people, but honestly, I can't say as I blame him. Right now, I work a very simple job and make very little money, myself. Yeah, "like father, like son". I'd love to see Jon be a full-time movie critic and get paid for it; or maybe do something for a nonprofit organization where there would not be a lot of pressure for him but where he'd make a big difference in others' lives. Well, Jon's certainly grown now, so I have to leave that to the Lord.

Best regards, Jon. I love you. And, I'm thinking of you near your day.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

This may sound very strange to you, but sometimes God "talks" to me in the most unusual of ways. That happened yesterday afternoon. I was driving along Route 27 in Medfield, Massachusetts which is a fairly rural secondary road. I flipped on a local "public broadcasting" station. On the air at that time was an Irish music program they run on Saturdays in the late afternoon. The song playing was a slow, Irish, folksy version of a nineteenth century hymn: "Let the Lower Lights be Burning". It was sung by a soloist. At the end, the host gave his name and the album it's from, and I don't even remember that information. But I was fighting back tears. That song has special meaning for me. The singer had sung all the verses, and the chorus over and over. It was long, beautiful, and almost haunting.

The very first time I ever attended a service at an Assemblies of God church was on February 29, 1976 in the evening. In those days, evening services were often better attended than morning services. Today, few Assemblies of God churches hold Sunday night services. That particular service was "Women's Ministries Night". It hardly seems like it would be the best night for a 21-year-old guy to visit, but I remember that the theme of the service was, "I Lift My Lamp". The service closed with Pastor Westover, a somewhat large, intense, and countryish preacher, leading us in singing that hymn, "Let the Lower Lights be Burning" and summoning people to the altar to be saved or to have a closer walk with God. I don't think I'd ever sung that hymn before, but I found its words to be powerful. The chorus says,

"Let the lower lights be burning; send a gleam across the wave; some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save."

The song is not meant to be taken literally- that is, it's not meant to call us to be literal lighthouse keepers. Rather, the verses and the chorus are speaking of the spiritually lost and struggling in this world and our obligation to reach them with the light of the Gospel. I have nothing against the modern praise and worship choruses. In fact, I really like them. "Open Up the Sky" and "This is the Air I Breathe" are among my favorites. But, it bothers me that we've largely abandoned the old hymns of the church. I was so glad that at the church I attend, (Bread of Life in Westminster, MA) the worship team opened up today's worship time with the old hymn, "Revive Us Again"! When I was pastoring, we always sang at least one traditional hymn each service, and usually two or three in addition to the modern praise choruses. For you who are pastoring and who are worship leaders, you may disagree with me, but I think it's very important that the modern evangelical churches not forget that great heritage of rich hymns of the faith! "Let the Lower Lights be Burning" was written by Philips Paul Bliss sometime in the mid-1800s. In my own ministry, I used that as a "closing song" at least three or four times every year.

Now, why did this song almost bring me to tears yesterday? There are so many reasons! One is that this weekend marks forty-three years since I became a "born-again Christian". I asked Jesus into my heart in an unfinished bathroom on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 21, 1970. My life was never the same. It has been very rich and very fulfilling and filled with great spiritual experiences. It has also at times been incredibly difficult. The past four years, especially, have been hard. I don't have time to go into detail, but for me, 1979 through 1981 was also a very dark and painful time in my life. There are times I have been severely depressed and in counseling. There are times God has seemed to be a million miles away and like He did not care. But, I have seen and experienced miracles in my life. And, I have seen many lives changed and many people helped in my ministry. I have seen where the difficulties I have experienced even this year (being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, having eye surgeries including a detached retina, having major dental problems, and all of these causing financial problems) have made me "more in tune" with people's needs and sufferings. When someone is hurting, I want to "be there" for them. And that's a big part of what true Christianity is supposed to be all about! Jesus said we are to let our light shine in this world. We are to touch others. We are to make a difference. I want to do that!

