|Webster Baptist Church||
People of the blog, since my last post the work of being re-acclomated with home and Barbara has begun. Catching up on everything means starting the list of projects which have been waiting. I have attached some of the pictures as proof. In between I have made time to take walks with God at different locations, one of which I share with you.
People of the Blog, it is my first full day back home in Rochester and it feels good to be home! I continue to reflect on my sabbatical journey for these next few weeks as I connect with Barbara, our children and my excited return to Webster Baptist Church. As you have probably figured out a long time ago this has been a life changing expreince for me from the very beginning. All along I have felt so blessed in this adventure from the moment the presentation of sabbatical was first made. The word at the very beginmig of which I could not claim throughout this joourney was spoken in my Alban reading this morning, "aspire". Indeed from the very beginning this sabbatical was about reaching for renewal of spirit and mission for me. However to aspire was not to simply dream but to take action.
The article speaks to the dreams, hopes or wishes of most folks in the congregation who attend, but there is no active realization becuase we live only in the place of aspiring. In other words getting out of the box, being open to change, taking a risk or stepping out of ones comfort zones, is difficult. It is much easier to live in aspiring becuase you do not have to change or do anything differently. And yet here we are near the end of our sabbatical and this intentional time apart and I can say for me this has been more than aspiration to me. I have and continue to learn from the many books I have read, asking the question what is God saying to me. I have seen the poverty in St. Louis along with the beauty of the city still asking what should I be doing next. And words cannot decribe the many highs and lows of being in South Africa without asking myself, how and what ways am I to change so my ministerial leadership will meet the needs of today?
Therefore, I challenge myself with God's help to do more than aspire with our neighbors at Wilmorite Park by seeking these neighbors out to check in when I return. I plan to have diologue with our Police Chief, asking what I or we as a church can do to improve relations with the issues betwen citizens and law endorcement so relevent. While I take pride in the many community connections you and I make as a church, what ways might our building be more of a place of outreach or in-reach as sister Bill's might say. My friends a shack church offered space that 250 to 300 hundred children got a meal four days a week! And yes we need to have conversations about race becuase this year more than any other the church needs to be a place of actionable diologue on this issue.
You and I have got to move from simply aspiring to changing for the time and place we are in today. Two of the churches I visited and preached in their houses would like to engage in some form of partnership. So I asked what would this look like and they both said missional exchanges. Yes some of them coming here and some of us going there. This aspiration can be a reality becuase relationships have been formed. So I ask whatever you have been aspiring to happen let's do so in Jesus name as we join our experiences together once again, shortly.
People of the blog, my time at Silver Bay ends tomorrow. This place has been a good location for rest in reflecting at moments about my recent sojourn from South Africa, along with the attending a family reunion and now the process of being home again. This time of sabbatical has been a good start for me to focus on some of the "takeways," yet I know this is just the beginning of my refreshing return. I share some final pieces of this part of the journey.
People of the blog, this was a cool but sunny day in the Adirondacks. So here are some are of my happenings for this Friday.
People of the blog, I send you pictures from my present location at Silver Bay YMCA. I will be here reading and reflecting for the next week. The drive down yesterday was a gorgeous day for a drive through the mountians. I wuold arrive at the opening before you and the picturesque views would simply continue. I look forward to my reading and meditation times during my stay throughout the week.
People of the blog, I know today was Sunday and yet it was yesterday that I had one of those amazingly spiritual times. Barbara and I have had a good Sunday as we have driven back from Elkart, Indiana. The sky was filled with white puffy clouds, a warm sun and wonderful day for a drive, but my center was the winds which poured through the day yesterday. Folks, we went to the Adell and Drew Moore Family Reunion. I am talking about the decedent's of my mother's parent's coming together as they were able to make it and what a time it was!
