All Saints Day

This  All Saints Day —the first without Steve Shoemaker, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan whose life ambition was to see the Cubs win the World Series –I took the liberty of re-writing a stanza of the signature hymn sung on All Saints Day, Sine Nomine, “For All the Saints Who from their Labors Rest”. Tonight the Cubs try to even the World Series at 3-3 in Cleveland, OH.

Oh, may Thy Cub-bies, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

With apologies. Go Cubs! Do it for Steve on All Saints Day.

Gordon C. Stewart, Nov. 1, 2016

Limerick on Chicago Cubs

Steve pic

Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot.

For the Cubs 1-0-7 long years
Crying No-Series-Winner sad tears.
Yes, I live far away,
But soon on that great day
Baby Bruins will sure hear my cheers!
Steve Shoemaker (1943-2016).

Views from the Edge published Steve Shoemaker‘s Limerick on Chicago Cubs one year before his untimely death October 11, 2016. He wrote it in honor of Harry Lee Strong, another long-suffering Cubs fan.

Tonight the Cubs meet Cleveland for the 2016 World Series.

We republish it in hopes of World Series victory shouts!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 12, 2016. Updated October 24, 2016.

Limerick on Chicago Cubs

For the Cubs 1-0-7 long years
Crying No-Series-Winner sad tears.
Yes, I live far away,
But soon on that great day
Baby Bruins will sure hear my cheers!

– Steve Shoemaker (1943-2016).

Views from the Edge published Steve Shoemaker’s Limerick on Chicago Cubs one year before his untimely death October 11, 2016. He wrote it in honor of Harry Lee Strong, another long-suffering Cubs fan.

Tonight the Cubs meet Cleveland for the 2016 World Series. We republish it in hopes of World Series victory shouts!

Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot.

Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot, during trip to Wrigley Field with seminary friends Harry Lee Strong, Don Dempsey, Bob Young, Wayne Boulton, and Steve’s blogging buddy.

Last night the “Baby Bruins” had an improbable (dare we say ‘miraculous’?) come-from-behind ninth-inning victory over the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco. Now they’re one step away from the World Series.

The day after Steve’s death, I think I heard the beginning of a full-throated bass cheer from Urbana, as well as from Harry’s home in Prescott, Arizona. Two cheers for the Cubs; three cheers for Harry Lee, and four cheers for Steve!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 12, 2016. Updated October 24, 2016.

The Baseball Cap on Memorial Day

I’m a baseball fan. I love baseball. I  turn on the TV.

It’s Memorial Day. My team, the Minnesota Twins, is wearing visitor’s gray. The Oakland As are wearing white. That’s tradition.

But today something’s different. Both teams are wearing the same baseball cap: military camouflage.

Why?

Memorial Day is not a salute to the military. It’s a day to remember the dead who have fallen in the service to their country. The Twins and the As are not soldiers, sailors, Marines, or special forces. They’re baseball players in different uniforms and different caps with different logos. They throw. They catch. They swing. They hit. They walk. They strike out. Nobody kills. Nobody dies. But Major League Baseball is big business that knows how to strike up the band and confuse civilian and military life. Not good. But it’s become the new normal.

A moment of silence followed by Taps would better fit the occasion – and the removal of all caps.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 30, 2016.

 

 

 

How I Became a Catcher

Once upon a time a long time ago, I was a little “Big A”, a Little League baseball team in Broomall, Pennsylvania. So was Coach McBride’s short son, Dickie, the 10 year-old Little League All Star catch. I was the smaller than small 8 yr. old Big A’s bench-warmer without a position.

I came to the plate once as an 8 yr. old. “Stewart,” said Mr. McBride, “Get a bat. You’re going to pinch hit. We’ve got to get somebody on base. You’re the man. Robin Williams is the best in the league, but you’ve got the smallest strike zone. So… here’s what I want you to do. Crouch down. Don’t take the bat off your shoulder. Make him pitch to you. No matter how good the pitch looks, DON’T SWING. Got it?”

“Got it, Coach.”

Three pitches later, the bat was still on my shoulder. I struck out on three called strikes. But the truth was I could barely see Robin’s fast ball!

When the McBride family moved to Cleveland the next year, the Big A’s had no catcher. The new coach lined all us Big As up in a row along the first base line. “We don’t have a catcher. Who’d like to catch?”

No hands went up. Not a one.

“Here’s my big chance to get off the bench. Dickie was short. Size didn’t matter to Dickie!” said I to myself.

