Worship at Old Stone Well Farm

Well, we are finally here together to worship! Apologies for the technical glitches this morning. While my nerves are frazzled, I am seeking the God lesson is this delay. And what I have come to realize is that perhaps this delay is opening us to a new spiritual discipline — that is, breaking out of the habit of thinking that worship to God is on a Sunday morning only. Perhaps this is making us carve out another time to take a moment to hear God’s word and praise Him outside of Sunday? Just some musings I have as I regroup from this technical nightmare. (Did I mention my nerves are frazzled? Darn thunderstorms in rural Vermont…or perhaps, those darn chipmunks chewing on wires!)

But enough about that. We are here together virtually and even amid delays and glitches, God is at work, God is with us, God is guiding us. And so let us praise God together!

Today’s Scripture is from Romans 12:9-21:

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.[a] 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;[b] do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;[c] for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

As you read the Scripture, think about what it means to show “genuine” love to all. Where is God asking you to be more loving?

Blessings and peace!

Pastor Donna

Worship at Old Stone Well Farm

Summer seems to be winding down. The nights are getting cooler here in Vermont and I returned back from vacation to a few leaves turning color on the trees as well as two round, orange pumpkins in my garden. Yes, summer is winding down, but there are still rays to soak in and God moments to be found on the beaches of North Carolina.

Today’s worship is from the Outer Banks, where a lesson in riptides gets me thinking about how important it is to surrender to God and to trust that when jostled around in life’s waves, all will be well if we remember that old saying, “let go and let God.”

Our Scripture to meditate on today is:

Psalm 138:3-8

When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed.
May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.

Till next week, blessings to you all.

Pastor Donna

Worship at Old Stone Well Farm

Today’s worship will not be at Old Stone Well Farm in Vermont. Why? Because I have finally done it. I have forced myself to step back and take a real break that involves (after this morning’s note to you) a time to turn off social media and toss the to-do list.

I will be trading the crisp New England mornings running on the trail behind my 18th century home for North Carolina’s soft white beaches and humid mornings. I will finally be making a dent in my tower of books, vowing to finish at least four by the time my break is over. And I will be taking prayer walks — many. I will be allowing my heart to listen to the pounding of the waves and ponder God’s power and majesty. I will observe the gracefulness of the seagulls as they swoop in for their breakfast of fish. I will once again allow my breath to be taking away by the Creator’s artistry as God paints for me sunrises and sunsets.

And so I invite you to join me where ever you are. Join me in reconnecting with God and practicing this day a spiritual discipline — those ancient and holy rituals that our desert mother and fathers, the great mystics and countless ordinary folks like me and you to slow our racing minds, ease our frantic steps, sooth our worried hearts, and reconnect with the One who matters most in our lives — God.

I invite you to go on a prayer walk. Pick a piece of scripture or even a word, and as you walk, pray on it. I invite you to practice the discipline of lectio divina (divine reading). Choose a Scripture read it through first. Then read it again more slowly. Then read it, taking note of what words or sentences draw you in. Then reflect on them. Pray on them. If you are visual, then I invite you to practice praying with art. Find a picture or a landscape that mesmerizes you and gaze with eyes seeking the holy. What do you see? Or join me on the beach. Yes, join me.

Here is a picture just steps from my hotel room. Imagine your feet in the sand with me. Imagine hearing the waves. Imaging standing with me in prayer. Imagine lifting our voices as we sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” … Lord God, almighty; early in the morning, our song shall rise to thee…

As I worship today, please know I will hold you each in my prayers, praising God for this community He has brought together. Until next Sunday. Blessings and peace to you!

Pastor Donna, the Accidental Country Pastor

Worship at Old Stone Well Farm

Only believe…all things are possible, if you only believe…

Who’s ready to get out of the boat and dare to believe that you can do all things in Christ — and with Christ?

Today’s worship is by the water…not an easy task to find a spot not filled with people on a sunny summer Vermont day, but I did. Before we worship, though, let us take a look at the Scripture lesson for this Sunday.

Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,[a] for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind,[b] he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Now think about where you are right now in your walk of faith. Are you eager like Peter to meet Jesus out on water? This would mean, though, that you have to get out of that boat. Or are you afraid and hesitant to take a risk? Let me know. I would love to hear from you and hold you in my prayers.

Blessings, Donna

The Pumpkin and the Bee

By Ken Rummer

Ken Rummer captures beautifully the connectedness of Presbyterians in his blog. After seeing the picture I posted of a pumpkin in my garden that surprised me (I have a brown thumb and really had no hope for anything to grow), he was inspired to share this beautiful story with me on how often we fail to see (or realize) the grace in the seemingly mundane work we do right in front of us. And now he shares it with you. Thank you, Ken, for your guest blog on Accidental Country Pastor. I am blessed to be in the ministry of writing with you!! — Donna

The pumpkin is bigger than a softball now, in dark green with a few warty bumps. It’s something of an accident.

Last fall, when our porch pumpkin sagged into mushy flatness, I carried it out back on a shovel, and deposited it, without eulogy or ceremony, behind the garage. Mowing near the place this spring, I was surprised to find four or five leafy stems sprouting from a pile of pumpkin seeds.

Note: Credit for the pumpkin picture goes to Presbyterians Today editor, Donna Frischknecht Jackson. Seeing this photo in her Accidental Country Pastor post (FB@DonnaFrischknecht/AccidentalCountryPastor), I flashed back to a story I wrote for the Adams County Free Press in 1997. Here is that story, tweaked, trimmed and fully refurbished. Enjoy. — Ken Rummer
Note: Credit for the pumpkin picture goes to Presbyterians Today editor, Donna Frischknecht Jackson. Seeing this photo in her Accidental Country Pastor Facebook post, I flashed back to a story I wrote for the Adams County Free Press in 1997. Here is that story, tweaked, trimmed and fully refurbished.
Enjoy. — Ken Rummer

I figured I should pull out all but one to get a stronger vine, but I didnʼt have the heart. So they all kept growing. Across the yard. Out toward the alley. One even grew up into the forsythia bush, clear to the top.

Large green leaves and striking orange flowers grace the vines, and on one I recently discovered a growing pumpkin, the green one I mentioned earlier. I’m hoping it makes it all the way to big and orange.

Of course, a lot can happen between now and frost, some of it bad for pumpkins. But it would be nice to see the offspring of last yearʼs porch pumpkin promoted to this year’s jack o’ lantern.

I keep looking for other pumpkins-in-progress. Turning back the leaves with my foot. Checking the places the flowers have been. So far, I havenʼt seen any.

I did notice, in one of the large Victrola-horn flowers, a bee. It was busily doing its bee thing, climbing around inside the flower, slurping up flower juice, and buzzing in an important-business-being-done-here-leave-me-alone sort of way.

I imagine if you were to ask the bee, “What are you doing?” the bee would say, ”Making honey.” At the top of that beeʼs to-do list you would most likely find, “Make Honey,” and at the end of the day, the bee could check it off. “Made honey.”

But for a few minutes in our impromptu patch behind the garage, that bee was also making pumpkins. Leg hairs loaded with pollen, dropping a little off at each flower along the way, that bee was making pumpkins.

Now I donʼt want to get into an argument about which is the more important work, making honey or making pumpkins. That depends to a certain extent on whether you have a hankering at the time for pie or for biscuits. But I am thinking about that bee, working hard to make honey and along the way making pumpkins, too.

I wonder what important things God might be doing along the way while weʼre busy doing something else. I’m thinking about the interruptions, the chance encounters, the strangers, the people who watch from a distance, the folk who are around us all the time.

You and I, in Godʼs scheme of things, may be doing some important things in this world while weʼre busy with what we think of as our main work. And we may not even know weʼre doing them.

Itʼs a grace and a wonder, the way I see it. Like the pumpkin and the bee.

Ken Rummer, a retired Presbyterian pastor, writes about life and faith from the middle of Iowa by the High Trestle Trail. His other posts are available at http://presbyterianmission.org/today/author/krummer