Today I find myself feeling conflicted with competing emotions of despair and hope. After all the negative news we have heard this week surrounding the awful hatred, violence, and bigotry seen in Charlottesville last weekend along with the terrible new of Barcelona yesterday, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of despair at times. Yet, at the same time I am particularly reminded today of the power of hope and new beginnings as so many teachers and students start back to school today.
This week we said “see you later” to our summer intern. Emiliano was with us through June and July and came to us from the Lydia Patterson Institute. Lydia Patterson is a Methodist preparatory school in El Paso, Texas that mostly serves students who are coming from across the border in Juarez, Mexico. They teach the students English and give them a good quality education to prepare them for college. They graduate about 95% of their students, and 98% of their graduates go on to attend colleges and universities across the United States.
I have to be honest. There have been some weeks this year that I’ve been better at writing my thank you notes than others. This year has been the “Year of Gratitude” at St. Luke’s. We started out the year encouraging everyone to do a few things. First, we encouraged everyone to begin and end your prayers every day with gratitude before prayers petitioning God for things you want. Second, we encouraged everyone to keep a gratitude journal and write down at least three things every day that you’re thankful for that day. Third, we encouraged everyone to write a thank you note every single day.
Monday night was an exciting night in Oklahoma City. I’m sure many of you were watching the NBA Awards show to see Russell Westbrook be named the Most Valuable Player for the 2016-2017 season. Russell gave a very emotional speech expressing gratitude to God and all of his family who helped make it possible to do what he did this last year in basketball. It was a great moment for Russell, the Thunder, and all of Oklahoma City.
It’s true – I kissed a pig! This week was Vacation Bible School at St. Luke’s Edmond. Every year at VBS we have a little contest between the boys and the girls. We collect offerings throughout the week to support a local cause that benefits children. This year, all the funds were going to benefit Positive Tomorrows, a school for homeless children in Oklahoma City.
This Sunday is Father’s Day and is a great time for us to take a moment and think about all those men who have played such a valuable role in teaching us and making us the people we are today.
At St. Luke’s, we have started a sermon series to look at phrases that sound biblical, but aren’t actually in the bible. I’ve been having fun looking at the true origins of some of these sayings, and it got me curious about the origins of other common sayings. For example, have you ever wondered why we often say, “God bless you!” when someone sneezes? Why not when someone coughs or gets the hiccups?
Earlier this week I found two of my worlds colliding as I was listening to the radio driving home from the Oklahoma Annual Conference (our yearly business meeting for all United Methodists in the state). I was listening to the classical station and The Rite of Spring came on.
This weekend is Memorial Weekend. For many, it’s a time to kick off summer, go to the lake, and enjoy a little vacation. But, let’s not forget what the weekend and holiday is all about. We take time to remember those who have given the ultimate measure of sacrifice to ensure our freedoms in this country. They have given us the freedom to pray, worship, and speak freely. They have given us the freedom to voice our opinions through a democratic process. They have given us the freedom to vote in elections and protest peacefully when we disagree with something. We can never take these freedoms and so many others for granted.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day and it’s a time to specifically focus on our moms and all the important women in our lives who have helped to shape us and make us better people. Moms certainly deserve more than one day out of the year to be celebrated! I know I don’t tell my mom enough how much she means to me, and I’m sure I don’t fully appreciate all that she has done for me in my life. This weekend, take time to tell the important women in your life how much they mean to you. They are certainly a gift from God. Happy Mother’s Day mom!