“I’ll try it!”

They strapped on the shin guards, six inches taller than my knees. The chest protector draped over my torso like a horse blanket over a pony. The mask and catcher’s mitt were heavy. Freddie Lamb took the mound. Bobby Lawson stepped into the batter’s box. The pitch came. Bobby swung and missed. I blinked…but, to my surprise, caught the ball. From that moment on I was the Big A’s little catcher.

Moral of the story? If you’re short, don’t count yourself out. You, too, could proudly wear the tools of ignorance, and become another Big A’s All Star catcher.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Big A forever with Freddie Lamb, Bobby Lawson, Ron Nagy, Kenny Olson, Arden Silverian, Gary Boen, Robbie Gillmor, and all the rest. You guys were the best! Love you all. November 10, 2015.

A Limerick for World’s Greatest Cubs Fan

Map to Wrigley Field from Urbana, IL

Map to Wrigley Field from Urbana, IL

For the Cubs 1-0-7 long years
Crying No-Series-Winner sad tears.
Yes, I live far away,
But soon on that great day
Baby Bruins will sure hear my cheers!

– Steve Shoemaker, Cubs fan writing 154 miles from Wrigley Field in honor of Harry Lee Strong, world’s greatest Cubs fan.

Steve and Harry are lifelong, long-suffering “Baby Bruins” fans hoping the sports heavens are about to open after the 107 year drought since the Cubs last won the World Series. Harry, pictured below in his tux, and his dog with the Cubs tie, have been “dressing for success” in Harry’s “Cubs cave” farther away in AZ.

Harry Strong holding picture with Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks and Cubs memorabilia.

Harry Strong holding picture with Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks and Cubs memorabilia.

 

 

 

 

Verse by inveterate Cubs fan

(The Bus Has A Restroom)

Seniors on the bus

Seniors on the bus

The bus carries seniors, yes, 50 or more.
To see the Cubs play, to see the Cubs score!
We ride for 3 hours,
But then come the showers,
And thunder and lightning–it’s starting to pour!

 

Some start in to pray, and the ones who have doubt,
They cross all their fingers, and begin to shout
“The Cubs are now winning!”
“We haven’t been sinning!”
(But one woman singing:
“You win some, you lose some, and some
are rained out.”)

 

Chicago hot dog

Chicago hot dog

 

We walk into Wrigley–be careful don’t slip!
Our ponchos, our rain hats, our jerseys all drip…
But we drink some good beer,
And are of good cheer,
The Chicago hotdogs make this a good trip!

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, June 25, 2015

Even our best intentions…

As Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog croaks that it’s not easy being green, today reminds me that it’s not easy being right, whatever “right” is.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) recently amended the Church’s constitutional definition of marriage as a commitment between two people. It was a good day for those of us who have discussed, debated, and advocated for full inclusion over the last 40 years.

It represents something akin to the civil rights movement – institutionalization of the same ethic that refused any longer to deny equal rights to African-Americans in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was the right thing to do.

But nothing ever happens in a vacuum. Collateral consequences accompany every controversial decision, and sometimes those collateral consequences place us in conflict between two highly prized commitments.

No sooner did the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s constitutional change make the news than the National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) announced its decision to break fellowship with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Click HERE for the story. The NBCI claim that the PC(USA) has abandoned or “manipulated” sacred text is not a new charge, but it’s a mistaken one. Said NBCI’s President, the Rev. Anthony Evans:

“No church has the right to change the Word of God. By voting to redefine marriage PCUSA automatically forfeits Christ’s saving grace. There is always redemption in the body of Christ through confession of faith and adhering to Holy Scripture.

“In this case, PCUSA deliberately voted to change the Word of God and the interpretation of holy marriage between one man and one woman. This is why we must break fellowship with them and urge the entire Christendom to do so as well.”

But the PC(USA) did not alter Scripture. It amended its understanding of the Word of God, as we did when we repented of the biblically acceptable practice of slavery. Scripture and tradition without the guidance of the Holy Spirit are not the sine qua non of the Christian faith. It was and is through the guidance of the Spirit of the Living God that we are called to read the Bible through the eyes of Christ, the eyes of love and human dignity, to bring the church and society into a greater light.

It seems, as best I can tell, that there are two grounds on which opposition to the PC(USA)’s full embrace of GLBT members is based. One is psychological (fear). Whenever fear appears, we are called to be compassionate. To understand and walk in the fearful one’s shoes. The second ground is intellectual, as in arguing against biblical interpretation. To argue that one’s biblical literalism is the only faithful reading of the Bible is intellectually dishonest. It’s buried in denial, but it no less intellectually dishonest if it were spoken from unfettered consciousness.

