Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Still Pondering the Church in America

Someone from my congregation recently praised Pastor Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church. A day or so ago I read that Lakewood may now be the largest church in the USA. Considering that fact, I know that a very small-town, very small church, often struggling pastor perhaps should just keep her mouth shut. I also don't know how articulate or helpful my response actually was, but I found this (from a post and a comment of Dr. Ben Witherington) to be quite timely.

Memo From John Wesley to Joel Osteen

"I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches."

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism (and my favorite of the reformers).

In the comment section, Don Yaeger, Witherington's fellow Methodist, comments:

"In John Wesley's Sermon #116, 'The Causes of the Inefficacy of Christianity,' he said that one of the chief causes of the ineffectiveness of Xty in general and of Methodism in particular was our lack of self-denial.This included not only in the area of money and giving but also in fasting. He is somewhat shocked that Methodists in his day are not fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays as was his practice.I wonder what Mr. Wesley would think not only of folks like Joel Osteen, but of ordinary Methodists [and the rest of us, I might add] like you and me?"

And in response to some negative comments, Dr. Witherington rejoins (I took the liberty of combining two of his comments):

The warnings against the accumulation of wealth itself are clear enough in the NT, not to mention that love of money is said to be the source of all sorts of evil. It is a mistake, a huge mistake, to encourage a fallen person to pour more gasoline on an already raging fire of desire for self-gratification and living large....The issue is also the trivializing and even neglect of the cross and the atoning death of Jesus, and a host of other essential doctrines, and replacing it not even with a sort of general feel good religion,(who doesn't want to feel good?) but replacing it with a false Gospel about 'if you just believe strong enough you will be awash with material blessings'. There is not the slightest consideration in Joel's message that if such an outcome should happen, one might well be spiritually ruined by such a thing. Nor will we be hearing a sermon on "suffering produces character" (Rom. 5) anytime soon in that church.

It is probable that Joel Osteen means well. However, I fear that when setbacks, financial difficulty, or suffering comes (as it inevitabley does) some of the 30,000 who attend Lakewood, not to mention those who have made his books "inspirational best sellers" will question God's love, will grow disillusioned, will leave the Church (not just Lakewood) and a "root of bitterness" will grow.

I cannot help but think of Anne Graham Lotz's words, "Just give me Jesus!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sixth (and last) Week of Sabbatical

On the last Sunday of sabbatical, Oct. 21, I had a plan, but 'twas not to be. The day before had been entirely consumed with travel, first by plane and then from the airport to our home, a considerable distance. We unpacked and did a few necessary things and then collapsed into bed about midnight. And we stayed there. Till about 1o a.m. Sunday morning. There went the plan...I can't remember the last time I slept in on a Sunday, unless I was sick!

Then Monday we were off to one of the most beautiful places in Wisconsin, Green Lake, for a chaplain's convention. Yes, it was for Ken, not me. Yes, I am a pastor not a chaplain, but this year the agenda looked promising--and it was a last chance to hang out by the water. The motel has a nice walking path which winds down by the shore and at one point there is a small sort of dock with a bench that extends out onto the water. I love sitting there with a Bible and a pad of paper, or just daydreaming.

I took this picture as I was heading down to the bench. It was chilly, but too beautiful to stay indoors.

The conference is always attended by an interesting mix of people, mostly from Christian denominations, but there are others present too: a Buddhist monk, two Jewish rabbis (one female) a Muslim, etc.

The primary speaker this year was wonderful. He spoke on the subject of laments--in scripture and in our lives. He eloquently urged us to allow a place for lament--deep sorrow--in life, both ours and others. At first I knew his name Allen Verhey but nothing else, and as I listened I whispered to my husband, "He sound like a professor." Well, I later learned he is a professor of ethics at Duke Divinity School. I may post a few thoughts later as I process what he said, and how it relates to the rest of my sabbatical.

Last Sunday back in the pulpit at Jubilee, I felt a little strange. It should be better this week. I began my sabbatical with a list of questions. I finished with few answers. I'm still seeking the Holy Spirit's direction in many areas. But I do know that God is faithful, and will not leave or forsake me, and that must be enough for now.

