It's been too long since I have posted for you all to stay connected. I apologize. This is another update, for your benefit and for mine, as I keep a record of my sabbatical.
My last update mentioned that Doris and I were traveling with some friends and that I was planning to spend a few days with Paul Grout in Vermont. I am writing this as the train is leaving Phila for Vermont, with me on it of course. I likely will not be able to post this until I get to Paul's place tonight or tomorrow morning.
Let me share a few things. Before we left for our travels with our friends the Bollingers, Doris and I had the privilege of meeting with the pastors of Ephrata Community Church, where we have been worshipping while I am off. We met the pastors and two other lay leaders for a season of what they call "prophetic ministry." Basically what happens in a meeting like this is people with prophetic gifting (remember our study of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit where in we learned that some of us have prophet giftings) and meet with us for a season of prayer and spiritual discernment. While praying we all listen for God to speak into our hearts with any images, words or promptings that might relate to my life and ministry. We entered this time with anticipation of what God might say, and were not disappointed. While I have been in other settings like this, it was a first for Doris. It proved to be very encouraging. I need to digest some of this and might blog about it later.
On our trip with the Bollingers, we went to church where Phil and Sarah are worshipping while the work towards their doctorates. I think it was called the University Christian Fellowship, and was basically filled with 20 somethings from the various universities situated in that part of Cincinnati. The speaker that morning was a young man from Philadelphia who was in town for a convention related to the ministry of transforming our cities and culture for Jesus. I do not remember the name of the organization, but know that it is related to the work of Tony Campola and his Phila based ministry. The speaker was particularly interesting. Doris spied him in the café before the service, not knowing he would be preaching--long hair, handing in brads to his waist, a bandana on his head, sort of grubby clothes. She was a bit taken back when he came up to preach, but boy what passion for Jesus and what courage to take on the decaying neighborhoods of Phila, in Jesus' name. I left feeling very much that if he represents what is often called the "emerging church" I am confident that the church is in good hands. Oh how little my generation has done.
After we got back from our days with the Bollingers--which were great times of hanging out with a couple that has been a part of our lives for over 35 years--my friend, Jim Chronister, came to spend a few days with us. I met Jim and his wife Karen back n '79 when he still lived in York. We have been long time friends, and our families sort of grew up together. Jim preformed the wedding ceremonies for all three of our children, and I did for one of his two kids. Jim now pastors in the Church of the Brethren in Western Ohio. For a year or so, Jim has been talking to me about helping him put a clutch in his old pickup truck, which his dad bought new back in '87. I agreed to do it during my time off, mainly, as I told Jim, just to have a few days with him. He arrived at our house on Sunday (Nov. 1) and we jumped into the clutch job on Monday morning. To make a long story short, a job I thought we could do in a day took two and a half days, and we finished up around one pm on Wednesday.
The time with Jim was good for me. I felt a bit sad after he left on Wednesday evening as I relived our days together, realizing that it might be a long time until we would have another chunk of time together. The clutch job really took its toll on me--at 56 I'm a bit old to be crawling around under a rusty and grimy old pickup for three days. (I've been wearing a knee brace for the last few days, letting my left knee recuperate from too much bending and crawling.) As we finished up the job I realized a spiritual principle was at work. I mentioned to Jim that the degree of suffering one will endure for another is directly related to the depth of one's friendship. I was thinking of Jesus, who was willing to die for his friends (John 15:13).
In between these endeavors, I have been doing some work on our house and helping my one son-in-law with some home projects as well. And, of course, there has been plenty of time with the grand kids. We have taken the older 6 grandkids over night, two at a time, and this past Friday had our two four year olds. What a blast.
Watch for more posts this week--there are a few percolating.