September 9 – Earthquake, Wind, and Fire

Becky and I spent four years early in our marriage at a church conference center near the south entrance to Yosemite National Park.  I was on full time staff and Becky worked part time. During those four years we came to know and love some wonderful people – Bob and Barbara, Bill and Mary, Dave and Cindy, and dozens more – whose names are still vivid reminders of friendship and the communion of the saints.
Calvin Crest fills 340 acres a mile high in the Sierra Nevada, and every summer the place is filled with children, youth, and families who come to sing the mighty power of God who made the mountains rise, and who has made his redeeming love known in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The youngest kids, third, fourth, and fifth graders, still dress up as Robin Hood’s merry men and women for their week in Sherwood Forest.  Continue reading

September 2 – Fear of Flying: to the Glory of God

I’ve been to Kansas. Just a quick trip as I delivered our grandson back home after his week-long visit with us. Becky had done the fetching the prior week, and I did the return trip. No problems and just what we hoped for; Caleb had a grandparent with him as he traveled and both Becky and I were able to spend a little bit of time with Caleb’s family in their new home in Newton, a half hour north of Wichita. The flights were easy and on time; at seven years old, Caleb is great traveling companion. Kansas will treat our son and his family well as he has begun a year-long pastoral internship there.

But it is my traveling companion on the Wichita to Chicago leg of my return flight that has me thinking.

Ryan took the seat next to me as we boarded the plane and we exchanged a couple of friendly words. As the plane began to taxi, Ryan began to talk.  We talked through the two hour flight and more – until I went to find my Philadelphia flight and Ryan went to find his ride from the airport to his parents’ house in suburban Chicago. Continue reading

August 25 – A Sinner of God’s Own Redeeming

Tomorrow morning members of our church and community will gather for a memorial service, what our Book of Common Worship calls “A Service of Witness to the Resurrection.” During our time together we will remember the life of Annette Compton, surround her family with prayers for comfort and peace, and declare our “sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.”

In our tradition memorial services and funerals are always worship services. We gather at heaven’s gate and before the throne of God above. We sing hymns and spiritual songs.  We laugh and we weep. We hear the Word and give thanks. Continue reading

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.