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F-YOU and the Lord’s Prayer. Now that’s two things which normally DON’T go together — unless you live in my family.

It’s the title I used to describe my Step-Dad life at his funeral memorial. It’s a story of perseverance, rebirth, salvation and, above all, the making of a miracle.

You see, my Step-Dad had Lupus.

He was diagnosed — or misdiagnosed, when he was a teenager in the U.S. Navy.

His whole adult life he suffered from this auto-immune disease.  However, he never let the disease dictate his life. Among his sufferings were frequent strokes.

“I know I’m going to have them,” he informed me one day. “So, I’ve learned to enjoy them.”

He had many. So many, they became almost common place. Almost. However, finally the “big one” hit.

At the time, I was living in Burbank, California. I was at Disneyland when I my Aunt Ro called and gave me the official news.

You see, I knew he had a stroke — and I knew it was severe.

My mom, being my mom, never delivers bad news. My brother and I joke that when we hear my mom say the words, “Everything is going to be alright”, its time to panic.

My sister, being my sister, was just the opposite. Everything was usually blown out of proportion — and usually to the extreme.

Aunt Ro, however, was the voice of reason; my go-to-person, especially in a time like this.

So, when my aunt said, “Maybe it’s time to come home” …  I knew things were serious.

Immediately, my wife and I started making plans to head back East — but for when and for how long? Living long distance from family is never easy.

Daily, my wife and I spoke to my mom as we made arrangements to head home.

“He can say a few words,” she told me as we discussed my step-dad’s condition. “And they’re all curse words.” (This where the F-YOU comes in.)

My mom, being my mom, felt bad for the patient in the bed next to my foul-mouth step father.

“He’s a Rabbi,” she reverently said. “He (my step-dad) got really bad when the Giants were on.”
“He curses at the Giants when he’s well,” I chuckled. “Why don’t you just shut off the game?”
“I did, but he cursed more” she told me. “He remembers his prayers. So, I just have him saying The Lord’s Prayer.” (Part 2 of the title.)
“I’m not sure the Rabbi wants to hear that either,” I joked, though my mom, someone who once considered  being a Catholic Dominican Nun, didn’t laugh. “Keep me posted. I love you.”
“I love you too,” she said, then hung up the phone.

That night, I spoke with my wife. She had a similar conversation with my mom and sensed her concern.

My wife, being my wife, told me that she asked my mom if my step-dad, a former seminarian, remembered his Latin prayers. He did! So, my she suggested, to my mom, that my Step-Dad start reciting his prayers in Latin — and give the Rabbi some relief.

Then, three days later, the miracle occurred.

My wife called the hospital to check on my mom. After a few rings, someone answered the phone.

“Hello,” the voice slurred.
“Hello?” my wife replied.
“Hey kid!” It was my Step Dad, John.
“Where’s Mary Ann,” my wife asked, wondering why my mom was not at his bed side.
“I sent her out,” he added. “She’s driving me [bleeping] crazy.”

The two talked for several minutes until my mom returned to his bedside.

It appeared that his Latin prayers exercised his brain back to repair — at least that what the doctors suspected, though they had no rational explanation as to why my Step-Dad recovered so quickly.

Long-story short, I didn’t have to return home. And, against all odds, my Step-Dad walked out of the hospital, on his own accord.

Granted, he had noticeable signs of a stroke until the end of his life — six years later. But this was “the big one”! He shouldn’t have had the ability to do anything on his own accord — ever again.

The Bible is full of stories about miracles.

They occur in both the New and Old Testament. However, I’ve often heard people say that few people today witness a true miracle like they did in the bible.

The sad truth is that people witness miracles every day — there’s just so many of them today that we fail to recognize many of the events that occur around us, as miracles.

Air travel is miraculous. Wi-fi and iPhones, miraculous.

Heart and brain surgery … hip and knew replacements … Organ-transplants … limb transplant … The list goes on-and-on … all miraculous!

Miracles are so common today, we just take them for granted.

Maybe that’s why Jesus suggested that the Apostles not discuss His miracles, knowing all too well how unimpressed mankind becomes with sensation over time.

Think about it.

Let’s take a look at video games as an example.

My generation thought Pong was pretty awesome. Today, you couldn’t pay a kid the price our parents payed for an Atari Playset, to sit down for an hour and play this two-dimensional, Monaural arcade game.

