In 1993, former president Jimmy Carter presented the commencement address to the graduating class at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He shared the story of a young college freshman who overslept for the final exam in geometry and pleaded for mercy from his professor. The professor granted it -- sort of. "If you provide an accurate answer for one question, I will submit a passing grade for you." Without much choice, the student agreed. Here is the question: "If I give you a barometer, how can you use it to determine the height of this building?"
Mary Austin Bethany Peerbolte Dean Feldmeyer George Reed Ron Love Thomas Willadsen Christopher Keating
As the disciples stand with Jesus by the temple, the size of the stones is stunning to them. Great wealth and power are invested in the temple building, and it seems as if it can last forever. But Jesus, seeing more than the disciples do, warns them that the time is coming when these huge stones, and the institution they represent, “will all be thrown down.” Difficult as it is to imagine, the day is coming when the stones -- and the institution of the temple -- will be toppled.
Another cold, autumn Wednesday evening as the sun sets early and the church council gathers into the cool, musty church basement. As they sit on the plastic chairs surrounding two rectangle tables placed together, the pastor leads in prayer and maybe a Bible passage. The council president dutifully distributes the council agenda in front of all of the attendees. An older lady member was nice enough to bake some cookies and brew some decaffeinated coffee (so people are not kept awake at night) for those present.
Contents “Mom” by C. David McKirachan “Not One Stone” by Frank Ramirez
Mom by C. David McKirachan 1 Samuel 1:4-20, 1 Samuel 2:1-10
My mother told me that if I’d been a girl, I’d have been named Hannah. It was always an incidental detail. Then my nephew and his wife gave their daughter the name and I realized it ran in the family. So I got interested. The Bible keeps surprising me. This time when I read the familiar story, I ran into something new.
I have a question for you today. The question is this: Were you scared at anything this past Halloween? Did anything frighten you like at a Halloween party or when you were out trick or treating? (children respond) Maybe with your weird masks and silly costumes you frightened someone else yourself. That's so much fun!
Well, there's fun-fear like at Halloween. And there's also not-fun-fear.
I had the privilege to be with my father when he died. I'd never seen anyone die before, and although I'm sure it must be a different experience for different people, I was amazed at what a struggle it seemed to be for him.
He wasn't in any pain, but he struggled to take off his pyjama jacket, and he struggled to have the window open, and he struggled to breathe, and it seemed as though it was a struggle to die. And although he was given various drugs which relaxed and calmed him, I still felt that underneath that surface calm, perhaps the struggle was continuing.
The gospel reading for this day is bracketed by the command to keep alert, to watch. Suppose I could hang before you a giant photo of the sun peeking over the horizon and asked you to tell me if this were a surprise or a sunset. Could you tell? Only the photographer would know for sure. A sunrise and a sunset are similar in appearance. We can mistake the one for the other.