Friday, May 30, 2014

Bristol Here They Come...!

It is almost time for our 2014 Senior High Mission Trip to depart for Bristol, Tennessee, or if you prefer, Bristol, Virginia, since the two are one, with only a center line down State Street to separate the parts of Bristol that are in VA or TN.

The group will leave the church tonight...well, in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. You are all invited to wave them on as the bus heads out around 1 a.m.

Photos of the group's work and activities during the week will be posted directly on the Wekiva Presbyterian Church Facebook page; so if you go there, you can have a look at the work they are doing. It will be a bit of a sneak preview of the show they do at the August Fellowship Dinner.

Some fun facts:

- Bristol was named the "Birthplace of Country Music" in 1988 and the National Country Music Museum will open there this fall. One of our members is related to their PR person, so plan to hear more about that in future!

- Bristol is part of the Tri-Cities Region. Well as the saying goes... If at first you don't succeed, Tri, Tri again!

- Bristol Motor Speedway is in... Bristol. Naturally.

- Tennessee Ernie Ford was born in Bristol. I leave it to you to guess whether on the TN or VA side of town.

Keep on visiting the church's Facebook page throughout the week, for more on Bristol and the 2014 mission trip!

Monday, May 26, 2014

30 Years Ago Today...

30th Anniversary - The Celebration Continues...

Mimi and Papa treated us to dinner this evening...on the actual day...our 30th anniversary. We had such a lovely evening. We did miss Johnny, he was working. But the rest of the in-town family all gathered and we had a nice relaxed evening. We are feeling so blessed to have these dear people in our lives.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Congratulations to Amy...!

Yes, it is graduation time...and what better way to enjoy a Memorial Day Weekend Sunday evening than to spend it with good friends who are marking such a special occasion.  It was Amy's Day and we were glad to be able to be there to wish her all our congratulations and love.  Rob and Heather made the party so special, and filled their home with love and laughter, and need we add, festive decorations and delicious food.
 "There is a good reason they call these ceremonies "commencement exercises."  Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning." ~Orrin Hatch
"Graduation is only a concept. In real life every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on  until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference." ~Arie Pencovici

 I especially like the Three Redheads photo!

"I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known." ~Author Unknown

30th Anniversary Flowers

Judy carried Calla Lilies in our wedding...

So today we presented the flowers in worship in honor of our 30th anniversary,  and Patty made sure that Calla Lilies were part of the arrangement.   Isn't it gorgeous?  The roses, by the way, are called "Sweet".  And they are!

Anniversary Surprise

This weekend Annie and Steven gave us a wonderful 30th Anniversary surprise. They had two pillows for us and a pretty welcome mat, and when we opened them, said, "But these aren't the real present." So what was? They soon sowed us--they had spent time and energy revamping our "secret garden". The before and after photos tell the story. It looks so inviting with the new pillows in place, and the string of solar lights.

All set for summer time relaxation.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wonderful Wedding Weekend

Judy and I had a wonderful wedding weekend with Dave and Jen and their families, both yesterday at the rehearsal and today at the wedding and the reception. Dave is a Lake Brantley grad--and was in the band and on the crew team with our kids--yes they are still our "kids" no matter how many years go by.

We had shared many a regatta at Turkey Lake and Bainbridge and the By-Pass Canal It was especially fitting that the place Dave and Jen selected for their wedding was also lakeside... Lake Lily in Maitland is a wonderful resource for the community and was perfect for Dave and Jen's special day.

The rehearsal was magical, since we were down by the water. As you can see, the lake is lovely, and was made the more so with the water birds and even some turtles. In fact, when the soloist Leigh Ann sang the "Ave Maria" a small flock of ibis flew from across the lake and settled on the lawn behind her--it was like that scene in the film "Funny Face" where the Audrey and Fred are in the park and the birds are flocking around. Truly picturesque.

