She laughs

She can turn over, she can smile, and now she can laugh.

You can see why those first two milestones are important. Turning over is about growing bigger and stronger and moving ever so slowly toward independence. Smiling is about relationship, because it’s always in response to another human person.

But laughter? Isn’t it fascinating that we laugh so early—and what does that tell us about what it means to be human?

For the nation

“Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun.”

For the Nation

Almighty God, giver of all good things:

We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land. They restore us, though we often destroy them.

Heal us.

We thank you for the great resources of this nation. They make us rich, though we often exploit them.

Forgive us.

We thank you for the men and women who have made this country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall short of them.

Inspire us.

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America

Fourth of July fireworks at Penns Landing, preceded by a concert by the US Army Field Band. In recent years we’ve found our holiday fireworks fix up at Tinicum Park in Bucks County. I can report that America looks a lot different at Penns Landing from Upper Bucks. And there were more flags down here in Philly, though that might just reflect the presence of enterprising vendors.

“Hep” when you need it

Teaching Opa some fancy moves.

This isn’t an original thought, but as I relive the first years of life through the eyes of my granddaughter, I’m reminded that some of the most important lessons in life are learned in toddlerhood. Some wisdom for today: it’s ok to insist on doing it yourself if you can, but don’t hesitate to ask for “hep” if you need it.

A sermon for the second Sunday of Pentecost

Preached at Christ Church and St. Michael’s

In today’s Gospel, we hear something a little different from most of the stories we know about Jesus. He meets a poor soul who is possessed by demons, and he casts those demons out and sets the man free to live a normal life. And that part is nothing unusual, because so much of Jesus’ ministry was taken up with just that kind of healing.

But what’s different about this story is what happens next.

All through the Gospels, we hear about the crowds who follow Jesus wherever he goes. Sometimes the people press in so close that he can hardly move.

They follow him when he tries to go off to quiet places to pray, so it’s hard for him to ever be alone. They follow him into the wilderness by the thousands, without any concern for the fact that it’s getting late in the day and they’ve brought nothing to eat.

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The song goes on

Traveled through the asphalt desert at Cornwell’s Heights Station on my way to the funeral of the Rev. Lloyd Winter, a good man and faithful servant. In the silence between passing trains I heard beautiful bird song. Looked up – way up – and saw this. As individuals we’re born and we die, but the great song of life goes on.

City church

City church: memories of childhood summers. Windows open in church, and the soft hum of fans in the background like the Holy Spirit blowing through. Faces of priest and worshipers bathed in sweat anyway. After church, which seemed to last forever, a stop at the bakery before eggs and bacon, which smelled heavenly, better than the incense in church, and the rest of the morning settled in the living room eating pastries and reading the newspaper. And continuing to perspire. No bakery today, but in the 21st century, there is latte. And air-conditioning. Life is still good.