A few weeks ago I blogged about the dead spot that the middle of summer can be. Well not long after that things started moving again. I was asked to do a funeral for a gentleman I did not know, but for whom after talking to the family and his friends it was a privilege to officiate at his service. I have been enjoying reading a good novel or two. My prayer life, through "Praying in Color" and saying the Daily Offices is keeping me more closely in tune with God and God's desires for my life. And this weekend I have the honor of attending a wedding and officiating at one the following day. So life is good.
Ever since I was a second year student in seminary, that's almost fifteen years now, I have been encouraged by professors, colleagues in ministry, and others to broaden and deepen my spirituality. I guess they encouraged me to do that because, as a former history major in college I tend to look at things from arm's length. Whereas those who have encouraged me and continue to know that for me to be an even better pastor I really have to have a deep relationship with God and not merely an awareness of who God is. It has taken me some time to appreciate the wisdom of their encouragement, but along the way I have learned some interesting things as well as developing a richer more fuller relationship with God's purpose, presence and power in my life.
One such practice is saying the "Daily Offices" (the times of daily prayer and worship services prescribed in the Roman Catholic Church and practiced in various ways by other Christian groups or churches). That definition comes from Donald McKim's "Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms"; it is a funny definition because it makes it seem as though saying daily prayer is foreign to anyone but Roman Catholics. And I suppose to many Presbyterians and other Protestants it may be something of which they are vaguely aware due to novels and movies. But what most Protestants may not beware of is that daily prayer is part of many worship books within various denominations.
For instance, in our own "Book of Common Worship" there are outlines for saying Morning, Midday, and Evening Prayer. We have been using the Evening Prayer format in our monthly Session meetings for the several months now. And even though that resource exists it can be quite cumbersome to pull out the Book of Common Worship, a Bible, and a list of the Daily Lectionary. Having to pull out several books has meant that for the past year or so I've kept one Daily Office sporadically throughout the week, a few times Monday through Friday and Sunday morning. But just the other day I purchased Phyllis Tickle's book "The Divine Hours" which pulls together several different resources into one book.
So this past weekend I started saying four daily offices: first between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.; second between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; third between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.; fourth before going to bed. Don't let those time spans deceive you, it isn't as though I've been praying for three hours at a time four times a day. Rather each office is between four and eight minutes in length. I have found it a very refreshing thing to do, to stop and pray; to stop and check in with God; throughout the day whether I am in the middle of reading a novel or having a water battle with Eric stopping to make time for God has been really good.
Please pray for me that I continue to make time for God and grow in this all-important relationship.
Despite the title of this post the day started much more sedate with Eric sleeping in while I said the "morning office" and got ready for church. After a breakfast of reheated waffles we made our way to 209 Fifth Avenue North for Eric's time with the child care worker and my own preparation for worship. Worship went fine with Eric sitting with two much older boys who helped him get through worship without me even noticing they were in the sanctuary.
After Fellowship time we went to Fred Meyer's for sandwiches and snack food, of which we have gone through an awful lot while Kathy has been in Sheridan for LOGOS. Then I filled up the kiddie pool and settled in with a novel expecting to pass the afternoon in peace. That is, until Eric pestered and pestered and pestered me to join in a water battle until I couldn't pass it up any longer.
So I grabbed one of his Super Soakers (one of three he received for his birthday last weekend) and surprised him by starting the battle without his permission. As to my secret plans that unfolded while I was reading, once my super-soaker ran dry I made my way to the hose and nozzle and unleashed what can only be described as water-battle field cannon fire. Eric was none too pleased in the middle of all his giggling at getting completely drenched. He was the only casualty until I allowed him his fare share of time at the controls of the field-water-cannon where he unleashed the fury of being too drenched upon his dear-old-dad. Needless to say he too drenched me to the bone when we decided that the battle came to a draw and we retired to the house for a change of clothes and a much more sedate form of recreation like watching a movie.
Saturday was a great day! Eric climbed into my bed around 6 a.m. but quickly fell back to sleep when he realized I wasn't quite ready to get up. That simple, but loving act of his really exemplified his whole attitude throughout the day. For example, the rest of the morning I needed to finish getting ready for Sunday worship by making final adjustments to the sermon, printing off a new copy and looking into Children's time all of which took a few hours and he graciously allowed me to get all of that done with occasional check-ins to see where the progress was.
We then got done with two of his birtday thank yous and made our way to Centennial Park for the Twin Falls County Democratic Party's picnic as guests of Chris and Cathy Talkington. Again, Eric could have easily melted down as it was well into the 90s and there were no other little boys his age and many adults instead. But somehow he made it through the lunch and a speech or two and through his good behavior and politeness walked away with an Obama Jigsaw puzzle in the raffle.
Though we were both tired or so I thought when we got home Eric asked to have the kiddie pool filled with water, which I did and he played for another two hours in the water as I read a novel, texted Kathy and then later talked with her on the phone. By the way, she and Wendy are having a good time and enjoyed their nine hour drive to Sheridan as well as meeting others and talking about LOGOS at the weekend's workshop.
So the whole Price family had a Saturday worthy of restful preparation for the work of a pastor's family on Sunday.
Kathy and Wendy left for Sheridan, Wyoming Friday morning at 5:30 a.m. (which meant Kathy got up around 4:30 which woke me as well) leaving me with a weekend with Eric. Fortunately for me, Eric didn't get out of bed until just a few minutes before I left for running and the baby sitter showed up.
We had a nice quiet morning of being in our separate corners, Eric played Legos and watched TV in the family room while I read my alternative history novel up stairs. We then did some errands including buying junk food, a card for my sister's birthday and going to the church to see if a package showed up for me. There was no package, but Eric played with Virginia while I checked email, packed a few things for the weekend then we headed home.
