Friday, April 29, 2011

Kate and Karla Each Married a Prince

Shockingly, I have noticed a few differences between Kate and Karla's wedding to their respective princes.

When Kate marries her Prince on Friday-- most of England will be watching.
When Karla married her Prince many, many Fridays ago-- not a single person in jolly old England noticed (not even a few of my distant relatives who live there!).

When Kate marries her Prince-- the paparazzi will be snapping pictures of their every move.
When Karla married her Prince-- a guy with a camera showed up and we have a few photos from the occasion... somewhere.

When Kate marries her Prince-- her dress will be scrutinized by fashion critics far and wide.
When Karla married her Prince-- her dress came "off the rack" from JC Penney. (Incidentally, she also purchased her Prince's wedding ring at JC Penney. Good thing JC Penney didn't sell cakes, aisle runners or invitations or we might have had pink clearance JCP price tags on every item at our wedding.)

When Kate marries her Prince-- the Royal couple will say their vows in historic Westminster Abbey.
When Karla married her Prince-- we said our vows in Westland, Michigan. (In case you're wondering... except for the fish and chips sold at the local Long John Silver's, there aren’t too many similarities between Westminster and Westland.)

When Kate marries her Prince-- there will be a royal reception prepared by the finest chefs of Europe at Buckingham Palace.
When Karla married her Prince-- there were a few ham rolls, radishes, celery sticks and a bag of potato chips that Karla and a few friends prepared the day before the wedding for the reception in the fellowship hall of the church.

When Kate marries her Prince-- they will be serenaded by choirs and orchestras.
When Karla married her Prince-- we had a guy with a plug-in Casio keyboard in the fellowship hall playing the best of the Bee Gees.

When Kate marries her Prince-- they will begin their marital bliss in the lap of luxury.
When Karla married her Prince-- we lived in government subsidized housing as I finished seminary and worked as a part time youth pastor.

When Kate marries her Prince-- there will be pomp and circumstance and a high degree of regality.
When Karla married her Prince-- there was little pomp, some goofy circumstances and very little regality... but God has blessed this union in greater ways than I could have ever dreamed!

So when Kate marries her Prince-- everyone will hope it will be a fairy tale type marriage.
But when Karla married her Prince-- it was for better or for worse (there's been both times in the last 23 years), for richer or for poorer (yup, we've had some of the latter and are still waiting for the former), in sickness and in health (we're hoping for a healthier year), and 'til death we do part... but through it all, I can say, like the best of fairy tales it has been "happily ever after”.

I'm so glad Karla found her Prince.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I liked everything about Easter... but the shopping

As a boy, I liked many things about Easter.
I liked Easter baskets.
I liked Easter candy. (Except Peeps. I hated Peeps. Still do.)
I liked Easter dinner.
I liked Easter ham. (My mom always made ham on Easter. Turkey was Thanksgiving’s entree. Christmas was always a tossup—some years ham, some years turkey.)
I liked Easter eggs.
I liked Easter egg hunts.
I liked Easter songs. (Karla still thinks if you don’t sing “Up from the Grave He Arose”, then it - and I quote - “ain’t Easter”.)
I liked Easter sunrise services.
I liked Easter lilies.
I liked the Easter movies on TV.

There was always a lot to like about Easter.
But I hated… make that I HATED Easter clothes shopping.

A week or so before Easter, we would head to “Sears and Roebuck”, “Monkey Wards” or “Robert Hall’s”. (Does anyone remember Robert Hall’s? Did you have Robert Hall’s in Kansas City?) I would try on all sorts of suits and pants that were always a tad big. They had to be big enough for me to grow into, but not so big that I looked like the kid in the movie BIG wearing Tom Hanks’ clothes. Most generally I wanted my folks to purchase me a very cool polyester leisure suit with wide bell bottom pants (think: Motown’s Temptations circa 1970). I think my mom had something like the cartoon character Richie Rich’s attire in mind. (That is, short pants, matching jacket and a bow tie. In other words, an outfit that shouts to the bullies of the world “Hit me!”). As you might imagine, without the aid of a federal mediator, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth during the negotiating process in the boys clothing department as we tried to come to an agreement. Of course, my mom had the wallet and she had the direct line to the Easter bunny and his knowledge of hiding Easter baskets (for well behaving boys in department stores clothing areas). She had all the eggs in her basket (so to speak); so I usually left looking like a poor man’s Richie Rich--only in one size too big.

When Easter arrived the next week, all of those Easter shopping horrors were behind me, and my brother and I would wear our slightly oversized suits and ties; my sisters would wear dresses, hats and white frilly gloves (no one wears hats and white frilly gloves anymore, but my sisters did back then). Then on Easter morning, we’d stand in front of the church sign and get our picture taken―proving for all eternity that, for one day at least, we were clean, dressed nice and looked like we enjoyed wearing polyester. It was easy to smile wearing a Richie Rich outfit knowing that your pockets were full of jelly beans and a tasty ham dinner was in the oven.

Your family traditions may differ from mine in the early 1970’s. Still I hope that you include a time for praise and worship this coming Easter (preferably at Central Church, of course!). Everyone you know needs to be celebrating the resurrection this Sunday. Bring a friend with you! It’s not too late to invite a neighbor or a family member—do it today!!!

Jesus really doesn’t care what you wear, what you eat, whether you are a jelly bean or a Peep kind of person, or what flowers adorn your house this Easter—but He does care that you can rejoice that He is Alive! I hope to see you this week! It’s going to be an AWESOME Sunday! We have some great things planned! We will have three services: 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. (with an all church reception in between the services) and then our new Sidedoor Service will celebrate Easter at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

They're "Accidents" not "Planned Fors"

People come into our lives.
Sometimes unexpected,
Out of nowhere.
Take yesterday for example.
I was coming back to the church from a hospital, minding my own business listening to sports radio. I probably should have been listening to praise music or praying or doing something far more holy than listening to the latest Barry Bonds saga, because while waiting for the red light to turn green… BAM! A fine lady from Lenexa smacked into Betty (the name I’ve given my 2002 Chevy Impala).

I think she thought I was going to turn right on red.
Or maybe she just didn’t see me.
Or maybe she was listening to sports radio instead of praise music, too.

That’s why they call them accidents. Nobody plans them. If they did—we’d call them “Planned Fors” instead of “Accidents”. But that would sound weird: “I was involved in a “Planned For” this afternoon. Yeah, I planned for a whole lot of inconvenience and headaches with my insurance company and a stranger’s insurance company. It ought to be fun!” See what I mean? That sounds weird. We don’t plan for it. They are accidents.

People—not just cars―get bent out of shape over accidents.
That’s too bad.

Cars can be repaired. Well sometimes. And even when they can’t be, they are just cars. Even though I’ve named mine “Black Betty”, and we’ve been together ten years, and I like her—quirks and all (she has a lot of quirks: the windshield wipers stop in the wrong position because the motor was put on backwards; the yellow check engine light has been on for nearly four years; the red air bag light is also on; there’s a missing heater knob; stains are on the seats; there is green paint on the side where I got a little too close to the garage once or twice… well, you get the idea…)―it’s just a car.

But people, on the other hand… People matter. People really matter. And it’s too bad when they get bent out of shape, because they aren’t as easily fixed. A week in the body shop might do the trick for a fender bender on your car, but it might take a little longer with a sore personality or a hurt relationship.

I’ve been thinking and praying for the nice lady that ran into me. I hope she isn’t losing any sleep over the bump in my car. I hope she knows that cars are just cars and it’s people that matter