In My Father's House

Poems, Prayers, Inspirations, Photos and Musings about life, love and what it means to be a child of the Father

Monday, October 31, 2005

Funny Church Bulletins

I stumbled upon these very funny church announcements. I'm dying to share them with you.

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

Evening massage - 6 PM

Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Don't let worry kill you - let the church help.

Thursday night - Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.

The choir will meet at the Larsen house for fun and sinning.

Miss Charlene Mason, sang, "I Will Not Pass This Way Again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It is a good chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

Next Sunday is the family hayride and bonfire at the Fowlers. Bring your own hot dogs and guns. Friends are welcome! Everyone come for a fun time.

The pastor would appreciate if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for pancake breakfast next Sunday morning

Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "hell" to someone who doesn't care much about

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

Tuesday at 4:00 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

Wednesday the ladies liturgy will meet. Mrs. Johnson will sing "Put me in my little bed" accompanied by the pastor.

Thursday at 5:00 PM there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All ladies wishing to be "Little Mothers" will meet with the Pastor in his study.

This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

The service will close with "Little Drops of Water." One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and do so.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.

A bean supper well be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

The Reverend Merriweather spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.

The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7:00 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

During the absence of our pastor we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Scubbs supplied our pulpit.

With a smile on his face, the pastor listened as the church choir sang the traditional hymn, "How Great Thou Art", as the rather large casket of the over 500 pound parishioner was wheeled out of the church.

Following this morning's message will be a pubic profession of faith.

The Senior Choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.

The Associate minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday - "I upped my pledge - up yours!"

A song listed in the Church Bulletin at the Nazarene Church in Little Rock, Arkansas; in connection with a sermon on God's mantle..."Let's God Mangle Fall on Me." (submitted by Luella Long)

Next Sunday, Mrs. Vinson will be the soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on "It's a Terrible Experience."

The choir will meet at the Larsen home for fun and sinning.

A song fest was hell at the Methodist Church Wednesday.

The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy."

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on Oct. 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in school days.

Due to the Rector's illness, Wednesday's healing services will be discontinued until further notice.

The concert held in the Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister's daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell on her.

Today, Christian Youth Fellowship House Sexuality Course, 1 pm-8 pm. Please park in the rear parking lot for this activity.

Offertory: "Jesus Paid It All"

The church is glad to have with us today as our guest minister the Rev. Green who has Mrs. Green with him. After the service we request that all remain in the sanctuary for the Hanging of the Greens.

The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door.

Ushers will eat latecomers.

The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.

Today's Sermon: HOW MUCH CAN A MAN DRINK? with hymns from a full choir.

22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, 'The Lord Knows Why.'

The 1997 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.

8 new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some of the older ones.

Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan in preparing for the girth of their first child.

The peace-making meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.

Tonight's sermon-"What is hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on the Water. The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.

Next Thursday, there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

The agenda was adopted...the minutes were approved...the financial secretary gave a grief report.

Barbara C. remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.

The 'Over 60s Choir' will be disbanded for the summer with the thanks of the entire church.

Missionary from Africa speaking at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Name Bertha Belch. Announcement: "Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa."

Announcement in a church bulletin for a National Prayer & Fasting Conference: "The cost for attending the Fasting & Prayer conference includes meals.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Is there Such a Thing as Predestination?

Last night, together with some Jesuit scholastics, nuns and diocesan seminarians, we were invited to share our vocation stories with some youth of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Cainta, Rizal. The group where I belonged composed of about twelve youth, with age ranging from 10 to 21. We have with us some mother butlers and a host family (Tito Toti, Tita Zeny and Zei).

One mother asked me, what particularly struck me as an impertinent question: Do you believe in a pre-destined vocation? I didn't know how to go about it but felt I had to give the lady some answer to her honest question. Personally, I believe that there is no such thing as pre-destination. But the lady and another one insisted that there is, there must be. They argued that when God desires you to become a priest or a nun, even though you don't like it, there is nothing that you can do.