Dave's step-mom Cindy and her husband Ward hosted the rehearsal dinner and we were wowed both by the gorgeous decorations and food, and also Ward's fabulous slide show.

This evening's wedding was also delightful--the weather was hot, but we were in shade and the lakeside setting worked its charm. The reception was in near-by Winter Park...

It was a lovely day in every way...

And an added joy is that it is also our 30th anniversary weekend. So we were remembering our own wedding on Memorial Day Weekend in 1984. What a treat!

It is fair to say that this was one of the most beautiful weddings we have every attended. The day was lovely in every way. Among my favorite moments, the sand pouring had to be right up there. What a treat to see it as close as possible.

Here's wishing Dave and Jen all God's blessings!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Memorial Day Plans...

Memorial Day seems (and is) early this year.

The origins of Memorial Day go back to just after the end of the Civil War, when communities in the North and the South sought to remember those who had served and died. Over time, the Memorial Day focus broadened to include a solemn and thankful remembrance of all who had served and died in all of our nation's military conflicts. So it remains today.

You may find that this year, marking the day itself is combined with marking other milestones in the lives of your family and friends, as graduations are also right about now. This will probably keep you close to home for the long weekend. That's the case with us, as we are sharing in celebrating with some of our friends as they mark the successful completion of their studies.

We are glad to be part of these festivities.

This is our wedding anniversary weekend (30 years). We had selected this particular weekend so that our friends who were traveling to South Bend for the wedding would have one extra travel day that they did not need to take vacation time for. It worked out well. One of our Lake Brantley Rowing Association crew families is having a wedding this weekend and have asked me to officiate.

'So nice to be asked, and on a day that reminds Judy and me of our own wedding day!

Your Memorial Day Weekend may be just as full as ours. However, if you do have some time to travel, you might enjoy some of the suggestions I have included in a recent article I wrote for "Drive the Nation" called: MEMORIAL DAY GETAWAYS.

Salad Days...

Did you know that May is "Salad Month"?

Yes, it is. And in honor of Salad Month, I have written an article for "Drive the Nation" that you can read, here: SALADS ACROSS AMERICA

In that article I outline five salads that are worth driving out of your way to have... Check it out!

One of the salads that I had hoped to feature was the famous "Taco Salad". Taco Salad has some or all of these: Meat, Lettace, Cheese, Red Beans, Tortilla Chips, Sour Cream, and Olives. (Hint, you forgot the sour cream? Ranch dressing will do in a pinch!).

I have been trying to trace the origins of Taco Salad and have some promising leads, but no certainties about where it began. I know that the first time I had Taco Salad was in 1976, in Front Royal, Virginia. One of my high school friends had just started an elementary school teaching job there, and she made Taco Salad for dinner when I visited to congratulate her in her new job. She prepared me by saying that she was making something really different but really good. Now, if you grew up in Lancaster County PA, then anything "Tex-Mex" is "really different" and indeed it was pretty "cutting edge" for 1976. I know that there were taco salads before I first had one...and I am not sure where Darlene got the recipe. I should ask her.

Wikipedia says that Taco Salad emerged in the 1960s. Sounds like it was always there, but sort of came out of hibernation!

Maybe you can tell me where and when you first had a taco salad, and we can get closer to the source. As I say, most of best "earliest" information suggests that Taco Bell originated the recipe, much as they later originated the Crunch Wrap Supreme, one of my favorite fast food delights.

Jean Anderson says this in her book "Amercian Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipies of the 20th Century" (1997): "Did Taco Bell originate the Taco Salad? I've been unable to proved it did. Or didn't. The first recipe I could find for Taco Salad appeared in the May 1968 issue of Sunset." As in "Sunset" magazine.

