Memorial Day Meditation

In an essay in The Weight of Glory[1], C.S. Lewis wrote: “the sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal, or two friends talking over a pint of beer, or a man alone reading a book that interests him.”  As we celebrate Memorial Day here in the United States, I pray you can enjoy what matters most to you and give thanks for others who sacrificed to made it possible.

In the same essay, Lewis says “all economies, politics, laws, armies, and institutions, save insofar as they prolong and multiply such scenes, are a mere ploughing the sand and sowing the ocean.”  These cannot deliver our salvation, yet they are absolutely necessary in this life.  These institutions have “no higher end than to facilitate and safeguard the family, and friendship, and solitude.”  Therefore, give thanks whenever peace and fellowship are possible, and pray for those living in places where they are not.

The essay also includes this quote: “do not let us mistake necessary evils for good.”  What did Lewis mean?  That when things that exist to provide “family, and friendship, and solitude” become an end in themselves “what was undertaken for the sake of health has become itself a new and deadly disease.”  While these things are absolutely needed, we should think of them “only in order to be able to think of something else.”  On the other hand, “a sick society must think much about politics.”  Therefore, give thanks for those who faithfully serve, and for preservation of the freedoms you enjoy.

Most importantly on Memorial Day, give thanks for those who gave up their lives so those they left behind could enjoy “family, and friendship, and solitude.”  Without their sacrifice, we could not celebrate Memorial Day, or any other day.  “Great sacrifices of this private happiness by those who have it may be necessary in order that it may be more widely distributed.”

Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) As He gave His life for you, pray also for the ability, willingness, and freedom to sacrifice your own time and talents for others.


[1] Lewis, C.S.  The Weight of Glory (1941).  P. 161-162.

This Mother’s Day, Celebrate the Caregivers

I was recently invited to a workshop on “Caregiver Bias,” which was explained as a problem in our society that people who take care of children, older or sick relatives, or others in need don’t do as well in their careers.  In addition, they said, since Caregiving is more often done by women than by men, these social norms are discriminatory and need to be corrected.  The workshop was part of a broader Diversity and Inclusion initiative, which includes support for women’s reproductive choices.

But shouldn’t Caregiving for children, the elderly, the sick, and the needy be what we celebrate and admire most?  Shouldn’t we choose Caregiving?

In that spirit, for this Mother’s Day post, I choose to salute a diverse set of Mothers:

  • I salute those mothers who choose to serve their families and communities full-time.  Those who volunteer on the PTA, at the local church and food pantry, and who make the school plays and concerts run smoothly.
    I salute the working mothers who choose to make time for the PTA, their church or food pantry, and the school play.
  • I salute those full-time mothers who choose to keep their calm when asked “so, what exactly DO you do all day?”
  • I salute those mothers who choose to run their own business in a way that allows time for them to spend with their children.
  • I salute those mothers who didn’t plan on having children but choose to love and care for them always.
  • I salute those mothers who choose a partner who can focus on Caregiving where they can.
  • I salute those who choose to support those in need who are someone else’s children and relatives, as if they were their own.
  • I salute those who choose to support the choices of all mothers, even if their choices aren’t what they would choose themselves.

Mothers[1] very often sacrifice for the benefit of others, and this Mother’s Day let’s celebrate and admire them all, especially the ones who demonstrate that Caregiving might be the most important career of all.  Let’s be biased in their favor, not today but every day.

After all, aren’t our careers a way to provide what not only we need, but also what others need and can’t provide for themselves?  As suggested by the Apostle Paul a long time ago:
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” – Ephesians 4:28


[1] Fathers do too, but this is Mother’s Day.  Look for my Father’s Day post about a month from now.

Earth Day: If the Sun, Moon and Stars Could Speak

Day or night, we are here above you.  We speak a universal language understandable to all people, and we share our message with every part of the world.

But we aren’t really interested in talking about ourselves.

It is our pleasure and joy to serve our Maker for your benefit and His glory.  He has perfectly equipped us for our tasks.

One of your poets once said it this way:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
            and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
            and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
            whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
            and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
            and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
            and its circuit to the end of them,
            and there is nothing hidden from its heat.[1]

We were here before you were, but our Maker was here before us and will be here when we’re gone.  For you, He has us mark the days and seasons.  We give light for you to see, warmth for your comfort, and energy for your food to grow.

He asked us to tell you of His power and His love for you.  We are not here by accident, and neither are you.  Whoever you are, the sun rises for you and the rain falls in its time.  He ensures it.


The Apostle Paul says that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.[2]

Today, rejoice in the regularity of the heavens, which declare to all people in all times and places that the eternal God cares about them.


[1] Psalm 19:1-6
[2] Romans 1:20

#CrucifyHim (a Good Friday parable)

How often have prominent public figures had to walk back, clarify, or disown public comments in response to a social media protest?  A recent Pew Research poll showed that only about 25% of American adults use Twitter, and about 25% of those people write 97% of all Tweets.  Yet, journalists, politicians, executives, individuals, and others often feel they need to bow to Twitter and other social media or be “cancelled.”  I’m not sure which is more worrisome, that so few largely anonymous Twitter users have so much power, or that even U.S. presidents sometimes yield to them.