And just to show that nice sunsets occur in Wisconsin as well as over the Pacific Ocean, here is the sunset I saw the day after returning home.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's a Pumpkin/Apple Friday Five

All Hallows Eve (Halloween) is near. As a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. We didn’t yet worry about razor blades in apples or popcorn balls or some of the other concerns people have with Halloween these days. Halloween was a chance to be mildly scared, and better yet, to dress up and pretend to be something we really weren’t. Let’s talk about that a bit, but then let’s add in some food ideas for this year. Where I live the leaves are falling, the temperature is chilly and pumpkins are for sale everywhere, along with many kids of apples. What's more, the "Holiday Season" will soon be upon us. ACK! I could use a new idea for dessert. So, here we go…

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?
I lived in Southern California, so it was usually resonably warm, which meant we did not have to wear heavy coats and our costumes were actually visible. We did the usual trick or treat canvassing of the neighborhood. We also used to have some great parties at my church. Alas, it was a simpler time, and we did things then we would never do now. Once my sister dressed up as the Hunchback of Notre Dame and was hidden from head to toe in a mask and costume. She did not speak, and I remember being greatly amused that not one of the many church folk present guessed who she was. Most thought it was a man.

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?
When my kids were home we were a bit conflicted about this. Some years we did, and some we didn't. One year I was involved, in real life, with a battle against "darkness" and doing Halloween just seemed wrong. Partly it depended on where we lived at the time--we moved a lot. Our churchs always did have some sort of party, and we participated in that, if nothing else. I think dressing up in a costume is great fun. (Have you seen my posts and pictures of our historical reenacting, for instance?)

2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else?
Mmmmmm. Do I have to choose? I'll take one of each, please.

3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?
Yes, we always did when the children were at home, and sometimes we still do. I have some pretty realistic looking electric fake Jack O' Lanterns that sometimes sit in the front window, but it is fun to carve real pumpkins too. And I know it's a fire hazard, but a candle inside still works best, IMO. As for pumpkins, I love them. I love the sight of them growing in the fields near here (photo below), love seeing them piled on wagons, love the shape, the color, the warmth. I am not a pumpkin pie fan, but I make some anyway, along with other stuff. I always cook and puree real pumpkin and forego the canned stuff. There is NO comparison. And my yard and house are decorated with them, both real and fake. Again, read on.

4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.
Yep. I have ceramic ones as well as the electric ones mentioned above. I have pumpkins in the yard...etc. etc.

5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?
Yep, yep, yep. I'm a ham at heart, so to be someone else is great fun.

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.

I have many, but here is one that is a must-make each year.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For Bars: 4 eggs, 2 cups pumpkin, 2 cups unsifted flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup melted butter, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

For Frosting: 3 oz package softened cream cheese, 6 tbls. softened butter, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tbls. light cream or half and half, and 3 cups unsifted powdered (confectioner's) sugar

Make a batter by mixing the eggs, pumpkin and sugar together. Sift dry ingredients together and add to batter. Pour into a greased 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 1 inch jelly roll pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. Cool in pan, and frost. Cut into small pieces--it is rich. These bars freeze well, so I usually make two batches and freeze one for later.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I just realized what probably happened to those of you who have me on an RSS feed. I'm so sorry! I'll try not to do that again. :-(

Fifth Week of Sabbatical: Getting it Right, and Heading for Californie

I'm not referring to myself getting it right. I'm referring to my visit to Praise Fellowship Assembly of God in Sheboygan, WI. These folks have got it goin' on! If you live nearby, and you are looking for a large, contemporary church with friendly people, good preaching, great worship music, teachers who love children and minister skillfully to them, and plenty of opportunities to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ--I recommend a visit. (I like the church more than I like the website.) Children's Pastor Trisha Peach was once part of a youth group Ken and I led--she is great--as is all the staff there.

They have a large, boxy sanctuary. I have seen it empty but had never attended a service there. I'm kinda busy on Sundays. ;-) I had wondered how they would make their sanctuary inviting. I found they had skillfully combined posters, lighting and technology to create a contemporary but aesthetically pleasing worship space. I had to smile as I gazed up at a representation of stained glass windows. I recalled some years ago attending a workshop on the emergent church and the postmodern generation in which the presenter said that churches would be more likely to have a video or a picture of stained glass than the real thing. At the time I thought that was a ridiculous statement, but here I was admiring lovely, colorful "windows"--one with a cross and one with a dove.

The worship music was contemporary, to be sure. Very. But it was joyful, meaningful, worshipful, powerful and moving. Once again, I had tears in my eyes and was aware of God. Music pastor Travis Gandy writes most of the music at Praise Fellowship as well as being a gifted singer and piano/keyboard player.

