Gratitude Note: For Jim Liehr – a long-suffering Cub fan who said this is their year and he was right! Last year was my year with the Kansas City Royals – but of course we didn’t have to wait 108 years to win the World Series. The Cubs have not yet broken the curse completely. Tonight certainly put them in position to fulfill the dreams of their fans – millions of them. Well, I am happy for them – though now I will have to watch the World Series in support of Jim. At least Jim is happy for now as are the throngs Cubbies living and dead everywhere. No doubt some people are saying “Thanks be to God!” I wouldn’t go that far, but if this causes Cub fans to believe again, who am I to bring up theology – just go with the celebration and dreams of breaking the curse. Life is good!
Friday, October 21, 2016
Gratitude Note: For St. Luke’s birthday cake when no one wanted to cut the image of Jesus. Last Sunday was St. Luke’s Feast Day – sort of a birthday – cake and all. The chocolate cake was nicely done with the rather abstract image of Jesus reflecting our desire to be a church/people “With Arms Wide Open.” At the Coffee Hour following the Holy Eucharist we had ice cream, strawberries and cake with Jesus on it. It took me a while to remove my vestments and talk to a few people before I got to the parish hall. I looked at the cake and was surprised to see that no one had been willing to “cut” the image of Jesus. There was something both amusing and real about the situation. We had just come from Holy Communion – the eating and drinking of the consecrated Bread and Wine – the Body and Blood – the Real Presence of Jesus. Indeed, this was both amusing and real. Lesson: best not use an image of Jesus on a cake if you want people to eat it. Reflection: well, I will let you do that part for yourselves. As I am grateful for this amusement and reality, I want to honor our Lord with who he is in me and what I do and say.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:36 PM
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Gratitude Note: For the moment when a good golf story became better than good. A friend took me to the country club to play golf on Tuesday. I am not especially good so I won’t mention my score and just say I had a great time. However, the 18th hole and I created quite a story – at least for me. My drive was next to perfect and surprisingly better than my colleagues – including certain young priest. Anyway, my second shot went off to the right down in a creek bed. With more than a little twisting of my body and luck, I hit ball near the green – surprising everyone. After a decent chip shot, I managed drain the putt for a par. Holes like that keep you coming back. Now fast forward to Wednesday afternoon. I took Holy Communion to Ace – one of our older members. Life has been hard for him lately and he manages only because of twenty-four hour care and a good friend. They were expecting me – Ace not so much, but they had him in his recliner. He quietly received the Sacrament – not saying much. I tried a little small talk – rather loudly because of his hearing. I mentioned playing golf at the club and he started talking about how it had changed and mentioned an impossible sand trap on the 17th hole. So, I asked him if he remembered the 18th hole and began to tell him my story. With each shot he perked up more and more as he visualized the scene. He was really brightened up when I told him my putt rolled in for a par. He pumped his fist in the air and said, “That will keep you going back!” The look on his face makes me want to keep on sharing Holy Communion and stories and memories with people like Ace. Life has changed and not ended even now. Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:13 PM
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Gratitude Note: For a delightful evening of appreciation – and a holy moment. Tonight was the annual appreciation dinner for St. Luke’s volunteers who serve at Kane Elementary as reading mentors, at the Agape Mission and for CONCERN. This year forty-four people gathered in the backyard of Jim and Becky Liehr for this celebration of appreciation. These are amazing people I am privileged to know well – and these are only a sampling of the many volunteer ministers at St. Luke’s. Out of their relationship with Christ they give themselves to people in need. As often happens, I was asked to offer the prayer before our dinner – kind of a clergy thing as if no one else could pray. I can’t fully explain what happened next, but I asked everyone to gather on the patio where I could see them. Then I told them I want to be able to see you as I thank God for the life God has given each of us and for the food we were about to enjoy. As best as I can remember, I looked in their eyes and thanked the Christ in them for extending his ministry through them. I thanked the Christ in them for touching the lives of others and making a difference. I thanked the Christ in them for his love for them that flows so freely to the people entrusted to them. Exactly what was said in the prayer eludes me now, but I am aware that this was an intimate encounter, a holy moment, a unitive experience with Christ in each of them. I was blessed and humbled to be there. And, I have to believe our Lord was grateful for these ministers of St. Luke’s. Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:32 PM
Monday, October 17, 2016
Gratitude Note: For the patience of Bullmastiffs – dozens of them! Last Thursday was Lynda’s birthday and I decided to take her to the Renaissance Hotel in Tulsa for two nights. Centered at 71st Street and Hwy. 169, there were good places to eat and things to do. Plus, the Renaissance is pet friendly and Lynda could take Lord Mason with us. Actually the hotel is more than “pet friendly” – we were in the middle of the American Bullmastiff Dog Show! Those dogs are massively huge – and there were dozens of them. Poop buckets were everywhere with two gallon plastic bags compared to Mason’s sandwich bags! Yet, not a single Bullmastiff seemed to pay attention to Lynda’s furbaby of a Maltese. They were at least twenty times Lord Mason’s size but remained quiet and patient in minding their own business. Actually, Mason only growled once and that was when we were surrounded at an elevator. Mostly I think he felt a bit overwhelmed by the Bullmastiff population – I know I was! All in all the stay was a good one and the experience certainly added to Lord Mason’s stories from the Kingdom of Dogs – and I survived – and Lynda was happy.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:03 PM
Gratitude Note: For Sunday morning’s magnificent moon – I had been planning and anticipating the celebration of the Feast Day of St. Luke’s – always a great time of the year. When I drove up Cherokee and turned west on Eighth Street on my way to church about 7:10, I saw a breathtaking sight. The moon was magnificently huge and beautiful. This was indeed going to be a great day. This was my last time to celebrate St. Luke’s day as Rector of St. Luke’s. I didn’t feel sad about it at all but saw it as the next celebration of our feast day in a continuum of one hundred and eleven years and beyond. I was scheduled to be the celebrant, but changed my mind and asked Fr. Sean to celebrate – at thirty-five he represents the next generation of clergy who will lead us forward. I still enjoyed preaching – a reminder that we are ALL “called” to a relationship with Christ and called to share in Christ’s ministry – clergy and laity. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist was joyful. The fundraiser that evening benefitting CONCERN and Family Promise and was fun. I was aware that God was celebrating with us – and that is as cool as the magnificent moon that started my day. Thanks be to God!
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:23 PM
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Gratitude Note: For the Grace of God in response to suicide. We lost a fifteen year old young man here in Bartlesville over the weekend. I cannot imagine the pain for family and friends plus the wondering what they could have done. Understanding is hard in these tragedies – often impossible. In part we must learn from tragic losses like this and become more aware and seek to help others. What I really want to say to night is that Drake was and is a child of God. And, our Lord, Jesus Christ, immediately embraced him. I believe this because of the grace of God I have experienced and witnessed in the course of my life and the life of others on earth. If that is true here, I believe it is true in the Divine Dimension we call Heaven. For that I am grateful even in the midst of grief.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:51 PM