vespersSince moving to Atlanta, several senior communities have invited me to speak at their Vespers’ Service. The title comes from a Latin word meaning “evening.” Technically, the worship service occurs at the 6th canonical hour in the late afternoon. In common usage, however, it refers to any evening prayer service.

The Anglican tradition calls the service “evensong” which appeals to the poet in me. The United Methodist Book of Worship takes a more prosaic approach with the title: “An Order of Evening Praise and Prayer.” More descriptive, certainly, but not nearly as lyrical.

An ancient prayer from the 4th century, Syrian church declares:

We praise and thank you, O God,

for you are without beginning and without end.

Through Christ, you created the whole world;

through Christ, you preserve it.

You made the day for the works of light

and the night for the refreshment of our minds and bodies.

Keep us now in Christ; grant us a peaceful evening,

a night free from sin; and bring us at last to eternal life.

Through Christ and in the Holy Spirit,

we offer you all glory, honor, and worship,

now and forever.



During a recent trip, the word “WARNING” suddenly appeared on my car’s information screen. Alarmed that something might be wrong, I glanced down to read the message. It declared:

warning 2

I grimaced at the irony. The WARNING caused the very situation it was designed to prevent. THEN the display required me to push “OK” in order to clear the screen.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Like most males, I take great pride in my multitasking abilities. I can read a TV program, listen to a book, and watch my wife all at the same time. Or is that “watch,” “read,” and “listen?” Regardless, I’m really good at it!

In computers, multitasking executes multiple tasks concurrently for greater efficiency. However, studies indicate the human brain does not operate in this fashion. In fact, multitasking can lead to inefficiency and inattentiveness.

The new “Hands Free” law in Georgia prohibits a driver from touching a cell phone while operating a vehicle. Regardless of our belief to the contrary, human beings do not multitask well. The road provides enough distractions without adding a digital device to the mix.

So heed the WARNING: Focus your attention on driving.

The life you save may be your own. Or mine!

The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss

The New Testament contains four gospels that proclaim God’s Good News. As evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote their accounts to introduce people to Jesus Christ.

Over the centuries, others have retold the gospel story in a rich variety of ways. Jesus’ life has been portrayed through paintings, sculptures, frescoes, stained glass, operas, musicals, and novels. Although the medium changes with time, the message endures Seussthrough eternity.

In our post-modern world, Christian authors continue to seek fresh, new ways to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love. Our August worship series is based on a book by James Kemp entitled The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss. The sermons will include:

  • August 5 The Cat in the Hat
  • August 12 Green Eggs and Ham
  • August 19 Because a Little Bug Went Ka-choo!
  • August 26 You’re Only Old Once

God’s children of all ages are invited to join us each Sunday in August.

It’s a Dog’s Life, Part 3

(During summer reruns on TV, Bill decided to share some previous blogs by the family’s Yorkshire Terrier, Sam.)

Dear Kibble and Treat Providers,Sam 4

While you were gone . . .

Someone accidentally had an accident accidentally in the house. However, don’t worry—it occurred in the guest bedroom closet where no one will notice for days.

Someone tore all of the stuffing out of my friend, Frog, and strewed it across the den floor like polyester snowflakes in July.

Someone jumped up on the neatly made bed and scratched the bedspread into a comfy nest for napping.

Someone scattered dog food across the kitchen floor in order to find just the right kibble to nibble.

Someone sloshed water out of the dog bowl while getting a drink.

Someone left nose prints on the  glass while barking at the evil mail man.

Someone perched on top of the sofa pillows as a watchtower to guard the house.

Someone got into the bathroom wastebasket—AGAIN—and dumped Kleenex, Q-tips, and cotton balls on the floor.

Someone grabbed the end of the toilet paper roll and ran through the house with it streaming behind him.

Someone couldn’t wait for you to get home and greeted you at the door with twists, turns, yips, and kisses.

Someone promises none of these things will EVER happen again . . . well, at least until you are gone the next time.



It’s a Dog’s Life, Part 2

(During summer reruns on TV, Bill decided to share some previous blogs by the family’s Yorkshire Terrier, Sam. Views expressed by the canine in no way reflect the blogger’s opinions.)

I don’t get the whole “views expressed bSam & Haileyy the canine” disclaimer. I see the world from eight inches off the floor—of course our views on things differ. DUH!

We’ve been together for almost 11 years now. I adopted the family while still a pup. I surprised them on a Christmas morning when Santa brought me down the chimney. Forget electronics, clothes, or jewelry—the best presents love you back.

I don’t demand much in return—kibble, treats, walks, and tummy rubs keep me happy. Humans could learn something about contentment from their canine companions.

My humans treat me to a spa treatment every six weeks. The cosmetician gives me a cut and wash before spritzing me with cologne. Then she ties a bandana around my neck.

I hate bandanas.

I also despise having my nails done. Despite my vocal protests, the woman insists on clipping my paws. One time she tried to buff my nails with a Dremel grinder. A lift of the lip and a flash of my teeth convinced her otherwise.

In a just cosmos, the Top Dog would send pet groomers to their own special corner of hell. Let’s just see how they like having their glands squeezed for all of eternity!

Until I properly trained them, my family only fed me twice daily. Puh-lease! I’ve watched the man of the house—he eats three meals a day and snacks in between. Why should I be treated different?

Don’t get me wrong—I still tip the scales at a svelte 12 pounds. However, I like the security of food in my bowl 24/7/365.