Pastor Ed Homer's message was informative, encouraging and straightforward. It was accompanied by a bulletin insert with notes, and (once again) very skillful use of a video clip and PowerPoint. I was blessed by hearing and "seeing" the message. Not all Power Point presentations are created equal.

At the close of the service, people were invited to come forward to pray with one of several prayer "partners." Pastor Homer had introduced me earlier and asked me to join them in praying with others. As it turned out, I prayed for a former next-door neighbor! She had been through a very difficult time and I had sent time with her (praying and listening) some years back. I lost track of her when she moved, but now she was able to tell me of how her faith in God had helped her grow stronger in the years since I'd seen her. She introduced me to her husband of a few months, who is interested in prison ministry and will be calling my husband!

I left feeling very glad I had been church. I love the diversity I've been experiencing!

Next morning we flew to California, our home state, where we stayed with my brother in law Larry, my nephew Grady, and Grady's wife, Jessica.

This was the first week of this sabbatical that has been a "vacation" with lots of laughter, fun, relaxing, and some tears. I missed my sister, Darlaine (Larry's wife) so much. Darlaine is the sister with Alzheimer's disease. One morning the music on the c.d. player, the beautiful California sunshine, the company, the food, the plans for zoo visiting, and prayer over our breakfast combined in an overwhelming sense of loneliness and loss. My family understood as I covered my face and cried at the breakfast table. We all missed her.

A few pictures are below. I tried to arrange the posting times so you could read them in order as you scroll down rather than backwards with the first post showing at the bottom.

Note: We left on Saturday morning and on Sunday the Santa Ana winds blew in and the terrible fires began. The Palomar Observatory is closed due to fire danger, and smoke fills the air over Carlsbad. Larry tells me they are okay, but masks have been distrubuted to those who need them. They are staying indoors. The freeways are closed. Things should be okay for them to leave on Sunday, as planned. Please join me in praying for those in danger, and for the families of those who have lost property, and worse have lost loved ones.

California Pictures--Mission San Luis Rey de Francia: the "King of the Missions"

We arrived in California in time for dinner with the family on Monday evening. Next morning Ken and I headed out with our nephew, Grady, to visit nearby Mission San Luis Rey, the largest of the California missions.

The beautiful white exterior gleamed in the sunshine. Bright bougainvillea flowers cascaded over the walls behind a gigantic prickly pear cactus.

Ken decided to pick a prickly pear, since they seemed to just be falling to the ground. We ate it, and some others we purchased at a roadside stand, next morning.

A chain of twenty one Franciscan missions lines the California coastline along the "Camino Real." Each has a bell like this one out front.
Inside the Mission Church.

And in the cemetery. This is one of the oldest tombstones.
Rather oddly it seems, without planning it I've been visiting many old churches and graveyards. It began with the abbey church and cemetery at St. Norberts, then I visited the chapel and cemetery at Nashotah House, then St. Mary's at "Holy Hill" (no pictures posted) and now this one in California. Yes, it has had an effect. I've pondered life and it's meaning and it's brevity at each location.

The Mountains

I snapped one last photo of the mission bell tower and we climbed into our rented PT Cruiser for a drive to Mt. Palomar and it's gigantic telescope. On the twisting road up the mountain we enjoyed looking at the rocky mountansides, the oaks and other trees, and the beautiful sky. The sun shone and the views of distant mountains were spectacular. I wanted to take a picture of "purple mountain's majesty" but we were in a hurry to reach the observatroy before it closed. I decided to wait for the return trip back to the valley.
The orange plants are ferns, which cover the ground for a large area around the observatory. It is a beautiful spot, surrounded by oak trees, granite rocks and many kinds of flowers.

As we descended the mountain, a thick fog rolled in. So much for the purple mountain vistas--but these weren't such bad photos after all.
Posted by Picasa
At the foot of the mountains we emerged into sunshine once again. Passing through orange groves and clumps of fragrant eucalyptus trees, we stopped at a roadside stand offering a beautifully colored array of vegetables and fruits. The aroma of oranges, strawberries and peaches filled the air. Mmmmm!

Here Ken and Grady inspect the offerings: Melons, peppers, squash, lemons, oranges, watermelon, tomatoes....and more. I miss California!

Back "home" the sun sets over the Pacific and the lights of Carlsbad begin to glow in the evening sky.

