Wednesday, January 21, 2009

prayer, as usual...not politics

On the morning after the inauguration I am jolted to the realization of how desperately we need to pray. A daunting challenge is before us as a nation and on a smaller, but no less poignant level, we are facing it in Amador County, and in the local church I pastor.

It would be easy to default to "politics as usual" but I am opting for something different. This morning I called a number of our local church to meet with me for prayer at noon to pray. I am hoping our modus operandi will become "prayer as usual".

Our new president has inspired hope in the hearts of a diverse population that is facing this next four years with unparalleled hopes. The arrival of an African American president in the White House is something to be applauded. The influx of new young voters and the awakening of those identified as the "economically-disadvantaged" and "politically disenfranchised" is heartening as well.

Political promises have often resonated from the partisan pulpits of the election process. Promises of change--though often generally articulated and generously-priced--are not new. There is no doubt that change is needed--our soldiers need to come home when they can safely, our economic policies need to be revisited, and our divided and fragmented country needs to be united.

At what cost? I think that is the question that lurks darkly in my heart. Already there is talk of redoubling the efforts to overturn the will of the people in California who voted to affirm traditional marriage. There is evidence work is already begun to remove the challenge to "abstinence" from the sexual education philosophy of our schools, as well as determined activity once again to make abortions easier. These issues, which reflect the moral heart of America, and which are really not political at the root, always reappear in the political arena when "change" is the order of the day.

And so, I feel called to pray. I pray that President Obama, a man of professed spiritual integrity and commitment, will govern well--not with politics as usual--but with an awareness of the presence of a Soveriegn God--a God whose presence was invoked throughout the multitudinous activies of a crowded Inauguration Day by a pluralistic group of men who all prayed for the same thing--wisdom and peace for our country.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

post mortem

What will they say about me post mortem, after I die?

That question seems a bit egomaniacal, or, it may bear tinges of paranoia. In any case, everyone has asked it, or wondered about it silently.

Mabelle, my friend, lived 90 plus years. Her common lament was "God does not answer my prayers" to which I would respond, "How do you know that ?" Her answer? "Well, I am still here!" She had a heightened sense that she was just taking up space, when those of us aorund her reminded her what a true treasure she was. She never really caught on to how much she was loved.

Her memorial service was today and the testimonies praising her indomitable spirit, her sense of humor, her friendly dispostion,her "family first" mindset, and her resurgent faith resonated among us. She would have been so surprised...and so delighted.

These kinds of comments post mortem help us, but are of no value to the deceased.

So speak up now. Tell me now hom much you love me and how wonderful I am! Seriously, be sure someone you love knows how much you value them now. May the beauty of such words not be restricted to the post mortem memorial service.

"Mom, I love you very much and can't imagine myw orld without you!"

Love, Dale

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Marley and Me

I came home from a long day at the office this week--pretty dazed by a day full of counseling--and my wife said, "Let's go se 'Marley and Me'" A quick dinner, and a short ride to the Jackson Cinema brought me to a place of rest and what could have been a sure nap...except for the movie.

I have not read the book but have heard several comments about the movie. "Be sure you take a kleenex" was the most common response when I asked someone how they liked the movie. Having seen the trailer several times of a dog "on the loose" and wreaking havoc, and knowing the bent of Owen Wilson towards comedic roles, I thought this would be a shallow and inane "tear-jerker" movie.

I confess. I wiped my esyes a few times with the napkin I had grabbed to clean the butter off my moustache from the cold pop corn and melting dibbies I bought to snack on.

But I did not fall asleep, as I am prone to do.

I watched the whole movie!

And although it was not a masterpiece of cinematography nor a moving examination of human character, it was a movie about real life. That's right. What caught my attention was the real life depiction of the stresses of falling in love, getting married, raising children (note the order), changing jobs and just learning how to live together--which were not anesthesized by affairs or narcotic binges.

And, yes, Marley got front and center billing, deservedly so. He was the proverbial glue that seemed to literally hold the family together through all its changes and challenges.

The real adhesive, however, was not the adorable canine. The undeniable commodity that helped this family weather the storms of life was...a new word for our "fair-weather" world--commitment.

You and me. She and me. Marley and me.

Friday, January 02, 2009

about colds...

Happy New Year ! Achoo!

That's how I began the new year--with a full-fledged cold courtesy of my wonderful grandchildren. I guess it was part of our holiday gift exchange!

Colds are an interesting phenomenon. They aren't really disabling--I mean, you can still function, sort of... But they are a drain--literally--and they sap you of the energy and ambition you ened to function at a level of normacy, whatever that is.

Beverly and I had lots of plans we laid aside and spent a significant part of the last two weeks together, sniffing and sneezing. As I look back, however, I think it was a good time. We got some extra sleep, sat together a lot more than we usually do, watched some HGTV (and a few football games), and generally just loafed without feeling guilty. I read and journalled and did necessary church work, but in the end, felt like I had some much-needed "down time" with Bev.

That's how it is with colds. They slow you down just enough to change your pace of life and in between sniffles and sneezes, you manage some extra time with your sweetheart.