The girls awoke this morning to an owl sitting in the tree outside their window. As I understand it, the sighting didn’t get them out of bed for the day, but it certainly began their day with an unexpected surprise and I hope a glimpse at wonder and beauty.
There’s a passage in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus is teaching his disciples about not worrying, trusting in God. He challenges them to “consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them” and “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these…” of course the punch line is that if God cares for ravens and lilies then God will care even more for us, we of little faith. And Jesus throws out the question that puts it all in perspective: can any of us by worrying add a single hour to our span of life? … if we can’t do that then why worry about the rest?
Lots of times our lives are go, go, go… and part of that chase is worrying that we’ll get it all done, or done well enough, or… so many other concerns… We get caught up in our agendas and perspectives and forget to slow down and discern God’s ways. Scripture often reminds us of the importance of being attentive on our journeys of faith. God is all around us, revealing God’s self to us in so many ways. It is never a surprise to me that so many people see God reflected in the natural world around us, in the seasons, in an unexpected owl, or the conversation that follows its encounter. Even as God is revealed to us, God is also always beyond our efforts to name or constrain the mystery of the divine. Waiting, watching, listening, discerning, become powerful spiritual disciplines along the way.
We are coming into summer when I always speak of the natural change of rhythm. For lots of people there are vacations planned, time outside unplanned, and just opportunities abounding to encounter the delight and wonder of God. I always pray that we can take the time to encounter God wherever this summer’s journeys may lead us, and then share the stories.
Around church this summer we have lots of exciting things happening in which I am encouraged to find God: The church counsel has chosen to support Eric Ogi in his preparation for ministry by hiring him this summer as a full-time ministry intern. We will be utilizing his many well-honed gifts for ministry, as well as delighting in the opportunity to continue shaping him for the ministry before him. We will have a chance to bless his ministry among us on June 8th just before he begins, and then we will have him around until the end of August when we will send him off to Harvard Divinity School to begin his Master of Divinity in preparation for ordained ministry in the UCC.
Eric’s presence will also allow me to take a little longer break than I usually do. I will be gone for the first three weeks of July travelling west with my family spending some time exploring some of our national parks and taking Sabbath. The consistory granted this time for me as a little mini-sabbatical. I’m now many years overdue for my next sabbatical – but it just seems too hard to schedule three months away as we did in 2005. I’m hoping for a brief time of renewal – not necessarily study time, or mission work, but time to discern the presence of God in my family and the world around me. I’m grateful for the opportunity.
Of course our summer is always punctuated by Hosting Family Promise, a Blood Drive, Summer Habitat trips, Vacation Bible School, the Pignic (thank you to all who are keeping it going!), etc. This summer we will also have a small group of youth going with Eric Ogi to Lakeland College to participate in the UCC Regional Youth Event, where hundreds of UCC youth will gather for a weekend of inspiration, faith formation, and fellowship. There are always lots of opportunities to both be attentive to God and to get involved.
I pray that wherever you are that you keep your eyes open for reminders of God’s care for all of creation and, as Jesus teaches us, how that reflects God’s care for us. God is richly blessing us always, let’s do our part to notice.