Granted, miracles are much more impressive than Donkey Kong.

However, after walking on water and raising a few people from the dead, the fascination with the Miracle Maker from Nazareth would’ve eventually ran out if He didn’t have something more substantive to offer than just miracles.

Now, I’m not saying that miracles aren’t important? They are.

However, I believe that the act of recognizing these miracles, as a direct gift from God, is more important than the miracle itself.

It’s important to recognize that all miracles, big and small, come from God. Likewise, its important to realize that God can turn any horrific event into an opportunity of glory.

God can even use the unfiltered words of foul-mouth former sailor to guide us to witness an unfathomable modern-day medical miracle.

That’s why in my family,  F-YOU and The Lord’s Prayer will always go together!

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘Twas, and the new book series Hail Mary. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Crossed hands with USA flag painted on fingers. Prayer for America.

Crossed hands with USA flag painted on fingers. Prayer for America.

I have to come clean.  The title to this piece is not solely my idea.

The first person I heard making the suggestion to stop saying the Lord’s Prayer, was my favorite theological apologist. If you know me, you know who I’m talking about.

His words hit a responsive chord.  Since hearing this surprising suggestion, I haven’t been able to let it go.

You see, most of us know the Lord’s Prayer, aka the Our Father, by heart.

We say it every Sunday in my Church. All gathered reverently stand. My family huddles closer together, hold hands, and lean into each other. A pew appropriate group hug, if you will.

Others reverently lower their heads, while some lifts their eyes towards Heaven, or hold their hands palm-to-palm, Dürer Betende Hände, or pray orans, with their hands extended.

But do we say it with heart?

Regardless of your posture, it appears that reciting the Lord’s Prayer has become kind of routine. Maybe too routine.

As I look across the landscape of America, I wonder if we, the nation’s congregant, are actually listening to the words we recite weekly?

If we were, I would expect more earnest appeal on bended knees and less people rejoicing and exceedingly glad.

Why?  Well, let’s consider these words:

… and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

In other words: Forgive me, Lord, in the same manner I forgive others.

That’s a pretty serious request.  One a person should not make lightly.

Sadly, most of us do without giving it much though.  Maybe it’s because most people today believe that God’s forgiveness is like His Love — unconditional.  Once saved always saved, to steal a line from my Evangelical brothers and sisters.

I’m about to tell you that it is not!

Yes, Christ gave many example of forgiveness. Heck, he was scourged, humiliated, betrayed, stripped naked, crowned with a diadem of thorns, and nailed to a cross — and still was able to forgive those who rebuked and reviled Him.   However, Jesus also gave clear examples how Our Father will forgive us on our Judgment Day.

Two parables quickly come to mind.

In Matthew, after telling Peter that we must forgive those who do us wrong seventy times seven, Jesus gave the frightening image of the kingdom of heaven with the parable of The Master and the Unforgiving Servant (Mt 18:23-35)  And in Luke’s gospel, Jesus again warned us about the consequences of being unforgiving with the parable of the Barren Fig Tree (Lk 13:6-9).

Let’s face it America. We don’t forgive jack! Retaliation is the new normal.

Don’t believe me? Go on facebook and twitter and post something positive on Trump or Hillary – and wait for the expletives fly!

Trust me, I am the furthest thing from being the poster child for forgiveness.  Maybe that’s why this unprecedented proposal made so much sense to me when it was first suggested that I stop saying The Lord’s Prayer.

So, America, please, I beg you, stop saying The Lord’s Prayer!

If you can’t, at least, try to stay silent when you come to the words “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

… Or better still: Start listening to the sacred words you are reciting and make a more earnest appeal.  I guarantee if you do, you will soon find yourself, on bended knee, in Paradise.

Yes, we are called to Love one another first.

But the truth is: We are all humans and we all make mistakes. That’s why we are also called to forgive.

Forgive not seven wrongs, but seventy times seven – and do so without keeping a tally.

If this suggestion hit a responsive chord in your heart, as it did mine, then let me make another suggestion.  One with more power and grace.

The next time someone cuts you off or post something that gets your goat, before you flip the bird or toss an F-Bomb, recite these six words: forgive those who trespass against us — and then truly forgive!

Together, let’s make forgiveness #theNewFWord! Pass it on.

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘Twas, and the new book series Hail Mary. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

P.S. Listen to this rendition of the Our Father in Jesus’s native tongue
 

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