The Walgreens Prayer

320px-walgreens_store

I pray a lot.

That is not a statement about my personal piety, but more about my function as a pastor.

It seems that I will be tasked with opening a meeting with prayer, or closing it.

Or both.

Some days I’ll pray 9 or 10 times for this gathering or that event.

And I don’t mind.  I kind of like it, actually.

Usually I’ll thank God for gathering us and being with us.  I’ll pray for our community.  I’ll ask God to guide us as we move from here.

That kind of stuff.

Recently, a certain phrase began creeping up in my prayers.  “May we be happy and healthy…”

“Keep us all in your Good Graces Lord, and may we be happy and healthy until we gather together again.”

That kind of thing.

That’s a nice sentiment, right?  One day I just started using it, wondering how those particular words had come to me.

Last week, I found out.

There it was, staring up at me from the prescription bag I held in my hands:

2222

Good Lord.

Had I been praying the slogan of a pharmacy???

Was that even legal?

I’m convinced that the Walgreen’s slogan had seeped into my subconscious and made its way into my prayers.

My main questions was this:  Does Walgreens have a corner ON Happy & Healthy?

I mean, isn’t that what the church is offering, too?  We want people to be happy, to find joy in their lives, to know Christ in a life-changing way.  And we want people to be healthy, too.  To care for their bodies, minds, and spirits.

I guess it just surprised me that a pharmacy’s mission was so similar to our church’s.  But I soon realized that while Walgreens offers a certain level of happiness and health, it is the church that helps people dig deeper, developing their faith, discovering Christ, leading New Lives.

So, I’ve decided to allow myself to use that phrase whenever it pops into a prayer.  I’m not breaking a trademark (am I?) and I’m speaking to something real and deep in our Christian experience.

And if the store gets a little more business, well good on them.

We’re not in competition with Walgreens.

We just happen to be set up…

on the same corner.

Have a great week,

Mitch

happy-and-healthy

EVEN

3525799414_5fb003d0e6_b

As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.
Psalm 71:14

Don’t despair.

Even if the world today seemed to conspire against you.

Even if the work outweighed the play.

Even if it seemed nobody spoke your language.

Even if the Kingdom seems farther away than it did yesterday.

And don’t give up.

Even when you were embarrassed or shamed.

Even when the nightly news cut you to the quick.

Even when the momentum is pushing in the wrong direction.

Even when everything just hurts.

For the Lord is our God

Even at the gates of destruction.

Even at the end of time.

Even at the darkest dusk.

Even at your side.

And our God is good!

Even in spite of it all.

Even in your heart, and mine, and theirs.

Even in this very moment.

Even in ways you cannot fathom.

Rejoice!  Do not despair!

Have a great week,

Mitch

keep-calm-and-do-not-despair-2

So Long John Silvers


download-11

4 days ago, I drove through Long John Silvers.

It’s one of my “been-awhile” places.  I only go there when I drive by and think, “hey, it’s been awhile since I had that”.

I got some chicken, some fish, and some onion rings, and a drink.

And it was good.  But then…

I drove by today…and the place is gone.

I mean, the building is still there, but the sign out front and the signs on the building have all been removed.  The place is closed!

After the initial shock of seeing a place suddenly un-exist, I got to thinking:

What if I was the last customer to ever drive through that Long John Silvers?

I mean, it’s plausible!  The place had been on its last legs for years.  They never got much business where they were.

Right after I drove through, the manager could have called a meeting and delivered the bad news to the employees.

I may have eaten their last onion ring.  Weird.

My mind wanders to scriptures about God pruning the vine that didn’t bear much fruit (or fish?).  Or Jesus saying nobody knows when the time is coming.

Or Proverbs 27:1 that says:

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Of course, these scriptures all point to theological concepts.  To faithfulness and alertness in the light of the coming Kingdom.

Not to the closing down of an outdated chain restaurant in the slow part of town.

Still, I am reminded of the impermanence of things.  How quickly the landscape of our lives changes.

How anything we do on this Earth we may be doing for the last time.

Is it weird that I’m kind of sad? Not about the food, really–I can eat much healthier fare somewhere else.

No, I guess I’m sad at the reminder that time wears everything down.  Even me.

But then, I catch a glimpse of the coming Kingdom. There’s a promise there.  Something eternal.  Something forever.  Something to put my faith in.

A place to strive to live in.

To quote the LJS jingle, “Sounds good to me.”

I think to myself, “So Long John Silvers”…

I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Have a good week,

Mitch

13232244784_d14d72750e_b