John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;

Put me to doing; put me to suffering;

Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,

Exalted for you, or brought low for you;

Let me be full, let me be empty;

Let me have all things, let me have nothing;

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

You are mine and I am yours.

So be it. And the covenant made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Good Friday

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”

“I am thirsty.” Our Lord, the creator of the universe, was thirsty. I don’t even pretend to understand the fullest meaning of that.

I do know what it’s like to be thirsty; I was thinking though, have I ever been really thirsty? I think profound thirst would be an entirely different experience than most of us have ever imagined.

But here, beaten and crucified some of Jesus’ last words were “I am thirsty?” Are those words out of place? I mean, isn’t the physical pain He’s enduring just off the charts? Well, if we could imagine some of our weakest moments, maybe some acute sickness or pain, I think any of us could see ourselves uttering what otherwise might be considered irrational statements.

But, even here, in this very human moment, in the very same sentence the Scriptures tell us there’s more. “…so that the Scripture would be fulfilled…” So, now I’m imagining Jesus rationally thinking, “Ok, now before I die, I have to remember to say ‘I’m thirsty’ so the Scriptures will be fulfilled.”

No.

Now I realize that He isn’t fulfilling the scriptures, He is the fulfillment. His actions don’t fulfill God’s plan, He is God’s plan. He didn’t carry around a checklist: “OK, let’s see, suffering servant, check, read from Isaiah in the synagogue, check, ride a donkey into Jerusalem, check. Mutter ‘I’m thirsty’ right before I die, check!”

No, Jesus is, as philosophers like to say, “The thing itself.”

So, He was really thirsty, and He was the fulfillment of the Scriptures; both at the same time. That just says it all; human and divine.

Do I know what that means? No, I don’t. But, I know that these things exist. I know that humans exist and I know that the divine exists. And I know that they were not created apart from each other.

It is me that has driven a wedge between the two. It is my sin that keeps them apart. And, it is my sin that drove Jesus to this moment of agonizing thirst.

Jesus is thirsty and I can’t save him. He is up there because of me. Lord, forgive me; I wish it was just a matter of giving you some sour wine to drink. But you’re asking so much more. Tonight, I can scarcely take it in. Seeing you up there, thirsty, crying…I just want it to be over.

Alleluia!

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

The four little engines that could

I’d like you to meet the USS Allen. Named after Commander William H. Allen, a hero in the War of 1812. The concept of a ship called a “destroyer” was hardly 20 years old when this one was built in 1916. She escorted the first wave of the Expeditionary Force to France, then was based in Queenstown, Ireland (where this picture was taken.) After the end of the War to End all Wars, she then escorted the Washington and President Wilson to France.

After an uneventful couple of decades she narrowly escaped being transferred to Great Britain in 1940. In December of 1940 she proceeded to Pearl Harbor and was there on the morning of December 7, 1941. Commander D. B. Miller says in his report:

Two planes were definitely shot down by this ship’s fire – one by Gun No. 6 and the second by starboard waist 50-caliber. The latter plane exploded in mid-air and was seen by bridge personnel to fall between USS Detroit and Ford Island. The former fell in hills about one mile northwest of AIEA mill stack. Our fire persisted for approximately 45 minutes, expending 57 rounds of 3-inch and 600 rounds of 50-caliber. It is possible a third plane was shot down by Gun No. 6, although fire from other ships were also concentrated on it.

She stayed at Pearl on anti-submarine duty and on the 27th of Dec. rescued 12 men from a merchant ship that had been hit by an enemy sub.

Then in early June of ’42 they received orders to steam toward Midway. As they set out, they had no idea that the most epic sea battle in history had just taken place. But, when they arrived, they would pickup survivors of the USS Yorktown, the flagship of the Operational Commander Admiral Fletcher. (As it so happens, Fletcher’s second assignment was to the USS Allen in 1918.)

She served most of the remainder of the war either at Pearl or running back and forth from Pearl to San Francisco. She was the oldest Destroyer in service and the only “4-stacker” or “1000-ton” left afloat. Finally arriving at her final resting place in Philadelphia on September 13, 1945; she was sold to Boston Metals Co. for scrap. In November, the name was struck from the Navy list and no ship has been given that name since.

