Please join your PCJH family as we head to Alpine to work on the new homes Habitat for Humanity is building there. We’ll carpool from PCJH, departing at 8am. Contact Katie-Chloe Stock at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
As we begin 2014, Terri and I wanted to share with you that after much prayer and conversation this will be our last year in Jackson Hole. I have been privileged to share nearly 20 years of life and ministry with you. We have felt God closing this chapter of our lives and have known we must respond. Therein we met with the Session on Tuesday evening, January 21, informed them of our decision and had a special meeting with the staff of PCJH on Wednesday and shared this decision as well. As we near the end of this phase of ministry we know we have been blessed.
The normal process a pastor would pursue in concluding a ministry would be to seek a new call, receive and accept a new call, and then tell the congregation. As you can see we are not following this process. The issue of Terri and my transition from PCJH was mentioned a number of times in the Long Range Planning interviews. I felt announcing this decision now might allow PCJH to better evaluate and plan the future ministry to which God is calling this part of his family.
With this announcement begins a series of decisions PCJH must make. The first decision to be addressed will take place at our Congregational Meeting on Sunday February 9, following worship. The question before us will be:
How will PCJH pursue new pastoral leadership?
At the request of the Long Range Planning Committee, the Personnel Team has been researching PCJH’s options and will report those options to Session. At the February 9 meeting Session will present to the congregation this research, the option it feels is best for PCJH, and the rationale behind that option. It is the responsibility of the congregation to discuss and vote on its desired direction.
With the importance of this coming congregational meeting I need to remind you about a couple central elements within a Presbyterian congregation:
1. Presbyterians do things in a “fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 15:40). Prayer and dialogue are central to this process. We believe God directs his people as we pray, talk, discern and vote on how we believe the Holy Spirit is leading. Prepare for the future in prayer.
2. Only those who are ‘Active Members’ of the church have a voice and vote at meetings. An ‘Affiliate Member’ can attend and speak but not vote. An ‘Inactive’ or ‘Non-member’ is welcome to attend and listen. If you are not an ‘Active Member’ and have considered being one there will be a Church Information Class Thursday, February 6, 5:30 pm.
And what will the Hayden’s do next? God has yet to reveal this portion of our journey. In March I will be completing my second week of Interim Pastoral Training, a special program to help churches that are in transition. We feel God may be calling us to this unique ministry. In addition, if a church does approach us to serve we would prayerfully consider that possibility. Regardless, we will be completing our ministry at PCJH on or before August 31, 2014 but not sooner than May 15. Please keep us in prayer as this chapter of life comes to completion and we seek God’s leading as to what is next.
Finally, Terri and I have been privileged to live in Jackson Hole and honored to serve you, the people of PCJH and the broader community. With many of you we have become friends and with some we have become family. We have been blessed to be part of the work God has developed in and through this congregation. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your life, for the many ways you have supported us, and for your participation in advancing God’s Kingdom in and through PCJH.
January 1, 2014
Last evening, New Year’s Eve, Terri and I met some friends at the Four Seasons for hors de voures, conversation, and listening to some good music (Isaac Hayden if any of you want to look him up). It was great watching the Four Season’s crowd as they came in from a fun day of skiing or arrived for an early drink prior to some big New Year’s Eve bash.
Part of the festivities as “The Village” was the annual torch light parade down the mountain. First came the children with their little flashlights. Then came the adults with their flares blazing. It seemed like hundreds of skiers with flares wove their way down the Teewinot run. The crowd cheered amidst the beauty of the stream of lights. The final celebration came with a fireworks display. What fun.
As I was watching the parade from the warm confines of the lounge I saw that snow had began to fall. I thought what a joyful sight for this evening. The mountain had been a bit icy and as in most ski towns, when there hasn’t been fresh snow for a while, things also turn a little bit dirt brown. By the time we left the village and headed back into town for dinner the wind was blowing and the fresh white stuff was covering the ground.
