Thin and Quiet

I Kings 19:1-15a – The 5th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, June 19, 2016

“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice . . .” (I Kings 19:12)

Cradled in granite formed before human history was written . . .
Cradled in granite formed before human history was written . . .

As a baby boomer raised in the burgeoning California suburbs, I first heard about the “still small voice of God” at the Baptist church we attended.

It didn’t matter to me that the Revised Standard Version (RSV) tucked in the pews and clutched in the hands of the Sunday school teachers mirrored—word for word—the renowned King James Version’s (KJV) translation of I Kings 19:12. Both read . . .

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

Why should I care what God muttered or what old Elijah heard?

I cared more about the crack of the bat and the ball plopping on a leather glove during the thousands of baseball games I played.

I cared about Mom’s voice announcing dinner.

I cared—and trembled—when hearing, “Lawrence George Patten, please come here.” Whenever the benevolent dictators known as my parents spoke all my names, the future was bleak. Sometimes I knew what I’d done wrong and sometimes not, but there was misery in every one of my steps to judgment.

I cared about the theme from Bonanza since it meant I was allowed to stay up an hour later, even though the next day was a school day.

A little older, and I started caring about how a girl giggled. What if she liked me? What if she, with her sweet voice, might someday want to—gulp—hold my hand? Continue reading →

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lowercase gods

Psalm 138 – The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, June 7, 2015

“. . . I sing your praise before all other gods.” (Psalm 138:1)

Faravahar, the visual aspect of Ahuramazda. Relief from Persepolis
Faravahar, the visual aspect of Ahuramazda. Relief from Persepolis

Though a word often capitalized, it ended the opening verse of Psalm 138 in lowercase: gods.

After that plural word, I couldn’t concentrate on Psalm 138’s remaining seven verses. There it was . . .

I give thanks to you with all my heart, Lord.

I sing your praise before all other gods.

Do you see that final word in the first verse?

What gods? Continue reading →

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The Risen Christ Invites Us…

Everybody wants to get to heaven,
but nobody wants to die.

In the span of a single day, I read and heard variations of that statement from two very different sources. One was a quote used in curriculum for a Christian education class. I can’t remember the author’s name attributed to the quote. The other source was a verse from a hip-hop song used for the soundtrack of a television show. I don’t know the title of the song, or the group’s name.

I bet the writer and the entertainer don’t know each other. And I don’t think, if somehow each one discovered the other’s use of the statement, that there would be any accusations of plagiarism or nasty lawsuits.

I suspect it’s a rather commonly used phrase, just as relevant for a scholar as for a singer.

dawn_by_latyrx-d6dub91Easter has arrived. The words “death” and “heaven” will be proclaimed—shouted, whispered, prayed, sung—in churches around the world.

Along with Christmas, Easter is one of the two grand celebrations of the Christian year.

Christmas is easy; Easter is hard.

Imagine what you feel like a few days out from Christmas? No, I’m not talking about the exhaustion of shopping or the obligations of parties. How do you feel as you get close the end of the journey to Bethlehem? Regardless of whether you take the Bible literally, with every word and situation laden with unassailable holy truth, or dismiss it as a fanciful tale, I would bet there is the common ground of anticipation. With the smell of evergreens and the crinkle of bright wrapping paper, there is that birth. Maybe you slip into a Christmas Eve service, cold from a wintry night and cynical from a weary day, and you hear those familiar verses with gift-giving magi and trembling shepherds. And birth happens. A new child. A new hope. Continue reading →

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