Before Pearl Harbor was ever attacked young Martin W. decided that he should join the service now, instead of waiting for what he felt sure was the inevitable. That way, he’d be released before the war ended, thereby spending less time in active service during war-time. And, he figured that the navy has to better than the Army because at the end of the day he’d have a bed to sleep in. So, he joined the Navy and found himself in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. A mess-cook on the oldest Destroyer in the Navy; what a life! Those Japs really know how to make a mess out of a mess-cook’s life.

He had a young bride back in St. Louis. When they were kids, Irene and a couple of girlfriends had tried to get into the nearby Presbyterian church, but failed. One of them said, “hey, there’s a Methodist Church down the street and I know how to get in that one.” She’d been a Methodist ever since. The church was then, and still is, central to her life. Possibly more so since Martin passed away in 1995. She still attends each and every Sunday and has returned to attending Sunday School.

When she pulled this humble Sunday School teacher aside to say, “I’ve been attending church a long time and today…you really made me think about things…” well, it was simply the highpoint of all of my days of teaching.

A Christmas Funeral

It was Christmastime of ought-five
The whether had finally turned cold
The news came that Mr. Ray had passed
Now everyone had to be told

About the plans to honor him
And how we’d do that at the church
Where he gave his life and two loves
And now; an end to his search

His daughter asked me to sing a song
I was honored but afraid
Afraid that I wasn’t worthy
Then, He spoke; and I obeyed

Mr. Ray’s grandson told me,
“Your dad sang at my grandpa B’s service.”
I said, “That’s somethin’,” and thought,
“Thanks for making me nervous.”

Bing Crosby, Eddie Arnold and me
We sang Rock of Ages
From Our Favorite Hymns we picked
After turning lots of pages

Easter 2005

We had a good Easter here at the Hudson home. It was a busy, but nice weekend. Emily’s been working most weekends, but she likes her job. Friday night Annette and I went to the Good Friday service at our sister church. Saturday morning we drove out to beautiful Dittmer, Missouri to help a friend move back to St. Louis. She’s separating/divorcing so a bunch of us from church went out to help her. Saturday night I spent at church preparing the breakfast for Sunday morning. Sunday morning after the Sunrise Service at Bellerive Park folks always come by for breakfast. It’s not big, just about twenty-five or so. Easter Service was very nice. A packed church as usual for Easter. My Cousin Ken’s niece Tara and her fiancé came and later they told us they’d decided to get married here at Kingshighway. Her grandmother, Ken’s mother, my aunt Beth would be very glad to hear this. I can’t help but to think of her each Easter as she’s the one who always arranged for the Easter flowers in the sanctuary. When I see the tulips and lilies, I think of her.

The big news in these parts however is the announcement by my elder sister Becky that she, Becky, is going to get married. Married for the first time, I’ll have you know. I know she’s happy and I couldn’t be happier for her. She’s found a great guy named Steve who’s just wacky enough to fit it with our family. We’ve met all of his family now, and they’re frighteningly similar to ours. Southsiders, to be sure. Steve is a Realtor and he recruited Annette to join the brokerage that he works for, so now, those two just sit in a corner talking real estate and nobody else has to listen to it. It’s great. The wedding is planned for the summer of 2006, so I hope that’s enough time for Becky to plan everything.

Well, I’ve been writing this blog for a little over a year now. Talking about my Aunt Beth a minute ago, I was reminded that I said the exact same thing in last year’s Easter blog entry. Oh, well, I warned you; I’m boring.

I’ll leave you with the first verse of a Charles Wesley hymn that every Protestant on earth sang Sunday morning:

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia
Sing, ye heavens and earth reply, Alleluia

Holy Week

Sorry for not writing in a while…

Let’s see…my Dad is doing well. He’s still on the oxygen, but is improving each day and should make a “full” recovery. “Full” meaning 72 years old, smoked cigarettes for 50 of those years, so what do you think his lungs are telling him? “We can’t, (cough, cough) do it, (cough, cough) any – (cough, cough) – more!” So, he’s given up the cigarettes. He says he’ll be ready to go to Steak N Shake maybe next week. It’s going to be strange, sitting there after we eat and him not lighting up. Maybe I’ll start smoking.