Around here, other than the aforementioned restaurant, my other favorite place to have a Taco Salad or anything else, for that matter, is Tijuana Flats. I get a kick out of it when we go to our local "Hunt Club" Flats (which we do, often) and of late have been warmly greeted and then asked, "Have you been here before..." Yes, for about a decade and a half running!
Jeremiah 8:4 – Jeremiah is good with these rhetorical questions. Of course those who fall get up again (unless they like all the attention of lying there being waited on hand and foot). And of course those who go astray turn back (unless they are so stubbornly sure they are right they allow their pride to keep them going the wrong way). So, how are you doing, with these things? This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Greet One Another With A Kiss...Maybe.

My same friend who told of the "non-remembrance" celebration funeral also told me recently that their larger governing body of the church did a demonstration about how to greet one another and visitors on a Sunday morning and they had a group from one particular congregation who came and went round the room kissing everyone. They have a "leader" who has nicknamed herself "Kissy-Lizzy" who is in charge of the kissing brigade.

No I am not making this up. Stuff that happens in the church is too wild, weird and wacky to make up. It really does happen in churches just like yours.

So anyway, I thought about what could happen if "Kissy-Lizzy" were not in the best of health on a particular Sunday, and that got me going and the result is this "news item" that might have appeared in that church's local press...

UCC Congregation Smacked in the Kisser

Reports are coming in that an large number of people have all passed away due to a fast moving epidemic that seems to be infecting mostly the members of one local congregation. The St. Peter’s by the Gas Station United Church of Christ, a fixture at the corner of State and Main Streets since its founding before the Revolution, is almost completely decimated. Merely a month ago, it was a thriving church of over two hundred members, known for its friendly, outgoing and warm welcome. Now it numbers only a dozen members, all of whom refuse to emerge from their homes for worship on Sundays.

About two weeks ago, the first death occurred, when one of their members, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Canitby Herr, the direct descendent of one of the church's founding families, was found dead at her kitchen table, slumped over her breakfast souse. “I came into the room and there she was with her face in her plate,” said her husband Wilbur. Since Mrs. Herr was a bit rotund and had suffered from asthma for some years, her many friends were saddened but not surprised by her death. No autopsy was done at the time. But before long, questions began to arise.

Mrs. Herr’s viewing was scheduled for that coming Wednesday, but even before that time, several members of the congregation fell ill. Agnes Splatz was found collapsed in a heap of slightly soiled linens in her laundry room, the morning after Lizzy Herr’s demise. Her cat was dead, beside her. Not hours later, Maude Garble was found unconscious and near death in her Plymouth Reliant, in the parking lot of the Erstwhile Pharmacy, a bottle of Dr. Silver’s Golden Elixir still in her hand, as if she had been trying for some eleventh hour relief from her terrible affliction. Later that same morning, Mr. Nevin Garble, her husband of forty years was discovered in his workshop at home, also dead. Detectives from the police department later revealed that both Miss Splatz and Mrs. Garble were members of Mrs. Herr’s Golden Hours Sunday School Class at St. Peter's Church.

Before noon that same day, the pastor of the church, the Rev. Eldon Onandon, was found dead in his study, his Bible open to the book of Job, and notes for the coming Sunday’s message nearby. Mrs. Onandon, who has been off visiting her mother in Buffalo this month, was not affected. More members of the church died before suppertime, including Bud Snyder, the church consistory president and his entire family. All eight were found dead in their VW bus at Picnic Park. By that evening all sixteen members of the church choir, many of their family, friends, as well as the choir director, Oscar Waverly had also succumbed to the disease.

“By that time,” says police Chief Dwindle, “we began to wonder what was happening.” No time was wasted before the authorities began canvassing the town, tracking down every lead. In some instances they arrived at church member’s homes just moments after death had beaten them to the doorstep. By this time, church members were dropping like flies.

