Sunday, March 25, 2007


Our older daughter, Liz, turned twenty-one this week, and we celebrated with her at a great italian restaurant in Chapel Hill. The evening prior we had our church council meeting (it takes place six times a year), and I realize how amazing many of the laity are in administrative areas. Later in the week our church Wednesday evening dinner was followed by music with the Joy Class, our group of adults with developmental disabilities. We sang everything from "You Are My Sunshine" to "I Can See Clearly Now" to "My Girl" to "Blind Man" to "Kum Ba Yah" to "Go Now In Peace". It was a blast; it always is with this gang. Then I spent some time with those gathered reflecting on Henri Nouwen's In The Name of Jesus. A couple of hospital visits were sprinkled in there. We rejoiced in the upcoming arrival of a wonderful musician who will serve as our director of music, at the conclusion of a year-long search. On Friday evening a group shared dinner together, and in our conversation we covered the waterfront, from children to grandchildren to travel to political systems to the merits of wearing a helmet while skiing to weddings....And then, when I arrived home, UNC was behind by sixteen against Southern Cal...and then a few minutes later they had won by ten. Today I finished the third of three Lenten sermons on the temptations of Christ, from Luke 4. Now it is on to Palm/Passion Sunday, and then Easter.

Yesterday and today I watched a great deal of college basketball. My final four was Kansas, Ohio State, UNC and Florida, so I am batting 500...Still, because of Liz, I was rooting for UNC, and they ran into a hungry Georgetown team today, missing 16 of their last 17 shots and watching the Hoyas grab 90% of the rebounds over the last minutes of regulation, and then all of them in overtime. I think UNC is a year away, assuming that Brandon Wright and Tyler Hansborough stay around.

Speaking of hanging around, I can see Kevin Durant of Texas going pro, and also Greg Oden of Ohio State. It will take both about five seconds to make those announcements once the season is over. Randolph Morris of Kentucky has already become a NY Knick. Joachim Noah will go early this year, after the Gators pick up their second championship in a row. Josh McRoberts of Duke has already exited (a year too early, I think). It will be a strong draft class, filled with talented big guys. This is good for our Bobcats in this regard, but maybe not the best year for big guys to go early. I hope Wright and Hansborough stick around for one more year. You got the feeling, finally, that the Tar Heels were talented but young. But who isn't, these days, in college basketball?

And so, with no great emotional investment left in March Madness, my thoughts turn to more spiritual matters, to family questions (where is our younger daughter going to college and when will she decide?), to the beginning of baseball, oddly scheduled for Palm Sunday (April 1), but mostly to the issues related to the coming days---next Sunday I am working with the saying of Jesus, "Let this cup pass from me", but trying also to listen to my friend Ted Wardlaw's advice in the current Christian Century, that I should pay attention to the big picture---in other words, not just a phrase, but the entire drama itself. This is a time packed with meaning, and I am blessed to walk through these days with the people of Providence. There is more to write about--for example, I will meet both Paul Farmer and Elie Wiesel, and hear them speak, on Tuesday. That has the potential to be one of the most remarkable days of my life.

My prayers are with you in these days of Lent.


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