Skip to main content

Life in Greencastle

Three times a year the Jewish people would set out for Jerusalem. They would leave their homes and embark for the Holy City. Pilgrimage, we call it. Mothers would see that their children would have food to eat for the journey. Men would ready the oxes and donkeys. Children would begin to grow giddy with excitement, and two days into the journey they would conspire, "Are we there yet?" And up the people would go to Jerusalem. Every time: up. Regardless of where they lived: up ... because Jerusalem was literally a city on a hill, a high point in Palestine. So, for the three major festivals, faithful Jewish families would set out as pilgrims, venturing towards Jerusalem.

And the biggest festival was the Passover. Jerusalem would be overcrowded with pilgrims. For one week the city would be so packed with people even nearby Bethpage and Bethany would be teeming with families.

On the way to Jerusalem, the people sang songs: the shiray hammaloth, the Songs of Ascent. We still have this songbook. And we still sing as we travel, but I doubt any of us grew up singing Psalm 125 in the back of our parent's station wagon. Still, here they are: Psalms 120 through 134 ... fifteen psalms likely sung to do more than pass the time and miles. They sang to remember God's saving acts. Eugene Peterson says that the picture of the Jewish people traveling towards Jerusalem, singing these songs to each other and to God, is the best picture "for understanding life as a faith-journey". This picture reminds us that we too are pilgrims. It might seem like a far cry from life in Greencastle, but I hope we can follow the example.

I want you to realize you are on a faith-journey. I hope you know you are more than an observer; you are a pilgrim. You too have the opportunity to ascend and hear about God's ways of salvation. You'll drive along Round Barn road and then turn up our drive. And, you'll be invited to walk up the small incline into our church, where you can "travel" the final week of Jesus' earthly ministry. Come home, everyone. Let's celebrate. Let's remember.

I am looking forward to beginning that journey with you this Sunday, Palm Sunday. We'll be able to remember the time Jesus entered Jerusalem - riding the crest of the people's hopes. And, we'll be ushered into worship by Ellen Mangan, a harpist who will begin playing around 9:45 am. Please do come early for this. You'll also be given a palm branch, what the Israelites used for the "red-carpet" treatment. You'll be invited to place your branch on the ground, inviting Jesus - our Savior - to walk before us again.

You may also notice something else. The stack of toys and gifts that we've collected for our daycare have disappeared. That's good news. They are now being used and enjoyed by the children and by the staff. And, instead of toys, you'll see a number of cards and hanging "ornaments" on the table. These are signs of gratitude. A host of children kept parading through my office and Jane's office with these cards. They wanted Jane and I to know they are thankful for the gifts. And, I want you to know they are thankful. I'm proud of your generosity and Christ-like sharing.

There is too much going on to write about in full, but let me also say that this Saturday has been set aside to clean and prepare our church for this high, holy season. I invite you to dawn your servant's clothes (aka ... your cleaning clothes) and join others at 9 am on Saturday.

"When they said, 'Let's go to the house of God,' my heart leaped for joy." (Psalm 122:1). May it be.



Popular posts from this blog

Acts 5:1-11 - Questions for reflection & prayer

This past Sunday we looked at one of the more unsettling stories in the Book of Acts:  the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.  As shared by Luke, this couple sold a piece of land and then proceeded to bring only a portion of the profit to the apostles - laying it at their feet for the good of the community.  However, what appeared to be their grave mistake (pun intended) was their collusion in claiming to have brought all the proceeds to the apostles when - in fact - they were keeping some back for themselves.  Peter announces first to Ananias the Lord's judgment, followed by a similar verdict being handed down to Sapphira a short time later.

Seen by itself, this is a strange story, but it begins to make more sense when we see it as "part of the whole."  The story of Ananias and Sapphira comes right after we hear once again of the community's unity and generosity, including their willingness to share their own goods and resources to take care of one another (ch. 4).  Th…

Acts 6:1-6 - Questions for reflection & prayer

As the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian community, new life emerges and new members are added.  This is a beautiful thing, and it is extremely important to point out that this is God's doing.  God is initiating diversity within the Christian community.  However, this also creates new tensions and new challenges.

Acts 6:1-6 gives us our first glimpse of a tension that will extend all the way to chapter 15, until the leaders of the early Church come up with a way to address the growing differences within the Christian family.  Some feel that they are being left out and that others are getting preferential treatment.  The Hellenized Christians feel they are getting the short end of the stick.

All of this is extremely relevant to thoughts and feelings occurring in our own day and age.  Across the spectrum, a majority of Americans feel like they face some form of discrimination.  But, it also points to an ongoing challenge we all face from time to time, the challenges that arise when…

Life in Greencastle: That Greatest Architect

God's peace to all of you on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.  I hope you are enjoying the warm sunshine.  Perhaps you are even still enjoying one last sunset at the beach.
We stayed fairly close to home this Spring Break, taking two short trips, including one to Turkey Run State Park and the other to Columbus, Indiana.  Anna and I had been longing to go to Columbus for quite some time.  Back in the day, we became friends with Emily and Manish Desai in our small apartment complex in Pasadena, both of whom had recently graduated with degrees in architecture from Cal Poly.  Manish would go on to earn his license in architecture and has designed a number of really beautiful spaces, including private residences but also a church out in the desert for a Native American tribe.  Anna and I have always appreciated Manish and Emily's aesthetic, which is why we knew to take note when they started telling us about Columbus, Indaina a number of years ago.  They didn't know much abo…