If I said I had no regrets about my life as a born-again Christian, I would not be telling the truth. One of the biggest mistakes Christians make is becoming self-righteous and trying to jam the Bible down people's throats. I am sorry to admit that for almost twenty years I was that way! I wrote some very pompous, self-righteous, and judgmental columns and letters to various newspapers in the 1970s and 1980s. I was so far to the "religious right" that I'm surprised I did not fall off the right wing! Today, I am very, very sorry about my self-righteousness and arrogance. Ironically, it was a fellow Assemblies of God minister who called this to my attention about twenty years ago. We were watching a television program in which anti-abortion activists were protesting outside an abortion clinic. They were condemning the girls who were heading into the clinic, and shoving photos of dead fetuses into their faces. (Now, I thought this was a good thing!) My friend said that the protestors were giving Jesus Christ a bad name. He said that what they should be doing is loving those girls and praying for them. He reminded me that if we show them real love and compassion and lead them to Jesus, they'll see that abortion is wrong, and they will make the right choice to not have abortions. After that night, I began to change my approach to evangelism. I became much less "hard-nosed" and much less "right wing". I'm still fairly conservative, but I don't think it's my responsibility to jam Jesus down people's throats. It's my job to love God and show God's love and light to the world.

I used to teach Adult Sunday School every week, and I used to preach almost every week. I have not preached in about twenty months and I have only taught Adult Sunday School once over the past year. If I ever preach again, there are several sermons I'd love to bring. One would be about what I'm writing about here: stressing Christians' responsibility to shine God's light in the dark world and to reach hurting people. I'd close that sermon by singing "Let the Lower Lights be Burning". Listen, many times hurting people hurt you right back! Many times they don't respond well. And, if you reach out with God's love to people, sometimes you'll be "badly burned". I have been on many occasions! But pastors and "regular Christians" alike: may we not fail to shine God's light! If you're not familiar with "Let the Lower Lights be Burning", do an on-line search for it. There are some youtube postings of people singing the song!

"Let the lower lights be burning; send a gleam across the wave; some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save."

Thursday, July 18, 2013


"Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity.
For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel." (Ezekiel 4:4-5)

Just about ninety minutes ago, I ventured out of my residence for the first time in over six days! I felt like I'd been under house arrest! To my shock, on Tuesday of last week, I was diagnosed as having a detached retina. I had surgery to correct this problem in Boston on the afternoon of Thursday, July 11. I was seen at the eye surgery center early last Friday morning and told I had to pretty much stay home and rest; mostly reclining on my left side, for a week! I felt like the prophet Ezekiel in the passage above. You know, those Old Testament prophets were sometimes asked to do some pretty weird things! Ezekiel had to just lie on his left side for many days as a warning sign of the siege that would come upon the city of Jerusalem. I have often wondered, "How do you just lie on your left side for day after day?" Well, now I have had a chance to find out! I don't really have a medical mind or a scientific mind at all. There are some people that (upon being diagnosed with a certain illness) want to learn absolutely everything there is not know about that illness. They start rattling off medical terms and Latin terms like they are "Dr. Oz" or even worse, "Dr. Greene" (Anthony Edwards on E.R.)!" Others really don't care about all the medical terms and Latin terms. They just want a very quick, laymen's description of what is wrong and how it will be treated. Some of you may totally lose respect for me, but I am the latter type. Even if I were diagnosed with cancer, I'd just want the basics and honestly would not be the type who is pouring all over the internet for all the information I could find. (As Simon Cowell would say, "SORRY!" but that is just the way I am!) Thus, I am not going to give you a big technical medical blurb about a detached retina. I will just say that with a detached regina, a portion of the retina detaches, badly shadowing the vision in that area of your field of vision. In the surgery, they put something in there like a paste and reattach it, and then they inject a gas into your eye (my understanding is that it is mostly nitrogen) that puts pressure on the retina to cause it to adhere and stay in place. Eventually, the gas will dissipate. During the time you're recovering, especially for the first few days, you really have to be careful. In my case, I had to mostly recline on my left side and not do anything strenuous.

