Everyone needs a place. What do I mean? I’m talking about the place where you can go and get in touch with God. It’s the place where you can get in touch with the parts of yourself you might have lost while moving too fast and multi-tasking too often.
In their song “Feeling Groovy” (laughing out-loud, yet?), Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sing, “Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last. Just kicking down the cobblestones, looking for fun and feeling groovy.” I’m not sure I ever really figured out what “groovy” meant but I am quite confident I was never within shouting distance of groovy. (You ought to see my high school and college pictures!) However, I could teach a post-graduate seminar in moving too fast.
No matter how many times I read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), I am surprised that the fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy.” Somehow stopping to play, to worship, to just be, is key to being fully alive.
So where is your place?
Up on the Roof?
Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote a song titled “Up on the Roof” back in 1962. I first heard it sung by a Chicago-area band called the Cryan’ Shames. Their version seemed great to me, and then I heard the Platters sing it: amazing! James Taylor’s version is beautiful:
When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me
Let me tell you now
When I come home feelin’ tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof)
I get away from the hustling crowd
And all that rat-race noise down in the street (up on the roof)
On the roof, the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let’s go up on the roof (up on the roof)
At night the stars put on a show for free
And, darling, you can share it all with me
Where is your place and when is the last time you were there? It may not have been up on a roof, but Jesus had some places.
The mountains and the water
According to Mark 1:35, when Jesus was in the coastal town of Capernaum packed with people waiting to be healed and to be taught, he got up early in the morning—well before sunrise— and went out to “a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.” I’ve always assumed he climbed up into the hills above the town, but maybe he walked down the coast a few hundred yards and stood by the water.
Over and over again Jesus can be found either near the water or on the Sea of Galilee. There was something about the water, for Jesus. In Luke 8:22, he and the disciples sail a boat to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. While they sail, Jesus falls asleep in the bottom of the boat. I understand that. There is something about being near -or on- the water that speaks to my heart, head and soul. I call it “water music” or “beach music.”
And the Galilean loved the mountains. In Matthew, Jesus climbs up into the hills to teach. At a key point in his life and ministry, Jesus (Luke 9:28-ff.) and three of his best friends, Peter, James and John, go mountain climbing. They go up the mountain to pray. It is there a voice speaks out of a cloud, saying of Jesus, “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!”
So where is your place?
These are important places
There are places God uses to heal us, renew us, and replenish our joy. A good friend of mine, Russ, goes to the mountains and woods. I have been blessed up in the Smokey Mountains and I have been blessed by God in the Rockies. I get that. But as often as I can, I head to the water. In a Wendell Berry novel, the central character yearns to head back to his childhood home along the Ohio River. “I longed to see the waters,” he said. So do I: “I long to see the waters.” So we find our way to places like Lake Webster, Koontz Lake, the Chicago lakefront, South Haven, Michigan and Fort Myers.
Like the Arctic Tern on its long migration, we wing the way back to our place. The place where the Sabbath happens. A place where God speaks to us from a mountain mist, a dancing stream, or the beach music that is moving grace.
In Psalm 121, which has particular meaning for me (as it did for my father, Max), we are told where the psalmist’s place is: “I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
May God give you the courage to stop and Sabbath. May the Holy Spirit lead you to your place.
Grace and peace,
Church Council takes major steps
On Monday, July 18th your Church Council, voted to do the following:
- Accept the report of the FCJ Building Study Committee
- Authorize the creation of a Building Committee to move forward to develop a plan to address deferred maintenance issues and explore re-forming the building so it will work better for coming generations
- Authorize a capital campaign committee to eliminate the existing $1.43 million debt from the 1999 construction project, and take next steps to address pressing building concerns.
- The Communications Task Force recommended that we refer to ourselves as “First Methodist” rather than continuing to use multiple names (FUMC, FUMCB, First United, First Church, First United Methodist Church, etc.) which confuse the community. Our legal name doesn’t change. So, we should all do our best to refer to our church and ourselves as “First Methodist.”
The Church Council also was informed of a new major initiative which will begin this Fall with the launch of multiple small groups.
Holy Land Trip in February of 2017
Pick up a brochure for the Holy Land Trip in February of 2017 at the Sanctuary entrances. Led by Pastor Mark Fenstermacher, the trip is with experienced tour operator EO (Educational Opportunities Inc.). At this point it appears we may have approximately 20 persons making this life-changing journey. The cost is about $3,700 per person (including airfare, hotel accommodations, tour guide, motor coach transportation in Israel, morning and evening meals, etc.). Contact Ms. Cath Foreman: firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have questions.
Join us this Sunday, in a Jesus community where all are loved and welcomed, as we continue our series Soul Songs: A Journey Through the Psalms. We will be exploring Psalm 32 with Reverend Stacee Fischer Gehring. This week’s sermon title is, “Soul Songs: Worn Out Bones!”. Please, invite a friend to join you!