About Me

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Born in 1950’s, Byron has three children, Elyse, Diana and Matthew. Byron and Candy married in 2006. Candy has two sons, Brad and Ben. Ben is married to Ashley and have two children. Brad is married to Sascha and have a dog and a cat.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

2019-10-20 Keep At It

Keep At It

Luke 18:1-8
          Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 
          He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.  In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Grant me justice against my opponent.’  For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'"
          And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?  I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

How Not What…

            Earlier in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus teaches his disciples what to pray.  [“On that occasion, he gave them specific words to use in prayer. With this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us how to pray, rather than what to pray.”] Think of the Lord’s prayer as a conversation with God.  [“This Sunday’s Gospel is not so much about the proper technique for our conversations with God but rather about our attitude. We are to keep at it. We are not to lose heart. We are to be as persistent in seeking a relationship with God as God has been persistent in seeking a relationship with us. Through thick and thin, we are to persevere.”  Willimon.]

Practice Makes Permanent.

            A world renowned labor mediator once said, “The main thing is to keep talking. Everything’s on the table. The only truly wrong thing you can do is to stop talking.”
            [As a pastor, sometimes when a couple is having problems in their marriage, the couple says, “Our marriage is in trouble because we just seem to argue all the time.”
            Pastors sometimes say, “Arguing can be good. At least you are busy talking, listening, negotiating, understanding. The worst thing is for either of you to just go silent. Don’t shut down. Keep talking!” Willimon]
            In church, we just keep talking. We have to go over the same things every week.  Just like a baseball player in the world series practices the fundamentals of baseball every day, as Christians we practice the basics of our faith every week.  No one is born into faith.  It does not come naturally to anyone.  We have to repeat.  We have to practice. 
            My gymnastics coach in high school, Stephen Gale, would say that practice does not make perfect.  Practice makes permanent.  If you practice the wrong thing, you just make your mistake permanent.  We come to church, we come to worship to practice right things, good things.  We come to church to repeat those good things to make them permanent in our lives.
            When we come to church we confess our sins to God.  Do we do it once?  No, sin, like sludge that accumulates in our kitchen sink, it needs a good regular cleaning.
            We come to experience music together to kindle our hearts on fire for God. Do you tell your loved one once that you love them and if you change your mind you will inform them of the change?  You do this if you want the relationship to end quickly.  No, you enjoy telling them often and in many creative ways that your love is faithful.

We keep at it.

            So what about this story.  Jesus was not using a Jewish judge as the example in this parable.  He was using a Roman judge.  Jewish Judges were called Elders.  In a Jewish legal case, three judges heard the case.  The plaintiff chose a judge; the defendant chose a judge; and, one judge would be independently appointed. 
            This judge was one of the paid magistrates appointed either by Herod or by the Romans.  Such judges were notorious.  Unless a plaintiff had influence and money to bribe her way to a verdict she had no hope of ever getting her case settled.  These judges were said to pervert justice for a dish of meat.  People even called them robber judges. 
            The widow is a symbol of all who were poor and defenseless.  Having no resources, she had no hope of ever extracting justice from such a judge.  She had only one weapon – persistence.  It is possible that what the judge in the end feared was physical exhaustion.  The woman would “close his eyes in sleep”.
            Jesus does not liken God to an unjust judge, Jesus contrasts God to an unjust judge.  If, in the end, an unjust judge can be wearied into giving a widow woman justice, how much more will God, who is a loving Father, give to you what you need.
            We may [“read the parable as a parable of an exemplary, determined woman who claims the power that she has and in the process wrings a modicum of justice out of an unjust judge in an unjust world.” Willimon]

We are called to keep at it in prayer. 

            We just opened up the question that drives people to doubt and drives people to faith.  Jesus opened up the question of answered and of unanswered prayer. 
            It is true that God is a Loving Father who wants to give good things to his children. 
            Luke 11:13 teaches us that [“God is eager to grant our petitions for the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we might be more faithful disciples. Before we launch into a sermon on God’s eagerness to answer all of our prayers, we might note that the parable specifically says that God is eager to grant our request for the Holy Spirit, not necessarily all our requests.”  Willimon.]
            However, [“If you have suffered an injustice, say something! Step up and complain. You beat on the door of justice until it’s opened to you! If this lousy judge, who cares not for God or for suffering humanity, finally gives in, how much more so will God respond to your persistence.”  Willimon.]

So, we keep at it in prayer.

            There is a broader context for this parable.  The point of this parable is not so much in the receiving, the point of the parable is in the persistent asking.  Jesus has just finished a lengthy discourse on the coming of the Kingdom.  The religious leaders have asked him point blank when the Kingdom of God will come.  Jesus’ answer is so Jesus.  Jesus answers with two seemingly contradictory claims. 
            The first claim is that the Kingdom of God is already here, “in the midst of you.”
            The second claim seems to contradict the first claim.  Jesus tells of his suffering and rejection.  He tells of people going about their daily business like in the days of the flood, like in the days of Sodom, and like in the days of his own suffering.  He then speaks of a radical and unforeseen event that requires immediate response as the Son of Man is revealed.  More and more curious, the religious leaders change their question from “when” to “where”.  “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Jesus answers.
            Bam.  Then, Jesus tells this story of the widow.  The wrap up to this teaching comes with these words, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  Rethinking the question, will the Son of Man find people who like the widow continue to pray for justice against all odds?  Will Jesus find people who will pray without ceasing?  Will Jesus find people who will pray for justice wearing down the corruption of this world? 

Jesus calls us to keep at it in prayer.

