“Summertime and the livin’ is hot, humid and salt free.” At least that is what I heard the teen-aged waitress say. So I tried to cover up my confusion with the one weather joke I can use when people complain it’s too hot in the summertime: “Who would have thought it would be hot near the end of June in Oklahoma?” But she was trying to cover up her embarrassment. “I can’t believe I said ‘salt free’ when I was trying to say ‘sultry.’” So it’s not just my hearing. She then went on to tell me that she could not wait to get off work because she had “a million things to do tonight” and she was stressing out about it.
I do not know which is worse: thinking one thing but saying another, or saying something you did not know you were thinking. Or is it saying the wrong thing when you thought you said the right thing, but it was the exact opposite of what you thought you were saying when you thought it. Maybe we are all under too much stress, and the heat of the summer just frazzles us quicker. And whatever happened to “summertime and the livin’ is easy?”
I guess I have to go back to the days of my childhood and youth, before my first summer job, to find when the livin’ was easy. Those were the days of swimming in the neighbor’s pool or in the neighborhood lake behind my uncle’s house. Those were the days of Scout camping trips, Vacation Bible School and family time at church. Those were the days for reading National Geographic magazines and adventure books like Treasure Island. Those were the days we played kickball in the street and came home for supper when we heard our names yelled down the block. (If you heard your middle name, it was too late.) It’s been a while since those stress-free summers. So how stress-free are the summers of our children and grandchildren today? Are they stressed because we are stressed and hot? Maybe we all need to read an adventure book, play with our friends, and go to church together.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Eat some ice-cream. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Our church has a ghost, according to some. We have this large multi-storied building with lots of rooms and closets, two full basements, machinery rooms, hiding places under stairwells, two interior towers with hidden access points, a vast attic and at least four underground tunnels. Some of the tunnels have lights; one of the towers has a third level hidden look-out over the entire sanctuary. Youth overnight lock-ins can generate all kinds of eerie sounds and wild imaginations. The ghost story, though, is probably my fault.
In the late 1970’s there was a felt need among some of us to modernize the choir loft and pulpit area and to extend and lower the front platform to provide room for large weddings and musical programs. New, moveable choir railings were built with detachable handbell tables that could be added for special occasions. The work was all accomplished by the people of the church. During that period I verified a story about Rev. Pat Murphy that I had a hunch about. I was preaching from Nehemiah about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. The completion of the church building was Pat Murphy’s dream. My question was simply “Did he use the biblical names for his opponents of the church building project, from Nehemiah?” “Oh, yes,” was the answer.
In the late 1990’s we embarked on a project to change the sanctuary lighting fixtures. It was a massive undertaking considering the ceiling is nearly forty feet high. I used the metaphor that the spirit of Pat Murphy was everywhere in the building and that I regularly asked him questions, most of which began “Why in the world…?” I was speaking metaphorically. Some took the story literally—that the ghost of Pat Murphy haunts the church and that I have seen him. I used to try to correct the impression of those young people, but now, some 16 years later, they have families of their own and should know that the influence of all people lives long after they have passed away. It does not mean they hang around as ghosts. It means that each of us is shaping someone else’s future, not just our own.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Bless the future. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.