Morning Has Broken

dawn

Before changing his name to Yusef Islam later in the decade, Cat Stevens released Morning Has Broken in 1972. The song, based on a hymn published in 1931, reached #1 on the US Bill Board Adult Contemporary Chart.

The tune and lyrics combine to greet each dawn like the first day of creation.

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rains new fall, sunlit from Heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day

May God grant us the grace to awake each day with the Psalmist’s words on our lips:

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! 

Vespers

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.

Amen.

WARNING!

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.

Love,

Sam

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!