One of the most remarkable men I've ever known is a former associate pastor of my congregation, the Rev. Ron Roberts (shown in the center of this photo). Ron has lived with deep joy and deep sorrow and somehow managed never to lose his fun, feisty spirit.
Now well past retirement, Ron is a resident of the John Knox Village Care Center in Lee's Summit, primarily because he has lost sight in both eyes and has mobility issues.
One day last week six members of a group of men from my church who meet each Wednesday morning went to visit Ron, filling up his small room with chatter and laughter and one terrific song that Ron once wrote. I'll get to that in a minute.
When Ron retired from our congregation, we printed up a small book of the sermons he had given and the hymns he had written (he is, among many other things, an award-winning hymn writer).
One member of our Wednesday group brought that book along the other day on the chance that we might want to sing one of Ron's hymns to him (and to us).
Given the unprofessional nature of our singing voices, I wondered why we'd want to punish Ron in that way, but I was willing to see how all of this unfolded.
And unfold it did.
We landed on one of Ron's hymns called "The Crazy Farmer." It's written in zippy rhyme and sung to the odd old folk tune "Turkey in the Straw" (before you read some of the words to the hymn below, you can get that tune in your mind from this YouTube version of it). The hymn is based on the parable Jesus told of the farmer who sewed wheat seed prodigally, scattering it on good soil and bad, sort of willy-nilly (which is why Ron named him a crazy farmer).
One of our members, who does professional voice-over work, volunteered to sing a version of Ron's tune, and off he (and we) went.
Here's the first verse:
Jesus tells us of a farmer who was crazy as can be,
For he threw his precious seed about as far as he could see.
Clearly loony as a jaybird, he was not like you and me.
We would make a master plan and plant the seed so carefully
He threw it on the rocks
In weeds and in debris.
He threw in 'mongst the thorns,
And cast it recklessly.
He planted it along the path
And in the road with glee,
And he spread it on the sidewalk
For the birdies in the tree.
Ron told us that this hymn, which goes on for two more wonderful verses, provided the most fun he'd ever had as a writer of sacred music. And, yes, there is nothing wrong with calling music sacred even if it contains a line about someone being "loony as a jaybird."
We stopped the singing after one hymn. But it will be a long time before any of us forgets that sacred moment together.
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EDUCATING MORMON BISHOPS NECESSARY
As Jana Riess of RNS points out in this post, Mormon bishops have played a role in the domestic abuse charges that led to the recent resignation of Rob Porter as President Trump's staff secretary. She thinks those bishops could use a lot more training in how to deal with such matters. Agreed. But we all could. Domestic abuse has been around since Adam blamed Eve for giving him the banned fruit to eat. It's way, way past time that everyone works to stop it.