Dear Saint Andrews –
Time does certainly fly. It is hard to believe that I am two weeks into your sabbatical gift, and that on Monday I will be traveling to Israel with Rabbi Eric Solomon and 18 other ministers and rabbis. Please keep us all in your prayers that our travels would both keep us out of harms way and equip us to be better peacemakers in the world and at home.
In this blog post, I would like to share one lesson I am learning… but first two stories .
Sabbatical began with family time. As Collin’s school choir was on tour in Orlando and Caleb is too young to remember ever experiencing the joy of it’s amusement parts, Orlando seemed a fitting place to journey.
During one particular meal time, everyone was very emphatic about what they wanted to eat. One wanted tacos, another wanted hamburgers, and someone else wanted salad. And because we were all hangry, there was no compromising. Everyone knew what they wanted, and had zero interest in anyone else’s food or type of food. It’s not that we thought each other’s choices were bad; rather that each of us knew what we preferred. Fortunately we found a place to eat where all cravings were satisfied and everyone left nourished. As we were all eating, the faith lesson occurred – we all want to be nourished by God’a grace and the church’s ministries, and we all have our preference. Some prefer worship, others Bible study, some like contemporary, and others traditional. Some are fed in missions work feeding others, while others grow in faith working the front desk in the church office. We know what will nourish our bellies and our spirits and we turn to those preferences for renewal. Little did I know what I would discover at Mepkin Abbey the next week.
This week at Mepkin has been the opposite of an Orlando experience. Not only is it quiet and reflective, meal times are set and there is no choice of options. What you see is what you can eat. (Mepkin is also much less expensive than Orlando, which is a really really good thing). Being here I have had conversations with Pentecostal/Holiness, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians. I have broken bread with monks, ministers, and members of churches – and one who doesn’t go to church anymore. At Mepkin there are people who speak in tongues, spend all day in contemplative prayer, or aren’t really sure how to pray. All of them love Jesus, and all of them desire to grow in their faith. Unlike the Harris’ Orlando meal, there is a desire to learn from each other and to sample the experience and
tradition of one another. We each savored ancient liturgies in which we praised God for his mercy and sang of his mystery. We were all enriched by stories of the healing power of the Jesus’ Spirit. And all here were fed at His Table and nourished when we came to him in prayer. And in all the sampling we grew in our faith and we grew in Christ’s grace.
So, by now you may be asking What do these two stories – Orlando and Mepkin – have to do with each other and the lesson? It’s this… We are all seeking to be nourished. We are all seeking to be fed. We are all seeking to grow – and to grow in our faith. Sometimes we need to know what we want and be fed by the ministries we love and cherish. Other times we need to sample from a different preference and be fed a different plate – even one we are not familiar with. Both will nourish us, so long as we keep Jesus as what seek in all we do and all that nourishes us.