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616 West North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA. 15212
Ph: (412) 321-1682
Fax: (412) 323-1973
Email: friends@tlcns.org
Office Hours – M-F 10 am – 3 pm
Sunday Liturgy – 9:15 & 11:00 am
Word and Sacrament Every Sunday
Daily Prayers @ 12 Noon & Weds. @ 7:30 pm

                                                                     The Rev. John M. Cawkins, Pastor
                                                                           July 2, 2006 - Present

             Van Service Available for Sunday Services & St. Afterschool

Marguerite breezed into the office on Thursday morning, having missed an important meeting there on Tuesday. “Oh,” she said, “I was so sick on Tuesday – feverish and throwing up.  I just cancelled the day and went to bed until it passed on Wednesday.” A half an hour later Edna arrived and in the casual conversation between them said, “Oh, Marguerite, it was so good to see you at the flower show on Tuesday.  I enjoyed it so much.  Did you?”  Unaware that she had just blown Marguerite’s excuse out of the water she went merrily on in the conversation.       What is an excuse?  Like so many words it has a positive and a negative definition.  Webster says an excuse is simply “to give reasons for”. But a little further on he adds another definition: “a pretended reason for conduct.”  It is just that simple. An excuse could be a simple statement of fact (“I can’t be there on that date because I will be in North Carolina.”) or it could be a deliberate lie for good purpose or ill. Homer in The Odyssey tells of a fine deception in the home of Odysseus (the hero of the story) when, assuming him dead and gone, more than a hundred suitors come seeking the hand of his widow, Penelope. She stalls and stalls with the excuse that she is weaving a shroud for her elderly father-in-law and cannot choose among her suitors until she completes the shroud. Every night she is up unraveling what she has woven during the day. She uses the excuse to buy time, hoping her husband will return and rescue her in her plight (he does). There are, you see, some good uses for excuses.

    But most excuses are really cover ups, glib stories manufactured to disguise laziness or irresponsibility. Life is filled with slip-ups, deceit, profound laziness, inability to do what is necessary when it is appropriate. Sometimes they provide cover and are ignored.  Sometimes they expose the teller of excuses as a plain fraud.  Can you remember the first time you heard an outrageous excuse, an obvious lie, and concluded that the speaker was just a fraud through and through?  Some have used the excuse of the death of a grandparent so many times . . . couldn’t possibly have that many grandparents.

In the recent book, The Other Wes Moore, the author was plucked from his neighborhood by a vigilant mother who saw negative handwriting on the wall and trundled him off to Valley Forge Military Academy.  He hated it. He rebelled against it and was doing quite poorly in every respect.  At one point he and his roommate decided to get with the program and give it their all.  They adopted a motto, which they repeated daily: “No excuses. No exceptions.” The results were dramatic as their grades carried them to the top of their classes and won the respect of peers and adults.  The whole story is worth reading but No Excuses, No Exceptions was a major turning point.

The whole business of making excuses also is present in our relationship with God.  It’s hard to be on God’s wrong side.  The person of God is quite straight.  He sees too much and knows too much for comfort. Humans tend to be disingenuous with God.  From the beginning the Lord is able to sense when we have gone astray and then asks incriminating questions. The excuses come rolling out.  “The woman whom you gave me, she gave me the fruit.” “The serpent, he beguiled me.” And it never stops. Through all of history we play the blame game and excuse ourselves.  The psalmist describes the troubled relationship between God and his people (78:35-37):

           They would remember that God was their rock,              
                and the Most High God their redeemer.           
               But they flattered him with their mouths             
                  and lied to him with their tongues.           
              Their heart was not steadfast toward him,               
              and they were not faithful to his covenant.

The profusion of excuses offered to God goes nowhere. God sees through every lie, every scheme and every excuse. As one African American song puts it, “Your Arm’s Too Short To Box With God.” In the cross God has sidestepped the whole blame/excuse game, exhibiting the forgiveness before the offense. Too often we don’t get it. Our calling is to grow up into the fullness of Christ. When we stand in and before the cross perhaps we should adopt the motto, No excuses, No exceptions. We belong to you, O Christ.

 The Rev. James F. Cook                                              The Rev. John R. Cochran
Oct. 1, 1977 - April 30, 1987                                         Oct. 1, 1987 - Aug. 31, 2006

 The Rev. Paul H. Sampsell                                The Rev. William W. Bruggeman
Sept. 1, 1966 - Dec. 31, 1970                                   Jan. 1, 1972 - Aug. 31, 1976

    Dr. Grover E. Swoyer                                                  The Rev. Donald R. Yost
Jan. 21, 1945 - Jan. 25, 1959                                       Jan. 25, 1959 - April 30, 1966

   Dr. Alonzo J. Turkle                                                     The Rev. Louis A. Sittler
Feb. 1, 1899 - Oct. 14, 1937                                          Jan. 26, 1938 - Sept. 1, 1944

   The Rev. Henry Reck                                                      Dr. John G. Goettmen
Dec. 15, 1860 - July 1, 1863                                         Nov. 29, 1863 - Oct. 26, 1898