New Year morning, 2014. I got up today with a sea of freshly fallen snow surrounding the house. It is always a spectacular scene. The foot prints of our little dog are filled in and covered. The branches of the trees surrounding the house carry the weight of the evening’s blessing. The snow on the deck railing revealed that it had only been an inch or two that we had received down on the valley floor, but that inch or two had done its transformative work.
The start of a new year can be like a freshly fallen snow. It is a new beginning. It carries with it the possibilities of something new and beautiful. I am reminded of that wonderful verse from Isaiah 1:18:
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though you sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
The grace of God given us in and through Jesus Christ transforms our souls like the snow transforms the landscape. What a beautiful work it is. But, God’s grace does even more. The dirt and grime is only hidden underneath the newly fallen snow. When it melts the dirt is seen again. The season that follows winter is “mud season” when that which was hidden is revealed and must be dealt with. Contrast this to Jesus who is the one who “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). David understood this when he said:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11, 12.
May God through Jesus send the fresh, purifying snowfall of his grace upon you this new year and may your life, your behaviors, attitude, and motivations, be whiter than snow in 2014.
Happy New Year. Pastor Paul
Dear Members and Friends of PCJH:
It is with great joy that I share with you the news of a gift that has been given to the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole. Pike Sullivan, the husband of one of our members, Susan, died and left PCJH a portion of his estate. The amount is significant, approximately $600,000 this year and a similar amount next year. What a tremendous affirmation of the ministry and mission of this church.
With blessing comes responsibility. Large gifts can be divisive within any organization, especially one as diverse as our church. Such gifts can also undermine the ongoing giving because of the perception that smaller gifts are no longer needed. Because of these realities, your leaders (The Elders together with the Finance and Stewardship Teams) have spent time with each other in prayer and dialogue for discernment how we believe God would have us use this gift. As a result of this process the Elders accepted the following unanimous recommendation of the Finance Team:
The Finance Team of the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole unanimously recommends to the Board of Elders/Trustees that the first installment of the Pike Sullivan bequest of $600,000 be used as follows:
Repayment of Promissory Notes to members of the congregation $450,000 (1)
Repayment of non-interest bearing loan from Christian Foundation 100,000 (2)
Total “Repayment of Debt” 550,000
Matching fund challenge for CY&F vehicle purchase 50,000 (3)
Total Uses for first installment of Sullivan Gift $600,000
Additionally, the intent of the Finance Team is to recommend a tithe of 10% of the overall gift to the Mission/Outreach activities of PCJH.
This wise decision and the discussion that underpins it reflect at least three principles to guide the use of extra-ordinary gifts when given to PCJH (including the 2nd portion of the Sullivan gift).
1. Pay off debt following the scriptural instruction of Romans 13:8 which says:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
Benefit: No “next” capital funds campaign as had been planned;
Save the church about $25,000 a year in interest payments;
Provide a “clean slate” as we define and implement our Long Range Plan;
Prayerfully define ways to “love one another and our fellowman.”
2. Tithe 10% for mission beyond the church following the example of Malachi 3:6-10.
Benefit: Set an example as to how we believe God wants us to steward his money;
Bless our community and the world as God has blessed us.
3. Unless specifically designated, use special gifts to move the ministry and mission of PCJH into the future, not to fund the annual operating budget.
Benefit: Planting the seeds that will grow the ministry and mission of the church.
I pray that you will give thanks with me for this wonderful gift. I also pray that you will see the need to continue to support the general operating budget of this church so that the ministry and mission to which God has called us will touch our congregation, community, and world as we Gather, Grow, and Go.
Serving our Lord with you,
1 PCJH members loaned the congregation money so we might pay off the 6% construction loan to our bank. This action saved PCJH about $70,000 per year in interest payments. Some of the promissory notes have already been paid by pledges/gifts to our facility fund. Others have been forgiven as certain families contributions to the capital campaign. This figure represents the remaining amount of money loaned to PCJH members.
2 A Christian Foundation which believes in the ministry and mission of PCJH loaned us $700,000 in 2007 (at no interest) to assist in the construction of the Christian Education wing, the Dalquist Chapel, and the remodeling of the sanctuary. $200,000 remains to be paid, half this year and half next. This line item reflects this year’s payment.
