"Sometimes we expreince a terrible dryness in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, don't experience God's presence, get bored with worship service, and even think that everything we believed about God , Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is litle more than a childhod fairy tale..." Henri Nouwen
Readers of the blog I don't know where you are on your journey this day, but some of us might find ourselves in one of the locations mentioned above or any combination of them all. Being a person of faith does not mean you will always have it al together. In fact, in those times of dryness, it is important for each one of us to know God is still amongst us and with us.
Like those two sets of footprints which are reduced to one, this is when God was caring you or me. My fellow traveler's on this sabbatical journey or those who are walking the path under another guide, know that dryness is another opportunity to be directed by your God. I wish for you these awe inspirimg pictures for your spirt location. They certainly impacted me!
My friends of the blog,
I write you this morning as you will be asleep, I have gotten up at 5:30am to go out on a safari. So good day to one and all! The pictures will tell part of the story, enjoy!
Wow, what a day as we spent time touring Johannesburg this day. It was a truly emotional day of highs and lows. We went to the Arparteid museum and the Catholic Church, where Nelson Mandela once danced too. I placed my feet where he stood and saw the bullet holes in the sanctuary. The family was moved deeply by our expreince together this day. Our guide and new friend Zack, was open and left nothing out. We were very appreciateive. So I send these pictures to help you capture a taste.
I send you greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa. The family has crossed the ocean and arrived safely to the other sde. Our official activities do not begin until tommorrow and that is a good thing. We are tired from the rushed final preparations and the flight too. I never knew how small planes were till riding on one for fifteen hours. It was a smooth and uneventful flight. Yet my enthusiasm for being here still draws me to take in all I can even though some rest should be on the aenda.
Some signs of our location,
Some final pictures from an enriching discover of reading, exploring and renewal in St. Louis!
WHO IS THE NEIGHBOR?
"Love your neighbor as yourself" this is what the Gospel says (Matthew 22:38). My sisters and brothers, love is always an action word, which means we must physically do something about this call given to us. However who is our neighbor? Was it the Rawndans in power some twenty years ago who committed genocide as a nation, meanwhile voices who knew went silent. Were those who died not our neighbor too? Today as I am on sabbatical and knowing the thousands of refugee children needing assistance and some loud voices saying, No! These five words speak volumes to the text for me. "Who is my neighbor."
As Henri Nowen makes clear when one looks at Luke 10:29-37 "The neighor, Jesus makes clear, is not the poor man layng on the side of the street, srtipped, beaten, and half dead, but the Samaritan who crossed the road, 'bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them...lifted him unto his own mount and took him to an Inn and looked after him.' My neighbor is the one who crosses the road for me!"
This reflection was cemented as I worshiped at Second Baptist Church, of St. Louis, this Sunday. It is a beautiful santuary, extremely warm folks and I had a glorious time of prayer, praise and feeling the presence of the spirit in this place. They've made a conscious effort in so many ways to live out their faith and the one which met me at the door, lived itself out in worship and warmed my heart, was their Burmese members inclusion in their church. The may not have gone to Burma, however, when the Burmese arrived they certainly walked over to welcome them in. (Everyone worships together at 10:30, but the Burmese had a worship before and after the central service.)
I cannot place my awakening this day all in words to you, but sufice it to say, the spirit and mission of the church can and must cross the street. Saying yes will not be easy, yet loving has to be the focus of our listening and obeying. I hope as you continue on your journey and I on mine, we will seek the renewal God desires of us at Webster. I am unabashedly willing to cross the road!
My friends this day I had the distinct honor of walking, talking and meditting at the famous Missouri Botanical Gardens with Rev. LeBarre. When one is in the presence of these surroundings, I personally found myself open to my deeply rooted faith, God is still working.
Watching the families stroll through, even as young as eght weeks old, or the children in their matching shirts to identify themselves as a group brought a gentle warmth to me. These were all the Lord's people out to see somthing new! I say that becuase what I found out was this massive garden is constantly changing. There are somethings which do not, like the buildings, but inside and outside grounds will be different should I come back in year or longer from now to visit.
So as we spent almost 4 hours together, only getting through about a 1/4 of the grounds, we reintroduced ourseves telling stories of connections, sharing insights of God's direction and work in our lives. Our focus covered our inner cities, suburbs and the church of both locations as faithful people are faced with a different world than we all once knew. Yet God is still speaking, calling us to be the change in our place of worship and outside the walls of structure which can prevent us from living fuly into the kingdom of God for our time. Leaving this conversation, I wanted more and we will have another day, thanks be to God.
Arial view of my arrival into St. Louis yesterday!
This is my view each day looking out from my room from the graph table desk. I love it!
This is Goose, who has welcomed me into his home while Allison has remained shy and distant.
And among all this, I took a train/bus ride seeing West St. Louis to meet Rev. Glynis Labarre and her husband Ken over a fantastic meal.
It has been a good start to this next portion of the journey.