I grew up in Orangeburg, a small town in central South Carolina — cotton fields, mustard sauce barbecue, hash on white rice, pigskins, Gullah brogues, spit-worthy gnats, sour weed and shirt-ruining heat.
Last week I did something I haven’t done in decades. I stopped by the animal shelter and just strolled through the facility, looking at the hundreds of forlorn-looking animals that had been abandoned. I wasn’t looking for a pet; I have one already. I was returning from a recycling event which my county schedules periodically and had waited in a long line with others there to drop off paper, leftover paint, electronic equipment, and clothes. As I was leaving the recycling event, driving by what seemed like miles of landfill, I saw the animal shelter and decided to take a look. So many animals thrown away like garbage left at the landfill.
We were sitting in church. My sister, three years my senior, persuaded me to pretend I was putting my money, given by Mom and Dad, into the offering plate. I listened. When we got home, she told my parents what I had done. One finger-pointing moment later, she was in trouble.
Less than a week after our Easter celebration and already the trumpet is silent. The flowers on the churchyard’s cross have wilted in the heat or blown away in wind and rain. Lilies and chocolate eggs sit sadly on the discount rack. Yet Easter is only the beginning of the good news! Whatever our experience of death and despair, Easter assures us God is alive, and we are surrounded by signs of resurrection.
A day after Kaylee and Raphael Sartorato celebrate Easter with their loved ones and their church family at First Presbyterian, the couple plans to begin a new career in missionary work at 100 Fold Studio in Lakeside, Montana.
Jesus means so much to so many, yet, it seems that he means nothing at all to others. But today, I want to suggest that at the base of what Jesus means to all of us is love. Yes, Jesus is the cornerstone of life, and at the core of that cornerstone is love.
Life changed. This time, it got my attention. Two years ago, I had a heart attack. There were no warning signs and the pain was unmistakable. Riding in the ambulance, I knew this could be it. I am not supposed to be here.
My father remarked the other day that my grandfather, a Presbyterian minister, would occasionally invite faculty from the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur to preach at the church where he ministered.
You know the story in 1 Kings 19: Elijah listens for God in wind, earthquake and fire. But God isn’t in the ruckus. It’s only after the storm that Elijah hears a hush, the whisper of God’s voice speaking the wisdom of grace and truth in the silence.
As the youngest of four siblings, I developed a penchant for observing, born from a perception that as the youngest, I was not worthy. The perception was later affirmed by a family story that my paternal grandmother, desiring our family (more precisely my father) not to be burdened with the responsibility and cost of another child, blamed my mother for the pregnancy.
Though this season’s weather so far has not been conducive, winter is usually a time for hibernation. More than simply taking a long nap, in hibernation, an animal’s body temperature decreases, their breathing slows and their metabolic rate drops.
Attempting recently, in a most random way, to invigorate memories to share with you in this column, I took that proverbial stroll by perusing my scrapbook, which my parents kept for me as I grew. Memory, I discovered, is a revelation of both how we see our self and how we are seen.
I had stopped by the supermarket to purchase an item and a newspaper. There were only two people in front of me in customer service, but it was taking a long time. Finally, a new lady came on duty and as the former lady was leaving they embraced. It was not for a short time.
In our contemporary society, there are many perceptions of Jesus Christ. For some, he is viewed as a historical figure, a wise man and teacher. Others see him almost as a social-worker or psychologist. Others may even consider him “irrelevant” in this modern age. But for the Christian he is everything.
It is the memory that returns. In my teens, prior to the legal age, eager to achieve some level of competency, I took on the responsibility of starting my parents’ cars and turning them around in our driveway.
It is that time of the year when people make New Year resolutions. I suggest there is a way for us to cover every base. What if we all just strive for excellence? That is to say, work hard to be the best we can be in all areas of our lives and to do that one day at a time.
I remember waiting in a library. I do not remember the reason I was there, but I do remember the moment. The books grabbed my attention. There was enough to ignore, but there was one on which my eye focused. It could have been the frayed leather or maybe the title, but it was that one book to which I was drawn. I opened it. On that page, my life changed. The words captured me and enlightened my heart.
At 71 years of age, I still remember some of the New Year recollections my parents instilled in me. Today, I look back and cling to the hope that in some way I can make a positive difference in a community that I love whose moral compass is growing dim.
Goodbye and good riddance to 2015. This past year brought a surge of human suffering — the plight of millions of refugees, too frequent mass killings and acts of terrorism in public places, the vicious grip of racism with the distrust and violence it fosters, the accelerating degradation of earth itself.