The LPC e-pistle is designed for the friends and families of Langhorne Presbyterian Church and any others who happen by. Pastor Bill Teague shares weekly comments on the world, the life of faith and Langhorne Church. A weekly e-mail, sent by request, keeps members up to date on news and prayer concerns within the congregation. Langhorne Presbyterian Church is a warm, Christ-honoring congregation, and we’d love to have you stop by for a visit if you’re ever in our neighborhood. You can get directions to LPC here.
This past Tuesday was the last full day in Paris as Becky and I celebrated our anniversary with an altogether wonderful trip to the City of Light. We had taken an early morning train to Versailles. We loved the gardens, but the opulence of the palace was overwhelming in the way that too much of something sends the senses reeling, unable or unwilling to take it all in. As someone posted in reply to a photo I posted on Facebook, “it would have made me want to start a revolution, too.”
Returning to Paris mid-afternoon, we roamed our neighborhood on the Left Bank of the Seine, enjoying lunch at a sidewalk café, finding some last minute souvenirs, and visiting both Saint Sulpice and Saint Severin churches. Unlike Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame we had seen earlier in the week, Sulpice and Severin are not so much tourist attractions, though tourists wander through the churches all day long. Images of the stained glass and magnificent organ of Saint Sulpice and the soaring arches of Saint Severin will remain in my mind’s eyes for years to come.
But neither the architecture nor the art of the churches struck me so much as something else we saw at Saint Sulpice. As we entered the long nave, our eyes were sent upward by the stained glass and the high arches of the ceiling, but our ears were captured by the sound of voices singing an Alleluia. At first I thought the music might be a recording played for the tourists. But there in a space behind the altar we found the source of the music. The voices belonged to maybe fifty children, eight and nine year olds, I would say, who were receiving instruction in the catechism and learning responses to be sung at mass.
According to recent studies, neither Christians (44%) nor Muslims (7%) are the largest segment of the French population. The surveys show 49% of French people as atheists or non-religious. Of the 45% of the population identifying as Christian, barely 5% attend worship regularly. Most church buildings are more museum than home for worshiping and serving Christian communities.
Of course, I know nothing about the good parents who sent their children to Saint Sulpice last Tuesday afternoon. I don’t know their hopes or their dreams for their children. But in secular France, 2017, with all the little gods worshiped by the atheists and the non-religious, the sight and sound of children learning to sing Alleluia to the God who enters our world to love and redeem strikes me as a revolutionary thing and hopeful.
LPC members know that this weekend is an important time in our institutional life as we are called to make decisions about mission and ministry and denominational identity.
Perhaps the most important event of the weekend will be over by 11:30 on Sunday morning, however. The youth in our confirmation class begin a forty-hour retreat at Blue Mountain Retreat Center northwest of Allentown at 6:00 this evening. They will back at LPC by 11:00 on Sunday morning. In secular America, 2017, with all the little gods worshiped by the atheists and the non-religious, with all the distractions of a confused culture, the reality of a class full of ninth graders learning about prayer and a good shepherd, a God who enters our world to love and to redeem is a revolutionary thing and hopeful.
Pray for our congregational meeting. Pray for the confirmation retreat; it may be more important.
See you Sunday.
Many of you know that Becky and I are away this week (and don’t worry, this was posted ahead of time). We are in Paris celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. Such joy! Much could be said and will be said, but as we remember October 16, 1977, we remember especially words spoken.
He may have used an older version of the Worship Book, but the Reverend Kim Warner’s words would have been something like this: Continue reading
The details don’t matter. I had to deal with the bureaucracy on behalf of someone else. I assumed my informal advocacy would be of little avail, but it seemed worth a try. Who knew the person on the other end of the line would be the Best Bureaucrat.
As our conversation began, I explained my friend’s problem as best I could. The Best Bureaucrat listened well and asked clarifying questions. When it became clear to her that I do not speak bureaucratese, she immediately switched to English. Again she listened well as I tried to describe the dilemma in which my friend found himself. The Best Bureaucrat did not recommend I fill out a form or read a publication. She listened and explained and made sure I understood what she was saying, just as she made sure she understood what I was saying.
Once we were clear about the problem my friend needed to solve, the Best Bureaucrat went to work. I would have to call another office. The Best Bureaucrat told me what to ask for, and, by the way, what not to say. She described for me the place my friend would want to be after all the questions were answered and all the information provided. Our goal was not a completed form, but the particular benefits my friend deserved. Continue reading
You may have noticed the new street lights in Middletown Township. They showed up in our neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. Apparently the township is going to save all sorts of money by shifting from sodium vapor lights to the new LED lights. Good for them. And good for us, I say.
Sodium vapor lights have been used everywhere for the past few decades, providing a dull orange nighttime glow to our streets and cityscapes. I never liked them.
The light from the new LED lamps seems more akin to the light of a full moon on a clear night than to a scene from some film about our dystopian future. I’ll take the full moon over dystopia any day.
Light is, of course, one of the powerful images used in Scripture to describe God’s presence in our world and what it means to live in fellowship with him. Continue reading
Like many of you, Becky and I have spent the evenings of this past week watching Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War.” Five episodes and nine hours in, we have reached the halfway point of the series and the beginning of 1968 in the story it tells. The next episode will take us to the Tet Offensive. The second half of the series will add over 35,000 American deaths to the over 20,000 already seen through the end of 1967.
Over two million Vietnamese north and south of the DMZ lost their lives during the war.
At the end of 1967, I was a junior in high school. The story Burns has told through the first half of the series is largely the story that unfolded during my junior high and high school years, and I remember it well. Always fascinated by history and current events, I watched as Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, and Chet Huntley brought reports from the war into our living room evening by evening. Our copy of Time or Newsweek was usually in the mailbox on Thursdays and I would read them first thing when I got home from school. Continue reading