A Jack of All Trades

Pastor Jack Hayford died on January 8, 2023 at the age of eighty-eight

Jack Hayford was a preacher.
Just to hear him speak you’d think
you were standing in the presence of a king.
And when Jack would lead the hymns he wrote
we’d stand with upraised hands
and worship Christ the Savior as we’d sing.

Jack Hayford was an author.
Truths he’d gleaned within The Book
were planted first then watered on each page.
Jack helped us see our kinship
as the family of God
regardless of our gender or our age.

Jack Hayford was the leader
of the Foursquare Church at-large.
To the church of Aimee Semple he brought cred.
Jack helped show that Pentecostals
weren’t just feelings focused folk.
He was thoughtful in the things he wrote and read.

And Jack Hayford gave us Majesty.
I love that worship song.
In his lyrics he sees Christ upon the throne.
As His subjects we give honor
as we pay Him homage due
for the glories of His grace He has made known.  

Peace to his memory!

Don’t Let Balance Die!

A grave marker in a Chicago cemetery is a call to keep balance alive in our lives during this hectic holiday season

Earlier this fall I was attending a leadership summit in a suburb of Chicago. Following our sessions one afternoon, I went for a power walk before dinner. Adjacent to the conference center was a cemetery.  Because reading old headstones in a graveyard is one of my favorite pastimes, my aspirations of getting my heartrate up gave in to my curiosity as I looked down at the markers.

One tombstone in particular captured my attention. It marked the final resting place for a family by the name of Balance. Balance? Really? I’d never seen that word as a name before.  For one whose mind delights in word play and double entendres, I had to smile. Balance was dead.

Before me was living proof that balance had been a casualty of life. What was relationally true for this Chicago-area family, has been emotionally true for me at times in the past when my schedule was out of control. And I know I’m not alone. Balance is that easy-going, less-than-obvious, reality that doesn’t call attention to itself. We tend to take it for granted. We don’t realize how key it is to a happy life until it’s gone.

When balance bites the dust, panic thrives. Life becomes chaotic. A kind of grief sets in. Inner peace plays hide-and-seek.  When balance has ceased to be a reality in our lives, the consequences are endless. They include debt, illness, depression, a short temper, drug use, alcohol abuse and over-eating.

If ever there is a time when taking urgent care of balance is critical, it’s now. This is the season of the year when maintaining a healthy balance between demands and desires is at-risk. Advent, Hanukkah and Christmas can easily find balance on life-support.

Just looking at my own schedule at work is enough to rob balance of its breath. There is a tree-lighting ceremony, a St. Lucia breakfast, a poetry reading tea, four holiday concerts, three Advent lectures, two staff parties and an all-campus carol sing-a-long. (Were you expecting a partridge in a pear tree?)

And then there’s my own personal calendar of writing the family Christmas letter, addressing the Christmas cards, shopping for family members and workmates, wrapping those gifts and helping my wife decorate the house.

Add to all of the above the fact that Christmas Day falls on Sunday this year. Bah! Humbug! Once again, a day meant to be spent with family is threatened by the demands of the church calendar. Without an infusion of creativity, balance is definitely headed for the intensive care unit.

Your schedule is likely just as complicated. The commitments on your calendar may be different than mine, but the outcome is equally as stressful. With apologies to Dr. Seuss, it’s not the Grinch we have to worry about. It’s the lack of balance that threatens to steal Christmas (and ultimately our health).

To that end may I suggest reflecting on the lyrics of one of my most-loved contemporary carols. In “Breath of Heaven” (written by Chris Eaton and recorded by Amy Grant) there is recognition of the weight waiting for Christmas finds us carrying as well as the pressures that cause us to stoop navigating life in a less-than-perfect world.

I am waiting in a silent prayer. I am frightened by the load I bear, In a world as cold as stone. Must I walk this path alone?  Be with me now.

In silent prayer and honest reflection, we just might find guidance in how to reduce the activities that typically define our December. We just might discover that Immanuel (God-with-us) is with us providing us the means to keep balance alive.

In the case of Christmas Day being on Sunday, for me there is hope. Balance will not succumb this year to the life-threatening complications with which I have to contend every six years. With the concurrence of colleagues, we decided to pre-record our Christmas Day worship service and broadcast it on our closed-circuit television channel a few times on Sunday. A hack we discovered during COVID proves helpful once again.

Now, what other ways can I simplify this season?

A Prayer for All Saints Sunday

This week we remember those who passed away this past year

They left us this year
by the doorway of death.
And we miss them, dear God, how we do.
The memories they leave us
help smooth grief’s long road.
How I wish that this journey was through.

But mem’ries alone
cannot silence or quell
the deep ache in our hearts that we feel.
A loss is a loss
even though time has passed.
But admitting our pain helps us heal.

O God, on this day 
when we ponder our friends 
who have dented our lives with their love,
please comfort our sorrow
as only You can
with the hope of reunions above. 

The image that accompanies this post is by my good friend Timothy R. Botts. Check out his website at https://www.timbottscalligraphy.com/

Remembering a Pioneer of Peace

Here I am with Father William Treacy as he prepares to celebrate his 103rd birthday

A pioneer of peace has passed
bequeathing us the timeless task
of sowing seeds of brotherhood
and reaping hearts of love.

He had no children of his own,
but that by which this father’s known
are sons and daughters who reflect
his passion to seek peace.

This theologian, priest and sage
would live to be a ripe old age
and to the end would challenge us
to see all folks as friends.

I toast Bill Treacy’s faith and life.
This one, who never had a wife,
would serve the Bride of Christ with joy
and fill us all with hope.

Peace to his memory!

https://nwcatholic.org/news/northwest-catholic/interfaith-pioneer-father-william-treacy-dies-at-103


Greg’s book,
Sheltering Grace
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $15.00 from
Lulu Books.

Goodbye Mrs. Potts

A poetic tribute to Angela Lansbury, a giant of stage and screen

Murder she wrote,
but Disney she sang.
Mrs. Potts fit her role to a tee.
(Just ask Chip!)

Yes, Angela had the voice of an angel.
She was hardly short on talent.
This Mame truly could coax the blues right out of the horn.
She could dance and act and sing.

This beauty was truly a beast when if came to hard work.
Mrs. Potts poured herself into all she attempted.
Playing Elizabeth Taylor’s sister
or Elvis Presley’s mother,
she was all in.

A rather tall woman,
she stood head and shoulders
above her peers.
No wonder we looked up to her the way we did
and the way we will continue to.

Peace to her memory!

*My wife and I had the privilege of hearing Angela Lansbury talk about her life and her career at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, California three decades ago. That was about the time we visited Mendocino (on the California coast) for the first time. While there we drank in the quaint setting where “Murder She Wrote” was filmed for a dozen years.