Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Blog Worth a Visit

When I have the opportunity, I like to point out and plug blog sites that I enjoy visiting.  Let me introduce you to The Six Chix, the site of six very talented artists, and a comic that's regularly shared on my Facebook feed.  From their "about" page, here's a bit about the blog:
"Six Chix is a unique daily comic strip. It is created by six women cartoonists who each draw a day of the week and then rotate the Sunday strips. Isabella Bannerman draws Mondays; Martha Gradisher draws Tuesdays; Susan Camilleri Konar draws Wednesdays; Mary Lawton draws Thursdays; Benita Epstein draws Fridays; and Stephanie Piro draws Saturdays. Each cartoonist writes and draws with her own style and perspective. In any given week, you might find gags about the economy, technology, zombies, pirates or health care — and the main characters will be female and funny."
You can find the Six Chix Blog here. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 28, 2018


So its the weekend and a time when we should be decompressing after the workweek.  Easy to do, but the peanut between the ears doesn't take a day off.  For the past two days, i was putting Siri, my iPhone AI Digital Assistant through her paces with interesting results.  In all, she is purposely coy and cool as a cucumber.  But as I was asking her a battery of questions, my mind traveled back to 1981 and Jeff Lynne's release of the Time.  

The track, "Your's truly, 2095" seemed to look towards Siri and Alexa.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Going Home -- Reflections

(Blogger's Note:  This essay was composed back in 2010, after running up to Coatesville following my Dad's emergency Gall Bladder surgery.)

Two Friday's ago, I was on Strode Ave, preparing to turn east onto Lincoln Highway. Looking east, and taking in the full vista of Coatesville, I was filled with a sadness.
"How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave. 2 She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies."  Lamentations 1:1-2
We traveled east on Lincoln Highway, crossing Brandywine creek and heading into town. My eyes were met with decay and dirt. A block of shops in the town center were replaced by a gaping dirt patch. Across the street, people were sitting idly outside of a laundromat. Further on, my eyes met the crumbling bronze work on the steeple of the church that was once First Baptist. As we continued, there was a growing "Bizarro-World" feel to things. The buildings were, for the most part, the same. Yet, they were occupied with other activities. Gibney's, Teti's, Sante's were all still "there", but were occupied by different businesses.

Stirling Street offered the next bit of shock. I alluded to the fact in a previous post that everything seems smaller than the way it appears in Memory; the 800th block of Stirling Street is no exception. Looking end to end at a strip of pavement less than 1,000 feet from end to end, I was stunned in apprehending the fact that the first 8 years of my life were played out on this small stage. But for all the change and decline, there sat Holly and Ginger Chenger on their front porch. It was for a moment, like stepping back into a late spring afternoon in 1970.

* * * *
Since returning home, the city has experienced another tragedy as two young men, mired in thuggery and culture of violence, had their showdown at Sixth and Lincoln Hwy. In the end game, a 16 year-old lay mortally wounded and a 23 year-old effectively ended his life.

So what's the future hold for Coatesville? Is she doomed to become Pennsylvania's Camden, or Chester County's Beirut? Is she resigned to end her death spin into the ground as a burnt out carcass of what she once was? I don't believe that this is a foregone conclusion. But what's to be done? Coatesville is in dire need of Divine intervention, and must set out on a path of repentance, reconstitution, revitalization, and revival.

I'm calling on every Priest, Pastor, Rabbi, and Evangelist between the Checker and Caln bridges to call a solemn convocation. Every person of faith needs to gather in tears, fasting and ashes, to repent and intercede for their beloved city. Until the hand of providence moves on behalf of Coatesville, she'll remain mired in fatal inertia.

Coatesville must reconstitute as a community. Recalling her history as a station on the underground railroad, she must embrace a post-racial view where divisions are cast aside and an emergent sense of unity is fostered. The city must become a "hyphen-free" zone where the citizens apprehend the truth that regardless of race or ethnicity, they're all citizens of the same city; they stand and fall together. Once this worldview is embraced, they can begin to aggressively take on crime, and blight.

The citizens need to vote out any civic leader who has failed in their promises to bring about change. Too, these leaders must never loose sight of the truth, that they aren't there to "rule", they've been placed in office to represent their constituents. These leaders should be held accountable, and required to create a climate where business and industry can once again thrive. As the local economy stabilizes and expands, unemployment rates will dive, deficits will evaporate and quality of life will swing upward.

Municipal and cultural revival will be the end result. This is hard and it will be hard. Yet, its attainable for a community that rises up to say that "We ARE Coatesville, and we're through with the status quo of the past 35 years."

Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23rd, and the End of Days?

"The Rapture", or specifically,  the secret snatching away of the Church before the epoch-ending events described in the apocalyptic writings in Scripture is a relatively new innovation in Biblical thought.  This doctrine was first taught in the 1830's by John Nelson Darby, a founding leader of the Plymouth Brethren, a breakaway group from the Anglican Church.  In the 18 centuries prior, there was no such doctrine.  I don't believe any reasonable person would consider this teaching to be heresy, but the majority of the Christian Tradition holds a different view.