3 Part of our mission beyond the church and within the community revolves around our Children, Youth and Family programs. We have been made aware that our 15-passenger vans have become illegal within the Wyoming public school districts for transportation of children and youth because of safety reasons (vulnerable to rolling, etc.). Churches, private schools, colleges and universities are exempt from this law. We are choosing to address this safety issue by designating the remaining $50,000 toward the purchase of “safe vehicles” and challenge the congregation to match that amount with extra-commitment gifts.
…and thanks to all of you for your prayers and support as Terri and I spent our two months away in Scotland. It was a great trip. We experienced beautiful scenery, centuries of history (castle upon castle upon castle), tremendous art, interesting people, good local music, and the presence of the Lord. Not a bad trip you might say!
On the pastoral front it is always risky turning the preaching and teaching over to a person you have only met by e-mail. Four things made me feel comfortable in inviting Rev. Stevenson to do this exchange: The doctrinal similarities of the Reformed Faith in our denomination and the Church of Scotland; The newsletter of the Dunbar Parish Church that reflected their activity, Christ-centeredness, Biblical orientation, and dynamic; The level of comfort knowing Pastor Ben would be present, leading the congregation in my absence (true to form, Ben did a great job); the sovereignty of God. I firmly believe that when God is in charge great things will happen.
And what did Terri and I learn from the people of Dunbar Parish Church which we served?
1. People rich in faith. The people we met loved God and loved their neighbors.
2. People of prayer. Whether in homes or before services at the church we shared in a number of wonderful times of prayer.
3. People who are the history of the church. I became very aware of the reality ministers come and go, but, God’s people carry God’s work forward.
4. Hospitality is a spiritual gift and when lived can make people feel at home regardless of the differences.
5. We grow in many ways when we are will to take a risk, branch out of our comfort zone and try something different.
Did we see areas where there might be room to grow? Absolutely…just like at PCJH. When we stop growing we start dying. When we stop seeing the needs around us we stop being involved in our community. When we stop wanting to reach out and touch one another and care for our neighbor we stop loving. There is always a new generation to reach with the good news of the gospel. As some people say, “The best is yet to come.”
Once again, thank you for allow this exchange to take place.
When Terri and I returned from Scotland, in addition to all the adjustments of time, scenery, temperature, I felt the change in season. I have come to expect that change beginning those early mornings of Teton County Fair. The air is just a little bit more crisp and the darkness of the evening comes just a bit earlier with each passing day. The change signals that slow progression from summer to winter, the season we call Fall. It is an exciting time filled with lots of color but always transition.
As this Fall begins we are going to see some wonderful changes at PCJH. New children will arrive in our Little Lambs Pre-school. We will hear new music from our choir. Ben and I will be preaching textually as well as topically from the Book of Romans through the Fall and Winter. We will receive new members into the life of the church.
Maybe the biggest change will be in the ministry that our newest staff member, Ricky Emerlyn will bring to us. Ricky, Jody and the kids come to us from 13 years of ministry with “Youth With A Mission” (YWAM) where they have led missions in 50+ countries around the world and helped people deepen their walk with the Lord. As Director of Discipleship for Children Youth and Families we are opening the door for Ricky to do that in our congregation. Ricky has a heart to see people grow to know and follow Jesus. As part of the staff team we are asking him to assist us all in the deepening of our faith as well. What a great school year awaits us as we Gather, Grow, and Go.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
August 1, 2013
Shoes that fit.
When I was younger (OK, much younger) I played a bit of baseball. In fact, I loved baseball and to this day I catch glimpses or smells that transport me back to those younger days. I remember the smell of a man who smoked cigars at almost every little league game. There are times when I smell a cigar and if I am stepping just right I become 12 years old in my mind. Amazing how our smells can elicit such strong memories.
