Saturday, January 26, 2008

elmer gantry

Just finished a book I've been working on for a couple weeks, Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. It's about a man who rises from less than stellar beginnings to become a well-respected minister and morality leader. Except it's not as feel good as perhaps that brief description makes it sound. I really enjoyed the book - it had some brilliant commentary on hypocrisy in the church as well as some great laugh-out-loud moments.

Particular favorite quote: “Because the Baptists and the Methodists have all the numbskulls—except those that belong to the Catholic Church and the henhouse sects—and so even you can get away with being a prophet. There are some intelligent people in the Episcopal and Congregational Churches… Of course all Presbyterians are half-wits, too, but they have a standard doctrine and they can trap you into a heresy trial.”

That’s us, half-wits with a keen eye for heresy!

If you’re interested on reading a classic piece of American lit that was quite controversial in its days and is still rather dead-on in this day, I recommend it!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Preaching the Word

One of the greatest joys of my ministry is the time I spend with our youth. Full of energy and laughter, our youth inspire and challenge me. Listening to their thoughts, ideas, passions and beliefs I find my own faith renewed in our time together. This Sunday the senior high will be leading us in worship. As they’ve been preparing and planning for this worship service, it’s been a delight to hear how the scripture for Sunday touches their lives. I look forward to sharing in worship with them and you this Sunday and seeing how their words touch all of us.

Along with hearing the voices of our youth, Youth Sunday excites me because it affirms what we as a Reformed people believe – God can and does speak to all of us. John and I have years of training and experience, yes, but that’s not what allows us to stand up in the pulpit and proclaim the Word of God. The Spirit is what empowers us – all of us: John, me, you, our youth. The Spirit is what moves us and gives us the words to speak. Every one of us can proclaim the Word of God.

Covenant affirms that truth in a variety of ways – from Youth Sunday and Children’s Sunday (this year on April 27th) to the Word proclaimed in October by lay leaders. We know it’s not just Ministers of Word and Sacrament to whom the Spirit speaks. The Word is also proclaimed on other days than Sunday and other places than the pulpit. Listening to and participating in conversations about God in Bible studies, at dinner on Wednesdays, around the kitchen table when I’ve been invited over for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I have heard the Word proclaimed. Sorting cans with you for the Salvation Army, repairing homes with you in Mississippi, seeing money donated to Heifer International instead of buying more stuff for loved ones, I have witnessed the Word proclaimed.

It’s quite a privilege to hear such powerful proclamations. Keep on proclaiming the Word with your words and your lives. As I’ve said to the youth, let me say to all of you: preach it, preacher!

Friday, January 18, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white thursday

I love snow days!

Didn't really have them much as a kid - in Texas school got cancelled for floods much more often than it did for odd white stuff falling from the sky. Yesterday I got up planning on driving to Harrisonburg for a CPM meeting only to discover I wouldn't be driving my car anywhere that day! A snow day for me is a lovely unexpected gift; instead of sitting in an all day meeting (which has its own merits, to be sure), I got to run about and enjoy the wonder of a blanket of snow.

I've spoken to several friends and run into a few church members today. It seems many of us ran outside, made snowmen and women, went sledding, made snow angels, sipped hot cocoa, got together with friends – just enjoyed the day. We rush about so often and miss things like rays of the sun glistening on freshly fallen snow – I’m as guilty of that as anyone. It’s rather nice when the sky opens up and forces us to slow down, stop even, and just appreciate what’s before us.

Monday, January 07, 2008

a monday afternoon

I adore living in Staunton and I most particularly appreciate the wonderful opportunities this town gives me to meet and make new friends. Now, yes, I happen to be an extra-amiable woman, but I do think there’s something about this town that makes it easy to strike up conversations with people at, say, your local coffee shop and by the end of the conversation, make plans for lunch!

This afternoon as I’ve forced myself to finish the youth calendar (I have trouble committing to dates for certain activities) I also made a new friend – another minister in the area (Lutheran). How wonderful that it’s not strange here (at least I hope not) for me to just go up and introduce myself upon overhearing her career.

I love the museums, the ballet, the many areas of exploration big cities offer but nothing can beat moments like the one I had this afternoon.