Tag Archives: hope

I saw joy

I was feeling grumpy.

OK, I was feeling grumpy-er. Always play to one’s strengths.

IMG-6692I was walking down Fifth Avenue, heading to Rockefeller Center.

Visitors to New York filled the sidewalk. They stopped in the middle and made quick turns. They abruptly countermarched, heading back uptown without warning.

My blood pressure rose. My ire increased. And then I saw her.

She sat in a wheel chair, looking at the lights and the sights.

I do not know her name and never learned her story. It was inappropriate to ask. But I wondered.

Was this her first time in New York – the culmination of a long-time dream?

Was she a long-time city resident?

Was this an annual visit?

In the end, the reason mattered not. All that mattered was her face.

She glowed. Amazement. Wonder. Delight. Many words could describe her face and bearing. But the one that works best for me, is joy. Simple joy. Pure joy. Unabashed joy. I have not seen such joy often, but I have seen it enough that I recognize it when I do.

I saw joy that day and I carried it in my heart to Rockefeller Center. I hope it showed, just a little, on my face.

See you along the trail.

P.S. – the photo was taken inside the Time Warner Center on the same day. I did not get any photos at Rockefeller Center. I will be back.

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Filed under Advent, New York, Photo

Lent 2017, day 36

“The Psalmist [Psalm 146] gives an image of the God in whom we place our trust and hope: Liberator of Prisoners, Lover of Justice and Righteousness, Caregiver for Orphans and Strangers. What do you think it means for us to place our hope in the Holy One?”
Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar

This Lenten season I am using a new resource to explore the Belhar Confession: Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar, edited by Kerri N. Allen and Donald K. McKim. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in which I serve as a teaching elder (pastor), added the Confession of Belhar to our Book of Confessions in 2016. This confession came from the Dutch Reformed Mission Church during its historic struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Books, Lent, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

It comes this night

It comes this night.

Faintly,
ever so faintly,
it comes.

Above the roar
of anger and hatred,

Above the howl
of prejudice and bigotry,

Above the maelstrom
of systems and structures,

Above the crash
of violence and war,

Above the groan
of doubt and despair,

Above the dis-ease
of heartache and heartbreak

Above the tumult
of turmoil and trouble

Above the clamor
of struggle and strife

Above it all,
despite it all
because of it all,

It comes.

Faintly,
ever so faintly,
it comes.

A baby’s cry,
proclaiming
life and
love and
justice and
peace and
hope,
this night
and all nights.

24 December 2016
Goochland, Virginia

 

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Filed under Advent, Poem, Uncategorized

Until we meet again, Ted Hickman

14316837_10209909925482586_6630254089391490747_nOnly 17 short days ago they gathered to bid me farewell. My colleagues and friends from the community of nongovernmental organizations at the United Nations; my friends and colleagues from the Presbytery of New York City.

Ted was there. And after the words were spoken and the time came for people to leave, Ted and I looked at each other across the room.

We smiled. We moved toward one another. And as we had done before, threw open our arms and walked into an embrace, two bears seeking to engulf each other.

He whispered into my ear. Words of thanks. Assurances of prayers. Best wishes for what lay ahead.

I whispered back. Words of thanks. Assurances of prayers. Best wishes for what lay ahead.

As we disengaged, I said my final words. I refused to say goodbye as I left New York. And so I said to Ted, “Until we meet again.”

Only two short hours ago I received the email from the office of the Presbytery of New York City.

“In Memoriam” read the subject line. I had received enough emails with that subject to know what it meant. Someone had died.

I was prepared to learn of a death. I was not prepared to see Ted’s gracious, smiling face. Nor did I expect to read these words:

It is with deep sadness and grief for his family and this presbytery that I tell you that Theodore (Ted) Hickman, the Moderator of our Presbytery of New York City, died last night in his sleep.

Ted was 51.

My initial shock has given way to deep sadness and grief.

I grieve for his family … for Duryea Presbyterian Church where he served as the Commissioned Ruling Elder (pastor) … for his colleagues at NYU-Langone Medical Center … for the Presbytery of New York City … for all who knew and loved this good man.

I grieve for a song and life ended too soon. Too soon.

I grieve for what might have been.

I grieve for myself.

I grieve, knowing that, in life and in death, Ted, and all of us belong to God.

I grieve, knowing that love never ends, even death can never sever the cords of love that bind us together.

I grieve, believing in the resurrection.

I grieve and proclaim “Alleluia.”

I grieve and remember those final words I said:

Until we meet again,
my friend, my brother.
Until we meet again.

Note: the photo of Ted Hickman is the one that appeared in the message from the Presbytery of New York that announced his death. 

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The Until We Meet Again Tour – 14 August 2016

The Until We Meet Again Tour hopped a 1 Train, which some riders claim are hotter than the infernal regions although I have no frame of reference to judge that, and went to Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church to preach.

As with all the congregations visited on the tour, Good Shepherd-Faith holds a special place in my heart. Good Shepherd-Faith was one of the first congregations to invite me to preach in New York. It may have been the first. It definitely was the first congregation where I preached on Easter Sunday.

On this day that came a day after the killings of Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin near the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque in the Ozone Park neighborhood in Queens; and day after the killing of Sylville K. Smith by a police officer in Milwaukee and the protests that followed, it was a challenge and an honor to preach and search for words of hope in a time of profound grief.

This was the last Sunday I will preach in New York – until we meet again.

IMG_3681 (800x571)IMG_3690 (800x600)

Thanks to Elder Michael Nelson for taking the photo that includes me.

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Filed under Current Events, Easter, New York, Photo, Worship

Remembered smiles

I know this day well; I never forget it; it invariably sneaks up on me and grabs me unaware; and when I pause for a moment to reflect, I remember why things feel so raw. After all these years. And then I smile.

People have been posting on Facebook about remembering this day because of the Challenger disaster. I remember that. 

But I remember this day for an event that took place twelve years before the Challenger. An event that also claimed the lives of educators.

Forty years ago this day,  on January 28, 1974, William Koenig climbed into a small plane with another educator from Grove City. They planned a trip to Harrisburg, the state capitol, where they were to advocate for funds for the Grove City Public School system. At the time of his death, Bill worked as the assistant superintendent for the Grove City Public School system. But he was a musician. He played string bass in the pit orchestra for the high school musicals. He directed the town band. He was a tennis player. He was a photographer. He was also a private pilot. Though they had tickets on a commercial airline, the two colleagues decided Bill would fly. The plane went down near Emlenton, Pennsylvania, the crash site only located the next day. When I arrived at JFK a day later, after a college choir trip to Europe, family members met me and broke the news and shattered my heart.

Because grief lasts, I raise a glass to remember loses and acknowledge pains. And because love never ends, I raise a glass to give thanks and to celebrate love shared past, present, and future.  On this anniversary, I raise a glass to William Koenig, to his life, to the time, the far too short time, we shared. To all I learned. To laughter and tears. To music made well and badly. To a multitude of remembered smiles.

Goodnight and joy be with you, Dad.

Goodnight and joy be with us all.

See you along the Trail.

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Favorite Christmas songs

Lion and lamb

Each year, there are three songs I make a point of hearing several times during the Advent and Christmas season. While they may not appear on the list of classical Christmas carols or music, they speak of the hope and possibility and peace of the season.

Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon

The Rebel Jesus by Jackson Browne

Like the First Time It’s Christmas Time by Tommy Sands

What makes your list?

See you along the Trail.

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