One baseball experience I had came from a friend who taught me how to break in baseball cleats. For you who have never worn baseball cleats it can be an awkward experience. My ankles are scarred from where the cleats hit my feet during those first days of spring training each year. Anyway, this friend told me to put on my cleats on a warm Saturday, step in to a bucket of water, soak the shoes, tie them relatively tight, and then spend the day in the shoes. “Let them dry to your foot,” he said. Personally, I thought the guy was crazy but also thought it might help. Long story short, it was the best fitting pair of shoes I had ever worn. They had dried shaped to my foot.
Several words of caution. 1) Do not do this during winter in Jackson Hole. 2) Only do this if you have the financial resources to buy another pair of shoes just in case it does not work for you. 3) Only do this if you have the time to allow the shoes to conform to your foot.
So, what is it like returning to Jackson Hole after having been gone for nearly 2 months? In many ways it is like stepping into a pair of shoes that have been conformed to my feet. Home is home. Gordon and Gail Stevenson did a wonderful job cleaning it in preparation for their departure and our return (I can only hope we did as well). The computers work, the car works, the television works, the stereo system is fine, the art work is still in place, the bed is still comfy, we have returned to our home. Shoes that fit.
We went by church yesterday and it had thrived under Pastor Ben’s marvelous leadership and grown under Gordon’s inspirational instruction. As Terri and I walked in we were greeted by Bill Hungate and Jo Holton, familiar faces and good friends. The chairs were in their same rows, new photos of Tierra Nueva had been added to the mission wall, the baptismal pictures on the hall wall were still the same (even though someone had suggested taking pictures of Gordon and pasting his head over mine), the JOY program was still being run effectively,… It felt right. Shoes that fit.
We drove into town and it was the same. The town was busy with tourists, road construction, yet remarkably green from summer thunderstorms. We went to the Post Office and went to the same mail boxes with the same solicitations and a few notes from friends. We went to China Town for lunch with Cameron and there saw the same staff and a few familiar faces. The home, the town, the church where we have spent so much of life are shoes that fit.
Here is what is remarkable to me, in 5 weeks Terri and I felt the same fit beginning to form in Dunbar. We started to call “The Manse,” home. We started seeing friends on the street and saying hello. Terri even went into Edinburgh one day with a couple of the girls and while walking through a store heard her name called, by a new friend from the church. Roundabouts had become easy. Driving on the left hand side of the road didn’t feel so much like the “wrong side” of the road. We had jumped into our new community with both feet, gotten our shoes wet and they had begun to conform and become comfortable. They were becoming shoes that fit.
Maybe there is a truth here that we need to recognize: If you can jump in with both feet there will be a fit. If you find that a fit is not happening then it probably is the wrong place or the wrong time.
Maybe there is a spiritual truth here we need to recognize as well. I am reminded of Jesus’ words in John 15:7.
If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you may ask whatever you will and it will be done for you.
That word “abide” means fit, like a foot in a shoe. My foot had to abide in those cleats in that risky and initially an uncomfortable process. But, no matter how new and uncomfortable, as the shoe began to dry it became conformed to my foot with shoe and foot becoming teammates.
In Romans 8:29 the Apostle Paul used a very Presbyterian/Church of Scotland word, predestined. Even though I believe this word is often misused or not understood, in this verse it has a powerful message for understanding God’s goal of what it means to allow the foot of God, Jesus, to be inserted into the shoe of our lives. Here is what he says:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
How do we become conformed “to the likeness of God’s son?” by jumping in, by abiding, by allowing Jesus to put his foot into the soul of our lives and letting our shoe become conformed to his image.
May we become a shoe that fits onto the foot of our Lord.
23 July 2013
When someone plans a trip like Terri and I have been on these past 8 weeks there is no way to know what will transpire. We had our list of places we wanted to see. We had our anticipations of experiences we wanted to have. We knew we only had so much time to travel and I knew I had certain responsibilities to fulfill. These ‘knowns’ were like the outline of a paint-by-number sketch. The actual colors that get filled in between those lines are an unknown until the artist picks up the brush and begins to paint, or in our case, your feet hit the ground and the rubber meets the road, and the experiences begin to happen.
