Worship at Old Stone Well Farm

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Happy Dependence Day

Filming for this time together didn’t pan out as I had hoped. It has been cold and rainy all weekend. Still, I was on a mission and traveled to Mount Defiance in Ticonderoga, New York, where in July 1777, British troops positioned their cannons overlooking Lake Champlain, pointing directly at Fort Ticonderoga, where the Continental Army was housed. I did manage to show you around for a little bit, until the wind began whipping and the rain poured down, sending me back indoors at Old Stone Well Farm. But as I drove back home, I began thinking.

In light of the scripture lessons we have for today, I found the name “Mount Defiance” butting up against what God really wants of us. We hear from Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10 who says, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” And then I was reading Luke’s Gospel where Jesus sends out the 12 to heal and preach. He tells them take nothing for the journey. Travel lightly and rely on the hospitality of others. Then we have Mark’s Gospel, where those who knew Jesus growing up, question who does he think he is to talk with such wisdom and authority. Isn’t he just a carpenter? Joseph’s son?

Weakness, relying on others, being judged because of where you come from…these are things Americans have fought hard to overcome. Yet, in weakness, God’s strength is great. By reaching out to others, relying on their grace and mercy, we get to see the Divine. And being judged by others, well, it’s time we begin looking beyond our limited vision.

And so, I like to wish you a “Happy Dependence Day,” dependence on God that is.

Blessings!

Mark 6:1-13

6 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Walking Humbly

A week ago our country voted for our next president. A week ago there were people (and media) who thought the outcome would be in their favor. There were people who prayed hard for their candidate of choice. There were people who watched and waited. As the watching and waiting continued into the night, people became dazed and confused. They cried and wailed. They rejoiced and danced. A week ago there were people…

I’ve been quiet for a week trying to decide if I should share what’s on my mind. And if so, how best to share the thoughts swirling around trying to find a place to finally settle down and rest.

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A sign at the farm down the road from the Accidental Country Pastor’s Vermont home. No matter who is in office, it will be long four years for we need once again to remember with God there is always sunny side to hope for and work towards.  

You see I am a pastor in rural America, serving God’s children in a place where many feel their voices aren’t heard. I am the kind of pastor who has lived in the big cities and so I have friends who are now heartbroken over the electoral count. I also have friends who are not so heartbroken. I am a pastor who has the ability to listen to both sides and hear what “the other” is saying. I am pastor who often finds herself straddling two worlds. I am a pastor who now puts herself into the heartbroken category. But I put myself there not because of who won or didn’t win the election. I put myself there because of the behavior I’ve seen and words I’ve heard from both those who lament and from those who rejoice.

A week ago there were people…let me emphasize “people.” For that is what we are. We are not winners or losers. We cannot—nor should be—so easily categorized. We are people of a loving and sovereign God who since the beginning of time has been urging us to be better than we often are. And yet in a week’s time, I wonder about who we have become. It seems this election has brought to light a problem I had an inkling was already part of our society. The problem of how we react and treat each other when things don’t go our way. Years ago I heard a pastor say that we don’t have to like one another, but we do have to walk hand in hand with one another. Is our nation capable of grasping the hand of the other?

Since the election I have been thinking a lot about the prophet Micah who said it well when he said, “Do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”

Now more than ever we—you and I—are being called to do what is right. We can’t just leave it to others to make our lives better. We need to be part of the bettering of our world. I have often seen complacency in churches that I serve where the work of a brighter future is often left in the hands of the pastor—the church’s elected official of sorts. But it is the work of all people that matters and moves us forward. We can still wake up to a new day and know we can do our part to make it a just world for all. To do so, though, means we place ourselves in the one category that should only exist. The one of brothers and sisters in Christ.

We can choose to love mercy and realize its healing power. For when mercy is either received or extended it removes the scales from our eyes and we begin seeing each other as the brothers and sisters in Christ I just mentioned, the ones who want the same things in life you want. To be heard, to be loved, to be safe and to have your daily bread.

And we can, no, we MUST walk humbly with our God. For the one we are to glorify, the one we are to place our trust in, is God. Human leaders are just that. Human. Flawed and broken…no matter what political party they pledge allegiance to. But God is God, steadfast in love and immovable even though the mountains around us will crumble and fall.

A week ago there were people…

Tired of struggling to make ends meet.

Worried about how to afford healthcare for their family.

Scared about what rights might be taken away.

Frightened about how they and their children will be treated if not white and privileged.

A week ago there were people…those people are still here. Those people are you and me. They are our neighbors and the strangers on the street. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

It’s time now for us to do what is right, to love mercy and to keep walking humbly with our God.

For the savior we need is not in Washington D.C.