This morning my youngest and I were at the bus stop waiting and she was digging through her purse.  I think she was looking for her chap stick, or maybe it was a mirror.  I don’t really know, but she was looking for something.  After ruffling through her bag for a minute or two she said out loud, “Well, worst case scenario I’ll just dump my whole bag out when I get to school and find it then.”

That is when I, the old cynic, chimed in.  I said, “Well, I can pretty much guarantee that the worst case scenario is exactly what you will have.”


She said, “Why is that?”

I said, “Murphy’s Law,” as if that ended the conversation.  It did not.

“What is that, what is Murphy’s Law?” asked my 13 year old daughter.

“Well, Murphy’s law,” I said in a wise Obi Wan Kenobi voice, “is the adage that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.  So if you think about having to go to the ‘worst case scenario’ then you probably will, so just get ready to dump your bag out.  Just remember, that if things can fall apart, then they will fall apart. ”

She looked at me with her optimistic eyes and said, “What was his problem?” indicating that Murphy must have been a fairly miserable and pessimistic soul.

I started to give her another lecture on ‘the best laid plans of mice and men,’ and how people disappoint you and friends turn their their backs on you and sometimes people misunderstand what you mean and I was going to share years and years of pastoral experience where I’ve seen just about every negative, ugly, and mean-spirited human endeavor that can happen destroy all your hopes and dreams and watched Murphy’s Law play out time and time again–if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.

But I didn’t.  I looked at the optimism of 13 years old so I looked at her and said, “Yeah, what was Murphy’s problem anyway?”


This morning I put my youngest daughter on the school bus.  She is in seventh grade now, and I know that I should probably stop standing at the bus stop with her, but it is something I’ve done for my children for over 12 years and it is a little hard to let go of.  I am a little over-protective.


This morning as she got on the bus, I spouted out the usual words–the words I’ve told my daughters almost every day they’ve caught the bus for all these years.  It has formed a kind of liturgy that both of them can quote, probably in their sleep (which I hope they are not doing in class?)  Our school bus liturgy is:

1.  Keep your hands and feet to yourself.

2.  Play well with others.

3.  Mind your teacher(s)

4.  Learn something

5.  Remember, if you want to have friends you have to be a friend.

That’s it!  that is our school bus liturgy.  I think though, now, as I’ve gotten older I say it more for myself than for them.  Each of these five points still speak to our everyday behavior.

1.  Keep your hands and feet to yourself–If I avoid harming others, and simultaneously mind my own business then much of the evil of this world will stay away.  By evil I mean violence, gossip, slander, and all manner of salaciousness.

2.  Play well with others–Respect and courtesy are not just for the playground, but for meetings, conversations, Facebooking, the grocery store, and pretty much anytime I”m around others.  Our world is very lacking in respect.

3.  Mind your teacher(s)–Everyone has someone they have to obey.  I believe all people should obey the Lord (Jesus is the ultimate Teacher) but it goes further than that.  For example, as a pastor, I have to obey the leadership of the church and submit to them, even when I think they are wrong.  People in the workplace, whatever that workplace is, usually have some authority or supervisor they must obey.  Obedience and submission,  I believe, are spiritual disciplines even if that authority is secular in nature.

4.  Learn something–The day I stop learning is the day I have decided to forfeit one of the greatest joys of living:  Discovery.  Only a fool would choose to forfeit discovery and growth.

5.  Remember, if you want to have friends you have to be a friend–Someone has to make the first move.  Why not let it be you?  And once you get that friendship going, if you want to keep it, you’d better continue to be nice.  Too many people take their friendships for granted.