Category: Sacrament

Tokens: Small Word, Big Show

Tokens: don’t be deceived by the smallness of the word.

Reminiscent of a tiny, plastic disc–stand-in currency–used to make some small purchase, or a gesture made for the sake of appearances, the word takes on a richer and deeper meaning in the context of that delightful mixture of music, mirth and musings that is the Tokens show, Lipscomb University professor Lee Camp’s “Prairie Home Companion”-like, live radio-style brainchild. The show, now a widely-recognized thread running through the fabric of the Nashville entertainment scene, is no counterfeit coin.

Tokens transcends mere entertainment, ascending instead to the level of education, even enlightenment.… Read the rest

How Mary Nell’s Handbell Got Saved

Jesus said to “Love they neighbor” and “thy enemy.” But what do you do when the person who lives next door to you is both?

I guess there aren’t any special dispensations for that scenario. You’re just supposed to suck it up and go. When it came to Mary Nell, our neighbor from 1995-2011, we tried–and failed–over and over and over.

We first met Mary Nell in August 1995 when we stopped by Corley Drive to check out the 10-year-old brick rancher with the huge backyard that had just gone on the market.

Well, “met” only if you count a dried-up prune of a little old lady glaring at you through window blinds as a “meeting.”… Read the rest

Seeds

When it came time to pray, the Stars and Stripes stood limp in the back, left-hand corner of the room, out of sight.

Up front was the processional cross, the center of our attention and standard of the hour. I had to crane my neck nearly one hundred and eighty degrees to spy Old Glory. I didn’t feel sorry for her, though. I knew that before the day was over, she would receive her due–and then some. But at that moment, she was merely an invited guest, one among many.

That was the scene as we prepared for common prayer yesterday at Nativity Episcopal Church in Huntsville.… Read the rest

Dust In The Wind

I close my eyes
Only for a moment and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind.

“Dust in the Wind,” Kansas, 1977

Ash Wednesday always makes me think of dust (that’s the point, after all). And I can’t think of dust without thinking of Bobby.

Bobby was one of my best friends at church growing up. He, David and I were either The Three Musketeers or The Three Stooges, depending on who you asked. We often hung out on the elevated front porch of the Roanoke Church of Christ overlooking Brandon Avenue near the “Established in 33 AD” sign.… Read the rest

A Church of Christer’s Guide To Communion At An Episcopal Church

Recently a Church of Christ friend of mine wrote to me and said that he was considering attending an Episcopal Church Christmas Eve service and that he was a little intimidated by the prospect of having to walk forward and take communion. Could I help out?

Oh yes. Yes I can. Glad you asked.

First off, let me say this: Dude’s got guts. Most Church of Christers I know have never even set foot inside another church except for weddings and funerals. Some may have been taught that “they’re it” and if there’s nobody else out there, why bother? Or even if they don’t believe that, they still feel as if they might be betraying their parents or now deceased relatives by even associating with other “religious people” Christians in an actual spiritual context, as opposed to something more secular and therefore safer like, say, a NASCAR race at Talledega or a football game in Tuscaloosa.… Read the rest

Count Your Blessings

“Name them one by one,”  the song says. So here goes:

1. I’m running, not far or fast, but pain-free for the first time in quite a while. I’ve shifted my foot strike from my heel, which is where it’s been since fourth grade, to my forefoot. “Barefooting” as it’s sometimes called. I don’t exactly run barefoot on asphalt (ouch!), but I do use a “minimalist” training shoe, the Nike Free. This is supposed to be more “natural,” the way you were meant to run back in the day when your survival meant eluding a predator such as a saber-toothed tiger or that annoying herd of mastodons that lived over in the next valley.… Read the rest

A Tale of Two Schools: A Review of the 2010 Christian Scholars’ Conference

People look at you kind of strange when you tell them that you shelled out good money to attend something called a “Christian Scholars’ Conference” and that you actually enjoyed it. Reactions can range from “What’s a guy like you doing in a place like that?” to “Well, la-de-da!” But believe me, after a long season of Tim James political TV ads and rootin’ tootin’ “Ag Commish” wannabe viral videos, I was ready for a little more “la-de-da” in my life.

You know Eyegal and me–liberal arts geeks to the core. An itch like that doesn’t always get scratched sufficiently in a high tech town like Huntsville, Alabama.… Read the rest

Waiting on the Crumbs From Steve Jobs’ Table

I had a Close Encounter of the Creepy Kind with my iPhone this week. This has caused me to pause and reflect on our relationship with all our bright and shiny electronic doodads.