We have had so many wonderful experiences in Scotland it will be hard to recount them all. Terri and I know that it will take us a while to process the many turns in the roads, scenic views, moments of laughter and the joyful surprises, and the incidents that took our breaths away either because of the beauty or because of the terror. We understand that our friends and family back in Jackson and beyond will have a polite tolerance for the short version of our Scotland time. We understand that most of what we have experienced will be lodged between our souls and be part of the glue that solidifies the foundation of our first ten years of marriage upon which we build our next years of life together.
One of the blessings that Terri and I have experienced is that of being a pastoral husband and wife team. It is not that we are not a team in Jackson, but, because our marriage started half way through my tenure at PCJH, and because she works full-time at the hospital, it is just different. People here have only known us as a pastoral team. We have learned a good deal about how we work and how well we work together. Truly this has been a great blessing.
Dunbar is a wonderful community in a beautiful country. Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a beautiful region of a great country and a wonderful community. We have been blessed to experience both. In addition, like many of us, over the years I have been blessed to see many incredible landscapes, vistas, in various places around our globe. However, what I have discovered holds me to a place is not the natural beauty but the people. It is the people of the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole and the Jackson Hole community to whom I anticipate returning. We have shared a great deal together. You have taught me more than I will ever be able to express about the love and grace of God, the dreaming and pursuing of visions, seeing dreams become reality, and the practical ways of sharing God’s love through Jesus Christ with our neighbors and friends as we pass on the faith and inviting them in.
It is the people of Dunbar that I will miss more than anything else. They have been warm, generous, and patient with us foreigners. They have been open and even desirous to experience new thoughts and new ways. They have shared their homes and their families, shared their food and their faith, and shared times of prayer and worship. We have been able to laugh together and do some recreating together. They have shared with us the stories of their lives, the history of their community and treated us as honored guests. We have felt the love of Jesus Christ in their presence.
It is the people that make saying good-bye difficult. All I can say and Terri along with me can say is, “Thank you, Dunbar and Dunbar Parish Church, for welcoming us in. We will take you with us as we return to the United States and wherever we go you will be in our hearts. May God continue to richly bless you as you walk with Him.”
15 July 2013
Terri and I have learned a great deal about distance during these past few weeks. On the surface of things, mileage around the nation of Scotland is quite small. Scotland is about 1/3 the land mass of Wyoming. Even though it has 10 times as many people, the bulk of the population are located in the urban corridor between Edinburgh and Glasgow with a few large smatterings in the East around Aberdeen, the North around Inverness, and the South around Dumfries. With the exception of a few 4 lane highways that connect the major areas all other travel revolves around two lane roads with few shoulders. The result is that even though the distance between areas is relatively short the travel time can be quite long.
Not only have we learned about the distance around a nation we have also learned about the distance between people. I have now conducted three worship services at Dunbar Parish Church. I have felt the presence of God during our times of worship. The exciting part of worship has been seeing the folks with whom I have been able to connect with the message that God has given me to proclaim. The distance of different cultures and different dialects of the same language has been bridge by the Spirit of God.
What has aided the shrinking of the cultural distance has been the personal contact with people outside of the church setting. What a joy to spend time with the McDonalds and the Mannings, the Weavers and the O’briens, the Pattersons and the Coulharts. It is with joy that we anticipate getting to know the Wrights and the Hasties and the Hardies and Rev. Twaddle and the list continue to grow. It is in the moments driving to see the sites or visiting over dinner or tea that the distance between American and Scotsman, pastor and lay person diminishes. We get to know each other.
Distance is not only geographic and interpersonal. There are spiritual overtones when it comes to distance as well. I remember a person talking with me about the feeling that God was distant and the prayers offered simply “bounced off the ceiling.” Those moments when intimacy with God is felt are so incredible. The incredible distance between us and God when it feels that God is silent can seem so vast.
