Have you heard about April? April is a giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in New York and she is moving ever closer to the birth of her fourth calf. There is a webcam and information at aprilthegiraffe.com. For the past couple of weeks millions have tuned in at one time or another to the live feed. I have checked in several times to watch her do everything, except – give birth (apparently it is very difficult to predict the labor of a giraffe, it has been imminent for 2+ weeks!).
Today is Ash Wednesday and it marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 40 day period (not counting Sundays) before Easter. It is a time for reflection upon life – both life here on earth and life eternal. One of the most important services of the entire year for me is the Ash Wednesday service. The ashes come from the burned palm fronds that were used in the preceding year’s Palm Sunday service. I always find that deeply moving. I can imagine that some of the people who were there to greet Jesus as He came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey were there to condemn Him a few days later. Waving palm branches one moment, crying out “Crucify Him!” the next.
Currently we are in the middle of the sermon series, “Music that Changed the World”. It has generated a lot of discussion as to what particular music changed the world and in what way. I am sure everyone has their own list – especially in regard to how their life was changed by music. I can think of several pieces of music that had an impact on my world. When I think back to my apparently superstitious junior high days, I felt that the song, “Sad Eyes” by Robert John was one that you never wanted to dance to because it would cause the relationship to break up.
This year we are practicing “The Year of Gratitude” at St. Luke’s. We have been encouraging everyone to write one thank you note each day to someone. In a time where so much can seem wrong and negative, saying “thank you” may seem to be an insignificant act. Yet, it is something that is needed to encourage those who are making a difference to continue in the same way. Today there are people who think that what they do doesn’t matter.
Today I am thinking of our current president and his departure from office for a new person to step in.
It’s the beginning of a brand new year. That means getting used to writing “2017” when it feels like I just became accustomed to “2016”. It means talk about resolutions, a new annual theme for our church, and thoughts toward upcoming sermon series. Perhaps best of all, it means a new start. We’ve been given the gift of a clean slate. Whatever 2016 meant to us with its ups and downs, 2017 has yet to be written. The script will be accomplished through a combination of circumstances and our reactions to them as well as our intentional actions apart from anything the world may throw our way.
It is Wednesday. The day after what seems to have been one of the hardest, most painful elections that anyone can remember. If you look at the numbers that continue to pour in, the country is evenly divided on the choice for president. It is almost scary how close the split is – currently I am looking at 47.7% of the votes for one and 47.5% of the votes for the other. But that has less impact on the candidates than it does for all of us. It means that in our daily lives, all of the people we encounter are people who were evenly split on who was best to lead our country. Basically, half the country woke up excited and half saddened.
Tonight will be a moment of history. The two teams facing each other in tonight’s world series have not won a World Series in many years. Excluding the eight teams that have never won a World Series title (and all of these teams were franchises created after the Indian’s last championship) the two current longest droughts since a world series championship are the Chicago Cubs at 108 years and the Cleveland Indians at 68 years. One of those streaks will end tonight.
One of my favorite events of the year is here! On the Wednesday evening before Halloween, our organist and choirmaster, Robert Fasol, puts on a scary organ concert. He takes some fun “not-so-scary” tunes and plays them on the organ. Together with the video and special lighting talents of the Communications Team, it is a memorable evening!
El Sistema is an orchestra that takes children from some of our inner city schools, matches them with an instrument based on their talents and desires, teaches them how to play their instrument, and then gives them their own instrument to keep. But truly, El Sistema is about so much more than just training these children and youth to become musicians. El Sistema is about giving them opportunities and helping them to see the impact they can have in the world.