Stolen Copper

Far too often, we hear of thieves breaking into an older building and wrecking the place. But they’re not after electronics or jewelry. Instead, they rip out copper piping to sell as scrap.

That very thing happened in Troy, New York last week at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. Reports say that 100 feet of copper piping was stolen, leaving behind a mess and an inability to operate the heating and plumbing systems within the building.

While no one has been arrested as of the date I write this post, I still question the intellectual capacity of the thieves. Certainly, I would not be hacking away at a water-filled copper pipe to steal from a church.

After all, copper is a great conductor. It’s the kind of thing a lightning bolt would really love to travel along. Just saying…

Seriously, though, I was especially saddened to hear about this theft.

You see, my wife and I were married at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church more than a decade ago. It was the church we attended while we were in college. The church family provided us with a home away from home. The pastor, his wife, and their kids demonstrated hospitality every week. They picked us up at college, and they shared a wonderful home-cooked meal with us every Sunday after church.

Outside Sixth Avenue Baptist Church on our wedding day.

Outside Sixth Avenue Baptist Church on our wedding day.

Without a doubt, the church family played a huge role in helping both of us face the academic and social challenges of life at college.

It was why we chose to say our vows at the church.

Sixth Avenue Baptist Church is located in an area of Troy that has seen better days. It is a century-old, large brick building. Beautiful stained glass windows adorn the large sanctuary.

It was our church, and I know I’m just a tad biased, but I it was the site of the best wedding I’ve ever attended.

Not everything associated with our wedding day is still around. The bakery that made our cake: closed. The Hudson River boat that hosted our reception: replaced with a newer model. But the church building has continued to provide space for groups ministering to that area of Troy. It’s not the same pastor or congregation these days, but I’m confident the ministry remains especially important for the area.

So, when another church in the region, Victory Christian Church, stepped up to provide financial help, I was very grateful. I suspect, though, that there is still a large need to replace and fix what these thieves have stolen.

So, my wife and I will be putting a check into the mail. It’s not anything big, but I’m convinced that ordinary folks can make a difference for a church like this. I have faith that it will be used for important things in the local community.

Anybody else want to help out?


An Easter to Remember

It was an excellent Easter Sunday. Although I love chocolate, this was not a day focused on the delicious decapitation of chocolate bunnies.

Mmmmmm.... chocolate.

It was a great day because we were able to spend it with family: aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, nieces. A nephew who drove to the gathering from college. Another nephew only a few months old who shared toothless smiles of joy.

It was an opportunity to worship in a country church. The cozy wooden pews were filled with families. We sat next to the woman who was the soloist at our wedding. We sang traditional hymns, played by the organist from our wedding. Our youngest happily went to children’s church midway through the service. His older brother sat next to his grandmother and contentedly colored. The church pastor, speaking with his calm demeanor and slight German accent, provided a reassuring sermon. It was a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.



A glass of perspective

During my undergrad days at RPI, I took a history class called “The Cultural History of Water in the United States.” Most people, when I mention the course, look at me strangely, as if they are expecting the punchline of a joke to follow.

But it was a serious course and fascinating, too. I often find myself fondly looking back upon it. Can’t say that the same is true for many of my undergrad courses. Thoughts of linear algebra, advanced calculus, mechanics, electronic materials and thermodynamics don’t usually result in a warm smile, more likely a cold shiver. On the other hand, “Chemistry of Materials” was excellent. But, I digress.

My history course on water invigorated my thirst for knowledge. (Sorry, can’t resist puns.) In that class we studied the creation of the Erie Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers’ battle to prevent the flooding of New Orleans — a battle later lost during Hurricane Katrina, and the use of water in fighting forest fires.

The best way to describe the theme of the course was a study of humanity vs. nature. So often in the history of our world, we think that we can tame God’s creation. We become too enamored with our marvels of engineering. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the creative products produced by engineers, architects, and construction workers.

But the history of water struck a chord with me. It is amazing and humbling to see how a simple molecule, two parts hydrogen-one part oxygen, can be so important and so powerful. Water’s power is devastating. Ice splits rocks. The weight of snow can crush a roof. And tsunami waves, as we’ve seen in Japan most recently, are truly terrifying. It is simply out of our control.

Yet, water sustains our life. It makes our planet unique. On a hot day, A cold drink of water, with ice cubes clinking in a glass, is the definition of refreshment.

I pray for those suffering through the aftermath of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan. I know that many have experienced the power of water first hand. I hope that they will receive the life-sustaining refreshment of water during this crisis.

H2O: it puts things into perspective.

The Eyeball & Super Timmy

A little background… I have the very exciting, and often challenging role of leading the children’s sermon at my church.  Our process is to have one of the kids take home a large plastic tool box each week.  The following Sunday, they bring the box back with something in it.  I have seen toys, books, stuffed animals, trophies, even a bowling pin and a sock.  My job is to come up with an appropriate, and hopefully Biblically based story that relates to whatever is in the box.  It’s not an original idea.  I’ve seen it done at another church we attended in Lynchburg, Virginia.  It definitely keeps me on my toes.

Yesterday, I opened the box to find a plastic jar, half-filled with little rubber super-balls.  Yikes.  Where was I going with this?  As I stalled for time, I was relieved to find out that one of the balls was designed to look like an eyeball.  That led me to talk about how the Old Testament refers to “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”  And this was countered by Jesus in the New Testament when he told his followers that they should love their enemies.  I asked the children how Jesus would want them to treat somebody who had pushed them down at the playground.

And that’s when my own son spoke up.  Timothy promptly stood up, declared himself “Super Timmy,” and said, “If someone pushed me, they are bad, and I would have to beat them up.”  The congregation thought this hilarious.  I just shook my head and said, “I better have a talk with your dad.  He needs to do a better job of teaching you to love your enemies.”  The congregation roared with laughter.

It made for a great lesson.  My lesson in humility didn’t hurt either.

Sigh.  I wonder what will be in the box next week.  So does Super Timmy.

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