This week I am especially feeling the distance between Dunbar and Jackson. I guess it is not uncommon as children grow, go off to college, and start lives on their own, that distance begins to play a major role in the relationship. Yes, texting and the ‘telie’ are helpful, but, they are usually short lived. When coming to Scotland I chose to leave my cell phone at home because I couldn’t get international coverage on the old Blackberry. I told my boys, “Emergencies only and dial Terri’s number.” I didn’t realize the distance I would feel, especially when Cameron called with the news that his girlfriend’s father had died.
I guess the distance is augmented by the fact that Isaac, my eldest, is in Jackson this week with his friends The Collective out of Nashville, Tennessee. They are going to be putting on a concert at Walk Festival Hall at Teton Village. The 5,000 miles that separate us is huge. I will not be able to attend. I knew that being far away, experiencing this incredible land and brilliant people would have a price, but I didn’t anticipate the feelings that distance might produce.
And so on this 15th day of July, 2013, I simply want to say from this great distance: “Isaac, my heart is with you and I am proud of your passion and work to follow your dream. I am proud of you. I love you, son.”
9 July 2013
This week Terri and I are living in St. Andrews, Scotland, the home of golf. No, I am not here to play golf. Truth be told, my handicap does not allow me to play on the Old Course. When asked what my handicap is I usually reply, “I am one.” None the less, we have been to the course, walked across “The Bridge,” eaten dinner at the Old Course Hotel, and enjoyed the atmosphere of this ancient and historic town.
I will allow Terri to put into her own blog her activities during this week but I am attending the international conference for The Society of Biblical Literature. The course work is organized topically. My focus has been in the New Testament shifting between topics on Peter, Paul, John, and biblical leadership. Each section is three hours long. Within that time there are six twenty minute presentations followed by a five minute discussion. Usually there is a half-hour break in the middle of the session for refreshments and further conversation. All-in-all I have attended 28 sessions with 18 more to go. My brain is full.
Who are the folks who make these 20 minute presentations? In most cases the presenters are professors of the Bible at university level or theologians from various seminaries worldwide. In many cases these individuals have developed a focus which they have pursued for a lifetime. One presenter is writing his 4th book on the Gospel of John with three more in the queue. I have also listened to a few presenters who are in the midst of their PhD studies and are sharing their findings on their doctoral projects.
Here is another way of looking at it. There have been a number of days on our trip where Terri and I have elected to have a lunch of peanut butter and crackers. We came across an article in some of our shared readings that reminded us of George Washington Carver who discovered many uses of the peanut and became an expert in the field. In the years of his research he discovered over 300 uses of peanuts, including everything from peanut butter to glue to shaving cream to soap to insecticides to linoleum to Worcestershire sauce. He was invited to talk to The House Ways and Means Committee on behalf of the United Peanut Association of America on his discoveries of peanuts and was given ten minutes. After speaking for an hour and forty minutes the committee told him he could come back whenever he wanted and take as much time as he needed.
These scholars are the George Washington Carvers of the Bible. Sometimes their interest is a single word (this morning there was a whole dialogue on the use and meaning of “glory” in the book of Romans). Sometimes it is one book of the Bible (although hearing 6 lectures on various aspects of the letter of 1 John was a bit more than I could handle). Sometimes there is the tackling of a theme such as leadership (this has been the least satisfying since it is presented by people who are scholars and not necessarily leaders. Theory verse experience). Whatever the focus may be, they are working to discover the 300 meanings within the texts and they are here to share their progress and their findings. Everyone I have listened to presents in English which is not always their first language. They tend to fill their 20 minutes with as much information about their process and their findings from hundreds of hours of research. Listening is hard work.
Did George Washington Carver eat peanut butter or, after all his studying, was it the last thing on his dietary wish list? In general what I have seen are people who are deeply devoted to understanding the peanut of God’s Word. They are committed to learning what the Bible says within the context and language of the day. They want to talk about how a text was shaped by the culture within the Christian community as well as by the secular society. These men and women know the scriptures and can discuss a theme and most passages related to it not only from the English text but also the Greek. Their knowledge of the scriptures is awe-inspiring.
