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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.

June 23 – What’s the Story?

They began work on the new house just around the corner from our house months ago. It’s up on Maple Avenue near the Friends Meeting House. The basement was dug, a foundation laid, framing completed, the roof shingled; the windows went in and the backerboards and vapor barrier were added. Then everything stopped. The garage and front door openings were boarded up and weeds grew high on the construction site.

It’s been at least two months since any work appears to have been done on the house. Of course, when I went to take photo of the place this morning there were a couple of vans in the driveway and a ladder reaching to the eaves. By the time I snapped the final photo, what looked like a building inspector drove up in his government car, the red Crown Victoria in the photo.

What’s the story?

Maybe it’s a spec home and the contractor has run out of money.

Perhaps the new owners can’t decide on the color of the siding; she prefers a light gray, and he’d like tan with a green trim. They say you need a strong marriage if you’re going to have a house built.

It could be that there’s a nation-wide siding shortage. I wonder if the Chinese have cornered the market.

What if there has been some sad turn of events in the owners’ family and the new house just isn’t a priority? I hope everyone is okay.

And then the building inspector drove up. What if there is a problem with the foundation or the way the windows were installed? It might be the roof, what with that ladder reaching the eaves.

What’s the story?

Of course, I probably never will know the story of the slow to be completed new house just around the corner on Maple Avenue. That’s okay, it’s none of my business. I’m just curious.

If you think about it, most of us are like the new house being built on Maple Avenue. Things may not be as far along as we wish they would be. Drivers by look at us and wonder what’s the story. We look a little pre-occupied or have gained some weight, or lost too much weight. We don’t seem to be spending as much time with those good friends as we once did, or we’re gone every weekend.

When we’re the drivers by, it’s easy enough to come up with a story to explain what we’ve seen as we drive along Maple Avenue. It must be their marriage or their health. Probably finances or a nasty addiction. “You know, he’s always been just on the edge…” “I told her back when…”

Like the story of slow to be completed house on Maple Avenue, the stories of the lives of most of the people who pass by my life are none of my business. I must resist the temptation to invent a story to explain what my curiosity wants to know.

In the church, the family of faith, our lives are each other’s business – not for prying or for gossip’s sake; not to solve problems which are not ours to solve; not to conclude it must be about me. In the church we are to listen well. It is surprising how much of a true story you hear when you listen well. In the church we are to pray much. Those stories we hear are not for spreading, and usually we are not being invited to become a character in them. We pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit God might become a major player in the story. Maybe we will be invited in, but maybe not. In the church we are to speak carefully – not telling our story, which we love to tell – but telling the story of grace and joy, forgiveness and peace found in the Gospel.

I don’t know why it’s taking them so long to finish the house on Maple Avenue. I don’t why it is taking me so long to “know him more clearly, follow him more nearly, love him more dearly.” (Yes, baby boomers, the old Godspell song borrowed from the Thirteenth Century Prayer of Saint Richard of Chichester.)

What’s the story, yours and mine? If we listen well, pray much, and speak carefully, God may use us in each other’s stories, completing what needs to be completed, and nothing more.

See you Sunday

June 16 – Good and Faithful Fathers

The commercial holidays are always problematic in the church, especially those that appeal to sentiment and know there’s nothing like a little guilt and sense of obligation to motivate the reluctant gift giver. Valentine’s, Mother’s, and Father’s Days come to mind.

Besides our unwitting collaboration in hawking unneeded stuff, the commercial holidays often demand that we view our complicated and hard world with a sweet simplicity that does us no good.

So maybe I woke up in a bad mood

We are going to take note of Father’s Day in our worship this Sunday. At the 9:15 service, as many men as are able will join our “Men’s Instant Chorus.” I love that tradition. We are going to sing “Faith of Our Fathers” in all its exclusionary glory, noting not just the faithful women and men who have lived their faith into our lives, but particularly those good and faithful dads who may have been a part of our lives. Continue reading

June 9 – LPC: Poo Poo Heads Welcome

I found it under a pew.  We had a funeral at the church this week, so before the service I went into the sanctuary just to neaten up a bit.  There were some Sunday bulletins in the pew racks and an upside down hymnal or two.  And an offering envelope on the floor.

Of course we know that pew envelopes are used mostly as notepaper or scratch pads.  We buy them by the hundreds and aren’t too concerned that few of them ever make it into the offering plate.  And, yes, I realize not all the notes taken during worship are to record an especially well made or insightful point from the sermon.

Written on the back of the pew envelope and then dropped on the sanctuary floor after this past Sunday’s service, I assume, was this note, “You are a poo poo head.”  I have some idea of who usually sits in that part of the room, but far be it from me to try to guess the author or the recipient of the note.  Was it sibling to sibling?  Maybe spouse to spouse depending on how the morning had gone.  Was it declarative or accusative? Continue reading

June 2 – On Lighting Candles and Cursing the Darkness

We hear a lot of darkness cursing in this particular time through which we are passing. There’s a not so small industry made up of bloggers and wannabe pundits who have mastered the art of finding just the right curse for that darkest darkness which has descended on this identity group or that band of aggrieved victims.  Liberal cursers and conservative cursers, progressive cursers and evangelical cursers, single-payer cursers and “build the wall” cursers; we love to curse the darkness.

As for me, I just want to curse the cursers. Continue reading

May 26 – The Faces of the Day

Our spring sermon series has been built around the texts of some of the great hymns of the faith. Members of the church suggested the hymns, and seven with strong Scriptural references were chosen for the weeks between Easter and the beginning of the summer season.

One of the requested hymns is “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and it will provide the theme for this Sunday’s sermon with the preaching text from Revelation 14 and its image of the grapes of wrath.  Come Sunday as we explore our lives and our times lived out in the realities of wrath and grace.

In preparing for the sermon, I put together a short video designed to remind us of the hymn and its context.  You may view the video here (or scroll down to the bottom of this post). Continue reading