A lead in the case was broken when they visited the home of Pauline MacTrundle, who was found in a weakened condition, in bed, with a patchwork quilt pulled up to her nose. “It was last week that we were at the Penn Northeast Conference,” she told detectives, “showing how we are welcoming visitors and members every Sunday morning, by passing the peace.” Mrs. MacTrundle tried to demonstrate but the officers demurred, fortunately, as it turned out later. “We went round kissing everyone there, just like we kiss everyone at church on Sundays. Like this, smack, smack, smack! The idea is that no one should go home unkissed. Mrs. Herr is in charge of our kissing program, and she calls herself ‘Kissy-Lizzy’…” “You mean, ‘called’, don’t you?” questioned officer Emil Klinger. But before she could reply, Mrs. MacTrundle’s eyes rolled back into her head and she breathed her last.

Quick thinking and quick acting members of the town’s force soon went to all of the homes where there were known to be members of the St. Peter’s Church. They issued a stern warning to one and all to stop kissing one another at all costs. The funeral services for Mrs. Herr were changed to cremation, with her ashes to be scattered in Slough’s Pond, south of town. Other families followed this example, so as to contain the contagion as much as possible. Even so, scores of St Peter's members were gone by that Saturday and services at the church were a shadow of their former selves that Sunday. Church members arrived with handkerchiefs and bandannas round their faces, and sat far apart from one another, “like the Presbyterians do,” as one member said. A special offering was collected for relief of those whose family members had died already.

As the second week of this epidemic took its toll, the deaths peaked and then began tapering off, so that by the following Saturday, the disease had seemed to petered out. “We’ve learned our lesson, “ said Pastor Guy Neff, of the Methodist church. “All of the town’s ministers have all agreed that there will be no more passing of the peace in our churches.”

When interviewed about her role in the disaster, Mrs. “Kissy-Lizzy” Herr’s husband Wilbur, said, “This is what you get when you try to mix church and that lovey-dovey stuff.” Wilbur Herr, who is not a member of the St. Peter's church, does not seem to have been affected by this terrible disease.

Pastors could write volumes about the wild, weird and wacky things that are said to them, or that they are asked or expected to do, or that happen in and around their congregations, that are often the complete opposite of what the Bible (or common sense, or etiquette, or wisdom) tells them so. But we pastors mostly keep mum and only talk to one another about it saying, "You won't believe this one..." And the funny thing is, the odd stuff keeps on coming, day after day. Like wave after wave, upon the seashore of life.

Never a dull moment in ministry I always say. Fifteen minutes of boredom now and then might provide some relief. But we stick with comic relief instead. Levity, always levity...

If you wonder why your pastor is smiling... Now you know.

Have a great day!


A "Celebration" - Sort Of...

My best friend from seminary has a chore ahead this week. A funeral. Now he is very good at doing funerals in a way that is faithful and dignified. But he has an odd sort of family that he is dealing with. They do not like the words "remember" or "remembrance" having a (strange) notion that these are negative words. So they want him to do the service without using such words. They say that want it to be a "celebration".

Well, yes, we do celebrate when a faithful person has entered the Church Triumphant. And our faith does keep us strong in times of sadness or mourning. But that being said, the family in question are not sad at all, and don't want the service to be sad, and don't want any hint of sorrow or grief to impinge. They say that want it to be a "celebration".

This is how my friend relates it:

The whole family seems to be big on acting as if there is no sorrow here in this death but everything must be upbeat and cheerful. So, when I said that members of the family were welcome to offer some words of remembrance at the service, the (adult) daughter piped up and said, “I wish you could not use that word ‘remembrance.” I think we should use the word “celebration.” We want to celebrate my father’s life." I restrained myself and did not try to tell her that really, it would be impossible to celebrate her father’s life without remembering since no one can say anything about anything that is even one second ago without remembering. But what’s the use?

Exactly. What's the use?

So what is a pastor to do when it comes to the "remarks" that one is called to make, whether we call them a homily or message or eulogy? How does one "remember" the deceased without using the word "remember"? With tongue completely in cheek, I offered my friend some suggestions...

Can we use “remember” synonyms, perhaps? Interspersed with a few “celebrates? Notice I never say “remember”….