I can’t believe it Holy Week already. Man, where does the year go? I always remember my old friend Scott Doss on Maundy Thursday. He died on Holy Thursday 5 years ago. He and I were childhood friends since 4th grade or so. He moved out of Carondelet before we went to high-school, but we remained friends. When we were kids, he lived down here on Dover, and another kid by the name of Raymond lived upstairs from him. Raymond had a drum set. A real drum set. I was very jealous. I always wanted to play the drums, but I remember thinking to myself, “well, I guess I’ll have to play guitar now. ” Raymond moved away soon enough though, and Scott ended up being the drummer. His older brother Jeff played drums too. We had the proverbial garage band for a while, though I admit I didn’t even know 3 chords.

I was quite shocked to hear that he had died. When I went to the service, I approached his twin sister; she looked at me queerly…I leaned towards her and said my name. She wrapped her arms around me and cried. She then announced to the folks gathered around her that I was Scott’s “oldest” friend. I didn’t mind the implication. “I did know him longer that all of you,” I thought. She then lead me down to the casket where Jeff was standing and whispered my name in his ear. He shook my hand and tried apologizing for not calling me. (I’d heard the news via my Dad who read it in the paper.)

I sat in the back of Hope Lutheran Church on the South Side. I’ll never forget what the preacher told us that day. Something I didn’t expect about Scott. The preacher said, “I talked to Scott before he died. He was ready. How about you?”

I did some driving that day. I turned on the radio to a station from our youth: KSHE 95 – Real Rock Radio. I knew Scott and God were picking the tunes. They played the Black Sabbath song that he and I tried so desperately to figure out when we were 13. Then I heard Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain” from the album “Closer to Home.” I knew Scott was OK then.

Pistol Pete Reiser (updated)

While roaming through the Baseball Reference site (I added a permanent link to it on the Trivia Night Blog) I remembered a story my dad told me about Pete Reiser. Turns out, he’s the 2nd cousin of Leo Reiser, who attends our church. Leo’s upwards of 85 years old now and was quite the musician in his day. He still composes (piano) and plays during Communion once a month. He’s also a regular at our Coffee Houses. He loves Rogers & Hart/Hammerstein as much as I do and we’ve more than a few times blessed the crowd with his not-so-exact fingerings and my not-so-Howard-Keel-like voice. Each time he performs, I think to myself, “Boy, I hope I’m still doing that when I’m 85.”

Whenever my dad and Leo see each other, Leo says to him, “‘morning Son,” to which my dad replies, “‘evening Star.” I guess it’s some kind of secret code they made up when they were both in Choir years ago.

But, back to Pete Reiser. Poor Pete is the reason baseball players now wear helmets and the reason there is now a “warning track” around the outfield. Leo told me that Pete played every game “like it was his last.”

If you’re a baseball fan, take the time to read these links that I’ve provided here. This guy truly was the original Pistol Pete!

The Apostle Paul turns to blogging

Would Paul have been a blogger. I feel sure he would have. Email, definitely. I’ve been reading, talking and thinking about him lately. I’m leading a group through Romans on Sunday morning and our Sunday night Bible Study is in the middle of a look at all of his letters. The Romans study is one I’d been through as a student some years ago and it had quite an impact on me. In those days, Bible study was new for me. I subsequently learned that I was not the first person that it had an impact on. Augustine, Martin Luther and John Wesley, to name a few, had life-changing experiences resulting from the book of Romans. Luther said, “…every Christian should know it word for word…” Well, I don’t, as yet, know it word for word, but I do agree that it is “a miniature New Testament.” It’s all there, the whole Gospel. Written to “Greek” minds, that is, “intellectuals.” And Luther’s reading of 1:17…

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

This simple passage that we all take for granted now, was the beginning of the Reformation that so dramatically changed history. The righteousness is from God, not from us. We are not righteous. We are not right. Even church leaders, if you can believe it.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lent. Today, like many churches around the world, we burned the palms from last year’s Palm Sunday Service to use as the ashes for this service. We also spent a few meditative moments to write on a small piece of paper that were also burned with the palm leaves. You write what you’re going to “give up” for Lent. This could be something you’re really going to give up like red meat or chocolate, but it could also be something you take on, like exercise or reaching out to family members more often. It’s traditionally solemn, but it doesn’t have to be.

I always feel happy during Lent. It could be just the weather turning and the onset of Spring, but it’s also the renewing of life on a much deeper level. Morning has broken, like the first morning.

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

Sweet the rain’s 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

(Read about Eleanor Farjeon)