Worship at Old Stone Well Farm

Open the Doors

I love old doors. There’s just something about the warped wood, rusty hinges and black iron latches — that often fail to work — that captures my imagination. Maybe I love old doors because they remind me of the primitive houses I loved to explore as a child while on family vacations to historic 18th-century stomping grounds.

If I close my eyes, I can easily be transported to one such trip where, as a little girl so enthralled with the farmhouse that is known as the Wick Farm in Morristown, New Jersey — where General Washington and his troops encamped one harsh winter — I can hear the creaking as the door swings open. I can see the dust swirling in the streak of sun that breaks into a low-ceiling, windowless, timbered wall room, with a huge cooking hearth that perfumes every nook and cranny with a dense smoke from the dying embers that big black kettles hang over. I stand in the threshold of two worlds. The modern one I know and the ancient one I want to know better.

Today at the farm, we will take a look at one old door. A locked one that kept Jesus’ friends trapped in a world they knew — a world of fear, doubt and uncertainty. Yet beyond that door was light and love and new God possibilities. What can we learn from that first Resurrection evening? How many doors have we shut and locked all because fear overtook faith? What is the threshold you are standing in today? And where is God inviting you to step?

Let us begin our time of worship together. The video is ready for you to press play. Make sure to watch to the end as I have an announcement about next week and a challenge for you to participate in.

Blessings! Pastor Donna

John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Morning Meditation

I sit here nursing my coffee which has grown cold. The old country kitchen has grown cold too. I noticed the reassuring humming of the furnace has gone off and for a moment I worry. Is is broken again? Do we have enough propane? A familiar fear seizes my body…what if we don’t have heat, what if the pipes freeze, what if…

The furnace begins humming again. Crisis averted. I am safe and secure. Again.

The morning sun is breaking over the mountains, sending warm rays across the old pine table I sit at. The light is brilliant and beautiful. And so I stop nursing my cold coffee and turn my face towards the window. I sit and mediate on God’s goodness.

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A time of morning meditation here at The Old Stone Well Farm. 

I have a roof over my head. Yes, it’s an old roof that will probably need repairs just as the old foundation will too, but it’s a place to call home nevertheless. I have cold coffee to nurse and the means of making another cup if I desire to do so. I have a furnace which is fickle at times and has cost me plenty in emergency calls lately, but it works and I am never without heat for long.

As I soak in the warmth of God’s blessings I begin to think about how I wish for the whole world to take time to turn their eyes towards the sun and soak in God’s warmth.

For we are living in crazy times when it seems no one is turning their eyes to God first. We are living in a time where arguments are plenty. The thing is I laugh because no one is ever going to win these arguments until the arguing stops and the compassionate listening begins.

I think about the fear of not having enough for one’s self which is behind these arguments. I, too, have had that fear. I think about how my husband and I work hard to make end’s meet and how, now having to pay for our own health care, is putting a huge strain on our budget. When my husband gets frustrated, I always chime in, “Yes, but we are managing. God is providing our daily bread.”

Daily bread.

There is indeed enough of it to go around. That is, if we decide to focus on God’s bountiful grace rather than our self-centered needs which only demands that the loaf gets bigger and bigger to satiate our appetites.

I have a lot of friends who voted for our current president back in the fall. They voted because they are tired of struggling to make ends meet. They want their country to be safe. They want a loaf of bread to put on their own table. I also have friends who have sizable loaves of bread for their table and they want to make sure it stays that way.

I understand. I want, need, adore and desire “bread” too.

But when I hear the the heated argument of how our tax dollars are going to help “others”immigrants, refugees and welfare recipients—I wonder how can we say we are followers of Christ? For aren’t we all the “other”?

Do we ever step back for a second and remember the many times God’s grace was shown to us by a stranger or a friend? Do we remember the times we were in need and a miracle of provision happened?

Christ. The son of God who came to serve, not be served. The one who put our well being in front of his own, taking his place on the cross for our sins. The suffering servant who showed us the way to greatness is the path of downward mobility.

Our Savior whose real miracle that day on the mountain was not multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish into food enough for thousands. The real miracle was that of one little boy in the presence of Jesus who looked down at his measly lunch and was moved enough to give what he had for others. That is what God smiled upon and blessed.

It is sometimes hard to feel compassion for others in need when we ourselves are struggling. When we begin to get territorial, though, when we begin to start every conversation with, “Well, what about my family?” then I fear we have forgotten why God sent his Son Jesus to us. For God so loved the world.

God still loves the world. God still loves us. And we are all in possession of two measly fish and one “seemingly not enough” loaf of bread. We have what we need and we always will. We need to let go of the fear and worry. We need to let go of the anger towards others who are asking for our grace and mercy and love.

We need to do so for when we stop loving the world as God so loves the world, we will always see our lives as lacking something rather than seeing our lives for how they really are: overflowing with blessings.

Thomas Merton once wrote that no person who ignores the rights and deeds of others can hope to walk in the light of contemplation, because their way has turned aside from the truth, from compassion and therefore from God.

The furnace has stopped its reassuring humming again. That’s okay.

I sit at this old pine table with my face towards the morning sun, soaking in the warmth of God’s grace, God’s love and God’s provision. My prayer is to want for others what I want as well. A simple loaf of bread on the table. And nothing more.

May that be your prayer as well.

And Yet Another Friend…

I just heard that yet another friend, another woman with young children, has been told the news every woman fears.

You have breast cancer.

The shock, the grief, the numbness—the emotions are many and often they never come just one at a time. They often team up, mingling together, creating a hurricane force of dread capable of destroying any sense of hope. But before we scurry about trying to batten down the emotional hatches, we need to stand still before God. We need to feel the ground beneath our feet. We need to hug someone or simply hug ourselves. We need to take a deep breath.

Then with strength we didn’t know we had (but it is there, it’s always there with God) we stretch out our hands to grab hold of the truth that whatever storm is raging in our lives, be it the cancer storm, the depression storm, the storm of broken relationships or the storm of financial ruin, there is a peaceful calm. Meteorologists call that place the eye of the storm. I call it the peace of Christ.

When I was just out of college and trying to find my way in the world of magazine publishing, worrying if I would ever become an editor of a glossy magazine read by millions (it seems so silly now), I used to sing to myself some Christian song. I don’t even remember now who sang it or what. I haven’t heard it in many years, but the words went something like this, “Don’t give up, you’re on the brink of miracle. Don’t give in, God is all around.” And then there were words about the stormy seas being all around but God would lead us safely to the shores.

Not only would I sing the song to myself all throughout the day.  At night, as my worrying thoughts would keep me from falling asleep, I would  play the song on my bright yellow Walkman (I thought I was so hip with that Walkman). I would push the rewind and play button so often that eventually the ribbon on the tape cassette broke. I am really showing my age, aren’t I?

The rewind button in my mind has just just been pushed.  I can hear those encouraging words once again.

Don’t give up. You’re on the brink of a miracle. Don’t give in, God is all around. Don’t give into fear, think of things that are pure. And praise the Lord, your miracle is here. 

Yet another friend diagnosed with breast cancer…

Here’s to today that the Lord has given to us. We can breathe, we can pray, we can laugh. Let’s treasure the moments in this day.

For storms hit. All the time. But peace can always be ours.

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The sun’s light in the back fields of the Accidental Country Pastor’s home in Vermont is always a moment to pause and pray, thanking God for the promise of peace that passes all understanding.