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Clarke and Sally


It IS Alright!

August 18, 2013

Vance Rains’ son, John Rains, asked our son, Ben if he wanted to sing in a music video they were going to film this past year.  John did an awesome job producing this video.  Stick around to the end and see the serendipitous moment when horses wandered into the shot.

This morning we woke up to this Youtube video waiting in our inbox.  Abby joined the Mocapellas at Florida Southern this past Fall.  They are a new and trending a cappella choir on this Lakeland campus.  Abby provides the female solo vocals on this harmonic delight.

Abby’s creative juices

November 22, 2012

Our daughter has been working on an original song she could sing and play at the College Conference at Montreat in January.  Today is the day before Thanksgiving and we have all gathered in Lake Junaluska for the holiday.  I asked Abby to play some of her new songs for me and she played this one which is still in the works.  Her working title is Content, an important emphasis as we reflect on how to embody a life of gratitude.

Content” by Abby Evans

Steady as You Go

June 19, 2012

Phil Westra

Our good friend, Phil Westra, passed away last week from a massive heart attack.  We first got to know Phil and Polly and their four children when we served Fulford United Methodist Church in North Miami Beach.  He loved to sail, a stiff wind at his back; a purist who refused to put a motor on any boat at which he was at the tiller.  He was a renaissance man who read voluminously, who loved God and was always looking for a way to make a difference with his life.  Following the earthquake in Haiti, he went down to work with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee rebuilding homes and digging wells.  Sally and I participated in his memorial service at Church by the Sea.  One of Phil’s brothers, Steve, penned a poem in memory of his brother, which I read at the end of my homily.  We will miss him.

Free the lines from their cleats, Brother, bow pointed to the wind with sails lightly set.  Hold briefly the stern to the dock as the wind catches and set you on your way.  Stow the lines; you will be bound by shore no more.  Choose your course through the harbor, Brother.  The boats with bare masts in solemn salute pointing to the open sea.  Breathe deep the salt air on the offshore breeze, awaiting the salt spray on your precious face.  Leave no store on shore, Brother, you need return no more.  Ride the tide and current from the harbor, green to your starboard.  There will be no more red right returning.  Your loved ones on shore will return to their homes in peace for you have loved us well.  Feel the water on the hull, with your passion for the sea, your rail will soon be wet.  Set your tiller, Brother, and off you go to the horizon, no more hard to lee.  Steady as she goes, Brother.  Steady as she goes.

Today, United Methodists from across Tallahassee gathered at Trinity United Methodist at noon for Good Friday worship.  I was asked to pray the pastoral prayer in the service:

Holy God,

We are gathered together here as the scattered Wesleyan people from across this southern capital city to sit in the silence of this sanctuary as the pounding of the guards affixing Jesus to the cross echoes through our heads.  All of the palm-waving triumphalism of Sunday has retreated into the stark reality of pounding hammer on iron nails.  Our sin, not in part, but the whole, is here in this room before us all.  This null point of Friday where your power, O God is overcome by the force of temporal power thuds against the hollow places of our self-centeredness and fragile belief.

We confess that we want the dead stillness of this day to pass quickly.  Get us to Sunday already!  But we have Friday and all day Saturday to become keenly aware that there is nothing that we can do to make this right, to make us whole.

This Friday, this Good Friday, the rhythmic rumble ceases as we stand before the cross.

In the dead stillness of this day, we confess our sins and we pray for the brokenness in our world.  We pray for those who suffer from self-centered violence by individuals and nations.  We pray for those whose bodies and minds and spirits are tattered and worn.  We pray for the poor among us and around our globe.  We fall on our knees and pray for your forgiveness, that you would make us whole again.

In the dead stillness of this day, long before we know it to be true, through the weakness and vulnerability of the cross emerges your transforming work. It is the door to new life.  In the dead stillness of this Friday there is the truth that suffering love has transformative power that the “executioners” never suspect (1).  If we are still enough before the enormity of this moment, we might hear the quiet cadence of your heart beating this redeeming love for all the world.