I tried explaining them that vocation is a dance of two freedoms: God who does the calling and the called who can either answer positively or refuse the invitation. But the ladies were getting hot on the topic, saying that this was what was taught to them. I wanted to tell them that they were wrong but I knew that in this context, I was not going to win. So I let them have the night. I disagree with the ladies because I do believe that God, no matter how powerful or noble His intentions are, will not coerce people into submitting into His will.

The Bible is filled with stories of hesitant heroes and prophets. Yet none of them were forced into accepting their roles. God called but they had the option not to heed Him. And so was the Blessed Virgin. She was chosen from all women, but it was her yes, her fiat, that finally won us our salvation. She was not, so to speak, pre-destined to fulfill a role she did not herself like.

Dance of two Freedoms. God calls. We hear the call. But it is up to us whether to heed that call or not. God is so generous and understanding and so free as to give us that choice whether to accept His love or not. This is difficult to understand. I, myself, am trying to comprehend the great mystery of my vocation. Why does God, for example, continue to preserve me, continue to bless me and take care of me despite my weaknesses, my sinfulness and infidelities towards Him? Am I pre-destined to fulfill a role He arranged from the beginning of Time? Should I fail Him, will He take it against me? Should I turn out a bad prophet or shepherd, will God blame Himself for it?

Are the two ladies pre-destined to pose their question to me? Am I pre-destined to disappoint them with my answer? Frankly, I do not know. But there is only one thing I know: we are all pre-destined, or pre-ordained, to spend Eternity with God the Father but just like a truly loving Father, He leaves the choice to us whether to accept this or not.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

When Your World Blows into Pieces

(or How Fr. Joemarie's Pitcher of Orange Juice Showed Me the Meaning of God's Enduring Love)

After I graduated from college, I taught for a year in Sta. Maria Catholic School, a Jesuit high school in Iloilo (Central Philippines). I was full of hope, full of passion and my idealism ran high. I was ready to conquer the world, one student at a time. Then came personal and familial problems along with them a friendship that had gone sour. I was away from family and friends on an island where I only had a few acquaintances.

The priest I was living in the convent with arrived very late at night and I went to school very early in the morning when he was still fast asleep. We rarely had the time to talk except on Sunday evenings after his priestly duties. But my problems could not wait for a few more days. I was beginning to explode inside. So I took a few hours off from school. I waited for him to go down from his room so we could have breakfast together. I cooked for him some bacon and eggs, french toasts I learned to prepare from watching Kramer vs. Kramer, and a pitcher of orange juice.

I wanted to seek his opinion on things that bothered me for weeks. As he settled himself down our little dinner table, I started stirring the sugar inside the glass pitcher. He was very pleased with what I prepared: it showed in his eyes and the wide smile on his lips. I picked the pitcher up from the kitchen sink when all of a sudden it fell on the floor scattering juice and shards of glass. I was very afraid that Fr. Joemarie would accost me for my carelessness. What he did surprised me and endeared him more to me: He just smiled, did not say anything, and then he knelt down and began picking up the pieces of glass that had scattered on the floor. Then he told me to go up and change my clothes.

In a very simple gesture I understood what it meant for God to love me with an everlasting and enduring love. When things go wrong and nothing seems right in my life. When I have committed the most serious blunder. When I have time and time again offended him. When my world seems to explode because I want to carry it inside my heart like I would a liter of orange juice in a pitcher, and when my dreams shatter before my eyes: He is there. He does not say anything. He just smiles at me. Then He kneels down and slowly but surely He begins picking up the pieces of my littered self. And then He says: "Go up son and change your clothes."

God the Father loves me so that He does the picking of my shattered self. And He does not want me to stay wet and shivering in cold. He forgives all my sins and gives me new clothes; new body, new spirit to wear so I can greet the day with more courage, more patience and more love because I have been loved, I am loved first and foremost.

