Friday, April 28, 2017

C.S. Lewis Quotes

Harry loved to quote and refer to C.S. Lewis. This gave me an opportunity to key off some Lewis quotes at our service for Harry in Fishersville:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Lemuel and Mohammed

Lemuel went to the bank yesterday, not to use the ATM, not to do a counter transaction, but to transact business with one of the bank managers.

Lemuel, being the observant fellow that he is, noticed that the man helping him was not of European descent and that his name tag indicated that his first name is Mohammed.

Mohammed and Lemuel had a conversation in which Mohammed shared that he and his family moved to the US about 18 months ago after waiting around 15 years for immigration approval. Mohammed has siblings living in the US and he comes from a banking family in Pakistan. Lemuel welcomed him to the US and told him that he was glad he made it. Mohammed works part-time in retail when not working at the bank.

Lemuel and Mohammed talked about the perception of Muslims that many people have and Lemuel shared that he and his wife have enjoyed relationships with Muslims over the years. Lemuel asked Mohammed if he would be open to meeting some of Lemuel’s friends who have never had a conversation with a Muslim – because of Mohammed’s work schedule that will be a challenge but they are going to see if they can make it work.

Of course they also talked about cricket.

We can build bridges or we can build walls – it seems to Lemuel that bridges are better. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Harry Hanger Weekend

This was a Harry Hanger weekend. On Saturday afternoon we were at a graveside service in Fishersville, VA, and on Sunday afternoon at a memorial service at Third Church in Richmond, VA. My friend left a testimony and a legacy.

At the memorial service a childhood friend, whose family was instrumental in leading Harry into a relationship with Jesus, spoke. She was loving and moving. Harry’s son Hunter also spoke – his reflections on his Dad illustrated the lasting influence Harry and Elaine had on their children and grandchildren. Harry passed up more than one promotion so that he would have time with his family – that is just one element of Harry’s testimony and legacy.

It was the desire of Harry and Elaine that people hear the Gospel at both services, Buddy Childress presented Jesus at the memorial service and I did so at the graveside service. Even though Buddy and I did not talk to each other prior to the services, we both had the same tack, the only way to explain Harry’s life, and Harry and Elaine’s marriage, is Jesus Christ – they were seeing and responding to something that is invisible.

God was gracious to us in Fishersville with the weather in two ways, the first was that there was visibility going both ways over Afton Mountain – the early morning weather report indicated that there would be close to zero visibility. The second was that the rain was light – considering the storms and rain hitting the Mid-Atlantic we were most grateful for the light rain and minimal wind. It was cold, it was muddy, and the service was on a hillside – but our focus was on Harry, his family, and the Gospel and Vickie and I were grateful to be there.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned Ambrose in previous posts, if I have please forgive me. Ambrose was, of course, at both services with his wife Mary.

Twenty years ago, in Beverly, MA, I was in a morning men’s group. One of the men in the group was Ambrose. Ambrose was there (he told me Saturday in Fishersville) because Harry had been praying that he’d find a men’s group.

Shortly after meeting Harry a few years ago we were talking about Harry’s family; when he mentioned that his sister Mary lived in MA and that her husband’s name was Ambrose I said that I knew an Ambrose in MA. It was the same Ambrose – I had been in a small group with Harry’s brother-in-law years before I met Harry and Elaine. An accident? I don’t think so. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Mug - Andre The Giant

I am going to give this huge mug away (photos below). I have had it since around 1989 – that is 28 years. While I have never put liquid in it, and therefore have never used it to drink from, I have put objects in it – coins, pens, and other “stuff”.

I purchased two of these mugs at Big Lots. Vickie isn’t keen on Big Lots. To me, Big Lots is Big Lots, meaning that it ain’t Sacks Fifth Avenue (which I’ve never been too) but it ain’t dumpster diving either. You never know what you’ll find in Big Lots, you may find nothing, but then again you may find what you were looking for, or maybe find something you didn’t know you were looking for.

The mug is what my impulse buying looks like – it seldom happens and when it does it makes no sense. I just thought it was a cool mug, something different. Alas, Vickie does not permit me to use it when we entertain guests – just as there is a tie or two she would rather I not wear and that I have to sneak out of the house and only put on once I’m at the office.

At the time of my purchase there was a maintenance technician named Jay who worked for me. He had a little boy, whose name I don’t recall. I appreciated Jay’s work ethic and attitude and enjoyed being around him. I also had occasion to meet his son. When I saw the mugs I thought, “I’m going to buy two, one for me and one for Jay’s son.”

I associate the mug with Jay and his son and with our first years in Richmond, VA. Jay worked for me with the first company I was with in Richmond and those first years have special memories for me. After living in the Baltimore – D.C. area with its traffic and fast-paced way of living and doing business, Richmond was a welcomed change of culture. That first group of properties, in Southside Richmond, have special memories.

I don’t imagine Jay’s son still has his mug, but I still have mine. I’m looking for a good candidate to give it to and have a boy in our neighborhood in mind – the problem is that he has brothers and I need to think of other things to give the brothers. Maybe I’ll go to Big Lots and see what they have.

Maybe I should drink from the mug one time before it goes away? That seems fitting. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Harry Hanger

Harry went to be with Jesus on Good Friday. His wife, Elaine, sent the following:

Our dear Harry went to be with the Lord in the early morning hours on this Good Friday. He no longer is bound by a body that was broken and a voice that could not speak. One of the last things that he was able to communicate was written last Sunday night using his finger to write on the IPad; he wrote "Great honor to be passing around Easter."

And so he did.

Of the many affinities I have with Harry are that we are of the same generation and that we came to know Jesus when we were young. For some of us, coming to know Jesus in the turbulent 1960s and early 1970s meant sorting through both societal upheaval and religious upheaval. Some of us were shaped by those times in ways that are with us today – we couldn’t help but be shaped and influenced by them.