Paradoxically, while the pandemic has shaken many people’s confidence in authority, at the same time some worldly authorities are claiming more power, having failed so miserably to manage the pandemic and its ripple effects.  To me, a lesson of the pandemic was: “See all these things people trust in?  They can all be torn down overnight.”  It has left a lot of people shaken.  Those we used to trust aren’t trustworthy, but where else can we turn?

The authorities respond: “Just give us more power and we will try again, but harder.  Ignore the evidence and trust us.”

The authorities of Jesus’ time were pretty lousy themselves.  In the greatest abuse of authority in history, they killed Him on a cross on Good Friday, humiliating Him publicly for all of history to see.  The rebel Barabbas was released by Roman political authorities instead of Jesus because of the cries of an angry mob stirred up by a few Jewish religious authorities jealous of Jesus’ appeal and resentful of His claims of authority.  Astonishingly, it’s not entirely unlike Twitter.  In modern times, the mob wouldn’t even need to show up to have Jesus killed, the “influencers” would just have to start #CrucifyHim trending and people would follow along just to be seen holding the popular view.  If Jesus’ message of love and hope for mankind died with Him, where can we turn?

Fortunately, we have Easter, where Jesus responds: “You hit me with all the power you have, and it wasn’t enough.  Even the grave cannot hold Me.  I rose from the dead and now sit at the right hand of the Father, in the place of ultimate authority.  The tomb is empty.  Observe the evidence and trust Me!

Jesus is risen indeed!

The stone that the builders rejected
            has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing;
            it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made;
            let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Save us, we pray, O LORD!           
            O LORD, we pray, give us success!” – Psalm 118:22-25

The Affair of the Sausages: History Bit for March 9

The idea that the Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther nailing the ninety-five theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany is fairly well known.  Less known is that the spark for Reformation in nearby Switzerland was a controversy over sausages.

March 9th was the first day of Lent in 1522, and Huldrych Zwingli, a pastor in Zurich, Switzerland, was the guest of printer Christoph Froschauer, who published some of Zwingli’s sermons and later his translation of the Bible into German.  Froschauer, working long hours with his staff, invited Zwingli to dinner on March 9th and served slices of smoked sausage to fortify everyone for the work ahead.  However, during Lent eating meat was illegal under the Catholic church-run government at the time, and Zwingli was arrested along with others at the dinner.

Zwingli said he did not eat any sausage and so was spared the indignity of arrest, but the event was a turning point for him, and about one month later he preached a sermon titled “Freedom of Choice and Selection of Food” where he argued for freedom of conscience regarding observance of Lent.  The sum of the sermon was: “if you want to fast, do so; if you do not want to eat meat, don’t eat it; but allow Christians a free choice.”[1]

Zwingli, having previously been only loosely connected to Martin Luther and other Reformation figures and ideas, was appalled by the prioritization of state and priestly authority over the authority of God in each person’s heart:

“If you would be a Christian at heart, act in this way. If the spirit of your belief teaches you thus, then fast, but grant also your neighbor the privilege of Christian liberty, and fear God greatly, if you have transgressed his laws, nor make what man has invented greater before God than what God himself has commanded…You should neither scorn nor approve anyone for any reason connected with food or with feast days whether observed or not.”

Also in the sermon, Zwingli emphasizes the “why” a Christian does what he does over the “what”:

“Here is another sign of the times. I think that there is danger of this age being evil and corrupt rather than reaching out towards everlasting righteousness. Further, simple people think everything is all right if they go to confession in Lent only, observe the fast, take Communion and thus account for the whole year. God should, however, be acknowledged at all times and our life should be one of piety, whereas we act to the contrary when we think that it is quite enough if we pay attention only to the times of fasting whereas Christ says, ‘Be vigilant: for you know not the day or the hour’”

In an earlier post on Lent, I wrote that whatever our liturgy, it is useless as a “bargaining chip” with God, and that “if we do not value the prize – God Himself – nothing we give up for Lent will make us – or God Himself – happy.”  Zwingli became a forceful voice during the Reformation arguing that external pressure from church and state can strip us of grace and enslave us to legalism, but he also recognized with Paul that “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things[2]  Self-control cannot be forced by others, but in search of an “imperishable” prize, each should prayerfully consider the disciplines that help them better serve God, in accordance with His word, while showing grace towards others who God may ask to behave differently.  Not all athletes compete in the same events and train the same way.

Closing Note
I once considered naming this blog “Lenten Sausages” after the events described above, but that might have defined the blog as what it’s against.  Instead, the current name emphasizes the common destiny of all for whom Christ was crucified.  Every Christian became one because of Christ.  Before there were Protestants there were Christians.  Many of them.  After there were Protestants there are Catholic believers and Protestant nonbelievers, and vice versa.  One man’s liturgy is sometimes another man’s legalism.  Regardless of what’s on the sign in front of your church, it’s what’s inside that matters.

Soli Deo Gloria


[1] Zwingli, Huldrych.  “Freedom of Choice and Selection of Food.”  (1522)
[2] 1 Corinthians 9:25