Gratitude Note: For the Cross-giveaway. Leave it to Charlie K. to provide an interesting twist to her funeral day. At St. Luke’s today we celebrated the life and faith of a genuine character, one of a kind, special child of God by the name of Charlie K. Lowe. She was loved by many people – lots of friends. Charlie had a collection of crosses in her apartment – an expression of faith as well as an interest in the varied designs. The crosses were put on display at the reception by her daughter, Lari, this morning. Charlie left instructions inviting friends to choose a cross to take with them. One by one the crosses found a new home – reminders of Charlie and her faith. Only a few were left and I have plans for them. I am grateful for my friend and parishioner – and especially for this Cross-giveaway for her friends – a nice twist for her celebration.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Gratitude Note: For Charlie K. Lowe – a one-of-a-kind child of God. Charlie K died peacefully in her apartment in Tulsa this afternoon. She was a long-time member of St. Luke’s. She suffered from COPD and had moved to Tulsa to be near her daughter. Charlie was a genuine character you just had to love in spite of some of the things she would say. I loved the way you never had to guess what she was thinking. Her sense of humor was a delight and her laugh was contagious. Her faithfulness was inspiring. She loved the Monday evening Holy Eucharist and was there week after week with her oxygen puffing along. She often said with a nod upward, “When He is ready, I am ready. Until then I’ll keep keeping on.” Then she would shake her head and chuckle. Tonight I am happy for her – the battle is over and she is at peace. Charlie’s service will be a week from Saturday, the 30th, at 10:00 – St. Luke’s of course. No doubt I will laugh and cry getting ready. I love her. Thank you, Charlie K – you were a good one (most of the time – lol). And, thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 9:18 PM
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Gratitude Note: For an old friend and his spiritual awakening. Lynda and I are headed to Asheville for a wedding. Tonight we met up with a old friend we had not seen in seventeen years. He and Lynda used to teach together – I just tagged along. It was great to rehash old memories and mutual relationships. We had a great time, but I was especially taken by his reference to a “spiritual awakening” that started about thirteen years ago. He talked openly about God and how he experienced a new sense of worth and direction for his life. He has always been gifted, but now he is filled with gratitude for his gifts and every opportunity to use his gifts for others. As I listened to him, I felt blessed and enriched personally – so refreshing to hear someone speak so openly about God and his life. Indeed, in my quiet time tonight I reflected on my journey with gratitude and an awareness of the “footprints” in the sand of my life. Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:42 PM
Monday, April 18, 2016
Gratitude Note: For a compliment for St. Luke’s in an interesting context. Lynda and I are about to make a little trip and I like to take my favorite libation with me. So, I stopped by Fifth and Shawnee – my favorite libation store. As Brandon was taking my money, he shared that a customer had just mentioned St. Luke’s – I was all ears. The man said he had not been in church for many, many years, but went to St. Luke’s last Sunday. He said it was wonderful and he plans to go back. I don’t have a clue who this person might be, but I am happy for him – and for us. We didn’t do anything different than usual except that it was the Fourth Sunday of Easter. The Sacrament of Bread and Wine was offered and Christ was present as usual. But, I think it is likely that God’s Spirit met and blessed our friend where he is live and faith right now. I am so very grateful. I hope to meet him soon. Meanwhile, thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:44 PM
This prayer is usually accredited to Mother Teresa though it was probably written by Keith Kent. It was found written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta. I was impressed by the spirituality reflected this “prayerful exhortation” and used it in my sermon on Sunday at St. Luke’s. This is the way of Jesus and we are called to follow.
The Prayer of Mother Teresa
People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered
. Forgive them anyway
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:24 PM
Friday, April 15, 2016
Gratitude Note: Taxes are finished and checks are written. This isn’t one of my favorite times of the year: collecting all the information – wondering what I have missed – filling out the forms – checking the math over and over – seeing the bottom line – letting out a deep sigh of “Oh my” – telling Lynda the news for the year – and writing the checks. From time to time in the process, I sit back and remind myself to give thanks because I know I am blessed. Consider our home, the context, where I did this annual task. Plus, the W-2 reflecting my income. The gift of doing what I am called and love to do. Well, you get my drift – I am a long way from poverty and secure in the middle class even when I sometimes wonder how we will make to and into retirement. Yet there is an even larger picture and room for gratitude. I cannot think of a country where I would rather live – and pay taxes – than in the United States. While I don’t want to pay any more taxes than necessary, I have no regrets or complaints about this annual contribution. It isn’t always easy but I am grateful. And yes, another time for “Thanks be to God!”
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:25 PM
Monday, April 11, 2016
Gratitude Note: For Beer, Brats and Bingo at St. Luke’s. This has not happened yet, but I am looking forward to this fun event. In my “previous life” this would not have happened in church. Indeed, this would be unthinkable. Such restrictions worked for them and that is fine – for them. Personally, I like being in a church where the focus is more on having fun being together and raising money for Outreach while enjoying beer, brats and bingo – which of course does not make us any less Christian – or more. As of this morning (Monday), over seventy tickets have been sold. By the deadline on Wednesday I am sure we will be “sold out!” at eighty or more. I am grateful for our Outreach Committee that plans these events that not only brings us together but also raises funds for ministries in our community that serve the less fortunate among us. Plus, we can invite our friends who have a negative view of “church” and let them experience what being Episcopal is like – or at least a taste of our life together. I love this Church! Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:43 PM