Friday, August 24, 2007

In case you are wondering, we are still having a HEAT WAVE. Everything is dry and dying. When I opened the blinds overlooking the back porch this morning I noticed the first humming birds I've seen at our feeder. They must be desperate. There is nothing blooming and the solution in the feeder is old. Cleaning the feeder and stirring up fresh solution will be one of my first tasks of the morning. Our predicted high for today is 105. We're praying for cooler temperatures and rain, not just for our relief, but for the many who have no shelter, no cool air in their homes and for those who depend on the ground for a living.
We have been busy lately trying to work out a new schedule for ourselves and for our helpers. It is no longer necessary for us to have people come in five mornings a week and there are differing opinions about just how much help we need. I tend to be like a toddler proclaiming to all who are in earshot: "I can do it myself." Tom wonders why someone needs to stay with him at all and why can't he just go with me when I have shopping to do. Others tell me I need a little time to myself. In the end we/I will have to make the decision and trust that it's the right one.
Tom still has good days and bad days and sometimes days are a mixture of both bad and good. Last Sunday I preached in a neighboring town for a friend of ours. Monday, when I reflected on the day, I was surprised to realize just how "normal" the day seemed. At first Tom was a little shaky, but was quietly insistent that he was going with me. Everything about getting to the church, talking to the lay reader about the service, conversations after the service could have happened ten years ago when I was doing supply preaching. A funny thing happened while we were looking for the church. We had been there with our friend a few months ago, but had driven to the church from his house, not from the highway into town. Instinctively I knew where the church was, but not actually, if that makes sense. We drove around a few minutes and on our second pass by 1st Baptist, I followed a man in truck into the parking lot and parked beside him. Tom got out, spoke to the man and asked if he could ask a "friendly Baptist where to find the Presbyterian church." That was typically the Tom before Parkinson's; the post-Parkinson's Tom is usually upset by things like not finding the church when your wife is due there to preach. The afternoon was relaxing and we went to Tommy's to keep the youngest while everyone else went to the youth kick-off event. It was a great day--one I'll remember. Great days with Parkinson's are rare.
We have also had some good times this week being productive in our house. After living here nine months I have finally realized that just as Rome wasn't built in a day, so a house cannot be put in order in a day if the order depends on two like we are. We both get tired; Tom gets distracted and forgets where he puts things; I get frustrated when I can't get it all done at one time. Almost every day in the past week we have worked part of the day on the details and the sense of accomplishment is good. In another nine months the house might be ready--if we quit having to have things fixed. This morning we discovered water in front of the dishwasher--there's a leak somewhere.
It was hoped that my visit to the orthopedist this week would be the last, but I'm scheduled for one more appointment in October. The ankle has knit together, but the healing is still not complete. I was cautioned to be very careful lest I do something to make it snap. The "granny shoe brace" will stay with me when I'm away from home or doing much walking or work that might cause me to lose my balance. Needless to say, I hold on with both hands when I encounter stairs.
I've said it before and I'll continue saying: we are very blessed. We have faith, family, friends. God gives us good times to enjoy and patience and endurance on the bad days. "Great is God's faithfulness."
Pastor Margaret

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Regular Wednesday night suppers at the church resumed tonight. The grandchildren love to go and we love to go to be with them. We don't go for the food, but for the fellowship and to be around people of all ages. We got there early tonight and as soon as I turned off the motor Tom said he wasn't sure he could stay. It went downhill from there so I got take out boxes and we brought our supper home. It seems to get harder to make plans to do things that we have always taken for granted. The nervousness used to happen occasionally, but the episodes have gotten more numerous and we're trying to adjust and cope.

One of my readers commented on my last blog and just that one comment affirmed my belief that there needs to be informed and considerate conversation about worship for all ages. How we worship depends on our denominational affiliation, the part of the country where we live, how or if we worshiped growing up, the size of the church, culture, the preferences of those planning worship. There are probably other factors, but these come to mind now. Living in California broadened and enriched worship for me. I sincerely hope that the prejudices I took with me when we moved there are among the stuff we left behind.

