History is rife with occasions when knowing Scripture by heart has made a material difference in people's lives, even saved their necks.
I have heard a lot of stories like this, from people who wear a comma pin or carry something that points to our church.
I love birthdays, probably because my mother always made sure that our birthdays were fun and festive. Our family would all dress up for dinner and, as the birthday boy, I got to determine the menu.
People have different philosophies of packing.
It is said that no one can hold back the river of time, and that is true. Time does rush on. But we can build bridges across the rushing river, and today — Memorial Day — is one.
There's a neat trick to folding the palm fronds in just the right way so that they become crosses. Let's turn our palms into crosses so we won't be tempted to use them as swords.
When it seems the end has come, "but God." When you see no way forward or out, "but God." When death has done its work and it seems all hope is gone, "but God." Because of these two little words, because of the defiant divine disjunction everything is different now.
Let this day, this Ash Wednesday, be a day for fewer words all day long. Let it be a day for some stillness, for paying quiet attention to mystery, to beauty, to the sacred.
Sometimes religion can be a means of escape from the urgent realities of now.
Sometimes a prayer like this is needed to wake us from our slumber, to shake us loose from our fears, and to set us on our way of "immediacy" toward long-forgotten hopes and longings and dreams. I think this is a prayer for the New Year.