Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day - The Last Blast of Summer

I have heard the saying "you can't go back in time" and of course, I know that has a lot of truth to it.  Physically, that is an impossibility.  No one has invented time travel (that I know of).  But this last week has been a reminder to me of the past and the ability to remember the time gone by is a very powerful thing and perhaps, it is the closest thing we might have to going back in time.  

Last Thursday, I was able to watch my oldest grandson, Evan, as he performed with his new high school band.  He played the mellophone, which is a marching band blend of a trumpet/French horn type of instrument.  Evan has really blossomed as an accomplished trumpet player.  It was a trip down memory lane as I recalled the halftime shows we played in high school band.  Not only that memory, but others began to invade my space as I reflected back in time.  I don't want to turn back time, but it was a warm feeling to remember it.

It's Labor Day Weekend.  I have also been reminded of all the Labor Days of my youth - especially my high school days.  You see, for me, Labor Day was always the last blast of summer.  We'd spend that Monday in the small town of Bovey (home of the picture Grace).  The celebration was Labor Day, but in Bovey, it was always called Bovey Farmer's Day.  I would march with one of the three city bands I played in (Marble, Bovey, or Coleraine).  Right after the parade, I would then play in each of the city band concerts played on the lawn of the City Hall.  The day was filled with music.

The music didn't stop there.  Sometime that night, upstairs in the Bovey Auditorium, some local band would be playing the latest hits of the era at the Teen Dance.  I can still hear Edna Kwami (not sure if her named was spelled that way) singing the Jefferson Airplane hit "Don't You Want Somebody to Love" echoing through the dance hall.  The dance gave everyone a chance to see friends that we hadn't seen all summer.  Of course, the dance didn't last too long because the next day was the first day of school.  

It's a striking thing to be able to recall those moments of our youth.  It's even better when we can remember them with accuracy.  Farmer's Day was always a fabulous kickoff to the return to school.  I loved going to school.  Riding the bus each day, seeing my friends, interacting with the teachers I liked and even the ones that I didn't (which wasn't a long list, quite frankly), and the beginning of all the activities that brought us all together: Friday night football, halftime band performances, the usual excursion out to the peninsula to gather leaf specimens for biology class, the impromptu class meetings run by the principal, hot lunch, study hall, building the homecoming floats, and countless numbers of other things in which we participated.  When I start to think about all the things we were involved in, the memories become so thick I almost have to brush them away from my mind.  (Isn't it strange how I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast but I can recall events from a half of a century ago with remarkable clarity?)

Next year, my graduating class will gather for their 50th year since graduation - what would Greenway High School do without the Class of '72?  The planning team has decided to have that celebration over the Labor Day weekend.  It seems appropriate to me that date would be the choice.    

I hope my classmates will be able to be there.  Like our class song says "But I always thought that I'd see you again" ("Fire and Rain" by James Taylor).

We can turn back time once again!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

These Shoes Are Meant for Preaching!

You know, it's been quite a while since I've sat down and wrote something for this blog.  It's been over a year, if my memory serves me correctly.  I have had some long spells in between these short articles.  I think I've been a bit pre-occupied with the COVID stuff that continues to dominate our lives today.  Honestly, I haven't felt like writing about that because there are so many different thoughts and perspectives out there.  I know I would be bound to cross someone with an opposite opinion and frankly, that's just not helpful today.  At least, that's my perspective.  Don't get me wrong - there are times when an opposite word is required.  But my perception is that people have their understandings about what this COVID is all about.  It would take a great deal to move them away from that perspective - whichever side that person might be on.  So, forgive me, friends, I'm not about to start a conversation about trying to persuade one side to move to the other.

So, let's talk shoes instead!  I've always been an easy mark for a flashy shoe.  I suppose that might be a surprise because on Sunday, I usually just wear a shiny Oxford wing-tip style shoe to church.  The shoes are always black.  Not much for the imagination and there is a reason for that: I am pretty sure people aren't coming to church to see what kind of shoes I am wearing.  So, I keep it low key to make sure that is true.  Can you imagine the conversations if I wore something flashy every Sunday morning?  Yikes!  We don't need that, do we?

But, during the week is a different story.  Take the shoe you see on the left in the picture on the right - the neon yellow and green New Balance shoe.  I bought that shoe when I was in Gainesville, Virginia five years ago.  I still wear them today.  But I was taken in by another pair of shoes in the Virginia area (visiting my daughter and her family) which are a bit more colorful than the neon shoes.  They have a nice blue green tint with a bright white stripe running down the side.  Let me tell you, these shoes are shaaaaarp!  And comfortable, too!  Yes indeed, these shoes will fit in nicely with my summer wardrobe - but I don't think it would be right to wear them on Sunday morning....

...unless it fit the text I was preaching on.  Then I could justify it!  I suppose the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors might be an appropriate story to preach on while wearing such a shoe.  Or maybe, just maybe, I could focus on Jesus and his discussion of the water of life, being that these shoes are bluish and look like they've been dipped in the waters of a clear blue bay somewhere.  There is always the Romans text that talks about the beautiful feet of those who preach the good news - man, I could wear them every Sunday if I took that text to heart!  There are a great many references in Scripture that talk about taking one's sandals off - I'm not ready to entertain that notion.

I promise I will ponder and pray about this.  Personally, I'm more concerned about making sure I bring the good news of Jesus Christ as opposed to what I might be wearing when I do that.  After all, that's the real deal, right?  People come to hear a word of hope for their journey, to embrace a moment that might brighten their day, to be given a light to shine in the darkness that sometimes envelopes them!  The Word is first and foremost!  

Everything else is just minor details that are discussed over coffee and fellowship during the week.  The only thing I will say is check it out... come in person or watch on the live stream... me and my shoes - we'll be there...

...but which ones?