Even if it’s full, I like to scratch the floor beside my bowl. This informs any human within hearing range that it’s time for His Highness to dine. I insist the nearest non-canine top off the bowl with fresh food—yet another endearing practice that my humans adore.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a basket of squeaky toys. I occasionally treat my humans to a tug-of-war game. I’ve been best friends with Moo-Cow for years. I drag her into the middle of the floor and tear out her stuffing before snuggling together. Love’s complicated sometimes.

Humans LOVE to do tricks. After my human pulls a treat out of the box, I’ve trained him to hold it over my head and say “Sit!” Then I hold out my paw, and he’s learned to shake hands. Dropping on my stomach cues him to say “Down!” Finally, I allow him to give me a treat.

Like I said last time, it’s a dog’s life, and I’m not complaining. The Great Master in the Sky has blessed my family richly. Between you and me, I believe the Hound of Heaven has a soft spot for canines.

Think about it—“dog” is “God” spelled backwards. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

It’s a Dog’s Life, Part 1

Sam Glasses(During summer reruns on TV, Bill decided to share some previous blogs by the family’s Yorkshire Terrier, Sam. Views expressed by the canine in no way reflect his master’s opinions.)

Before we begin, let me apologize for the whole “master” complex of my “owner.” Puh-lease! We all know who is really in control. However, I’ve learned from watching his wife that it doesn’t hurt to let the man THINK that he’s in charge.

In his defense, he’s a lovable sort—slow but trainable. After weeks of effort, he finally learned to give me a dog biscuit whenever I sat, shook, or rolled over.

It took longer on the house training. I committed a number of indiscretions on the carpet before he finally figured out the routine. Now he takes me outside on a regular schedule. One glance at the front door, and he comes running.

We use a leash on our walks. I’ve found this is the best way to keep my human from wandering away. A short tug of the lead gets his attention; but the leash still wraps around his legs if he doesn’t turn quickly enough.

Why are people in such a hurry? A walk involves so much more than locomotion and elimination. God’s creation calls us to play. The scent of each bush, tree, and hydrant reveals cosmic mysteries. Sigh—so many smells to smell and so little time to smell them.

Speaking of smells, so what if I enjoy an occasional roll in something stinky—who doesn’t? The best opportunities always seem to occur right after a bath. For some unfathomable reason, this practice upsets my humans. I imagine they would be less stressed if they followed my example.

Don’t get me started on squirrels. They act so high and mighty with their bushy tails and twitching noses. Lucky for them I keep my people on a leash while I’m outside. Otherwise, I would be on them like white on a Maltese.

I love to go for rides. I sit in my man’s lap and drive. It’s tough to watch the road with my nose out the window, but I manage.

I am The Master of All I Survey. Sometimes strange people or animals dare to walk on the street in front of my house. Per dog decorum, I exercise my right and duty to announce my presence loudly. My family pretends to fuss about the barking, but I know that they treasure this endearing quality.

I may only weigh 12 pounds, but it’s not the size of the dog in the fight—it’s the size of the fight in the dog!

I’m waiting at the door when my people arrive at the end of the day. They always act so excited to see me. I indulge them with some dancing and prancing of my own. Humans love that sort of stuff.

At bedtime, I decide which human to grace with my presence in bed. They started me off in a crate followed by a dog bed. Puh-lease—get a grip and buy a clue. They can sleep in a crate while I snuggle under the covers.

It’s a dog’s life, and I’m not complaining. The Great Master in the Sky has blessed my family richly. Between you and me, I believe the Hound of Heaven has a soft spot for canines.

Think about it—“dog” is “God” spelled backwards. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

America the Beautiful

Fourth of JulyOn July 4, 1776, our nation’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence. The Philadelphia document formalized the American rebellion against British rule. Next week the United States of America observes its 240th birthday. Independence Day celebrates over two centuries of freedom with parades, flags, picnics, and fireworks.

Many will also ATTEMPT to sing our National Anthem. Every school child knows the story behind The Star Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key was a gifted poet who found himself unexpectedly detained on a British frigate. He witnessed firsthand the English attack Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. After the night’s artillery bombardment, Key peered through the dawn’s early light to see the American flag still flying proudly.

Inspired by the sight, Key scribbled some notes on the back of an envelope. His musings evolved into a four stanza poem. On September 15, 1814, a Baltimore newspaper first published The Star Spangled Banner.

Ironically, Key suggested the poem be sung to a popular BRITISH tune entitled To Anacreon in Heaven. The melody was originally composed for a gentlemen’s music club in London. The song quickly became popular across America. However, Congress did not actually make The Star Spangled Banner our National Anthem until 1931.

Although our national anthem is inspiring, the tune is somewhat, uh, challenging to sing. Amateur and professional vocalists alike struggle to do the tune justice.

In recent years, some have suggested changing the National Anthem to America the Beautiful.  It is a powerful hymn with moving imagery; AND it is much easier to sing!

Katherine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful in the nineteenth century. Dr. Bates, the daughter of a minister, became a professor of English Literature at Wellesley College. In 1893, she stopped in Chicago during a trip to Colorado Springs. Both the natural beauty of Colorado’s “fruited plains” and the “alabaster city” of the Chicago World Fair inspired her to write the well-known hymn.

Regardless of one’s national origin, all of God’s people can sing some of the lines together:

God shed his grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood,

From sea to shining sea.

 May God thy gold refine,

till all success be nobleness,

and every gain divine.

On the Fourth of July, we pause to give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy. Our liberty is a precious gift dearly obtained. The star spangled banner still waves over America the beautiful. May God continue to bless our nation—land that we love.

Happy Independence Day!