Times They Are A-Changing

change-roadsign

Bob Dylan said it over 40 years ago…but it is as true today as it has ever been. The only thing guaranteed in this life seems to be change. Ministry has undergone changes and the struggles that come about as a result of change for millennia. James Trader, curator at Cane Ridge, once shared with a District 8 Clergy meeting his study of the Great Worship Wars of the turn of the century…the 19th Century, that is. It seems churches struggled with new contemporary music from the likes of Fanny Crosby long before the Hillsong, Steven Curtis Chapman, the David Crowder Band or even Laura Story came to the music scene.

At camp, there seems to be tension between the energizers and ‘the old camp songs.’ Ultimately, just as in worship, we end up singing both and everyone enjoys all the music. But, music isn’t the only thing that makes a congregation cringe when it comes to the word ‘change.’ We’ve seen the heightened sensitivities with technology too. And, as we continue to move forward into God’s call and to grow ourselves spiritually, we come to terms with the little changes along the way and learn to relax and trust in God to instigate a little change in us.

As we age, there are changes that take place in our minds and bodies. We don’t respond to exercise when we’re older as we did in our 20s. We start to require a little more ‘down’ time than we once needed or more that just 4 or 5 hours of sleep. Learning something new doesn’t come as easily as it once did. Even our digestion seems to change with time. Our taste buds mature and we’ll eat more vegetables than we used to and our fat cells seem to decide as we age that we’ve grown comfortable enough with one another after all these years, we might as well just remain close friends.

I suppose one of the hardest realities of change comes to us as we watch our children grow. One day we’re rocking them to sleep in the middle of the night and the next we’re teaching them how to change a tire because they’re driving now. The world is not the same for them as it was for us…but then the world we grew into was not the same as the one our parents knew, and every generation has had to come to terms with that reality. The question remains, is it better today or worse? Yes! We’ve conquered many illnesses and maladies. We’ve opened up opportunities for minorities. We have more options than we’ve ever had for humanity…and yet there is still suffering, injustice and poverty. The times they are a-changing. How do you go about making those changes create life-giving opportunities for others? Are you simply riding the wave or are you resisting the tide? I have a teen driver now…the last one. This makes me all too aware the time I have left to help form her into a responsible, caring individual to turn loose on society is short. I feel my time is running out…so maybe it’s time to start prioritizing. What lessons can humanity not live without? I’m interested in hearing your advice for what we must instill in our youth before they reach adulthood. Let me know your thoughts.

Blessings,
Tracy

Appeal…ideas…sorrow

serving others

In our appeal for over and above gifts to reduce the deficit, we have received about $9,000.  There is one more week to go before August when Charlotte needs to know we have raised $12,000. Please be generous.

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The Governance Committee will meet over the next year to review our congregational structure, constitution and by-laws, committees and ways we can more effectively do the work of the Kingdom of God.  If you have ideas about ways we can be more efficient and effective, please let us know.

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 Operation Food Basket has experienced a great loss in the death of Betty Florence.  She was the backbone of OFB for decades. In her absence, we will continue with this ministry of 15 Bourbon County Churches. OFB is open 10 – 11:45 a.m. MWF in the basement of the City Building. Emergency food needs may be met once every 3 months.
 

Moving to the deeper places,
Jeff

Ties that Bind

vespersThe ties that bind can sometimes just be thin threads, but other times they are bonds forged in steel. Each week I spend at Wakon Da-Ho I find evidences of both. Counselors who were recruited by those who counseled them. Someone saw something special in them and issued an invitation to share it with today's youth. Camp friendships that anxiously await reuniting year after year because other than social media and texting…this is the only time of the year they are face-to-face.

Each morning we gather in vespers with the morning sun drawing the mists off the surface of the ponds while the birds and bullfrogs protest our entry into their solitude. We watch the morning together and await God's words to us for the day. We marvel at the beauty of our surroundings and seek solace from those who gather here with us. The trees form a canopy of protection over our heads, their branches and leaves absorbing the laughter, tears, songs and prayers of the years. Some days it will gently rain above our heads but no drops make their way to our heads. We can see the little ripples they create on the surface of the pond and hear their gentle descent, but remain dry thanks to the protection of the trees that surround us. Other days, long after a rain has left a gentle breeze will stir the leaves and send a sprinkle down upon our heads while the rest of our world remains dry. It is a magic that is unique to Wakon Da-Ho. When it happens you can see the wonder on the faces of the youth who gather here and know this is one more instance that will forever tie their hearts to this geographical location.