Larry's son, Dan, and his French Canadian wife, Sylvie, join us for dinner at a restraunt that looks like a French villa during World War One. Charming, and good food too. On the right side of the table are Dan, Sylvie, Larry and Ken. Opposite are Grady and Jessica and me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Zoo

We spent a day at the world famous San Diego Zoo. What a wonderful place! It is notable not only for it's animals but for it botanical features as well. A highlight was the panda exhibit, where we watched one of the "bears" lying with feet in the air, contentedly crunching bamboos shoots and seemingly oblivious of our presence. Delightful!

A Few Last Pictures

We ate plums, oranges, avocado, the best cantaloupe I ever tasted, and we chopped fresh onions and peppers into Ken's famous "mountain man breakfast" (an egg and vegetable dish). Then Larry and Ken and I headed for the seashore.

I love the ocean. The weather was cloudy for the first two days, and not very warm, but this day it was in the low seventies and we ventured hopefully and happily to the beach. I eventually took off the big shirt and went in--whoo--and after the first shock of cold it was great! Ken swam out beyond the breakers, and Larry and I stayed in more shallow waves. That didn't stop us from getting walloped and rolling around in the surf trying to get up. Larry said, "Doesn't that water taste good?" I knew what he meant. No, ocean water does not taste good, but the salt-scented air, the sound of the waves, the gulls, the sand, the taste of the water--it all reminded us of happy days a long time ago. All of us miss our home state.

My brother in law, Larry, and me on the beach. We want to know how it happened that we got fat and old?!

Driving back, after a lunch of Mexican food, we spied an amazing tree with enormous orange flowers and something that looked like tiny bananas--like nothing we had ever seen.

We found out it is called the "African Tulip Tree." Astounding! I did not enhance the color of this photo.

A Pacific Ocean sunset from the balcony of our hotel room, and an evening game of Skip-Bo and it was time for bed. Gotta get up and catch a plane to Wisconsin. One day was spent flying there, and one day was spent getting home. Four days was not enough, but it was a wonderful time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fourth Week of Sabbatical -- The Postmodern Experience and Visiting Baby

Note: This church visit was not my first "postmodern" experience, but the first was even less structured. It was a church my daughter and son in law attended for a while. And while I applauded their intentions, I confess I would never be able to deal with the total lack of what appeared to be organization at that church. Does that make what they were doing wrong? No. But not something I can do. I remember asking my daughter, "Can't we just sing a worship song or someting? Where was the sermon?" The church I refer to here might not qualify as "emergent" to some. Postmodern, oh very much.

Last Sunday my husband and I attended an Assemblies of God church that was started specifically to reach the postmodern generation/mindset, etc. It is in a relatively large town, and another thriving AG church exists there, but one with a very different style. They are about the same size as our church. Most similarities end there, but not all.

Church is in an elementary school gym, so everything has to be set up and then removed each week, though they hope this situation will change fairly soon. The expected donuts, coffee and juice were available along the side. Folding chairs were set up in the front half of the worship space; the back half included tables and chairs complete with a candle and a tablecloth. The back filled up first and people continued sipping coffee as the service began. Children were with the grownups for the worship time and then left for children's church. The bulletin was very well done, easy to read, informative and eye catching. The pastor opened the service with the announcements which were quick, and also projected on the screen. He wore jeans and a casual shirt.

Song words were projected on a screen, and the worship was led by a praise band. The songs were what someone I know calls, "weeping for Jesus" songs. That sounds disrespectful, huh? What he means is that they all tend to be very introspective and about Jesus and love and ME. They were all very similar in style and all sounded much the same, both words and tune. I knew one, as did my husband. I was not inspired, and my thoughts did not turn godward. I had a difficult time worshipping, because I was trying to sing the song tune correctly.

The young pastor perched on a stool for the message, which was the last in a six-part series about the Book of Ruth. The bulletin contained an extensive page of further information about the cultural background, history, etc.

The sermon was accompanied by a very nicely done set of graphics with music and reading of the scripture passage. The pastor is engaging, likable, very funny, and did a reasonably good job of relating the passage to our lives. The sermon was too long, in my opinion, but that is very subjective. I suspect many people think mine are too long as well. I left feeling...odd and rather incomplete. Perhaps it was partly in contrast to my Anglican experience the week before. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!

My own church is very casual. Our music is mostly "contemporary" and is led by a praise band. We use video projection. Okay, there were similarities. And yet it was quite different as well. I asked myself, "What makes this more acceptable to the mostly college-age people I saw? What is different that is working, and what is missing?" I'm still thinking this over.