I never, NEVER thought I would ever experience having a detached retina! I have known a few people who have had them. One was "Pastor Tom" who was my predecessor at First Assembly of God of Framingham. It happened a couple of years after he left Framingham. I remember at the time hearing he had to lie down flat, facing downward, for a week. That sounded horrible! I could not imagine ever having to do any such thing! I have heard of several other people since then having detached retinas. The treatment wasn't quite so drastic, but they did have to pretty much rest and be still at home for a week or so, in each case.

It is likely that most of my readers do not know what the symptoms of a detached retina are, nor how urgent things are once you experience those symptoms. I'd heard that the big symptom is seeing flashes of light; that is, quick and intense flashes of light in your peripheral vision. I was not aware of any other symptoms; and again, I honestly believed I could and would never have a detached retina. Now, I had cataract surgery this year which has corrected not only the problem of the cataracts but also has corrected my vision for distance. I no longer need glasses for my nearsightedness. The first cataract surgery was on my left eye in early April and the second was on my right eye on June 18. My vision was great after each surgery. I now know that nearsighted people are at a high risk to have a detached retina at some point, and that people who have had cataract surgery are at an increased risk. I do not blame my cataract surgeon! There are a number of risks you take when you have cataract surgery. Is it possible that the cataract surgery caused the detached retina? Maybe, but maybe not! Anyway, early one morning on the week of July 1, as I was walking downstairs, I experienced about ten quick flashes of light in the peripheral vision of my right eye. I was stunned and shocked! Honestly, I immediately went into denial and put this out of my mind. For the next day or so, my vision was normal, but within a couple of days, the vision in my lower right eye just did not seem quite right. That area where you see the shadow of your nose was particularly dark and somewhat abnormal. I kept telling myself it was nothing. On the Fourth of July, that's how my vision was. Over the next few days, it gradually got worse. I continued telling myself it was no big deal. I was scheduled to have the final eye check-up following the cataract surgery on Wednesday, July 10, so I just was not all that concerned. I figured if there was a problem, it could be dealt with then. I had no idea that this was a very time sensitive situation! By Tuesday morning, July 9, I had lost about 25% of the vision in my right eye- all in the lower part of the eye. That morning, I went to a medical site on the computer and entered the symptoms I was having (which included lots of "floaters" in the right eye as well as a cloudiness of vision in the right eye). The answer I got on-line was that I had a detached retina. Later that morning, I made a call regarding my eye appointment and stated my symptoms. I never expected the urgency I would meet on the other end of the line. I was told I had to have a doctor appointment that day- Tuesday. Honestly, I felt embarrassed and a bit ashamed. I have been blessed with extraordinarily good health for most of my life. For years I never went to a doctor's office, except to have eye exams done so I could get new eyeglasses. I did see the dentist pretty regularly, but outside of the dentist and the optometrist, I was a guy who avoided doctors totally. I felt great. My health was good. Some of you know that earlier this year, I experienced massive rectal bleeding and landed in the hospital. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. This has meant a lot of dietary restrictions and being put on a couple of prescriptions. I've also been put on medication for high blood pressure. Again, this may seem foolish and silly to some, but I tend to feel embarrassed and ashamed about these things. I never try to lay guilt trips on sick people. In fact, I always try to have compassion on sick people. But there is a big part of me who feels that if I'm a good Christian I should be in very good health, and if I am not in good health, it's something to be ashamed of. Now, I know in my brain that this thinking is irrational; but honestly, in my my emotions...I still feel embarrassed and ashamed. It was very difficult to be told I had a detached retina at the doctor's office in Framingham that Tuesday afternon. I was also told I had to get into their Boston office and surgery center within one hour! If you've ever driven around Boston's North End, West End, and Government Center sections, you know that trying to find your way around that area in a car is a nightmare! I am so grateful that my friend Bob G. responded to my frantic phone call. He drove me into Boston and we found our way to the expensive parking garage and medical building only by using his G.P.S. I was examined by two young female doctors. They told me that many times a detached retina can be fixed right in the office, but that mine was much too serious. There was much taring and other problems. Mine would absolutely require surgery! I was very depressed that night. Honestly, I still owe a lot of money to that practice. Insurance covers the bulk of it, but has still left me owing a lot of money for my portion of the bill. There is no way I wanted to add to that debt. I also did not want to be helpless and out of work for over a week. But I learned that time is of the essence in these situations. Honestly, I waited way too long to do something. I should have been seen on Wed. July 3. I might have missed the July 4 parade in Natick and family cookout, but in retrospect, I waited way too long. At the very least, I should have made a call and been seen on Friday, July 5, and not on Tuesday, July 9! It is very possible that if I had been seen earlier, I could have had a procedure done in the office and not a full blown surgery.

