Monday Musings for 5-18-20


Dear Friends,

This one may be confusing.  Because I am sending a Monday Musings that has been sitting in my “drafts” since mid-March.  For nine weeks in a row, the coronavirus situation has taken over this weekly e-mail.  So I held onto what I was planning to send out back then.  But how long to hold onto it?  I’m going to send it out today.  And then I’ll add a little something at the end to bring things up to date.  Confused yet?  Read on.

I have two stories to tell.  They will intertwine, but not for a while.

The first is about a 2013 concert at Portland’s Rose City Park United Methodist Church.  This is the church I served from 1992 to 2003.  I heard about the concert from friends.  The artist was Sheila Raye Charles.  If you haven’t heard of her, you have heard of her father, Ray Charles.  I was told it was an incredible concert and that it included an inspiring testimony about how Jesus had changed her life.  I thought about looking her up and seeing if I could get her to come to our church.  But I didn’t.  I regret that now.

Second story.  I got a book in the mail the other day that I did not order.  If was a gift from two other Rose City Park friends, Mari and Terry Rudd.  They had bicycled across the United States, from Astoria, Oregon to Plymouth, Massachusetts. Mari wrote a book to tell the story.  It is quite a story.  It is quite a book.  I could not put it down.  

When the big day arrived and Mari and Terry finally reached the Atlantic Ocean, they were looking for someone to document that moment by taking their picture.  They spotted a woman gazing at the actual Plymouth Rock.  They engaged her in conversation, she took their picture, and then they found out their photographer was Sheila Raye Charles, Ray Charles’ daughter.  She was in town to give a concert.  She invited them to the concert, which they attended. They told her about their church in Portland and invited her to give a concert there, which she did.  Now I knew the back story on how that concert came about!

There is a link below that will give you a sample of Sheila Raye’s testimony.  You can find her singing on YouTube.  What a voice!  

I regret not inviting her to Nampa First UMC, because it’s too late to do that now.  Sheila Raye died of breast cancer in 2017.  She mentions this battle on the video clip.  It’s quite a testimony she gives.  

My last sermon (March 15, before we closed yesterday) was about the man Jesus freed from the “legion” of demons.  In next Sunday’s sermon (March 29), I am going to mention him again.  Here is what I plan to say:  There is no better testimony.  He could say, “Look at me.  You remember who I used to be.  Look at me now.  This is what Jesus can do.”

Or as it says in that hymn we all love, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”

Okay, me again.  Back in the present.  The March 29 sermon referenced above was never given. It is written.  Maybe I will give it some day.  Somehow back in mid-March I had it in my head that we would be closed one Sunday and then return to normal. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

And a footnote on the cross country bike trip.  My friend Mari has done it again!  This time not with her husband Terry, but with their son Erik.  As I prepared to send this two months ago, I got in touch with her.  She was crossing Texas.  I was back in touch with her last week.  She told me they almost gave up when the “Stay at Home” orders started being enforced.  But they kept going.  They reach St. Augustine Beach, Florida on April 3.

Mari, Terry, and Erik are three of the toughest people I know.  I could never do what they did.  But I can push my own limits and take on challenges that stretch me and demand my very best.  So can you.

In Christ,