Meantime, I'll just tell you that I liked the pastor's friendly and casual style. I liked the technical stuff he had chosen--the visuals and beautiful music behind the voice reading scripture added a lot. And I liked the bulletin insert--which went much deeper than the actual sermon. I liked the awareness that, unlike the week before, the order of service did not seem almost like an end in itself, and that it could be altered as needed. I mean, if the Holy Spirit chose to do something unusual that day it would have been welcomed and there would have been room for flexibility.

I was less impressed by the music. It is much harder to do church music than used to be the case in our churches. We used to have an organ on one side, a piano on the other, and we sang hymns along with a few simple choruses. What AG folks in California were singing was pretty much the same as those in Washington DC. No longer is this the case in most AG churches, and certainly not in those who are trying to find a niche that is not the same as their mainline church friends, or even their other evangelical friends. Maranatha music tends to be simple and harmonic, and that's what we used to sing. Now we have a plethora of companies, lots of radio stations playing contemporary praise music, and music that is much more difficult for the amateur praise band to play.
Do I want to return to an organ and piano? No. Not unless it is a pipe organ. (Smiling.) But this is a challenging area.

I'm not opposed to donuts and coffee, but I was not thrilled that some people were drinking coffee and munching donuts while others were singing. Call me old fashioned. I also wasn't sure I liked the stool and the jeans. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that we wear our jeans and tee shirts everywhere, including church? Partly good, since no one has to feel that they can't come in to a church service because they are not properly dressed. Partly maybe not so good...? There was something very good about the sense (last week) that church was a sacred, holy experience, and even though it was much more formal than I'd want to do every week, I saw that the vestments and cassocks it added to the "experience"-- the sense that we were coming away from the ordinary to meet with God.

I also was surprised that they were not particularly friendly. As casual as the entire service was, I expected several people to approach us. The pastor did, and he did a good job of being warm and genuine. No one else spoke to us until after I had stood awkwardly for a long time in one spot after service. When someone approached me it was not one of the several young people in attendance. It was a woman about my age. My husband helped clear tables and move chairs. No one thanked him, even though as a visitor this was probably more than expected.

Thoughts: Shorter sermons. No matter how much I want to share more. Welcome people, even those who are different than me. Good audio visuals can work well. In the Episcopal chapel the audio visuals were different, but they were there.The postmodern church needs to be a multi sensory experience. When it comes to praise bands, less may be more. Keep it simple and do it well. And it is okay to be HAPPY! Aren't we Pentecostals supposed to be known for that? Some joy is good, as well as worship and introspection. Vary the style, PLEASE.

Do I need to wear jeans to church and sit on a stool? ;-)

In spite of a comment to the previous post below (which made me laugh out loud) some things do not mix. Or if they do the result is not pleasing.
But a little formality along with a casual approach would be lovely....can we do it? Don't know, but I would sure like to try. I may be "a woman of a cetain age" but I don't want to do things in a way that makes me comfortable. I want to share the gospel.
Help me out here, if you can! All comments welcome!

Then we went to Minneapolis for a couple of days. Pictures below. Trinity is nine months old.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Third Week of Sabbatical: in Which the Pentecostal Preacher Lady Goes to Evensong and Holy Eucharist at the Episcopal Chapel

With apologies in advance to any Anglican readers, here is my account of a visit to chapel at the Nashotah House Episcopalian Seminary. The campus is beautiful. Nestled in ancient oaks and other trees are lovely old stone buildings, connected by pathways. The seminary is only about a mile from the retreat center, so one afternoon I decided to attend evensong with one of the other guests who is an Episcopalian priest. We walked to the chapel, arriving early enough to listen to the organist practice.
The chapel is a work of art. The altar is a wonder of carved wood, as is most of the rest of the chapel. There are several stained glass windows. This one is of St. Luke.
The ringing of an enormous bell called us to worship. The seminarians sit facing each other, perpendicular to the altar in small carved "cubicles." Behind an elaborately carved railing are chairs, placed facing the altar.
I was told beforehand that Nashotah House is the most "Anglo Catholic" of the Episcopal seminaries, so I was prepared for a "high church" experience. The forty or so students processed down the aisle in white cassocks, preceded by their professors who were in full regalia. The liturgy and the Psalm were all chanted. The only spoken part of the service was the scripture readings. I felt blessed to have happened upon the worship service that was sung, as they alternate between sung liturgy and spoken liturgy. I, of course, fumbled with the hymnal and the various portions of the prayerbook--I enjoyed worship more when I just listened.
The atmosphere was serenely peaceful, and as I sat in the beautiful surroundings I relaxed and chanted the parts I knew. At the close of the service I heard flap flap flappity flap flap as the students processed past to the exit. Looking down, I couldn't help but grin at the jeans, bare toes and flip flops peeking out from the hem of a cassock.
Walking back, I asked questions of my fellow retreat guest, like why do almost all Episcopalian churches have red doors (it is symbolic of the blood of Christ and of the fire of the Holy Spirit), which side is the gospel side (right) and which the epistle side (left), and other weighty theological matters. :-)