I was not going to attend becuase I felt I would be tired and jet lagged from my return flight from South Africa on Wednesday, I was. However there was something compelling me to make thie trip. So I told Barbara we shoould go and she agreed. I was totally blessed as 6 of my 8 living aunts were there along with members of their families. Four of my siblings and there families and a huge host of cousins made the day something really special. The laughter, dancing, food, and sharing of affection between one another had me just looking at the relatives I knew and the ones I just met and saying wow! These are amazing folks, doing fantastic things and I was so proud! I could not take it all in till Barbara and I were driivng home and the reflections poured over me again and again.
I hope we will gather next year as some dream this future. Yet today I claim the Holiness of yesterday's gift to me and I my willingness to make the journey. I hope you had a spiritual time sometime this past weekend.
People of the blog, I have made it safely back to Rochester from Cape Town, South Africa! While the sabbatical journey yet continues for a bit longer, I could not help pondering the word, "takeaway." This word for South Africans often means grabbing a quick snack, sandwich or drink as you continue on your path or you could sit too. The expression is much richer and deeper than our fast food mentality and the quisine choices are more healthier, to me. I was reminded throughout my time in South Africa of the simple phrase "takeaways," thus this expression has been with me since I boarded a plane at 8:30 am Tuseday, Rochester time, till I arrived Wednesday at 9:30 am yesterday. And one of my takeaways is "bless."
Henri Nowen writes, "Too bless means to say good things. We have to bless one another constantly, Parents need to bless their children, Children their parents, husbands their wives. and wives their husbands, friends their friends. In our society, so full of curses, we must fill each place we enter with our blessings. We forget so quickly that we are God's beloved children and allow the many curses of our world to darken our hearts. Therefore we have to be reminded of our belovedness and remind others of theirs too. Whether the blessing is given in words or with gestures, in a solemn or an informal way, our lives need to be blessed lives." I know this to be true of the many expreinces of South Africa I'll process for a longtime to come.
The pictures are the expressions of blessing I received from the men and women of my favorite coffe spot, "Bean There." We became a family in only a month sharing in one another's joys and sorrows. They blessed me everytime we met with smiles, warmth, honesty, friendship and their faith. Yes, I did likewise with them as they all want to come visit WBC and the family. Yet as I told them on Tuesday morning, I recieved far more from them. And then there was the plane ride home when a woman and a man were seated one with me and one behind me. In quick conversation I found they were husband and wife, I offered to move from my seat so they could sit together. They were so thankful and only afterwards I found out they are expecting their first child. My people of the blog, whether at a South African coffee shop or on long plane ride , we are to bless one another, no matter what! This one of my many "takeaways."
People of the blog, tomorrow I began the journey back to the U.S.! Yes my time hear in South Africa has come to a close. While it has felt short, I have taken the full advantage given me to experience the resiliency of God's people, the devine beauty of this country and to worship in it all. Yesterday the sermon title was " Where is the love?" This challenging message was for those of us sitting in the pews!
And then today I would feel and see this love as Rev. Ross took me on a wonderfully guided cultural tour all the way to Camp Point. What a beautiful day for a drive. I would then be led by Bishop Mtini on a tour of Rainbow Educ-Care, a pre-school ministry, his wife and other church members of Siyuvili National Baptist are providing for young children. The stories I was privaledged to hear spoke richly to "Where is the love" in both sustantial and none -sustantial ways.
I have seen, experienced and been impacted by this very question throught my time here. I am positive I will continue traveling this questioning journey when I return. There was moments made for completing light reading too. Meanwhile the time to pack is now as the time has come.
People of the blog, here are scenes from my Friday. The sun setting over Signal Hill at the end of the day. The unique Zebra I pass each day walking out of
Bo-Kaap. Yes, I had fish and chips on Friday. You will get to see the beautiful shirt made for me in person when I get home. And Rose is the corner market where I picked up those in between food itiems.
A beautiful day to sit out on the patio. The warmed winter's sun of CapeTown, South Africa and lunch all done. It's grinning time!