Harry loved Jesus and the Gospel. He loved sharing the Gospel. He loved being with our Tuesday-morning small group. He had an “ear” for the Gospel; he knew when he was hearing or reading something centered on Christ, and he knew when something was not centered on Jesus Christ. His heart’s desire was that others would know the difference between God’s truth and the lies the world tells us, and in knowing the difference others would come to know Jesus Christ.

Harry had a sharp mind; quick, insightful, rapier. He also had a heart that loved and cared for others.

While Harry and I did not always share the same views on social policy, politics, and how to best view history – our love for Christ and the Gospel and for each other transcended these other things – we knew we could trust each other in “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” – in putting Jesus Christ at the center of life and teaching. Being in a small group with Harry and working through the Scriptures was like two basketball players who instinctively know what the other is thinking and is going to do. There were times when difficult subjects would arise, or someone would make a problematic statement, and Harry and I instinctively played off each other in helping others work through the question at hand. Sometimes he would take the lead, sometimes I would – with the other supporting. If things got especially interesting we’d call or email each other later in the day and replay the game video.

Working through the Bible with Harry has like having a great partner in the weight room.

Because the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is reality, and because Jesus Christ lives in His people – the eternal life of Harry Hanger is also reality, a reality that is with me – a reality that is palpable. The only explanation for the way that Harry lived is Jesus Christ – Harry lived seeing the invisible; Harry and Elaine were heirs together of the grace of life.

I am so deeply thankful for Harry…and for Elaine.

Friday, April 14, 2017

What We've Come To

My friend Gloria was telling me about a sunscreen she had for her windshield that had the warning, "DO NOT USE WHEN DRIVING".

Shortly after she told me about this I noticed the following notice on a bottle (below):

This is what we've come to. Not sure what it is we've come to, but it isn't encouraging.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My Garden - Thomas Edward Brown

My Garden
By: Thomas Edward Brown

A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!

Rose plot,

Fringed pool,

Ferned grot –

The veriest school

Of peace; and yet the fool

Contends that God is not –

Not God! in garden! when eve is cool?

Nay, But I have a sign;

‘Tis very sure God walks in mine.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Opening Day in Richmond

Thursday night we went to the 2017 Opening Day of the Richmond Flying Squirrels; I thought we were with Robert Scott in the Antarctic; had we not left in the 6th inning we may have suffered a similar fate – my was it cold – C-O-L-D.

While the game was sold-out, not every seat was occupied. Why? Because it was C-O-L-D. Did I mention that it was windy too? Cold plus wind equals comfort – well, that’s what it means to our Border Collie Lily, but to the rest of us it is misery.

The Squirrels won 11 – 1; most of the runs were scored early in the game by a combination of hits, good base running, and the Hartford Yard Goats booting the ball around as if they were in the English Premier League.  

I mentioned in a previous post that opening day is like Christmas and Easter in church, a lot of the folks who attend won’t be back the rest of the season, or if they come they won’t come often. There is another similarity to opening day and church, if the weather is bad folks won’t come. Can’t say that I blame folks when it comes to sports; cold is cold and wet is wet and windy is windy – tain’t no point in being miserable.  In our case, once the misery scale hit a certain point it was time to leave. Unlike church where they do the offering somewhere during the service, in sports you make an offering to get in the stadium so I don’t think management cared too much that we left early.

When we got to the car I turned the heat up to 80 degrees…it took us about 25 minutes to get home…I was still cold. That isn’t right, these things ought not to be.

Yet…yet it was still opening day…and there is something about opening day…for one thing there is only one per year, and for another…it gives me that moment of hope for things to come…even if that hope only lasts for a moment, there is something about even a glimmer, ever so slight…of hope. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Hope of Opening Day

“Did the Nationals win?” I asked my coworker David.

“Yes they did. Now they can try to win 161 more games,” he replied.

Of course they won’t win 161 more games, no team will do that, but it is nice to cast the impossible vision.

The Orioles won with an extra-innings “walk-off” home run by Mr. Trumbo, nice. I like that name Trumbo – that’s the name of a power hitter, which he is. Players named Trumbo need to hit home runs or play the tuba or the kettle drums or maybe even sumo wrestle.

This Thursday night we’re going to the Richmond Flying Squirrels Opening Day. It’s an exercise in hope. Last year the Squirrels hibernated and didn’t do too well (yes, I know squirrels aren’t supposed to hibernate, and who hibernates in the spring and summer anyway?). There is something about the ritual.

Opening Day is like Christmas and Easter, the pews will be packed but then diminish at the next game and the next game, and so forth.

Up until this year fans of the Chicago Cubs attended Opening Day in the hope that that year would be the year in which the Curse of the Goat would be lifted – last year it finally happened. This year they attended in the hope that last year was not fluke. Fans of the Boston Red Sox went decades in the hope that the Curse of the Bambino would be lifted; when it happened it was like the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt – with the important difference that Red Sox fans have never expressed a desire to return to bondage. Egyptians and Yankees? Yankees and Egyptians? Can’t see any difference between the two.

When I was a kid in the D.C. area I used to take the day off from school to watch Opening Day on TV. I think once I attended. If you were a fan of the Senators you knew Opening Day was a forlorn hope – but hey, Harry Truman did beat Dewey so anything was possible. One year a teacher asked those of us absent on Opening Day why we were absent. When I said that I’d stayed home to watch the game she said, “At least you are honest.” I don’t know that that helped my grades, and I know it didn’t help the Senators, but how could I not identity with the forlorn hope of Washington baseball fans?

Opening Day lasts exactly one day; actually it lasts until the last out is called. It’s fleeting. But hope is a nice thing to experience, even if it is only for nine innings.