The Christian Faith (Roman, Eastern, and Protestant Traditions) have viewed the actual return of The Lord as a matter of settled doctrine, and it is affirmed in the Historic Creeds of the Church ("He shall return to judge the living and the dead...") What becomes issue is the idea if "date setting", especially in the light of Christ's own words.  The Master declared that "No one knows the day and the hour that the Son of Man will return."  Perhaps more importantly, this statement was preceded by the exhortation to "Watch and Pray" that the hearer would be prepared and not caught unaware when the Master manifests himself.

"We need not fear the fictitious Planet X. But we need to admit the reality that we are one day closer to eternity than ever before. And we have only today to be ready". -- Jim Denison
Commentator and author, Jim Denison,shares his thoughts on this latest Rapture prediction in today's Denison Report, which is linked here.

My personal thoughts on this are pretty simple.  Each Sunday I, along with millions of my best friends, affirm the truth of Christ's return.  There is nothing to stop that return on any given day and the nanosecond the Father commands it, the event will be set into motion.  And, given the fragility of human life, an accident, sickness, or sudden medical mishap could irrevocably propel me into His presence.  For me, this is the "watching" part of the exhortation, which is why, in-turn, I pray to be found faithful in each new day. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Morning

From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A beauty in praying the Liturgical Hours is their ability  give us a sort of lay line in charting the direction of our day.  And for me, I see the Office Morning Prayer as a sort of Laying the Keel of the ship that will take us on through to the nighttime.  The particular Collect seemed to jump from the pages this morning, especially in light the past Sunday's "Taste of Heaven" Gathering.  I'm tying this Collect to the recent gathering as it was Pastor Tony Addinall of All Nation's Church of God who captured this truth in his opening invocation.

The prayer opens with the declaration that the Almighty has created for Himself, a species (if you'll have it), of one blood.  He then at the appointed time sent his very expression, His son, to bring redemption to this fallen people who were of one blood.  Apprehending this truth is the beginning of the demolition of the false barriers which divide us.  Its the wrecking ball that demolishes the barriers of ignorance, fear, mistrust and hatred.

We can't affect this in our own.  It is only by the power and agency of the Almighty that humanity might be moved to seek God, and be drawn to Him. Yet in this, He has called us to be the transmission medium for His call to go forward and be heard by a world that's not intuitively listening for this call of the one God to His one people. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Reflecting on A Taste of Heaven 2018

"A Taste of Heaven", a vision of the Prince William County Ministerial Association, conceived twenty years ago, gathers churches from across Prince William to worship together under one roof for one Sunday.  It takes a venue like the Hylton Memorial Chapel to effectively host a gathering of this size.  Its a morning of inspired worship, powerful praise, and challenging messages as a few thousand followers of the Christ come together in one heart and one spirit.  Anglicans, Baptists, Charismatic, and Non-Denominational believers set aside their own distinctive liturgies as Christ is elevated, seeds of unity & reconciliation are sown, and friendships are made/reinforced.   In some ways, it was reminiscent of Camp Meeting from back in the day, minus the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes.  But best of all, it was two hours where the saints came together to desegregate the most segregated hour of the week in America.

There was a great takeaway for those attending yesterday's gathering in that "Unity is not Uniformity".  Our Devotion, our Worship, our unique traditions all aim to lift high the name of the Almighty.  We are one body that can find its unity in its diversity.

Its my hope and prayer that events like this would spread all across the commonwealth and our nation.  Too, I'd pray that this "taste" would leave saints desiring more.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Morning

From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Each morning is a new opportunity to strive to "Get it right".  Irrespective of what we did, or failed to do yesterday, today is a blank page waiting to be written. Even so, the desires and direction of our hearts will strongly influence the trajectory of our lives in this new day.  This is why seeking the Lord first in our day's is essential spiritual life habit to our walking in victory.

May our Lord guide your every step today.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Morning in Suburbia Majora

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Praying for Children

Do you pray for children?  Let me qualify this; do you pray for children who're not your own, or ones who are not a part of your greater family?

Since becoming a parent nearly 35 years ago, like most of you, I've prayed daily for my sons for a myriad of concerns.  And when nieces, a nephew and grandchildren came on the scene, they too were added to the daily prayer roster.  Last summer, another subset of children were added to the daily prayers.  In the interest of their privacy, I'll simply refer to these ones as "The Five" (with apologies to Mr. Gutfeld & company).

Who are The Five?  The Five are a group of elementary school-aged kids whom I had the blessing of teaching during last year's Community Vacation Bible School (CVBS).   CVBS is a revolutionary concept in implementing Vacation Bible School.  For years, churches throughout communities across America would hold VBS at their local facility, effectively reaching a small number of children, with most of these already being associated with that particular church.  CVBS broke that mold by launching VBS out into homes, parks, community centers, etc. across the County allowing for the reach to children who might not ever come in contact with a local church.  Its a true Gospel multiplier.  Where historically, a church might share the Good News with dozens of children, CVBS can effectively reach hundreds of young people.  It was in this venue where I met The Five.

It's been a joy to lift these three girls and two guys up in prayer daily, asking the Almighty to commend them to the care of His Guardian Angels for their watching and protection.  That joy is multiplied when you're suddenly afforded the opportunity to serve one of them during the Eucharist, then seeing their face light up when they learn that they've been prayed for. 

All of us want the very best for the children around us, and prayer for these little people works towards that end.  Let me encourage you consider some non-familial children whom you could include in your daily prayers, and prepare to be amazed.