Life is messy. Theology, ethics, and morality are messy. Every decision is contextual, and in that complex set of competing claims and valued, we stand responsible for our decisions of interpretation, faith, and action.

The “breaking of fellowship” by the National Black Church Initiative and its 36,000 African American congregations cuts to the bone of a church for whom racial justice and reconciliation has long been a mandate of the gospel of Jesus. Racism is America’s great sin. Its forms are personal and institutional.

The PC(USA) Confession of 1967 declared the ending of discrimination as of first important to the church’s mission of reconciliation, a confession of faith we now apply to discrimination against the GLBT community.  Section 4 on Reconciliation in Society, begins as follows:

In each time and place there are particular problems and crises through which God calls the church to act. The church, guided by the Spirit, humbled by its own complicity and instructed by all attainable knowledge, seeks to discern the will of God and learn how to obey in these concrete situations. The following are particularly urgent at the present time.

a. God has created the peoples of the earth to be one universal family. In his reconciling love he overcomes the barriers between brothers and breaks down every form of discrimination based on racial or ethnic difference, real or imaginary. The church is called to bring all men to receive and uphold one another as persons in all relationships of life: in employment, housing, education, leisure, marriage, family, church, and the exercise of political rights. Therefore the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination and ministers to those injured by it. Congregations, individuals, or groups of Christians who exclude, dominate, or patronize their fellowmen, however subtly, resist the Spirit of God and bring contempt on the faith which they profess.

It was in that same spirit of God’s reconciling love in Jesus Christ that the Presbyterian Church (USA) slowly moved over the last 40 years to the position of full inclusion of GLBT members, culminating in the marriage amendment.

It’s not easy being green. It’s not easy being right, whatever right means, especially when one right creates another wrong, or is perceived as sin.

This Wednesday  of Holy Week, we once again move with Jesus toward the cross. Green, black, white, yellow, red, and brown, straight and gay; the certain and the confused. Sin is everywhere, even in our best intentions, and often it hides in the corners of our own claims of righteousness. Only a vast love and mercy can overcome the gulfs of estrangement that divide us. Some sins are plain to us, some escape us, some we cannot face. Even our best intentions…. Johan Hermann’s text “Ah Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended” (1630) set to music by Johann Cruger’s “Herzliebster Jesu” (1640) is a heartfelt prayer for the whole Church and for the world itself as we move through confession on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday toward Easter this Holy Week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask much of us

“Ask much of us,

expect much of us,

enable much by us,

encourage many through us.”

These words from the prayer that followed Holy Communion yesterday (the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday) at Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota leaped from the page. They are part of the congregation’s Post-Communion Prayer, prayed aloud by all worshipers.

In deep gratitude for this moment,

this meal, and for these people,

we give ourselves to you, most holy God.

Take us out into the world

to live as changed people

because we have shared the Living Bread

and cannot remain the same.

Ask much of us,

expect much from us,

enable much from us,

encourage many through us.

May we dedicate our lives to your glory.

Amen.

I needed that. I need daily to be reminded, asked, enabled, and encouraged to live actively in gratitude.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 30, 2015

Hey Chicago, waddya say?

Long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans like Steve Shoemaker are excited about this season. The Cubs look like a serious contender in 2015. The club’s new owners have invited fans to write a new song for home games at Wrigley Field. Steve explains his contribution. “Steve Goodman in 1984 wrote ‘Go Cubs Go’.  It is sung by surprised fans after each Cub win. It does not really fit since Goodman wrote it to ENCOURAGE the Cubs. Instead of writing a new song, here is my revision of Goodman’s classic.” Click HERE for a YouTube video of Steve Goodman’s original Go Cubs Go. Here’s Steve’s new rendition:

Go Cubs Go

Baseball season’s underway
We hope ya got ready for a brand new day!
Hey Chicago waddya say?
The Cubs have gone and won today!

We’re singing:
Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

They got the power, they got the speed,
They are the best in the National League!
Well this is the year and the Cubs are real,
So join us here at Wrigley Field!

We’re singing now:
Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Baseball time is here again–
We just saw another win!
So stomp your feet and clap your hands!
Chicago Cubs got the greatest fans!

We’re singing now:
Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Feb. 23, 2015