It happened last Sunday as Eyegal and I attended early service at a local Episcopal parish, as is our habit from time to time. It was the First Sunday in Lent (Note to my Baptist and Church of Christ friends: Lent is a 40-day period of repentance preceding Easter. It is part of the church calendar, which is actually pretty official and has been around a long, long time–like, several centuries before the founding of the United States–and has more on it besides the date of the Ladies Retreat and the next church-wide potluck.… Read the rest

The King’s New Eyes

When I finally worked up the nerve to hand “Hank” some cash, he drew back as if I was coming at him with a knife. This startled me, and for a moment I wondered what kind of fix my attempted charity had gotten me into. Would he lunge back at me in self defense? Or would he start to channel the cacophony of voices inside his head and yell profanities at me instead? I braced myself for just about anything. I suddenly wished I had just left well enough alone and dropped off the money at the checkout counter, just like everyone else did.… Read the rest

A Communion of Saints

I don’t always do eye exams on Catholic priests, but when I do, I prefer to be blessed.

And that’s exactly what happened yesterday when I examined an honest-to-God padre, Father C. I’ve examined my share of Baptist preachers and various charismatic sorts, even a couple of Episcopalian rectors, but as far as I can remember Father C. was my first Vatican-verified vicar. He was Irish too, which was simply gravy on the potatoes.

He was the second patient in as many days to created a stir in the waiting room. The first one was the man with the Crimson Tide elephant hat, complete with long, gray trunk, who came in Monday still high on the fumes of Mt.Read the rest

The Aching Beauty of Ordinary Moments

Sometimes a man just needs a little time to go climb his own mental mountaintop and mull things over without the whole world knowing about it. Hence, the “blogbattical.”

But I will return soon, and when I do, there will be some changes. You don’t hold someone’s head in your hands as they pass from this life without being changed.

Changes in cosmetics and content, but plenty of the old familiar, too. Speaking of which, if you’re my friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you know I haven’t been completely silent. Those have been my low-maintenance ways of maintaining community over the past few months without the pressure of producing new content several times a week.… Read the rest

Shoes Off, Sitting on Holy Ground

The first time I said my last words to her was just off Exit 407, I-40 East near Gatlinburg/Sevierville. Her blood pressure was plummeting, and I had told my sister to call me if it looked like she was going fast. I parked between the Russell Stover Candy Outlet and the Subway, and my sister held the phone to her ear. She was not responding by then, but they always say hearing is the last thing to go.

I told her that I loved her and that she had been a wonderful daughter, wife, mother and “Meme.” “You did a great job, Mom,” I said.… Read the rest

A Full Extension, Both-Toes-Inbounds Catch

Here’s the question: If I could somehow translate Steeler receiver Santonio Holmes’ sublime, full-extension, both-toes-inbounds Super Bowl-winning catch (or for that matter, James Harrison’s “Pass the oxygen, please” 100 yard interception return) into Eyeguy language, what would it look like?

Possible answers:

  • When I hear the splatter of rain on the gutters, I would round up my gear and go for a run anyway, or short of that, hit the elliptical trainer after work.
  • I would write something–anything–to jump-start my aging gray matter and focus it toward constructive work.
  • I wouldn’t be in so much of a rush that I would forget to kiss Eyegal before heading out the door.
Read the rest

Settlin’ Down Me Ol’ Soul

Number Two Son and I are in Pensacola, Florida this morning. It’s not the first time I’ve been here with one of me lads.

And Pensacola means McGuire’s Irish Pub, a steroid-enhanced, Gatlinburg version of one that I’m sure a real Irishman would scoff at and probably scrap over if anyone dared to call it the real thing. Aye, I think he would.

But the filet was melt-in-your-mouth wonderful and the, ahem, “root beer” was just what the doctor ordered after a hard, six hour drive. We had a seat near the stage, so we got an earful of some loud and raucous Irish music, all of which bore the same basic theme–whiskey and fightin’.… Read the rest

Rosa to MLK to JRB–Justice Rollin’ On Like A River

But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

–Amos 5:24

Regular readers know him as JRB. He’s a Harding grad like me and the most prolific commenter on this blog, the one whose fervent man-passion for his beloved ‘Dores and his meticulous command of the King’s English often get him into a scrap or two with my Bama-lovin’ alter ego, Mike the Redneck.

And through the power of the written word, a cell phone speed dial and a few blessed opportunities to break bread together, he has become one of my best friends and confidantes in the world and the “little brother” I never had.… Read the rest