The New Verse Nine

Isaiah 6:1-8 and John 3:1-17 – Trinity Sunday, the 1st Sunday of Pentecost – for Sunday, May 31, 2015

“Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, ‘Whom shall I send . . .’” (Isaiah 6:8)

Thumbnail_w_CacheI demand an additional verse to the Bible. Let Isaiah’s sixth chapter have fourteen verses rather than thirteen. This action won’t add or subtract any words, chapters, books, or testaments. It’s barely a hiccup. It won’t even register on the Biblical Richter scale of changes. I’m confident all readers can adjust to this tweak with lickety-split ease.

Here’s what Isaiah’s sixth chapter and eighth verse looks like now:

Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?” I said, “I’m here; send me.”

Here’s what I want:

Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?” 9 I said, “I’m here; send me.” Continue reading →

On Hospice Matters

I have started a new website entitled Hospice Matters.

Since 2012, I have posted a weekly reflection about my hospice experiences on this site. As of today, most of the 120 or so hospice-influenced essays have been officially moved to Hospice Matters and deleted from here.

From what I’ve been told, it will likely be easier for someone to find my hospice thoughts on a blog more obviously related to hospice. I’m guessing not many folks are out there hunting on the web for “Larry Patten” as they seek hospice information. From the beginnings of sharing my questions and insights about hospice, I have hoped to be a friendly resource for those considering, or already involved in, hospice care.

So I hope a new website with an obvious name will be easier to find.


Flames Shaped Like Question Marks

Acts 2:1-21 – Pentecost Sunday – for Sunday, May 24, 2015

“When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages.” (Acts 2:6)

Flames shaped like question marks . . .
Flames shaped like question marks . . .

They are two spare, stunning, seminal sentences. They occur after the Pentecost verses that cause even dedicated church folk to grit their teeth and before the verses that often inspire giggles and guffaws out in the pews.

The day of Pentecost, fifty sunrises and sunsets after Easter, sparked the traditional birth of the Christian community. God’s spirit—please take it as fact, please take it as fiction, please take it as truth, please take it as myth—roared through a room crammed with Jesus’ followers. The roar was fire and wind, as contagious as a virus, as vivid as gulping for oxygen after nearly drowning.

“They began to speak in other languages,” the writer of Acts enthused. In other words, all could understand God’s ways and witness! Jesus’ followers were suddenly transformed into Christ’s leaders! Continue reading →

The Spirit Beckons

Luke 24:44-53 & Acts 1:1-11 – Ascension Sunday, the final Sunday of Easter – for May 17, 2015

“He led them out as far as Bethany, where he lifted his hands and blessed them. As he blessed them, he left them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:50-51)

A lake in the southern Yosemite wilderness . . .
A lake in the southern Yosemite wilderness . . .

What are the basics of life?

Shelter. Clothes. Food. Water.

However, each basic need has qualifications: Shelter from warmth or cold, adequate clothes, healthy food, and safe water.

When backpacking, I carry tools for the qualifications. Much of my hiking has been in California’s Sierra Nevada, a few hours drive from my home. Until the last few years of the devastating, worrisome drought, water has been abundant. The winter snowpack typically melts and feeds the alpine lakes and meandering rivers. Once I lived in Wisconsin, where the first snow can fall in October and the final flurry may transform April into a winter wonderland . . . as in, I wonder if spring will ever arrive? I told my shivering cheesehead neighbors we had more snow in California, but it was properly stored in the mountains. In 1982, 67 inches of snow accumulated at Echo Summit, south of Lake Tahoe. All of those inches fell in 24 hours! At the time it was the second highest total for snow in a day in the United States. Continue reading →

Love, Illuminated . . . and Repeated

John 15:9-17 – The 6th Sunday of Easter – for Sunday, May 10, 2015

“This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

tumblr_lid1srrxXM1qi9c69o1_500There it was. Again.

That verse . . . This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. It’s from John 15. Another variation of Jesus’ statement was made—in the same room, with the same disciples, in the same time frame—back in John’s chapter 13.

Regardless of where it’s found or repeated, I’m afraid of that simple, thirteen-words-in-English sentence.

Since seminary, and perhaps before, I’ve known the Greeks had at least four distinctive words for love . . . eros, philia, storge, and agape. Eros, the love that ranges from the lustful to the romantic. Philia is treating friends like a favorite brother or sister. Storge is linked to the life-long affection and connection within families. Then there’s the final understanding of love, which is the one I fear, which is the one Jesus frequently used. Continue reading →