I cannot stress enough: If you see those flashes of light and soon after you lose even a tiny bit of your vision in that eye, you have to call an eye doctor immediately! I am a compulsive planner who can get furious if my plans are disrupted or ruined. It really bothered me that all of my plans were "thrown out the window"; but it just had to be! If you will remember and act on this, it just might save your vision one day!

So far, I seem to be doing O.K. I spent six days not leaving my residence at all and mostly reclining on my left side. It was quite a change for me. I will say that I pretty much never get to just relax and do "pleasure reading". Well, I did get some pleasure reading done. And, I had a lot of time to read my Bible and think. Some of you know I have experienced a very difficult and very challenging past four years or so. I had actually recently told God the following: "I wish I could just take a week off and just read my Bible, read other Christian books, pray, and just rest and think." Well, you know that line about, "Be careful what you pray for because you just might get it!"? That's what happened to me!

Friday, July 5, 2013


"Render therefore to all their dues: ... honour to whom honour." (from Romans 13:7)

Last winter, a sad and disturbing announcement appeared in the MetroWest Daily News. The news was that Natick had absolutely and definitely cancelled their Fourth of July parade for 2013, after a tradition of putting on some outstanding Independence Day parades over more than fifty years. I knew this would be a big disappointment for my daughter Amy who was planning a trip from her home in Missouri for late June and early July along with her husband and little boy. The trip was to attend a wedding in Rhode Island but also to bring little Ben to the Natick Fourth of July parade among other things. No kidding. During the twenty-four years I lived in Framingham, there were very few Natick parades that I missed. We go back to the era when the circus would also be in the area for a couple of performances and would be prominently featured in the parade. Another big attraction of the Natick parade was Rex Trailer, who is a hero to just about any baby boomer who grew up in the Boston area. At first, my kids would get embarrassed at me shouting "Howdy Rex!" as he rode by on his horse Goldrush, but in time they came to also look forward to seeing Rex Trailer. My daughter Rachel actually had it on her bucket list to meet Rex Trailer someday and she was "devastated" (her exact word) when he passed away last winter. In fact, he died right around the time the parade was cancelled, as I recall.

It was with great surprise and delight I received a phone call from my friend Rich Hurst a couple of months ago in which he informed me Natick was going ahead with the parade after all! (Rich is also usually in the parade, either driving or riding in his father's 1939 Ford convertible!) I've had to work at least part of the last few Independence Days so I was very happy to have yesterday off, entirely. I can't put into words how much my family and I enjoyed being at the 2013 Natick Fourth of July parade! Watching 2-year-old Ben's eyes light up at so many things he saw, and just being part of the fun of the day was so gratifying. I know it took a lot of volunteers doing a lot of work and it took a lot of funds to "pull off" this parade which had been "absolutely and definitely cancelled"! A very nice touch was making Rex Trailer "Grand Marshall in Memoriam". The "riderless Goldrush" along with his old sidekick Sgt. Billy at the end of the parade was a nice touch. This may sound strange to some, but we stood out of respect to Rex's memory when that group passed by.

