I leave tomorrow for what will seem like a whirlwind tour of the entire state of California. First stop is the Los Angeles area in Southern California. I’ll spend the weekend with our former Princeton Seminary Interns, Jonathan and Kristy LaBarge, now co-pastors of Canoga Park Presbyterian Church. It will be my privilege to preach from their pulpit on Sunday and my honor to bring the waters of baptism to their eight-month old son Caleb. And to just spend some good time with good friends.
On Monday I will join the three LaBarges for a trip up the coast to the Monterey Bay area on the central coast. We’re attending the annual West Coast Presbyterian Pastors Conference just outside Santa Cruz – under the redwoods and not far from the ocean, an idyllic setting. Our teachers will be the incomparable Dr. Dale Bruner who has just finished a major commentary on the Gospel of John and the insightful Todd Bolsinger, one of the most creative thinkers on the nature of the Twenty First Century Church.
At the end of the conference on Friday I will head into the San Francisco Bay Area to visit my mother who I will take to Chico in the far north part of the state on Saturday to visit my younger sister, back to the Bay Area to preach at my mother’s church on Sunday and then over to the Gold Country to visit my other sister on until Tuesday. Wednesday back to San Francisco and the flight to California. I figure over 1,000 miles of Golden State driving, but it should be good. And, yes, relaxing.
That’s the itinerary.
One of the things I have been thinking about is the first night of the conference, a conference I have been attending on and off, mostly on, for over thirty years. The conference always begins eight days after Easter and the first night is always the same. We will be in groups of friends, some very old and some very new, and be asked to share with each other one word, just one word, to describe the year since the last time we met eight days after Easter. And then they give us two minutes, no more, you long-winded pastors, to explain our word. I try to take less than my allotted two minutes of explanation.
I think I’ve chosen my word. One word to describe my life since eight days after Easter, 2012.
I’ve told you about this conference before and about the one word to describe the year. And like last year, I’ll be glad to tell you my word, privately, if you ask. Send me an email or a Facebook message and I will let you know. On one condition. You have to tell me one word to describe your year since eight days after Easter one year ago.
I will tell you this about my word. It concerns the goodness of our God. He has been very good in some unexpected ways. Thanks be to God.