On Being Church - a blog

Last weekend, Emma Kate and I made a road trip to LaGrange Georgia, where my brother-in-law, Rev. James Goodlet was installed as the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. We joined my parents and James’ parents, my siblings and his, and lots of cousins to support and celebrate this time of transition and growth for James and my sister, Margaret. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that my family made a similar move.

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The Annual Report: On time

The ancient Teacher was wise in his counsel on time. Shortly after his beautiful refrain – the same one Pete Seeger used the classic hit, Turn! Turn! Turn! – the Teacher in Ecclesiastes wrote, “God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover, God has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are rooted and grounded in time. This is our time, and it is a gift from the God of all time.

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The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.  – Isaiah 9:2
 
Isaiah’s words lit our way through the season of Advent.  Each week we lit one more candle on the Advent wreath that hung from the arch in the sanctuary.  We waited with Mary as she pondered the words of the angel and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. We gathered with friends from Davey Street Presbyterian Church for Christmas dinner and the annual Simple Gifts program that ended with caroling in the courtyard.  We weathered a snow Sunday, reminding us of the disruption that any child brings to a family, begging the question how much more so when the child is the Son of the Most High God.  We tread softly through human grief during the Longest Night service, lighting candles that twinkled as they held the hope and hardness of all the years.  Finally, on that last Sunday of Advent, the children told the Christmas story in the way that only children can – with fresh eyes, full of hope; with hearts open to the wonder of the Incarnation.  Write comment (0 Comments)

Last week a member of West Raleigh sent me a cartoon that depicted Mary and Joseph at the manger with the baby Jesus on the “other” side of a United States barbed wire boarder fence. Mary and Joseph looked surprised as a canister or tear gas landed and bounced just a few feet away. The cartoon begged the Christmas question, Are we on the right side of that wall?

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I love Christmas, and yet, it is one of the most conflicted times of the year. Sometimes the conflict is in competing priorities. There is just too much to do. Some of what demands our attention takes time away from where we want to focus more attention. Sometimes we have to choose from a feast of riches. Other times the conflict is emotional. This has been a year marked by loss for West Raleigh. We have lost ten saints of the church in just over a year, some of them too young and too quickly. There is other loss dwelling just below the surface of our lives too, some of it we have been living with for years and some is fresh and painfully new.

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This week, the nation mourned the death and celebrated the life of George H. W. Bush. President Bush was a decorated war hero who served as a congressman, an ambassador, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Vice President of the United States, then the 41st President.  He is remembered for a 73-year love affair with his wife, Barbara Bush and for being an exceptional father.  He loved golfing and the wide-open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. President Bush was a dedicated and accomplished Statesman, yet, what stands out most in the wake of his death is his attention to the personal, especially in the form of handwritten notes. 

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