When we carry our burdens by ourselves and when our world seems to blow from within, God does the unthinkable. And pretty soon, we just realize: we are whole and new again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fighting Dementia

One of the priests I admire and respect has recently showed signs of dementia. Doctors are still trying to find out whether this dementia is Alzheimer's or Pick's Disease. It may be latter case since Father X still has his memory intact. In fact he remembers names of family members and his own community. I was very happy to return to the community where I first saw him. I remember him as a very soft-spoken, very gentle and kind elderly priest. I was glad to pay him a visit once more but was saddened to find him changed: he becomes talkative, he rattles on and on about many things, he makes predictions about this and that Jesuit and how to solve the problem on poverty in the Philippines. Gone is his happy and light disposition. Instead he is agitated, very upset about many things, very nervous. And very afraid.

I'm wondering how it feels to be fighting dementia. How does it feel to be fully aware that you are losing your sanity, your grip on common day-to-day things? Doctors say that dementia (in either form) is a degenerative disease and completely irreversible.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ungrateful Sorrow

by Rabindranath Tagore

At dawn shey(1) departed
My mind tried to console me -
" Everything is Maya(2)".
Angrily I replied:
"Here's this sewing box on the table,
that flower-pot on the terrace,
this monogrammed hand-fan on the bed---
all these are real."

My mind said: "Yet, think again."
I rejoined: " You better stop.
Look at this storybook,
the hairpin halfway amongst its leaves,
signaling the rest is unread;
if all these things are "Maya",
then why should "shey" be more unreal?"

My mind becomes silent.
A friend arrived and says:
"That which is good is real
it is never non-existent;
entire world preserves and cherishes it its chest
like a precious jewel in a necklace."

I replied in anger: "How do you know?
Is a body not good? Where did that body go?"

Like a small boy in a rage hitting his mother,
I began to strike at everything in this world
that gave me shelter.
And I screamed:" The world is treacherous."

Suddenly, I was startled.
It seemed like someone admonished me :" You- ungrateful ! "

I looked at the crescent moon
hidden behind the tamarisk tree outside my window.
As if the dear departed one is smiling
and playing hide-and-seek with me.

From the depth of darkness punctuated by scattered stars
came a rebuke: "when I let you grasp me you call it a deception,
and yet when I remain concealed,
why do you hold on to your faith in me with such conviction?"

(1): "Shey" in Bengali can mean either he or she.
(2): "Maya" meaning Unreal.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Second Chances, Second Bests

Yesterday I watched Cinderella Man with Mao, a good friend from Iloilo. It was a very inspiring film about coming back, about being given a second chance. James J. Braddock was a boxing sensation during the American Depression era. He came back from almost nothing and won big because he capitalized on his belief that he could win and that "losers" never lose further.

The film made me realized some aspects of life that I have overlooked: about being given the second chance and about second bests. When we lose something or someone (often the very best that we have), we tend to think that anything else in our lives won't make it, would not be sufficient. A priced childhood toy takes on a value of a rare treasure. A really intimate friendship could mean the whole world to one person. Once these things get lost, broken or simply ceased to be, we can be shattered like glass. Each tiny shard throbs with pain. We suddenly feel incomplete, un-whole.

But the good thing is our God is also a God of second chances, of second bests. He allows the "firsts, the bests, the only-one's" in our lives to get lost, be broken, ceased to be so we may know their true worth. If they are authentic, then at least, we know. If they are not, still we know. But sometimes the "firsts, the bests, the only-one's" need to go so we may also learn to appreciate the second bests, the second chances, the second opportunities just waiting for us, right at our doorstep, if we are just willing to step out into the world.

We may realize that our second best friend is even better than our "best" friend. Our second shot at life, better than the first no matter how colorful or wonderful it may have been. I thank God, for giving me an experience of His great love and generosity for giving me the second bests in my life.