August 6 marks an anniversary that many of us Boomers (and older folks) remember. I didn’t appear on the face of the earth until nine years after the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. That event shaped my growing-up years, however. Fall-out shelter signs (some still posted), regular atomic attack drills (hiding under our desks—LOL!), and heated political confrontations (the Cuban missile crisis, for one) encroached on what should have been carefree times. The good news: that nuclear gun was placed back in its holster after a second attack three days later. Mutually assured destruction remains an option in the international sphere; but, after seventy-five years, we humans haven’t yet blown up the planet. We have another enormous set of issues threatening us, but we humans still roam the face of the earth.

Two more personal anniversaries I would like to share. Today is the 90th birthday of my dearly-loved mother-in-law, Dolores Tillou (above). My experience reflects NONE of the nasty jokes that have been told about mothers-in-law since creation. My family and I have been incredibly blessed by the love, support, encouragement, and joy we have received from Grandma Tillou! Even at the age of 90, she astounds me with her commitment to living each day as fully as her wits and strength (and now COVID-19) allow. So when Hiroshima Day rolls around, I recognize its impact on us older folk; but I shift immediately to giving thanks for the gift of Dolores, the mother of my wife and the grandmother of my kiddies, who has added so much (Italian) flavor to our lives, literally and figuratively!

A second life-changing anniversary occurred last Sunday, August 2, when I began my 35th year of sobriety. O, I wasn’t a sloppy drunk before that day in 1986. However, my wonderful wife, Patricia, convinced me (forcefully!!) that I had a drinking problem. And I did. When people ask me if I want a spirited beverage, I tell them that I drank my life’s quota of alcohol before August 3, 1986. I thank God, my wife, Dr. Bob and Bill W., and my supportive family for allowing me to wake up every day since without the ill effects of alcohol abuse. Relax, your beverage choices in my presence don’t offend me…until you’ve chosen too many. I have come to realize what an incredibly serious drinking problem we have in our world today. One of my missions in life is to show in my own being that one can have just as much fun WITHOUT alcohol than with it. And occasionally to come alongside one of you and say, “Hey, can I help?”

OK, way more personal than I usually am in this column. In these really challenging times, I think it is crucial that we remember the people and experiences that have formed us, that excite us and equip us to be servants of Jesus Christ in our world, each of us in ways that reflect the joys and sorrows, the strengths and weakness baked into our personal histories. That thought segues us to this Sunday’s message. We all look, act, come from different places, and engage life in various ways. While God does not endorse all of our thoughts and actions, God values our innate being with similar amounts of love and grace, no matter what!! Paul reminds us of that truth this week in worship as he examines the life, experiences, and biases of the early Roman Christians who faced challenges not too terribly unlike ours. More on Sunday. Join us online!

Blessings,

The Rev. Conley A. Zomermaand, PhD
pastorz@thirdpresbyterian.org
(618) 606-1053—after office hours; emergencies