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Pastor’s Page, September 26, 2017

WANDERING WEST WORD

While it has definitely been hard to establish a rhythm to getting back into work mode after a 12-week respite, thanks to the intrusion of a hurricane, work appears at my door anyway. I must confess that sometimes it is overwhelming. Needs to be met are everywhere. I do know that it is not all laid upon my shoulders and I have long learned that if you want to give God a good laugh, tell God your plans for the day. In addition, there are those around me who are carrying even greater burdens than I. Still…

The world is a mess. If an area hasn’t been blown over or felt the tremors of the earth, it’s on fire. Protests over health care, protests over police brutality and racial inequality, protests over protests. A President who threatens to annihilate 25 million people and a President who promises to destroy the United States first. There is an uneasiness in the air and stress is high. On the local scene, we are seeing a mass exodus of city leaders and fingers are pointing. Meanwhile, we are taking our turn at “A House Blest” because there remain people hungry in our community and we need to begin preparations for the influx of Puerto Ricans who no longer can live on their island until the infrastructure is rebuilt.

Meanwhile the regional church of Florida is poised for a new day and a new beginning with a new regional minster. But still we struggle with how to bring more than seventy congregations together in unity while not requiring uniformity? Did I mention a reflection paper that is nearing its due date, a reflection paper on a book I have yet to read? So no, I have yet to find my rhythm.

Where does our help come from? Where can we find shelter from the onslaught of the storm? One option is to throw up our hands in despair and throw in the towel. Or we can turn to the One who can see us through the storms of life, who can still the waters of turmoil, and who can strengthen us for the journey ahead. As the body of Christ, we have but one option. We were created for such a time as this!

One of my favorite poets, Ann Weems, shares in her book Putting the Amazing Back in Grace the need for the Church to go back in its memory and relive the learning of our faith and then go forward in gratitude for the grace that is ours. She adds, “The good news is that the kingdom of God is not about what you want or what I want; it’s about Jesus, the amazing grace of God. The good news is that once more we can together be the Church of Jesus Christ and turn our hearts to the world that cries for help in Jesus’ name.”

As it applies to the Church, so it also applies to us who claim to be followers of Christ!

Glad to be back with you,

Gary

 

September 8, 2017 Pastor’s Page

I’m back!!! And ready to be back! I have covered thousands of miles, traveled overseas for the first time, met up with some wonderful folks, read a dozen or so books, enjoyed time with my wife and my family, and worked on myself – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It will still take some time to digest everything I have experienced over the twelve weeks I was out on sabbatical.

In one of the magazines offered by AirCanada, the airliner we flew on to Athens, there was an article that asked the question: Can we still visit ancient ruins without ruining them? From our initial hotel in Athens where we were within walking distance from the Parthenon to my visits throughout Turkey and Greece where the apostle Paul and the beloved disciple John traveled, there have been strict laws in place as to how much of an archaeological site can be dug up. Since the excavations are painstakingly slow and tedious and are taking place during the summer months of the year only, it takes quite a few years to expose ruins that lie twenty-two feet underground or more. And then there is the cataloguing, the reconstruction, and the finances.

We came across a site that was using drones to mark the area. We also visited a couple of sites that had year-round workers on or near the site but the majority of the sites had been excavated for more than fifty to over one hundred years and work continues at a snail’s pace. The magazine article stated that some 30 million people visit Greece each year, a large portion, no doubt, to explore the ruins. Turkey probably doesn’t receive as many visitors but the numbers continue to rise in Turkey as folks from Japan and Russia have found it to be welcoming.

Time and time again we were told that they best way to preserve the ruins was to keep them buried, and I suppose that is why they have limited the amount of land that can be excavated. But to see the ruins up close and touch them is a lot different than standing on top of a field, not realizing that underneath your feet was once a bustling city, complete with temples and marketplaces. In the article, the writer referred to a Hindu concept, darshan, roughly translated as the spiritual benefit gained from seeing an authentic thing. I understand the writer’s intent.

There is absolutely no way to gain this sensation from looking at a picture in a book or reading stories about the land. Through the sabbatical, I have been granted this opportunity to have this experience that not everyone gets to cherish. Thank you for such an opportunity and thank you in welcoming me back!

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

August 9, 2017

This Yakima Indian mother was proud to show me her little son, wrapped warmly and securely in a blanket on his papoose board. With every movement she made, the little shells dangling around her son’s head made a tiny jingling sound. She laughed at my delight and then explained that the sound of the shells was to keep the evil spirits away. (more…)