Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring, Sun, and Strawberries

Two weeks ago, I ate the first spear of asparagus right out of the garden. We had dug the pit a year ago in February. It is quite a process to prepare an asparagus bed. We were excited to try and see if we could do the work necessary. That first spear was a delight. We have had two small harvests since then. The asparagus tastes like spring and sun and newness of life.

I have to admit I have always disliked asparagus. Until about five years ago, I refused to eat it. I was in restuarant where my friend Ben Murray was the chef and he had a halibut dish which he served with fresh asparagus. I wanted to try the dish and he said, "try the asparagus. I know you will like it!" And I did! Who knew? I had only had the asparagus out of a can as a kid and it was mushy and slimy. Wow, fresh, crunchy, tasty.

Two days ago, I did something I have never done before. I ate a strawberry right out of the garden. My husband and I planted some strawberry plants this spring. The birds got the first few. I finally bought some old fashioned black net and covered those plants.

The strawberry was warm from the sun. It was bright red. The strawberry tasted of the warmth of the sun and if you will, it tasted red and like strawberry should. Like the asparagus, there is something phenomenal about fruit right out of the garden.

I did not grow up gardening. I come by it late in life. I am not a garden guru, just someone who puts the plants in the ground and hope and pray they will grow and produce vine-ripened tomatoes, tasty new potatoes and onions, radishes, lettuce and carrots.

The winter was so long, and cold and dreary. I am truly grateful for the spring, for the flowers and for the produce of the garden. The older I get, the more delightful and the more tasty the harvest becomes. There really is something different eating in season and out of the garden instead of the unripened fruits and vegetables that come out of season. Those reflections will come later.

For now, it is enough to in the words of psalmist, "The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season...You open your hand, and you satisfy the desire of every living things." I know that I have learned to be thankful and satisfied for the gifts of the garden and of God's good earth. I am delighting in the strawberry, the asparagus and for the fruits and vegetables sprouting in the warmth of the sun.

As I await the harvest to come, I am

Graced to Serve,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The power of community and connection

This morning in worship the church I served celebrated a 25 year event called Worship Caravan. The basic premise is to bring youth together and plan a worships service, then take it on the road. Sounds simple, but in truth is incredibly intense and somewhat complicated.

When it started at West Heights, the youth gathered with the adults for 3 days, and wrote the dramas, the liturgies and a good deal of the music. Then they headed out to share what they had created with churches, with senior living facilities, and all over the continental United States and Canada.

There is not enough space in this blog to share all the stories, what is important is how many lives have been touched and changed by this mission and ministry of West Heights. Youth are not always trusted to create worship. Yet at West Heights, that is expected. They work to find a theme, then begin to build the service around it with music, with scripture, in this day and age with video and with drama. The Psalter talks about singing a new song generation to generation. In a sense that is exactly what Worship Caravan is all about.

They youth grow, learn and deeper their spirituality and their friendships. Those relationships years later still are strong. The lessons learned continue on in their lives as they go to college, go to work, begin families and end up all over the world.

This past weekend, there has been time for sharing, watching old videos and putting together a reunion choir consisting of Caravan alumni and current youth. Three directors put together five anthems in about five hours. In worship we heard from several of the former caravaners and directors how caravan changed their life and still today is part of their spirituality.

Community and connection forms us as individuals at the most basic level. It helps us identify who we are and who we long to be. Worship Caravan provides that community and connection for our youth and for who they become as adults. It is Christianity at its best: teaching and creating worship, forming bonds, connecting our young people into community.

I am grateful to be part of a congregation that values such an experience and have supported for twenty five years. My hope and prayer is that Worship Caravan continues on for many more. I am grateful for all the adults and youth that have committed themselves to Caravan and for their willingness to share their time and talent with others.

I am truly thankful to be a pastor at West Heights....and I am truly Graced to Serve.