August 18 – In Praise of E-ZPass

This past Monday Becky and I returned from a long weekend in Sturgis, Michigan, where our oldest daughter and her family live.  It is a 637 mile car trip, and a relatively easy, or should I say E-Z, trip.  627 of the 637 miles are on turnpikes or a toll road. We leave Langhorne and drive five miles to get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We stay on the PA Turnpike for 351 miles until it becomes the Ohio Turnpike. After 240 miles, the Ohio Turnpike becomes the Indiana Toll Road.  36 miles later you take the Sturgis, Michigan, exit, cross the state line, and five miles later you are at Katharine’s and Ryan’s house.

Ohio has the best service plazas; the gas is cheaper and half of them have a Panera Bread restaurant.

Like most people who live near the Turnpike, we have an E-ZPass transponder affixed to the windshield of our car.  It makes getting on and off the turnpike or toll road a lot easier, though Ohio and Indiana insist on keeping those automatic gates that go up and down even in the E-ZPass lanes. Continue reading

August 11 – Handiwork

Becky and I are in Sturgis, Michigan, this weekend for an art show. We think the artist is pretty amazing. Katharine Taylor is our oldest daughter, and, in fact, she is pretty amazing. Her art is really good, too. You can see some of her work here:

The particular series of paintings displayed at this weekend’s show is called “Handiworks,” and each of the oil paintings depicts the hands of a craft person at work – a potter, a blacksmith, a woodworker, a seamstress, and more. You may view the series at the website. See, I told you it is really good.

Psalm 19 declares all creation to be God’s handiwork:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

As we wander the gallery this weekend, we will admire the works of art and, yes, play the role of proud parents. I may eavesdrop on the conversations of some of the gallery goers in hopes of hearing some words of praise for the artist. Well, maybe not, but they are sure to come.

No apologies for being proud parents this weekend. But the thanks goes to God who has given Katharine, a part of his handiwork, this gift to reflect his love of creation and the good work he has given his human creatures to do.

August 4 – Against a Bare and Empty God

As you enter the Sanctuary for worship on Sunday, you will notice a new banner hanging above the chancel.  I like the new banner very much.

This past March, right before Lent, a couple of Trustees repositioned a bank of spotlights to better illuminate the “banner wall.”  As a new banner was added each Sunday in Lent, and then the Easter and finally the Pentecost banners appeared each in its own turn, that dark paneled wall came to life, symbols painted in cloth and thread reminding us of the stories of our faith Continue reading

July 28 – The Sounds of Silence

Visitors to the pastor’s study at LPC have sometimes wondered about the double doors on the wall just above the credenza. For good reason. It’s an odd place for a set of doors.  One might assume the pastor’s wet bar or big screen TV are hidden behind the doors. “Oh,” I said when they opened the doors ten years ago on my first tour of LPC as candidate for pastor.

It was winter when I settled into the pastor’s study, and other than missing some wall space to hang pictures and plaques, I did not much think about the oddly placed double doors above the credenza in my new office. But then summer came and with it Philadelphia heat and humidity and the thermostat in the office set the air conditioning to humming. Well, more than humming.  A mild roar, the sound of the approaching apocalypse, was more like it.

Behind the double doors above the credenza in the pastor’s study at LPC is the air handling equipment for the office AC. Clunk, boom, roar, became the rhythm of my summer days until the Trustees were kind enough to glue some acoustical foam to the back side of those double doors over the credenza in my new office. Continue reading

July 25 – Próxima Vez

Today is our team’s last day in Brazil. By 8:00 p.m. We should be on the first of three legs of our our long trip home – Belo Horizonte to Campinas/São Paulo to Fort Lauderdale to Newark.

The team’s goal has been to listen and learn, engage and encourage. We have come along side and often followed our Brazilian brothers and sisters, working, praying, singing, laughing, and growing together. We have learned and listened, engaged and encouraged, and have been encouraged.

Goodbyes are often difficult and it seems no more so than from Brazil. They’ve already begun. Jake and João Vitor embracing one last time as we left the church yesterday – new friends and brothers in Christ. Becky and our long time friends Odias and Nilda assuring one another “Próxima vez” – next time, knowing that, if God wills, there is sure to be a next time.

What has our team accomplished? We have listened and learned, engaged and encouraged. Already the good fruit of this trip can be tasted in the joy of friendship and common faith shared between our team members and so many at IPJA. The kingdom good from this trip may never be known or known mostly próxima vez or próxima vez after that. It will be known in the life of an American team member changed forever, and some will be. It will be known when a young Brazilian who has experienced God’s encouragement in a new friendship begins to dream some dreams he or she might not have otherwise dreamed. It will be known in the life of a child from EBF who has quietly decided to follow the Lord of Love she or he heard about in during those three full days at the church just the hill from the favela.

So we are headed home. Exhausted, changed forever, committed to new friendships and to encouraging those who live and share faith in Jardim America and Favela da Ventosa. It has been that kind of trip. Just what we prayed and hoped for.

Em Cristo,