This is a side altar.

A couple of days later I awoke early, so I attended the 8 a.m. Service of Holy Eucharist. This time the student cassocks were black, and the faint aroma of incense filled the air. Something happened to me during that service that I cannot explain.

The presence of God was very real to me, as I again decided to largely forgo the prayer book, except for when the friendly young priest seated behind me helped me out. The mostly male voices singing the Kyrie were so beautiful that tears came to my eyes. And the tears stayed. I found myself quietly weeping through much of the service, and when the elements of bread and wine were blessed I felt a deep sense of wonder. I assumed that I would not be welcome to partake, and a great longing arose in my heart. I was pondering, "Do I just go up anyway, do I stand here and weep and watch others, do I....?" Then the friendly young priest behind me asked if I wanted to share in the eucharist, and when I wondered if it would be acceptable, he asked, "Are you a baptized Christian?" That was it. Such relief....I wondered why it was that I particularly wanted to share the bread and cup on this morning.

I liked the beauty of my surroundings, the reverence, the cassocks and the vestments, the pipe organ, the bell, the chanting, and even the sense of continuity and pattern. I didn't like the division of the chapel (which felt to me like a fence keeping us separated from the seminarians and the priests), the difficulty with knowing what was next, and trying to find the pages fast enough, the awareness that nothing but nothing would alter the form of the service. Even God? Was there room for the Holy Spirit to do something unexpected? I wondered how I would feel if I had never been to church before. Totally confused, wondering what what happening...Still...the presence of God was with me.

At the close of the service, the professors, priests and seminarians processed out, as before. Everyone left. Except me. I sat in the darkened little chapel and the tears fell, and I wondered why.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Cedarly Pastor's Retreat Collage

Some of the books at Cedarly are not what I might choose, to say the least. However, this one was a treasure which I will have to purchase soon. I felt like I had found jewels! One night I read from the writings of John Wesley, the next night it was St. Francis, then Martin Luther, than Julian of Norwich, then Soren Kierkegaard. amd then Ignatius of Loyola. A wonderful book! Also some terrific selections from Ruth Haley Barton (different books). Very rich stuff. The combination of a beautiful setting, a good book, great food, and chapel at Nashotah House was a wonderul blessing. Some things were difficult or annoying. I found myself making deliberate choices to focus on what was helpful and let the rest go.

Rev Gals & Pals Friday Five -- Thankfulness

Welcome to the Friday Five! This one is going to be veeeery simple: List at least five things (people, places, graces, miracles...) for which you are thankful. You may elaborate as you wish, or keep it simple.

I have to keep it simple. I just got in, and I have to head to the nursing home before tackling a multitude of tasks. So without further ado:

1. I am thankful for home. I have been away quite a bit lately, and it is good to come home. Good to see the trees turning red and gold, good to pick a few tomatoes from the wilting plants, good to hug and kiss my husband, and good to have the cat greet me with welcoming meows. Also good to anticipate sleeping in my own bed.

2. I am thankful for eyesight. I will post a few pictures soon from my third week of sabbatical. Several times I thanked God for the blessing of vision--I came perilously close to loosing it--both at birth and on a subsequent occasion, and I never take it for granted. I love this beautiful world in which we live, and I'm grateful to live in a beautiful place.

3. I am thankful for my church family. I miss them, and this week I realized something. I (several times) felt patronized because of a couple of things. One is age. That has not happened to me before, and when it did it was distressing to realize that my grey head was causing some individuals to make assumptions. I also realized that my church family, even the young people, do not do this. That is good!

4. I am thankful for my family, my husband (the love of my life) and our son and our daughter and her husband, and last but not least, precious little Trinity. I wish they all lived closer.

5. And I am thankful for the boundless grace of God, without which I cannot imagine how life would be!