Sometimes threads wend and weave themselves tenuously through the years. Youth and counselors have come and gone throughout the 40 or 50 years we've hosted camp in Casey County. Sometimes adults will take brief respites from the camp program, but return because they love it as much as the children and youth who gather here do. This year a new thread from time past wrapped itself around me and tied me forever to the story. One of Paris' children, now grown with children of her own made her way into one of the stories of Jesus' healing. Our stories cross through the roots that spread deep and wide beneath the soil of Wakon Da-Ho. Her healing and my healing have both come through the efforts of the same individual…and through our encounters with Christ at Wakon Da-Ho.

I've heard parishioners say for years how they come to worship each Sunday because they need an injection to get them through the week. I think I return to these people and to Wakon Da-Ho each summer for much the same reason. I often find healing when I didn't realize there was injury. I find acceptance, grace and joy when I didn't know I craved them. I reunite with old friends I only see face-to-face once a year, but with whom I long to share a week of camp chaos because no other can understand the magic and mystery of the place and its people like those I share my memories and healing with once or twice a year.

Blessings,
Tracy

Observations & experiences…

holy spirit

The temperature was 50 degrees this morning.

The unusual mid-July “chill” is refreshing. A neighbor out walking spoke his approval. The mail person was surely appreciative. The windows in my car were rolled down and I dropped a hand into the wind as I drove.

The humidity is low. The sky is a bright blue. Someone asked, “Is this a record?”

We are often met with pleasant surprises and we are challenged to pay attention. The true joy in life is gathering in these observations and experiences and appreciating them.

Have you noticed the flowers around the front sign, placed there from the flowers sold at cost to the youth for a fundraiser, by Bourbon County’s own Color Point?

There is the field of sunflowers on the Caldwell farm, the sudden and intense summer showers and youth returning from camp with tears of joy in their eyes.

There are the 100 or so people who looked for Gerry McMillen’s niece’s dog after an accident and found him near Cullman, Alabama.

There is a new Methodist minister in town that I look forward to meeting.

Members of Operation Food Basket are rising to the challenges which are facing us and volunteering to do a number of tasks.

There is a member of our church running for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky.

Did you catch the lightening bugs in late June and early July?

Have you noticed the refreshing breeze created by the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through your life?

Moving to the deeper places,
Jeff

trying to get it right…

church

I have had some experiences in the church.

Listen for a moment and see if you do not agree that we deal with the most interesting and complicated human drama that exists and still find ways to love each other. (None of these situations happened at First Christian in Paris).

There was a church staff member overheard to say, “I am not a sinner,” after a sermon where I had mentioned that we are all sinners saved by the grace of God.

I was moving to a new church. We had used liquor boxes to move. The back seat was full of them. I didn’t know my new congregation. An older lady peered into my backseat with a disapproving look on her face. I thought, “Oh, no! Here we go.” Then she said with a look of disgust on her face, “Not my brand.”

At my first church I was asked to step out while they voted whether to call me as their pastor. Soon, an elder came out, clasped my hand and with great sincerity and warmth said,  “Congratulations young man. You won by one vote.”

There was a woman, who, if we had talked about such things, we would not have agreed on much of anything socially or politically, but her pure love for children, has them still talking about her twenty-five years later after they have all become adults. She would say, “I love you so good.”

There was the church where the attendance was below 100, where we tried to find a chair of the Board. We asked 13 people before someone accepted. It was the staff member who said, “I am not a sinner.”

As a young pastor, I had an idea. The grizzled war veteran grilled me with questions about cost, manpower and goals. After the meeting two very kind and gracious women in the group apologized for his demeanor and his challenges. I pointed out, “He was the one to make the motion. The rest of you were just going to let me do ‘whatever the new young pastor wanted to do.’” That man made us own our decision. (Still he could be a bit gruff in his “ways.”)

In honoring a Sunday school teacher who had been teaching for 35 years, I made the side observation to a trusted elder, “We let someone teach our children who had not been a Sunday school class member for 35 years.” It was a statement about how the church sometimes abuses its volunteers and does not allow them time to rest and grow spiritually.

The church is an interesting place where we are trying to get it right, but, inevitably, are caught in the twilight zone of being not sure whether we did or not.

Moving to the deeper places,
Jeff

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