Like a Mighty Wind, God’s Spirit

A new hymn for Pentecost Sunday

Like a mighty wind, God’s Spirit
came with power and with grace.
Evidence was most abundant
on each head and on each face.
What the Prophet Joel had promised,
finally had been fulfilled.
Old and young, both men and women,
testified to what God willed.

In the midst of change and challenge,
sheltering in place for days,
those who followed Jesus’ teaching
filled the upper room with praise.
Tongues of fire and of worship
blazed with beauty and with love
bearing witness to God’s presence
now descended from above.

Pentecost reminds God’s people
quarantines are not a curse.
Stays at home can be a blessing
when we seek God’s Kingdom first.
Shelters can be sanctuaries
where the voice of God is heard.
And in quiet contemplation,
we can act upon God’s Word.

Like a mighty wind, God’s Spirit
comes again with power and grace
animating us with courage
for the trials we will face.
Filled with that which filled our Savior,
we can conquer any foe.
We can claim the life He promised
as we stay and as we go.

Tune: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Memorial Day is a Memory Jogger

Paying tribute to those who purchased our freedom

This weekend, visit your local cemetery.
Take a look as you take a walk.
Make note of the miniature flags
next to those white grave markers.
These visual aids are there to jog our memories.
After all, as the years run together,
we need objects that break our mindless stride
and trip us up in a good way.

Those flags and those tombstones
call attention
to heroes who stood at attention
saluting the freedoms
for which they were willing to die.

Sheltering in place
and separated from us by six feet,
these heroes now sleep
awaiting Gabriel’s reveille.

We honor their memories
by speaking their names aloud.
We honor their families
by depositing flowers near the flags.

We honor their nation
by refusing to let their service be forgotten.
We sanctify their final resting places
by leaving our footprints on this sacred soil
too-often unvisited.

We acknowledge our debt
by paying tribute to men and women
who spent the last day of their life
purchasing the liberty we cherish
with the currency of their blood.

Peace to their memory!

Beauty for Ashes

Gaining a heart of wisdom by numbering our days

It’s the 18th day of the fifth month. Wait a second. It’s also the first day of the rest of our lives. May 18, 2020 is definitely one for the books.

In the 90th Psalm, Moses asks the Lord for help with homework. Back when I was in school, I needed help with homework, too. Especially with math. And that’s the subject for which the Prince of Egypt needed assistance too. “Teach us to number our days,” he asks. “Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom.”

One way to number our days is to recall the days of our lives that have specifically proved meaningful and reflect on the lessons they call to mind. Consider the following:

April 15, 1912 was the day the Titanic sunk. A day that proved that it’s the little things in our lives that can take us under if left unheeded. The ship’s collision with that notorious iceberg resulted in hairline cracks that caused the fatal outcome of a ship “not even God could sink.” It was not an obvious wound to the body of vessel that claimed her life.

November 22, 1963 was the day Camelot ended for America’s royal family on a motorcade through Dallas. We all can recall where we were when we heard that President Kennedy had been gunned down. It was a trip the President had been warned not to take. It’s a day that reminds us of the importance of heeding the advice of those we trust.

July 20, 1969 was the day Neil Armstrong voiced those memorable words from the surface of the moon. “One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” It was a day we recognized that not impossible dreams really are.

September 11, 2001 was the day Mother Liberty looked on in horror as her twin towers collapsed at her feet. It was a day we discovered that even the greatest nation on God’s green earth is vulnerable to tyranny and terrorism on our home soil.

And let’s not forget May 18, 1980. Forty years ago today when a majestic mountain named for a peaceful saint exploded volcanically. The erupton of Mount St. Helens sent a plume of ash miles into the atmosphere while devastating 200 square miles of forested landscape with molten magma and claiming fifty-seven lives. It was a day that reminds us of the power of nature that points to the power of the Creator.

It was also a day that reminds us of an all-too-important lesson. That ultra-fine silt-like Mt. Saint Helens ash, that blanketed our state for weeks, in time would become fertilizer for new growth that beautifies the base of the remaining mountain. That same ash was used by skilled glassmakers to create treasured art that is breathtakingly beautiful. I have an ornate ornament that celebrates an easily forgotten maxim: out of crises and chaos come new opportunities and new beginnings where God calibrates His creation.

In the words of the prophet Isaiah, God gives us beauty for ashes, gladness for mourning and praise in the place of despair. All for the display of God’s splendor (Isaiah 61:3).

Lord, teach us to number our days. Help us to seize this day and make the most of it by learning from the past even as we trust You for what the future holds.

The Triage Trio

With praise for our paramedics

The paramedics in my town
are not a pair. They’re three.
In uniformed allegiance, they save lives.
There’s no way the Lone Ranger
could accomplish what they do.
These masked men answer calls for hearts and hives.

They lift someone who’s fallen down.
They rescue cats in trees.
They chauffeur broken hips to the ER.
These first-responder heroes
are deserving of our praise.
Like the wisemen, they find us where e’er we are.

Responsively they answer
when you dial 9-1-1.
In minutes they arrive. They waste no time.
Their mission is our welfare
and their motive is quite clear.
They want to help a loved one (yours and mine).

A Motherless Mother’s Day

What I miss most about my mom

For the first time in my life,
I’ll be motherless this Mother’s Day.
It’s a funny feeling.
I can no longer speak with the one
who taught me how to talk.
I can no longer walk alongside the one
who taught me how to walk.
I can no longer listen to the one
who taught me the importance
of listening to others.
I can no longer sing with the one
who taught me how to harmonize.
I can no longer cry with the one
who wiped away my tears.

God, how I miss that twinkle in her eye.
I miss her affirmation when she’d read my latest poem.
I miss her spaghetti sauce.
I miss her corny jokes.
I miss hearing her say
“Age is just a number and mine is unlisted.”
I miss hearing her remind me how to spell FROG.
“Fully Rely On God.”
I miss hearing her pray.
I miss hearing people say,
“You sure have an amazing mom!”
(even though I already knew that).

This Mother’s Day as I look into the mirror,
I’ll be reminded how old I am.
This Mother’s Day as I look into my heart,
I’ll be reminded I’m still a child.

It’s curious, isn’t it?
No matter how many candles adorn your birthday cake,
you always want your mom.