I have spent the week away from Langhorne, one of two weeks allotted for study leave each year. I am in the southern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Black Mountain, North Carolina. We are a seminar group fo the Foundation for Reformed Theology, six of us who gather for a week once a year to read and discuss around a variety of topics in Reformed Theology. Five of the six of us graduated from Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, twenty years ago this month.
This year’s topic is Forgiveness and Reconciliation and our reading has included the writing of Miroslav Volf, who reflects on the possibilities and necessity of forgiveness between his native Croats and the Serbians whose slaughter of each other marred the last decade of the Twentieth Century. We have also read Duke Divinity School’s Gregory Jones whose “Embodying Forgiveness has prompted some deep conversation among us.
This year and last we have met in an amazing house high on a mountain top. The house and the mountain have become a part of the richness of the week, along with with theological content and the sustaining strength of these good friendships. Whether it is looking out across the mountain from the porch that runs the full length of the back of the house or the view from higher up at the end of the an early morning walk, the perspective from the mountain top is part of what the week is about.
Study leave is mandated in my terms of call; that is, the presbytery says it must be given. Mandated or not, I am thankful that it is given and sense the privilege of gift. Thank you.
So what is the view from the mountain top this year? The theological reflection is not yet in final focus. But as We “talk shop” and share the stories of our lives since last year in Black Mountain, there is no lack of clarity in my mind and heart about the joy and honor of serving as pastor at Langhorne Presbyterian Church. Last Sunday we celebrated 10,000 reasons to sing God’s praise for the 125 years of LPC. You were also kind enough to note the twenty years of my ordained ministry.
The view from the mountain? As I look up, I join my voice with the voice of the psalmist:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
But as I look down the mountain, I am eager to return to Langhorne, to Becky, to home, to LPC as we being our 126th year and grow more and more into a community of reconciliation and grace by the love and mercies of God.