Do they know the peanut or simply know about the peanut? Do they believe in the One the scriptures are talking about? To be honest, faith sharing is not the focus of this conference. People are not here to share their personal testimonies. However, in general I would say yes. There are certain ones who leave you know doubt. You can feel their passion and sense their love for the Lord. There are others from whom you feel it is such an academic exercise that faith does not need to be a part of it.
Does the information I have been gathering directly apply to life as a pastor and teacher? Well, not always. In one of the classes an attendee asked what I thought was a very practical question as to how one could apply the information that had been provided to real circumstances in life. The presenter responded by saying, “What, you want me to write your Sunday sermon for you?” There is a gap between the information given and applying it to everyday life. In another class, an insightful presentation was made on the physiology of leadership within the Greco-Roman world and its’ impact upon the tension between Paul and the church leaders displayed in 2 Corinthians 10-13 (yeowy). I raised my hand and commented on the parallelism to the 21st century (a profound insight I thought) and the teacher brightened up and said, “Wow, I have never thought of that.”
Getting the peanut from the laboratory to the grocery store is a challenge. Making research accessible to the consumer takes work. To say it another way, it is still the responsibility of the pastor/teacher to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
July 6, 2013
This week Terri and I put on more miles than we had anticipated. On Wednesday we drove from Dunbar south toward Dumfries. We had anticipated hiking, but, the tiny roads took longer than we had anticipated. In addition we had watched a BBC special on Sir Walter Scott and the opening of his restored home at Abbotsford. So, we tried to find it, went there, and then discovered it was closed because the Queen was there providing its official grand opening. We told the guards that we were friends but they wouldn’t believe us. Of all things. We then headed south, ended up going to Carlisle, England, didn’t like the city, and headed back to Scotland. 10 hour on the road was longer than we had anticipated or liked.
With the exceptions of cities, it seems that everywhere we turn we are in the midst of scenic wonderful. This time of year is incredibly green. We have seen cows, horses, lots of dogs and especially sheep. We have watched little lambs seemingly grow before our eyes. We have watched their elders go from having a full head of hair (OK, wool) to being nicely sheered, to starting to grow yet again. We have learned that Scotland has 62 breeds of sheep, more than any other country in the world (Australia has only 2). We have learned that there are more sheep in Scotland than people, I would guess well beyond the 5 million inhabitants (I’ve counted at least that many). We have learned that the wool industry in Scotland is hurting. One town we visited has lost 17 woolen mills in the last few decades. The low cost of labor in Indian and China has made competition unbearable.
When you are traveling over an extended period of time, one of the things that begins to develop is you begin to have inside jokes. Years back Terri and I watched the wonderful Pixar movie, UP. If you have never seen it, you should. One of the comical moments in the movie involves the dogs of the bad guy (it seems there is always a bad guy in kids movies). The dogs always seem to become distracted by squirrels. A squirrel didn’t even have to be present. All you had to do was utter the word SQUIRREL and the dog’s focus would shift. Terri and my word has become SHEEP. When we come around a corner on a road and see a hillside with many sheep nibbling on the grass one or the other of us will say, “SHEEP.” Yesterday we were driving on a small country road, came around a corner, and there were sheep standing in the center of the one lane and we said, “Oh, SHEEP” as I quickly stepped on the brakes.
When we first saw these cute little wonders of creation we thought about pulling over and taking pictures of each little beauty. Quite a few times we did. Now, we just say the word and scoot on by. SHEEP have begun to blend in to the world as we know it. No longer special.. No longer unique. They are JUST sheep.
I was thinking yesterday (or was it Thursday? Days and SHEEP seem to blur together) about the times that Jesus called his disciple’s sheep. John 10 is especially poignant…
“My sheep hear my voice and know me and they follow me”
“I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for the sheep”
…and I wondered, “Do we just begin to blend into Jesus’ world? No longer special? No longer unique? JUST sheep?” And I wondered, “Does Jesus get tired of trying to step around the fertilizer we leave on the trail (let the reader understand)? And I wondered, “Does Jesus agonize when we who were created to produce wool but have become irrelevant and are only good for mutton?”
The Lord is MY shepherd….