The most meaningful definition for worship I've heard is : Worship is the adoration of God by the people of God. Pretty simple, isn't it? It doesn't say how we are to adore God. The definition is not limited or limiting. If I prefer organ music and you prefer praise bands, that's okay as long as what we offer is excellent. It is our motive, our heart that matters. I pray that I will never be so traditional that tradition is more important than God who alone is worthy of all worship.

I think we need to be careful lest we put all the blame on worship style when the church is called irrelevant. Though worship is central, church also includes making disciples, growing in faith, reaching out in the name of Jesus to all people. As older Christians I believe we need to ask ourselves if making disciples is a priority; are we growing in our faith and helping younger ones grow in theirs; and do we reach out in the name of Jesus to all people or only to those who look like us, dress like us or were born in the same decade that we were? After all, we are supposedly wiser and have more time to invest in the lives of others.

For those of you younger readers out there I urge you to give the church a chance or more to the point, give the Lord of the Church a chance. And to those of you who are older I encourage you to reach out in the name of Jesus to all those who are searching.

Pastor Margaret

Monday, August 13, 2007

We are having a HEAT WAVE--with no relief in sight. Actually it's supposed to cool off to 95 by next Sunday. On my way home from Birmingham late Saturday afternoon the outside heat indicator in my car read 103. You get the message--we're having a HEAT WAVE.

Last week was special. I spoke twice about older adult ministry to two different groups and about two different aspects of the ministry. The second was a workshop I led for a two presbytery leadership training event in Birmingham. What was interesting is that the keynote speaker was there to talk about youth and young adult ministry. She talked Friday night about the postmodern era, how youth view the church as irrelevant and what needs to be done. The really interesting thing to me is how often when the irrelevance of the church is addressed the blame is mainly put on worship. A young man who was part of the dialogue said the only time he ever heard organ music is at church and then asked the question, "What is a doxology anyhow?" I understand there is a problem. Worship wars are not new and there are no easy answers.

My workshop addressed the "graying church" and the implications for ministry now and in the future. Here are my questions: is it appropriate/considerate/wise to strip worship services of all the familiar elements to please one group who are turned off by them or is it appropriate/considerate/wise to refuse to change anything and thus limit opportunities to share the message of Christ? I had planned to mention worship styles in my workshop, but after Friday night decided it was a topic that needed more than a mention. A wise woman pastor in the group brought up the words of Jesus that say: "Greater love has no one than he/she lay down his/her life for a friend." Her point? We all need to ask ourselves if there are things (traditions) that we are unwilling to lay down so that others may hear the good news of the gospel. The question works for all ages and is food for thought.

In my opinion church leaders need to informed about the development stages of all ages; they need to understand the worlds where both our younger and older friends live. Both groups have gifts; both have needs. People in both are made in the image of God.

Pastor Margaret

Sunday, August 05, 2007

If I preached every Sunday or spoke every week I'd be a walking zombie. When I'm preparing I go to bed with the Scripture or the subject on my mind. I wake up in the night thinking--pushing words around. Last night was such a night. It didn't help that Tom awoke at three and spent the rest of the night getting in and out of bed, turning on the closet light to check the time and asking me how I was. I should have gotten up and come to the computer.

I have two preparations for this week. One is a brief talk on older adult ministry for a group at our local church. The question is: do I tell them what I think they want to hear or do I tell them what I think every church should hear? The other preparation is for a leadership training event in another state. It's about the graying church and implications for ministry. That, for sure, is not always a popular subject. Too many ignore the opportunities this age group presents. There are opportunities for them to give and opportunities for them to receive and yet they are either lumped together with all the other adults, starting with the just out of college crowd, or singled out as disagreeable, wrinkled and useless. What happed to "made in the image of God?"
Now, if I can put in outline form my early morning thoughts, I'll be ready to go.

One thing is certain. Where I was when I started with older adult minsitry a little over twenty years ago is drastically different than where I am today. Then, I was in my forties with teen aged children, looking forward to a grand and adventurous retirement. Today I am an older adult with grown children, grandchildren, living in forced retirement. Many of the things I knew intellectually and shared with others are now known experientially. (Some of those things I'd just as soon not know. ) I said there was one thing I knew for certain. That's wrong. There are two. This is the other: God does not call the equipped; He equips the called.

This week I get to share my passion for ministry with God's older saints with not one, but two groups. I hope I can stay awake.

Pastor Margaret