The Day of Resurrection has dawned upon us, the day of true light and life, wherein Christ, the life of believers, rose from the dead. Let us give abundant thanks and praise to God, that while we solemnly celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection, he may be pleased to bestow on us quiet peace and special gladness; so that being protected from morning to night by his favoring mercy, we may rejoice in the gift of our Redeemer. Amen.
The “4 Amarillo” churches are meeting at First Presbyterian in downtown Amarillo this evening for our annual Maundy Thursday service. I am honored to read from Psalm 41 during the service and to lead the congregation in prayer. This is the prayer I will lift up to God tonight with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Holy Father, we are reminded tonight by your Word we hear and the meal we share that your servant, our Lord Jesus, came to this earth not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life for the whole world.
Father, we pray together tonight for your people at First Baptist, at Polk Street Methodist, at First Presbyterian, and at Central Church of Christ. Would you bless our four churches with a continued spirit of unity and fellowship that honors you and points others to our Lord Jesus.
We pray together tonight for this city of Amarillo. Would you bless our city with increased cooperation and good will that brings healing and hope and joy to our neighbors.
We pray together tonight for this country. Would you bless this nation, God, with your mercy and justice to bring comfort and equality instead of oppression and inequity to our fellow man.
And we pray together tonight for every man, woman, and child created by you, in your image, and placed by you on this earth. We pray, holy God, for the whole world. Would you bless us with your peace and harmony, with your eternal life and matchless love. May every knee bow and every tongue confess, sooner rather than later, that your Son is Lord to your eternal glory and praise.
When I tell people that I have three daughters, their typical response is, “You are really outnumbered!” My clever reply is, “I was outnumbered the day I got married!” The truth is, yes, I exist and thrive in a world of women. I’ve learned how to make it work, I’ve learned to love it and feel really blessed by it, and I believe God has shaped me into what he intends for me by surrounding me with these beautiful, emotional, delicate, fiercely tough and determined females. I’ve also always been aware that when my daughters married, their husbands would bring a new and needed dynamic to our family. I would finally have male cohorts, comrades to take my side in the inevitable discussions and debates that fall along gender lines. Somebody to back me up when silly theories about men or sports or marriage are posited as truth or when overreactions to normal minor inconveniences are treated as appropriate and they need to be challenged.
And that strange, wonderful day has come.
David Richardson has asked for Valerie’s hand in marriage and she has enthusiastically accepted!
David and Valerie met a little over a year ago on a church college-group mission trip to South Texas and bonded almost immediately. They share a love for our Lord and a passion for his people. They selflessly serve others in the name and manner of Christ. And they truly love and care for each other. I really like their comfortable, easy manner with each other. I like the way they look at each other and look out for each other. They understand each other’s quirks, they laugh at each other’s jokes, and they seem to have a mature outlook and plan to work hard to nurture and support their relationship.
David is from Phoenix. So he’s a Cardinals football fan. That’s weird, right? Who’s a Cardinals fan? I mean, only people from Phoenix. So, it’s not a knock; I’m just observing that I’m going to have to work to be able to talk knowledgeably about Arizona and the Suns and Arizona State.
They will both graduate from OC next April — they’d better! — and will get married pretty quickly after that. By then, hopefully, Valerie will have a youth minister position at some really great and lucky church and David will be enrolled in law school. And I will have talked them into serving only peanuts and mints at the wedding. And I will have learned how to dance.
Carrie-Anne and I couldn’t be more proud of these two. We love David and his family — his sister Claire has become a really good friend of Carley’s — and we’re excited to add him to ours. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to support these two and their marriage for as long as we’re around. And we’re beside ourselves with joyful anticipation for what our God is going to do in them and through them to his glory.
Welcome to the family, David. I can’t decide yet if you need to sit right beside me at the dinner table at family gatherings to present a physical united front or straight across from me to strategically cover more area. This doubles the number of males for us and I want to use this to my best advantage.
God bless Valerie and David. May the blessings of heaven crown their marriage with increasing joy and peace. And may their hearts and lives be forever united by the love and grace of our Lord.
I spent Saturday through Wednesday in Chicago on another of these nine quarterly retreats with Ruth Haley Barton’s Transforming Community. And while Mary and Hannah and I did some really great things up there, I’m struggling to get caught up with all the really cool things we missed here at home.
We always try to work in a fun event or two in Chicago as a needed balance to the oftentimes difficult self-reflection and introspection that happens on these retreats. We’ve been to a White Sox game, we’ve taken in the architectural boat tour (a lot more fun than it sounds), we’ve been to Harry Carey’s restaurant, and we’ve done the Bean downtown, Grant Park, and a comedy club. This time around we scheduled two things: the Chicago art museum and Hamilton.