Throughout the years, one of the features of the parade I always enjoyed was some of the drum and bugle corps and some of the "Scottish" or "Irish" bagpipe bands. Those were absent, but it's understandable they probably couldn't get them on short notice. I'd give the parade (compared to all the others) a "B plus"; however, considering it was "rescued" and pretty much put together at the last minute, I do give it a "solid A"!

Thank you, Natick. I also don't want to fail to mention that considering the heartache the Boston area experienced regarding this year's Boston Marathon and its aftermath, we really needed this. From my heart, and I'm sure from a lot of other hearts: it was deeply appreciated! God bless you!

Monday, July 1, 2013


"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24)

July 1. Today, July 1, 2013 is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. This horrific event is one of the most memorable of the American Civil War, officially known as the War Between the States. The one thing that most of us probably remember best about the Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath is President Abraham Lincoln's famous "Gettysburg Address". Over the years, many a school child has been required to memorize this short speech. Yes, it's short. The story is told that Abraham Lincoln wrote it on the back of an envelope while traveling by train from Washington, D.C. to Pennsylvania. In its day, it wasn't considered all that great. In fact, it was considered way too short and way too simplistic. But you didn't know Abraham Lincoln was on Facebook!

That Matt Zuckerberg is an amazing young man! Are you aware that he traveled through time?! Well, he did. He got Abraham Lincoln and a bunch of key people of the early 1860s on line. He brought Wi-Fi and computers and a whole bunch of other stuff to them. And, how did it work without much hardwiring? Well, actually they had telegraph wiring and he just performed a bunch of technological feats and got a bunch of key people "plugged in"! Lincoln had an e-mail address: He also had a Facebook page and account. Mary Todd Lincoln took it down after his assassination, though. And, folks were so devastated that they pitched their laptops and desktops into the trash and tried to pretend none of it ever happened. And, the government knows all about it but they've covered it up.

That's why even historian Doris Kearns Goodwin did not find out about it when she did her extensive historical research about Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln didn't really write the Gettysburg Address on an envelope. He wrote it on his laptop. He posted it on Facebook. Lincoln was disappointed that despite his 256 Facebook friends, it only got 3 "likes"! It got four comments. None of the comments was positive. Two actually contained profanity that I cannot repeat here. Lincoln hoped some of his Facebook friends would "Share" it, but only his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln did. No one else "Shared" it and no one else reposted it.

"Boy," remarked Lincoln to his wife, "I thought it would get at least 50 'likes'! And I thought a bunch of people would repost it."

Lincoln also sent copies of the Gettysburg Address as a mass e-mail to his Cabinet. He assumed they'd forward it on to their friends and that within twenty-four hours it would be published from one end of the land to the other, but amazingly not one of his Cabinet forwarded it on. In fact, the Gettysburg Address might have been better received by that generation if Lincoln's so called "friends" had paid a little bit more attention to it.

Now, lest Matt Zuckerberg sue me for posting improper and inaccurate information on the internet, I'm sure most of you figured out this is a work of fiction. Lincoln was not on Facebook. Zuckerberg did not travel through time. I hope this causes you to reflect upon a couple to things today, however. One is to recall that this week marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. I can't even begin to imagine what that must have been like, nor how the heart of President Abraham Lincoln must have ached over the "house divided" that was America of the early 1860s. The other is to reflect upon how we can trivialize greatness. Perhaps there's way too much "stuff" available on-line and being posted on Facebook. We're all inundated with it. There are some phenomenal pieces of poetry and prose on-line. There are magnificent photos. There are powerful true stories. For every one that (for whatever reason) circulates to millions of people, there are many as good or better that are never read by more than a handful. Oh, may we be more discerning and not take lightly the great gifts and responsibilities we all have!

Of course, this week, we also remember that "fourscore and seven years" before Gettysburg was the Declaration of Independence that we all remember on the 4th of July! May we not take our freedoms that we enjoy as Americans for granted, either! May this be a blessed, memorable, and special week!