We recall dear daddies’ way of tiptoeing in after midnight with his shoes in his hand and lipstick on his collar, and celebrate how he could step right over Fido without ever waking him up. We bring to mind again the time he outran the police by driving down the courthouse stairs, and celebrate that he only got two years probation. What a droll fellow he was! We consider again that his way with a deck of cards could have earned him a place in the Vegas hall of fame, and celebrate that while he went through most of his money, there is just enough to bury him today, and have an nice lunch at the club afterwards. We think about his other secret family over in Jersey anew and the happy life they had with him every other weekend. Wish they could be here with us we would give them a piece of our mind, but in a nice way, bless their hearts! We have an idea of the way he could palm a twenty and no one ever noticed it and celebrate that that is what kept us in blue jeans and pork and beans through all those lean years as we were growing up. Some of us have learned his skill and we celebrate it today. We keep an image of him in sitting right here in the church; both times that he managed to drag himself though the doorway, between his baptism and today—and we celebrate that he gave God a nod now and then when he thought of it. And then there was that time he over turned the outhouse with Mrs. Snyder inside… it sure makes us smile.

Does that give you enough for rounding out the “celebration”?

Pastors could write volumes about the wild, weird and wacky things that are said to them, or that they are asked or expected to do that are often the complete opposite of what the Bible (or common sense, or etiquette, or wisdom) tells them so. But we pastors mostly keep mum and only talk to one another about it saying, "You won't believe this one..." And the funny thing is, the odd stuff keeps on coming, day after day. Like wave after wave, upon the seashore of life.

Never a dull moment in ministry I always say. Fifteen minutes of boredom now and then might provide some relief. But we stick with comic relief instead. Levity, always levity...

If you wonder why your pastor is smiling... Now you know.

Have a great day.

In fact, why not "celebrate" it!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Judy and Cousin Ginny at The Swamp House

Anne and Steven's Wedding Weekend - Sunday

The day after Anne and Steven's wedding, as they were making their way West for their honeymoon, we had some time to spend with Judy's cousin Ginny. Someone had told Ginny about seeing the manatees at Blue Springs State Park, one of our favorite places, too.

So that is where we went. We did see THE manatee. There was one lone manatee up at the spring head. That was all. A few weeks before when we were there, we had counted 75 of them!

It was an interesting drive up to Blue Springs, as when we got about to DeBary, over the phone we got a tornado warning. This shook us all up, and we were not far from First Presbyterian Church of DeBary, so we could have stopped there, but by the time we were alongside it, the skies had cleared somewhat, so we continued onward to Orange City.

Those of you who know that I have been serving as the chairperson of the Resolution Team for the First Presbyterian Church of DeBary may find it interesting that a dust-up was reported just as we were in the vicinity. Maybe the fact that the wind subsided and no lasting damage occurred is a good sign?

We drove along and into Orange City as the skies cleared further. Ginny and her husband Chris owned and operated "The Cranmore Inn" in North Conway, New Hampshire, for several decades, a true gem of a place where we had visited with them many years ago. So Ginny was interested to see the ancient "1876 Heritage Inn" in Orange City as we drove past. But we did not linger, as our goal was to arrive at Blue Springs and see THE manatee...

When we got there, the park was E-M-P-T-Y, having cleared out in a hurry due to the storms. Storms have a way of doing that--driving people away. I think people whose personal style is "stormy" either do not get that, and wonder why they have no friends, or do get that, and truly get some weird pleasure out of making people uncomfortable.

How very sad.

But I digress...

Due to the passing storm, other than the one manatee, we more or less had all of Blue Springs State Park to ourselves, unless you count the bluegrass trio on the porch of the Thursby House (built in 1872), and the blue heron alongside the water. It was so peaceful and pretty.

We concluded the day with a dinner at The Swamp House. If you have not been there, you should go. Down along the St. John's River for a tasty meal and an unsurpassed river view.

Thanks, Ginny, for joining us and for staying so that we could enjoy being with you.