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Welcome to the LPC e-pistle!

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.

January 20 – The Green Stole of Defiance

Stole

I’ve decided to wear my green stole on Sunday. It seems to me like a pretty good act of defiance.

At LPC we don’t pay much attention to vestments and paraments; you know, the decorative stoles a pastor might wear with his robe and the variously colored runners on the communion table or pulpit. In fact, we use no paraments and the pastor can’t seem to decide whether he likes vestments or not.

In the high churches vestments and paraments are very important and for good reason. They serve as reminders of the mighty acts of God, though sometimes the parishioners fret about them as if they should be subject to the tastes of an interior decorator.  Among the reasons paraments are not so important at LPC are the architecture and chancel furnishings that discourage their use. And my vestments, modest as they are? Sometimes a plain black preaching gown says all I want it to say.

But this Sunday I’ll be wearing my green stole, and I hope it says all I want it do say.

By tradition, purple is the color of the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent. Red is for Pentecost Sunday.  White reminds us of Christ and it is used on, Christmas, Easter, Transfiguration, Trinity and  Christ the King Sundays. Green is the color of what they call Ordinary Time, thirty or more weeks of year, in other words, most of the time.

Ordinary Time. That’s why I am wearing my green stole on Sunday.

Ordinary Time is made of those days that fall one after the other in the order God has given them. They are ordinary; they have no particular names. This coming Sunday will be the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is the third Sunday since the named day of Epiphany.  In the current order of days, there will be seven Ordinary weeks until Transfiguration Sunday and then the weeks in Lent.  We’ll get back to a long stretch of Ordinary Time after Pentecost Sunday.

LPC is not a high church and we tend not to pay much attention to colors and days. But this Sunday I will wear my green stole, a reminder that we are in Ordinary Time.  I hope what it says is a reminder that God orders our times. Today is Friday, January 20, 2017. By any other name, the Second Friday in Ordinary Time. Sunday will be the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Ordinary does not mean plain, meaningless, or forgettable. Ordinary means that this day, this time, is unfolding according to God’s ordering of things. Whatever evidential data seemingly to the contrary, this is not an out of order day. Our times are neither unordinary nor extraordinary; they are ordinary, ordered by God.

Ordinary Time is filled by God’s order with weddings and baptisms, deaths and discouraging diagnoses, births and promotions, dinners out with friends and the tossing and turning of sleepless nights.  Ordinary Time is marked by getting up and going to work, putting in the time you’re paid put in – sometimes more – and coming home to play with the kids even when you’re tired.  Ordinary time sings to the rhythm of teaching Sunday School and going to choir practice, joining mission teams and volunteering to serve on committees.

Most of the church’s work for justice and peace, care and compassion, of sharing the Good News of the Gospel and calling men and women, children and youth, to place their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is done in Ordinary Time.

The order of Ordinary Time begins to make sense in the light of Bible study and devotions, disciplined giving, and diligent prayer.

Maybe we need to be reminded that Americans went to the polls last year on the 32nd Tuesday in Ordinary Time. The new president will have taken the oath of office on the Second Friday in Ordinary time in a new year that began on the First Sunday of Advent, that Sunday we lit the Hope Candle.

I will wear my green stole on Sunday, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. It will be an act of defiance against those who say there is no hope or place their hope in unworhty places, a reminder of the One who orders all our days.

See you Sunday

January 13 – Road to the Super Bowl, Hail Mary Edition

Hail Mary

Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, likes to throw Hail Mary passes, and he does so successfully more than any other quarterback in the league. In fact during the past twelve months, Rodgers has thrown more successful Hail Mary passes than all the other quarterbacks in the league combined.

Rodgers’ most recent Hail Mary came at the end of the first half of last Sunday’s Wildcard Playoff Game against the New York Giants. It was really nice.

Calling a time-running-out, desperation long pass into the end zone a Hail Mary began after a December 28, 1975 NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (a Roman Catholic) told the press following his  game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.” Continue reading

January 6 – I am Willing to Sing

saint-pauls

I told the story on Sunday, but I like it enough to tell it again.

Becky and I had a wonderful few days in London between Christmas and New Year’s. The trip was low on plans and high on “what shall we do today?”

Before we left, we had talked about an evensong service possibly fitting into our “what shall we do today?” schedule. Our flat was a ten-minute walk from Saint Paul’s Cathedral and Tuesday, December 27, the Third Day of Christmastide, turned out to be just the right day for that late afternoon service of prayers and carols at Saint Paul’s.

The notice posted on the iron fence outside the cathedral told us the door would be open 45 minutes before the service, and we were there on the cathedral steps at just about the 45-minute mark. There may have been a couple of hundred people in line before us, but Saint Paul’s seats over 3,000, so we knew there would be no problem finding a place to sit. Continue reading

December 23 – The Year of the Christmas Comet

comet

Christmas, 1973.  The previous spring I had graduated from college and had started my first full-time job. I was working at a school for special needs kids In Santa Cruz, California, 500 miles from my parents’ home in San Diego. I’d keep the job for another 18 months, and so far it has been my only full-time job not on a church payroll. I am thankful for the time working in the real world. Thanksgiving weekend, 1973, I had purchased my first car, a 1966 Mercury Comet, 200 cu in straight six, three on the tree. Underpowered, the Comet got decent mileage, a good thing during those dreary months of the Arab Oil Embargo, double daylight saving time, and a newly imposed 55 MPH speed limit. Continue reading

December 16 – #MyLifeMatters

kibuye-teachers

They don’t come very often. If they came often, there would be nothing unusual about them. We wouldn’t remember them for the rest of our lives. They are precious reminders, personal, that our lives have meaning, that there is something more than the daily, more than the stuff of getting by. The daily, the stuff of getting by, matters, too; it’s what we are called to do. But then one of them comes – I think from God – as an amazing gift.

Our lives matter. My life matters.

Last week I had some personal and professional work to do with our mission partners in Burundi. In addition to the Mission Committee business, Becky and I had sent a contribution to help a little in the work at Kibuye Hope, something to do with the school side of the project. I was back and forth in emails with Jess Cropsey about the details. After all the work was completed, Jess wrote:

We deeply feel Langhorne’s love and care for us. Thank you so much for the many ways that you come alongside us from afar.

Continue reading