In the Spring of the Year

Once I was a kid.

While driving by a local high school, I spotted the kid.

He was skinny, all legs and arms, and all by himself between right and center field. At that moment, most of his teammates were clustered near the first base line. Maybe he hadn’t heard there was a team gathering, or maybe he was an outfielder and the gathering was for infielders.

He tossed his glove up and down. Bored? Blissful?

Even after looking at a bunch of kids in baseball uniforms, out for late afternoon practice on a cool spring day, I couldn’t tell you what colors the uniforms were. Were they the high school’s colors? Or was his team part of a city league?

I wasn’t sure.

He was just a kid.

Playing.

After school.

In this unsettling world of zero tolerance toward weapons on campuses, and drugs, more Trumpian executive orders, and surveys declaring the percentage of junior high students with STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), it’s hard to be a kid. It’s hard to just have fun. And don’t most parents live with an edge of fear these days? All kids, with their cluttered schedules and competition for the best grade-point-average-ticket to college, stagger under the weight of frantic activity and family expectations.

I hoped that kid was happy as he watched the leather glove rise into the sky and then drop back into his hands. Continue reading →

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Waving Which Palms?

Matthew 21:1-11Palm Sunday – for Sunday, April 9, 2016

“Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road.” (Matthew 21:8)

Soon there will be fists.

But first there were palms. Open. Fingers spread. Waving.

With those palms waving, did hoarse voices bellow, “Look here! Remember me, Jesus?” Or were the loud words, “God bless you! Thank you, Jesus!” Wouldn’t that second variation be closer to the Biblical Hosanna?

Hosanna! Palm Sunday!

Did those witnessing Jesus’ arrival wave leafy branches or palm leaves? (Only John referenced palm trees, the—in Greek—phoinix)? Some, according to several Gospels, placed cloaks on the road. Whether it was a few supporters or a rambunctious crowd, the Gospel writers depicted the greeters honoring Jesus. However, the honor was tempered by humility. There’s that colt he’s astride rather than a stallion girded for war. And the cloaks on the ground were, well, clothes still sweaty and dirty from wear. Nothing fancy. No red carpets. No paparazzi. Continue reading →

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We Dream Hope, But Cling to Our Fears

Ezekiel 37:1-14The 5th Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, April 2, 2017

“The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones.” (Ezekiel 37:1)

THE LORD’S POWER OVERCAME ME, the prophet Ezekiel proclaimed in the 37th chapter of his eponymous book.

Part of that powerful, searing chapter involved a vision of binding two sticks together. Two sticks? But that’s the second half. The half we don’t recall and probably don’t preach.

It’s the opening verses in Chapter 37 that knocks our socks off, and takes our breath away . . . the vision of the valley of dry bones.

Those scattered, stark bones became a legion of living, breathing, vibrant humans filling an immense valley. From the dirt at Ezekiel’s feet to the far horizon, they were reassembled and rose, with the “vast multitude” demonstrating the vibrant dream and vital might of the Lord God.

The vision symbolized God’s potent glory.

The vision symbolized the rebirth of Israel.

The vision symbolized a stunning future.

“Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breath into these dead bodies and let them live.”

They did live.

In the vision, in the dream, Ezekiel sensed a renewed path. Even for a nation and people that had abandoned the Holy ways, there was a divine breath inspiring hope and a future.

On this fifth Sunday of Lent, I remember. Continue reading →

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