I’m now home for three weeks before we leave on our Pauline Pilgrimage to Turkey, Greece, and Italy on June 8. My oldest son is now home from his first year away at college and it’s fun to hear of his experience and to have the family all together again.
We have a lot to do in the next three weeks to get ready to leave and travel for five weeks, but it’s exciting! I’m now writing the daily reflections I’ll share with my family on the trip as well as posting them with updates and pictures from the trip for the congregation. The daily reflections will begin June 1, which is when you’ll hear from me next. Peace to you all.
So far I’ve seen a rabbit hanging around the cabin; a coyote ran out in front of me crossing the road as I was on my walk yesterday; a beaver swims across the back bay, waddles across the road, walks next to the cabin, goes down into the front bay (the cabin is uniquely located on a peninsula with views and access out both sides/bays) next to the dock and swims down the shore line under the neighbors’ docks every morning and returns every evening. I have yet to see moose or bear, but I still have a few days. I also have yet to get a picture of any of these animals!
So far I have read two books: In the Steps of Saint Paul An Illustrated Guide to Paul’s Journeys by Peter Walker, and The Life of Paul for Today by Lyle D. Vander Broek. The latter I’ll be using for an adult bible study in the fall. Both books are written for lay people rather than professional theologians. Both look at Paul the person, where he went, what he did, whom he encountered, what issues and struggles he faced. I have also attended a conference on staffing and the roles of council in different size congregations which was helpful and insightful.
Mostly I have gained greater clarity in understanding Paul. Like Luther and Jesus, to understand what Paul said it’s helpful to understand whom he was addressing, what the context was, what their issues were, etc. Paul addresses different audiences, contexts and issues in different ways. Yet no matter whom or what he was addressing there was a foundational theology that was shaped by his encounter with the risen Jesus on that road to Damascus that reoriented Paul’s life, faith, theology, purpose, and future.
Next I will be reading Rick Steve’s travel guides on Turkey, Greece, and Italy as we prepare to embark on our Pauline Pilgrimage June 8 – July 12. Later in the summer I’ll be reading more on Paul – his theology.
I’m at Priest Lake for the week reading and writing again. I’m reading books on Paul’s travels and ministry as well as writing entries for the 40 day devotional that I’ll be posting beginning June 1st.
I’ve done a lot of reading on Paul’s theology over the years. I’ve read and studied what Paul has had to say, but for the first time I’m reading and reflecting on Paul the person, where he went, what he did, and how such things shaped what he said. I’ve gained even more admiration and respect for Paul, Pauline theology, and his contribution to Christianity that still shapes the Church and Christian movement today.
My rhythm for the week: I spend about 3 hours in the morning writing, go for a walk/run between 10-12, from noon to 5pm I spend reading, then make dinner and relax in the evening. There’s no one up here at this time of year so it’s quiet, and this has been gorgeous weather so I’ve been able to be outside studying which makes a big difference (otherwise I get cabin fever)! I’m grateful for this time and place, for my congregation and family that allows for this opportunity to grow, for Paul, and most of all for Jesus – the reason I’m here doing this.
A cove that I walk to (about five mile round trip). I get my exercise and a place to meditate and pray – not bad!
I’m in Sedona, AZ for a conference for the Lead Pastors of the Largest Congregations in the ELCA. I’ve never been to Sedona before. It’s beautiful! It has all the beauty of the Canyon National Parks that we visited on vacation a couple of years ago (of course my kids would say, “It’s just a bunch more rocks Dad!” – their comment when we entered the third canyon park and they were tired of riding in the car). The beautiful rock formations of red rock is astounding!
The conference has been very helpful. Maybe most helpful is the conversation with colleagues facing the same kinds of challenges and dynamics in ministry. I’m grateful for this time and opportunity.
Pictured you’ll see a few pastor friends I went hiking with, me about 3/4 up on Bell Rock, a beautiful flower from a cactus with Courthouse Rock in the background, and the Chapel of the Holy Cross (a Roman Catholic Church built into the hillside of the red rock), & a panoramic from Bell Rock.
For the second time, I’ve done Bloomsday! The last time was on my last sabbatical – 6 years ago. Last time I ran it with my son. This time I walked it with my wife. By the time I have another sabbatical I will probably do it with one of my children again, except this time they’ll probably be pushing me in a wheel chair! Great fun, and fun memories!
After finishing worship on April 27, the staff from St Luke went on our staff retreat to Priest Lake from Sunday afternoon until Monday evening. I then spent a few extra days alone at my brother & sister-in-law’s lake cabin reading and writing on Paul the Apostle. The weather turned beautiful! Hardly a cloud in the sky, dead calm, and no one around. Peaceful.
Priest Lake has been this grounding place in my life – a place of respite, renewal, reflection, and restoration. Since I was born our family has been going there and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation and connecting with family and friends. I’m very grateful to my brother and sister-in-law and their partners (our close family friends) for their graciousness and permission to continue to have a place to study. There is a tranquility, beauty, and groundedness (not actually a word – I know) there like I experience no where else on earth. There, it’s not just the stones that shout out, it’s the water as well!
What a treat to have baptized a little boy, and a mother and daughter in the last week and worships before I left on sabbatical. The water and the living stones shouting out!