Friday sabbath reflections...

Like thousands of other Berkshire souls, we will be heading out to the James Taylor weekend at Tanglewood later tonight. It seems that JT is returning all the profit from these four concerts back to Tanglewood so that the institution remains strong in hard economic times - and - its mission of reaching younger musicians is strengthened.

Last year we had the privilege of being at the show for JT's 60th birthday - video greetings from Paul McCartney plus the arrival of Carole King and Yoyo Ma as special guests - it was sweet. I was also blessed to be sharing the show with the daughter of one of my mentor's in ministry who had just died that weekend. It was a tender, emotion-filled and energizing concert that I will treasure for many years. "Is a song the sigh of the weary...?"

Hard to believe that another year has come and gone. Last night I met with a few key lay leaders of the church to review, pray, assess and plan for the upcoming year: they were loving, insightful, clear-headed and helpful to me as - together - we strive to renew this congregation in both spirit and numbers. I am grateful to have colleagues in ministry like these dedicated folk who live busy and productive lives AND still find time to do ministry with me.

What started out as a simple dinner with conversation turned into four hours of listening and learning and loving one another in Christ's spirit. I left humbled and happy. I think of the psalmist: "how good and pleasant it is when sisters and brothers dwell in unity." The poet, Mary Oliver, shares this insight:

We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two,
housed as they are in the same body.

Another Oliver poem speaks to me of the potential of our little congregation - and all small churches - that work hard at being a community of faith where all have a place at the table, all are loved and encouraged and sometimes rebuked and all share something of God's grace with the world by how they live.

As we spoke - and ate great food and sipped good wine - we talked about how the words and the music and the mission that we are about brings a measure of healing to us all. The poem is: If You Say It Right, It Helps the Heart to Bear It.

The comforts
of language
are true
and deep;

in a cemetary,
in the South,
so many stones
and so many
so small.
three or four
in a row.

In this instance:
Eliza May,

Can you imagine
the condition
of the heart
of a mother
or a father
watching these planting?
I cannot.
But I try.

"God taketh
his young lambs home"
is carved there.
A few words

like water
on a stone.
Cool and beautiful
like water on a stone.

Lord, may my words help us bear the burdens of life as well as encourage us towards our best selves; trusting always in your grace. Onward now into Sabbath time - and James Taylor - and loving people who have shared grace and courage with me and my loved ones in pursuit of a community of faith.

credits: JT @ ; henri matisse, dinnertable @cemetary


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