So, lets pray…
            Lord Jesus, you warned us that the way you walk is a narrow way. Even as you called us to be your disciples, you also told us to take heed and be sure that we wanted to follow you. And in spite of your warnings, we came forward, we said yes, and we walked with you.
            But Lord, walking with you is not always easy. Sometimes you say things that are hard for us to understand. More frequently, you say things that would be very difficult for us to put into practice in our daily lives. Sometimes we come to church with great expectations, but we are bored by the sermon, are unmoved by the music. We set out to read our way through the Bible, but our eyes glaze over, and we lose interest. We long for the way to be easier and for the rewards of discipleship to come more quickly.
            Therefore this morning, we pray, Lord, for persistence. Give us that deep, dogged determination to keep on. Strengthen us so that we might keep going even during times of doubt, disillusion, disinterest, boredom, and fatigue.
            Give us half as much persistence in talking with you, in walking with you, and in living for you as you have persisted in loving and calling us. Amen.

Monday, October 14, 2019

2019-10-12 Remembering Toby Joe Yoh

Service of Remembrance
Celebration of Life

Toby Joe Yoh
Sunrise, May 27, 1972 – Sunset, October 6, 2019

Judas Priest, Eulogy (3 minutes)


Friends, you have given to Toby Joe Yoh the greatest honor that you can give to any person.  You have put your lives on hold.  You have travel miles to celebrate his life. 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314) 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

The Word of Grace

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
            And saves the crushed in spirit. (Ps 34:18)
Th Lord heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. 
            Great is our Lord, and abundant in power, 
            Whose understanding is beyond measure. (Ps 147:3,5)

Toby, as we honor your memory and the love you leave behind, we offer your Spirit this old English blessing:
May your joys be as bright as the morning, 
your years of happiness as numerous 
as the stars in the heavens, 
and your troubles but shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas - 1914-1953 39 when died

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want;
He makes me lie down in green pastures.  
He leads me beside still waters; 
he restores my soul.  
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; 
for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 
thou anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.  
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; 
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  

Luke 24:32

32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Telling the Story of Toby Joe Yoh

Toby’s life of was a life of moving down the road.  His years in the military, his years as a long haul truck driver, his silver wing Honda, his marriage to a love across the sea, and even in the adventures that he explored in his imagination through gaming, his life reminded me of Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead.  The first refrain goes like this, 
Truckin', got my chips cashed in
Keep truckin', like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line
Just keep truckin' on
Toby loved his military service having graduated from West Noble High School, he spent 5 years active duty in the United States Army and spent an additional 3 years in the United States Army Reserve.  

Toby worked at LSC Communications with Amanda.  The work that defined him was his years as a long haul truck driver and his years in military service.  As a truck driver he like traveling west.  He was in the United States Army and in the United States Army reserved.  Keeping with the love of the road, he had a Honda Silver Wing and road regularly until there was a mix up with a deer. 

Amanda, you and Toby are truly a 21st century couple.  You met through playing games on Facebook a world apart.  From Facebook chats came hours of long phone calls.  Then you took the plunge and came to the US to meet Toby.  After having made the circuit of families for six days, the two of you married on August 23, 2013 in Milford.  Immediately, your relationship was challenged by the immigration rules in the USA.  It took you three years to be given a permanent visa and return to the states. 

Anytime off of work was a holiday for Toby.  Toby, or JThunder, enjoyed playing the World of Warcraft, reading and collecting comic books.  He like to see the movies based on the heroes of the comics.  He didn’t really favor one over another he just liked them all.  He enjoyed his gun collection and loved the cooling weather of the fall months. Toby like biscuits and gravy, pork-n-beans, baloney, lemon meringue pie, pumpkin bread and ice cream.  

Toby did not describe himself as a church goer.  We find this curious little statement in the Gospel of Luke, Luke 24:32, “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”” You see Jesus shows up on the road meeting and eating with people.  Those with whom he traveled and talked, did not know his identity.  They did record a special moment of grace that came over them.  In the Grateful Dead song a similar experienced may have been describe with these words that come late in the song.  
Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me
Other times, I can barely see
Lately, it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it's been
I believe that none get through this life without having grace “light’s all shinin’ on me,” as the songs says.  

I asked you, Amada, with what one word will you remember Toby.  You gave me three phrases with a twinkle in your eye, “pig-headed, stubborn and a lovely heart.”  The first two words reflect his resolve to love which manifested in the loveliness of his heart to do what he could for you and for his family as he was able. The last verse of the song, Truckin’, is for you Amanda, 
Truckin', I'm a goin' home
Whoa, whoa, baby, back where I belong
Back home, sit down and patch my bones
And get back truckin' on
O God, you have ordered this wonderful world and know all things in earth and in heaven.
Give us such faith that by day and by night, at all times and in all places, we may without fear commit ourselves and those dear to us to your never-failing love, in this life and in the life to come.  Amen.

Bell Ceremony
            For centuries, the church has used the ringing of a bell to mark the passing of the Beloved and to sing God's praises in silent worship. I now ring this bell four times as we join in a silent prayer of thanksgiving for all the gifts Toby brought to our lives. 

Toby Joe Yoh, with the ringing of this bell, we bid you safe journey.

[Celebrant rings small hand bell]

Having committed Toby’s Spirit to eternal rest, we now say to Toby: 

Be free, be strong, be proud of who you have been, 
know that you will be mourned and missed, 
that no one can replace you, 
that you have loved and are beloved.

Move beyond form, 
flowing like water, 
feeding on sunlight and moonlight, 
radiant as the stars in the night sky.

Pass the gates, 
enter the dark without fear, 
returning to the womb of life 
to steep in the cauldron of rebirth.

Rest, heal, grow young again.
Be blessed.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word. Amen. 

Thank you all for coming.
Here Ends the Ceremony, 
Here Begins Toby’s New Life.

Grateful Dead, Truckin’ (5 minuets)

Military Honors for Specialist E4