Eric enjoyed the free lunch in the park and playing while I enjoyed the shade of Sunrise Park and reading a Thoughtful Christian article on Benedictine Spirituality. Then we traipsed off for home where I had my lunch and I read for a little while longer. We then enjoyed about an hour and a half of the Wii stopping for gummy bears and gummy worms between levels after which Eric allowed me an hour nap to recoup after waking so early in the morning with Kathy.
Even though it was approaching 95 degrees when I woke up Eric still wanted to roast polish sausage over the fire pit so off we were once again, this time walking to Smith's to buy firewood and marshmallows. So dinner was a nice quiet affair after which we played the Wii again for an hour or so before heading to bed and starting to read "The Adventures of Captain Underpants."
It was a really nice way to start a weekend of the boys. Hopefully today will go as smoothly.
Yes its the middle of the summer and I'm feeling lost in the midst of a wide open stretch of windless water, a bit ironic I must admit as yesterday's winds in the Magic Valley were gusting above 30 miles per hour. It's not that I'm bored or that there is nothing to do, not with a week and a half of evenings full of meetings or social and family times coming up. No, it's more about being between the wonderful things that have happened over the past few weeks in worship and things that are unfolding over the next month or so.
In the midst of this low time I pulled out a resource about Sabbaticals, as you may know I'm eligible for one in the summer of 2011. As I've been dreaming about that I've been following Jan Edmiston's blog, www.achurchofstarvingartists.com which is chronicling her sabbatical this summer. It is fun and interesting and eye opening all at the same time. She has visited with former members of the church she serves in Alexandria in places like Texas and Istanbul. She led a workshop at the conference I attended in North Carolina. She also blogged about church members not really understanding the sabbatical once she was gone. So I've picked up some ideas and hopefully will be able to implement them in the two years leading up to sabbatical.
I've also been using this in between time to practice some new prayer forms. One that I'm really excited about is "Praying in Color" by Sybil MacBeth. The basic idea is that many of us get hung up in prayer in trying to figure out what words to use, but this new prayer form encourages us to hold a person's name or a desire of our heart or even scripture before God and doodle, yes drawing shapes and using various colors, as a way of holding that person or idea before God in order to keep our mind from wondering. It has been a great way for me to pray with and for our congregation, especially in this in between time.
I've also been reading a lot of fiction, in particular alternative history. It has been a good escape without having to leave Twin Falls.
I'm sure this season of my heart will pass and the next few weeks of meetings, Eric's birthday, Kathy's trip to Sheridan, two weddings, and Kathy and Eric's trip to Seattle will ease me through the doldrums of the summer.
Recently my mother sent me an obituary, granted it is a rather strange thing to send someone, but in this case I was glad that my mother did so. The obituary is for Mary Landis, 84, of Lititz who passed away on June 27, 2009.
Mary Landis is not my grandmother nor is she an aunt, rather she was my Third Grade teacher. Mrs. Landis made quite an impact on me as a third grader as well as on my sister who had her the following year. And through my mother, Mrs. Landis was able to keep up with what my sister and I did in the years following our elementary school years. And because of that contact I received cards from Mrs. Landis as I made my way through college and then seminary and then through Kathy's Christmas Letters we also received updates from Mrs. Landis' life in the years that we served in Kentucky, Colorado and now Idaho.
Not only was Mrs. Landis a phenomenal school teacher, she was also very active in her local Mennonite church of which she was a charter member. Her faith was part of who she was and influenced how she taught in the classroom if not what. Mrs. Landis was a shining example of a Christian serving in the public schools. No, she never to my knowledge crossed the church/state divide in her lessons. More importantly than trying to "sneak" Christian content into her lessons, she treated students and parents alike as fellow siblings in Christ which meant more in the classroom and over the span of the last thirty years of my life.
I am grateful to have had Mrs. Landis as my third grade teacher and to have been given the privilege of knowing her as an adult even as I have moved far away from the small town in eastern Pennsylvania where I was raised and where Mary Landis served God faithfully as a teacher and child of God.
It has taken me about a week to realize that I'm home after two weeks on the road. North Carolina was great, probably the best insight I picked up from the conference for "young" (under age 40) Presbyterian Clergy was to be more open to God and strive to fear God more than the congregation. Pretty much what this means is seeking God's will more than listening to the competing egos that make up the congregation. Sounds simple, right? Well, it really isn't not after a generation or two have been taught that if they kick and scream enough their wants and felt needs will be met. I'm not saying that FPC, Twin Falls is too addicted to getting their way, but I do see such behavior (mine included) in the midst of all the wonderful things that have happened in our first three years together.
After a 12 hour "lay over" in Twin Falls it was off to the Oregon Coast to spend upwards of ten days in the South Beach neighborhood of Newport. We really had a phenominal time with uncharacteristically warm (60-65 degree) weather for seven of the full days we were there and it rained on the day we left! Like a lot of people we opted for a really simple holiday, eating most of our meals at the house and doing cost-free things like beachcombing and sand castle building. We did manage to go to Rogue Brewery's resturant on our Anniversary, no better way to celebrate our first 13 years of marriage than with Imperial Stout, Porter and India Pale Ale, is there?
Since I've been home we've planted two aspens in the yard, removed a 26 foot by 4 foot section of sod in the back yard. I've been to Ketchum for an Investigating Committee meeting and have attended several church social functions along with a few meetings and worship this past Sunday. And now I'm getting ready to put together the bulletin for Sunday's worship. So I'm back in the swing of things and glad to be doing it with and among the people I've been called to serve in Twin Falls, Idaho!
I am a new blogger, as of September 2008. My wife Kathy encouraged me to give it a try and with our denomination's new moderator, Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow being an avid blogger, I thought that I should enter the 21st century as well.