Sacred Music Friday: How Can I Keep From Singing

Performed by BYUH Women’s Choir, directed by Sister Merrilee Webb, Fall 2004

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?

I remember Palm Sunday as a child growing up in the Methodist Church to have been a sort of mini-Easter. In my Unitarian and Religious Science days it was pretty much ignored. In my Lutheran and once and future Episcopal experience it is, of course, Palm/Passion Sunday.

Last year Karoline Lewis wrote in favor of Palm Sunday standing on its own. She said:

I understand the practical reasons for the more recent liturgical emphasis on the day’s dual themes: most people won’t be coming back during the week, so they need to hear the crucifixion story now. The church needs to make sure that the story of Jesus’ death is given its due before acknowledging any reports of resurrection appearances.

But she concludes that there is reason to observe Palm Sunday on its own:

Palm Sunday can give us language to express “God with us.” The crowd gets it: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” The one at the center of this parade of palms is none other than Immanuel. Hosanna indeed.

I was a bad kid last year. Not only did I not make it to any of the Triduum services, I didn’t make it to Palm/Passion Sunday at St. John’s. At least during my Lutheran years I generally got to Maundy Thursday service, and most years to the community noon Good Friday service as well.

This year I expect to be there for Palm/Passion Sunday, but I don’t know about the Triduum. So, I suppose that I’m one of those people for whom the hybrid service was designed.

Karoline’s comments are well-taken indeed, but it just may be that a pure Palm Sunday service is yet another casualty of our busy, hectic, frenetic world.

supporting the local merchant

Earlier this month I wrote about how we were delighted that our favorite fish monger was back in business working out of a small local market. While I mentioned in passing Rocca’s Market was a third-generation family business, I really gave it short shrift.

The place is run by two brothers, one of whom handles the meat department and the other the rest of the store. They have an old-fashioned full-service meat counter with a variety of quality meats, a complete produce department, and a fine selection of wines, including many from local wineries. There is a good selection of everyday grocery items as well. There are no bar code scanners. The butcher writes the cost of the meat or fish on the wrapper, and grocery items actually have price tags. Not something you see much of anymore

We’ve decided that it only makes sense to give them the bulk of our meat business and a portion of our wine business as well.

It’s good to be able to support our local merchants. They’re a disappearing breed and we want to do our part to keep them going.

I’m not changing my mind

It’s been about a year since we switched from DirecTV to our local cable company. We did so because our Verizon DSL was horribly slow and we knew that to get Internet without television from Charter we’d have to pay a ridiculous premium, and that the only logical course was to sign up with them for both TV and Internet.

The annoying thing is that I’m still hearing from DirecTV. I’m not changing my mind, guys.

Then there’s SiriusXM radio. I had a home receive and a car receiver, but when my annual renewal came up I realized that the home receiver and Internet access were redundant and the home receiver was an unnecessary expense. So I dropped the home receiver, and kept my car receiver and Internet access. Now I’m getting those “we want you back” emails. Well first of all, you haven’t turned off my home receiver, and second, my Internet access is working fine.

I know these companies are in the business of making money and maximizing profit, but really, it does get a little (a lot actually) annoying after a while.


Terry and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary on March 12th. We normally like to do a short getaway for the occasion, but the 12th was a Monday. The weekend before I was just getting back from Houston, and the weekend after was St. Patrick’s Day. So we chose this past weekend, even if it was a couple of weeks out.

We drove up to the San Jose Fairmont just as the rain was beginning. We had a marvelous room on the seventh floor that overlooked downtown San Jose from where we sat and watched the rain. We went downstairs and had a decadent pastry at the Bijan Bakery. Terry had hot tea and I had my usual decaf cappuccino.

We went back to our room and got ready for dinner. We arrived at the McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant right at our appointed reservation time of 6:00 pm. We had a great table by the window where we could watch folks walking by in the rain. The food there was marvelous.

After dinner, we went upstairs, put on the Fairmont-provided bathrobes, sipped wine and listened to Jazz. Sunday morning we had hearty room service breakfast and headed home.

A breach of Lenten discipline, yes, but it was a wonderful anniversary mini-getaway.

Sacred Music Friday: O Life that Makest All Things new

Fond memories from my days at the First Unitarian Church in Oklahoma City in the early 1980’s…

1. O Life that makest all things new,
The blooming earth, the thoughts of men,
Our pilgrim feet, wet with Thy dew,
In gladness hither turn again.

2. From hand to hand the greeting flows,
From eye to eye the signals run,
From heart to heart the bright hope glows,
The seekers of the Light are one.

3. One in the freedom of the truth,
One in the joys of paths untrod,
One in the soul’s perennial youth,
One in the larger thought of God.

4. The freer step, the fuller breath,
The wide horizon’s grander view,
The sense of life that knows no death,
The Life that maketh all things new!

Sam­u­el Long­fel­low, 1874.

Play the mp3:

Courtesy of

literature has to be believable

I’ve written here more than once about how fiction often portrays reality, while memoir and autobiography often contain large doses of fiction. I was delighted, therefore, to hear Isabel Allende say this:

Literature has to be believable, which real life rarely is.

different perspectives

Flying the American flag upside down has always been an a sign of distress or emergency. When I was in college in the 1970’s classmates would put flag stamps on their mail upside down as protest of the Nixon administration’s activities in Vietnam and its policies domestically.

Some weeks ago our local hometown newspaper ran a front page story about a guy who was flying his flag upside down because he believed we were losing our fundamental rights. And when did he do that? After all of the rights violations of the Bush II administration? After Obama signed the defense spending bill that also allowed the indefinite incarceration of Americans suspected of terrorist activities? In the light of thousands of Americans unemployed, underemployed, or losing their homes to foreclosure? No. He did it after the passage of the Obama health care bill. I chose not to read the entire article. I knew I would just get mad.

Providing universal healthcare is a bad thing that violates our fundamental rights? The United Sates is, after all, the only major industrialized country in the world that doesn’t provide some kind of universal healthcare. To me there many more fundamental threats to our rights than ensuring everyone has access to healthcare.

on not presuming

When I went to Houston earlier this month, I use the phrase “the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.” My Facebook and blog friend Tahoe Mom commented on that, and I reflected that using that phrase is my way of following the teaching in the Epistles, that one should say “God willing” when talking about one’s plans. I couldn’t remember exactly where it was in the Epistles, so I looked it up. Turns out it was from the book of James, James 4:13-15 to be exact.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.”

Not uplifting, I admit, but true, and it does not hurt us to remember, especially now in Lent, that nothing is guaranteed and that life is fragile.

And besides, the passage is given additional credibility in my mind because it comes from the writer of what to me is one of the most important set of verses in the Bible, James 2:14-17:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

A critically important message for the Church in today’s world.

more on expectations

A limousine has two seats behind the driver facing each other, a phone to talk to the driver, and a supply of alcohol. My brother rented a limo for my grandmother for her 90th birthday celebration, which we all rode in to his house.

When Terry’s company had a 20th anniversary celebration in Las Vegas a few years ago, we were told we would be picked up at the airport by a limo. It was a town car. I was disappointed.

A couple of weeks ago when I went to Houston for a work conference, I understood I was going to be picked up at the airport by a shuttle bus. I was picked up by a town car. I was delighted.

As I’ve been writing here, our expectations have so much to do with how we see the world and whether our level of frustration and anxiety is high or low. I’m glad to be making progress on that front.