We join our hearts and voices as we pray together Jesus’ prayer:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.   For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.


(1)  As we were working on our Lenten sermon series on the atonement, I ran across this Walter Brueggemann’s statement that I alluded to here in the prayer.

Thanks to ABC for this photo.

In May of 1984, I bought my first Macintosh computer.  My grandmother had heard of PCs and offered to help me buy one.  I went into the store fully expecting that I would walk out with an Apple IIe which had been introduced the year before using big floppy discs.  But the Mac had come out a few months before and it had a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) interface, the first of its kind and I was hooked.  There were only two programs available for the Mac when I bought it:  Write and Paint.  I wrote the sermon I delivered on Pentecost evening in the chapel of my home church on that computer using Write.  Because my sermon was longer than 8 pages (double spaced, larger font), the program crashed and I had to rewrite the sermon that Sunday afternoon.

And all these years I have continued through thick and thin to use a Macintosh computer, even in those years when Apple fired Steve Jobs and everyone was predicting its demise.  But then they brought Steve back and he created not just products but an entire culture that interlocks many aspects of our lives.  We bought Apple stock a while back and are glad we did, but more than that we have felt a particular connection and appreciation for the genius of their CEO.

In our house, we will miss him and his infamous keynotes he would give twice a year on the new hardware and software offerings from Apple.

His untimely death is a tremendous loss for our world.

Melodic Memories

July 27, 2011

One of the great things about this trip was the serendipitous discovery of music around every corner.  In pubs, at subway stops, on street corners, in people’s homes we were blessed by a wide variety of music everywhere we went.  Our children have introduced us to so much new music over the years which has awakened a great love for much more variety than we had before they came along.  In the video clip below, we share with you a few bars of the musical variety we experienced while we were all over Ireland and deeply immersed in Paris.

One of the recordings we wish we had gotten was when we visited a pub to listen to Irish music but had left the camera back at the B & B.  We heard an Irish folk singer named Tim O’Riordan, who is known for penning the famous #1 Irish hit Langer.  The whole pub was swaying and singing at the top of their lungs:

Langer…  Oh, Langer…

The meaning of which he described as “if you’re from New York, you’d be a schmuck.  If you’re from California, you’d be a nerd.”  After hearing the song, I’m not so sure he was adept at translation…

At any rate, enjoy this sampling!

All shades of green

July 25, 2011

We have been back a week from our vacation to Ireland and Paris, and have many more sights and sounds to share. We will work on those as time allows. One of the striking things about Ireland is how lush and green the countryside is everywhere you go. When we were on the plane flying over, Clarke sat next to a retired farmer who tried his best to explain the agricultural economy and the current financial crisis of the country (at the heart of which was a real estate speculation bubble that burst ~ sound familiar?). But he went on at great length about how fertile the land was across the island.

While we were there we stayed at a couple of B&Bs on local farms. Our accordion-player, Tom Dillanes, in the video below and his wife, Mary were farmers who now rent out their yard out for a neighbor’s cows to graze. The night we stayed with them, we sat out in their sunroom for a good long time while Tom shared Irish music on a variety of instruments and Abby, Zach and Ben shared pop a cappella music with our hosts.  It was a fun night!  Everyone had a great time!  Tom provides the music to the sights we saw across the country in the video below.

There is one image from the Orsay museum, which we visited on Thursday afternoon, that Clarke wanted to share. It is by Swiss artist Eugène Burnand, painted at the end of the 19th century.  Peter and John are rushing towards the empty tomb on Easter morning.  If you click the picture to see an enlargement, notice the facial expressions, especially the eyes.

The Disciples Running to the Sepulchre painting by Burnand

Eugène Burnand, The Disciples Running to the Sepulchre, 1898. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Photographs were not allowed in the museum. This example was found on BYU’s website.