Gratitude Note: For St. Luke’s Wonderful, Wacky Wednesdays Finale. WWW is our version of VBS which is full of wondrous fun, great content and growing relationships – a celebration of the life God has given us. I am grateful for Erin Perry and Lauri Watkins, along with a bunch of parents, who made the Wonderful Wacky Wednesdays so successful. The party at Frontier Pool tonight topped off the summer events of WWW. Children and parents were everywhere having fun – truly enjoying each other. There was so much activity I do not think anyone got a count. But that doesn’t matter. As this old priest walked around the pool watching and talking, enjoying every minute, I felt a deep sense of gratitude – of all is well – I was experiencing the joy of the present and sensing the hope of the future – for them and for the Church. Thanks be to God!
Monday, July 25, 2016
Gratitude Note: For a prayer for renewal from Jack Levison in 40 Days With the Holy Spirit. A good reminder of what God offers those open and willing – from the inside out.
Renew my vision
Not to escape reality but to infuse it with equity
Refresh my hope
Not to avoid the world as it is but to suffuse it with integrity.
Revive my faith
Not to sidestep misery but to defuse it with impartiality. Amen
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:17 PM
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Gratitude Note: For an empty mailbox at the office. After being gone almost all week I decided to stop by the church to check my mail – to see if people had left notes I needed to see. Nothing was there – I wasn’t missed at all! Actually that means that Deacons Doug, Lauri and Mike, along with Parish Administrator, Steve, took care of everything – wonderful staff. This was an unusual week in that Ann, our beloved Parish Secretary; Fr. Sean, our energetic Associate; and I were all gone at the same time. There were some text exchanges regarding a member having surgery. Otherwise, the church was being the church while I was gone. There is something very good and healthy about that. Of course it helped that there were no emergencies. Still, an empty mail box plus no emails or calls suggests all is well – and I was able to rest and relax a bit. Perhaps this was practice for retirement. Anyway, I am glad I was gone and happy to be back. See you in the morning at St. Luke’s?
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:08 PM
Friday, July 22, 2016
Gratitude Note: For Lake Catherine and the Republican Convention. The picture was taken early this morning in my quiet time. We arrived at Lake Catherine on Monday and came back today. We had a great time being together with no agenda for each day. One afternoon we took a run into Hot Springs for lunch and a little shopping. Otherwise, this was a laidback, restful and quiet time of togetherness. However, we did watch the Republican Convention – at least most of it. In fact we saw far more than we would have dreamed or wanted, but it just happened. There was something oddly paradoxical about the two settings. I guess something in me needed both. \And, Lynda was a willing partner – though she wanted another day or two post-convention at the lake to recover. I woke up early and left Lynda and Lord Mason sleeping as I welcomed the sun in the quiet of the lake – the dawning of a new day. I remembered an old exercise and found it useful again: Breathe in Peace – Exhale Fear – slowly – over and over. All will be well. men.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:48 PM
Gratitude Note: For a sign at Lake Catherine -- "Having a life jacket isn't the same as wearing one." I saw the sign on a morning walk. Apparently a truth that needs to be said repeatedly. In my soul that truth went to another level -- to faith as a label, even Episcopal, that isn't enough. In these days we need faith that is trusting and loving God, others and ourselves -- from the inside out -- consistently and intentionally -- even naturally. Lord help me.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 9:38 PM
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Gratitude Note: For a very humbling and challenging invitation to speak at the funeral of my childhood friend, Al Cuite. My friend died a few weeks ago and the service is at a Roman Catholic Church in Tulsa. Of course I had already planned to be there. This sixty-plus year relationship is important to me and the loss is different than any other I have experienced. When Barbara, Al’s wife, called Monday evening I was caught completely off guard – what an honor and privilege – what a touching opportunity – what a grieving challenge. I suspect the only persons who will know me at the service will be Barbara and my wife, Lynda. I have led and spoken at hundreds of funerals, but this one seems different and in some ways perhaps more important to me personally. That may have something to do with my own mortality – my humanity – my life experiences – my faith. All of this Al and I shared. Now I have the incredible opportunity to celebrate all of this for Al – for me – for all of us who share in the God-given gift of life. I am profoundly grateful.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 9:39 AM
Monday, July 11, 2016
Gratitude Note: For a delightful two hour and fifteen minute Vestry meeting. Well, delightful may be pushing it a bit, but meaningful, fulfilling and refreshing – including some good laughter off and on. For non-Episcopalians, the Vestry is like a board – or for Baptists, deacons. Our agenda was full and reflected the life of our parish – positive, progressive and … well I can’t think of another “p” word – certainly dedicated. Even after doing our work we took time to worship using Compline to close our meeting. Clearly the women and men of our Vestry love God, St. Luke’s and each other. What an amazing group! I am so honored to be their Rector – always have been and will be for another six months. The next Rector will be handed a gift in this Vestry to start his or her ministry here at St. Luke’s. Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:03 PM