You know we had to get a picture with the Ferris Bueller painting and Hannah had to get reprimanded more than once for getting too close to the art. And then Tuesday we hooked up with Grace, who lives in California, and Phil, who lives in another part of Texas — they’ve both become great friends — and saw “Hamilton” together at the historic downtown Chicago CIBC Theatre. The words came way too fast for me, but what a show! I wish I could see it again because I know I missed a bunch of funny, clever lines. The moving stage, the creative writing, the over-the-top performances, the comedy, the history — very impressive!
So, while we were away, Virginia topped Texas Tech in overtime to win the national championship. That’s fine. Nobody wanted Texas Tech to win. Except Tiffani and George. And they finished first and second in our annual Central staff bracket contest. Bragging rights and a free lunch. And, yes, Tiffani’s guns are up all year around. Heading into the Elite Eight, I was in first place and still had all four of my Final Four teams alive. I just needed Duke or Purdue or Kentucky or Gonzaga to win. Just one of those four teams. Just one more win, it didn’t matter who it was. But they all four lost and I’m watching it from a tiny TV at Lou Malnati’s Pizza in Chicago. Good thing I had that deep dish supreme to console me. Final numbers: Tiffani-75, George-72, Kevin-71, Allan-70.
The Amarillo Sod Poodles opened up their inaugural home season in our brand new downtown ballpark on Monday. And I missed it! So we got there as fast as we could — last night — and watched our AA San Diego Padres affiliate beat the Corpus Christi Hooks in an entertaining slug fest. It was cold, too cold for baseball. But that’s always going to be Amarillo in April. It was 88-degrees on Wednesday and then 53-degrees yesterday. I’m going again Sunday when it’s supposed to be in the lower 70s. This is Whitney, Carrie-Anne, Karen, Mean Jean, Greg, and me trying to stay warm in Dale and Karen’s great seats behind home plate. What a beautiful ball park! I’m hoping to make about 30 of these games this summer.
I also missed Dirk Nowitski’s last game as a Dallas Maverick and I’ve had to go on-line to watch the stirring tribute the Spurs gave him in their arena in San Antonio. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch this video. I’ve always admired the Spurs as a classy organization with a lot of pride and professionalism. We’ve all come to expect that from the Spurs. But they cranked it up a few notches for Dirk’s last game. During the introductions, they showed a video of Dirk highlights, mostly of Dirk dunking on Tim Duncan and shooting over Tony Parker and faking out Manu Ginobelli — it was a highlight reel of Dirk beating the Spurs! How really cool and unexpected! The Mavericks and Spurs are bitter Midwest Division rivals and they have played some significant games against each other over the years. There was about a ten year period there where the stakes were incredibly high every time these two teams faced off. And the highlight reel brought Nowitski to tears. And if you have a heart at all, it’ll probably choke you up, too.
Lastly — man, this is sports-heavy today — the NHL playoff season has begun and the Dallas Stars are in. Wednesday night they came from behind to beat Nashville 3-2 in the best-of-seven opener and I watched every exciting minute of it. It’s been a while for the Stars and I forgot just how intense and crazy the NHL’s second season really is. Breath-taking. Edge of your seat. So much fun. It’s border-line blasphemous to say, but NHL playoff hockey is better than football. Game two is tomorrow. Go Stars.
Thanks so much to the Central students and families who showed up this afternoon to move Josh and Stephanie and Hayden out of their U-Haul from Round Rock and into their new home in Amarillo. The Jones family is finally here! We’re grateful to God for bringing us together at this time and we’re all beside ourselves with anticipation for what our Lord is going to do in and through Josh and our kids at Central. Thanks to Kami for bringing the ice cream sandwiches. Thanks to Corbin for recommending Gorilla Glue. And thanks to Greg for not wrecking Josh’s scooter.
“I have tried the pharisaic plan and the monastic. I was once so straight that, like the Indian’s tree, I leaned a little the other way. And, however much I may be slandered now as seeking ‘popularity’ or a popular course, I have to rejoice that to my own satisfaction, as well as to others, I proved that truth, and not popularity, was my object; for I once was so strict a Separatist that I would neither pray nor sing praises with any one who was not as perfect as I supposed myself. In this most unpopular course I persisted until I discovered the mistake and saw that on the principle embraced in my conduct, there could never be a congregation or church upon the earth.”