Traveling with the church

praying hands in DamascusSteve and I are on the road again together. It’s not a vacation like the ones we have had in Venice and Rome…and Brownsville, Nebraska. We are not marveling at wonderful wines…or even Nebraska wines. Nebraska wines are not set up with the adjective wonderful. 🙂

We are traveling as members of a church with other members of other churches to be with still more members of yet other churches. And yet, we are all one church, part of the body of Christ.

My travel companion (besides Steve!) is the book “Reversed Thunder” by Eugene Peterson. The same Peterson whose paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, is my favorite. The words he uses are so much more accessible to me. And this book is his reflection on the last book of scripture, the Revelation of John. It is very helpful for me as one who struggles with all the imagery and code, or whatever you want to call it.

And on the way into Houston, I read this:

The gospel is never for individuals but always for a people. Sin fragments us, separates us, and sentences us to solitary confinement. Gospel restores us, unites us, and sets us in community. The life of faith revealed and nurtured in the biblical narratives is highly personal but never merely individual: always there is a family, a tribe, a nation – church. God’s love and salvation are revealed and experienced in the congregation of the people “who know the festal shout” (Ps. 89:15), not in “the garden, alone.” (Chapter 4, The Last Word on the Church, Revelation 2 and 3, pg. 42-43)

And that has been my experience on a journey like this to a place so far from home. I have discovered that the gospel – this good news – has brought me into a family much larger than the one I was born into. This family has shown me by the living of this word in real life and real time, that it is for us all together.

So let us not be separated by geography or culture or language. Let us be together in the word – the Word incarnate. Let us be the body of Christ.

And so we go.

And I will drink to that.

Amen.

In Thanks for the Garden

Raspberries on the plantThe language of farmer is all through that book
It starts in a garden. Just take a look!
He is the vine, we branch out from him
Beating swords into plowshares,
Making good from what’s grim.

It’s how we’re created
To plant and to grow
Pluck up what is planted
Gather seed and re-sow.

This season for us there’s been rain from above
Our garden’s been watered
Our garden’s been loved.

The cherry tree burst into glorious flower
The fruit it produced, now a jelly jar tower!
The tomatoes we harvested are the colors of dawn
Red, orange and yellow, now jam have become
The raspberries we picked stained our hands berry red
Their stalks full of stickers snagged our arms and they bled
But now cooked with sugar they too line the shelf
Sweet and delicious, I’ll say so myself!

And though we don’t grow them
We think grapes are fine
And we’re thankful for those who do…and make wine!
In the late summer sun
In sweet Sabbath rest
We lift our glasses in gratitude
We are so blessed
To have a creator who loves us this way
Who gave us the garden, who gave us this day.

Amen.