posted Jul 30, 2018, 10:49 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!

“What new adventures have you been up to these days?” Such was the query from Ms. Ruth, our oldest surviving member at 100 years and 6 months. What a great question to ask of someone! As I paused to think about my answer, I realized that nothing in my life at that moment fit the definition of (or at least my definition of) “adventure.” It’s summer, and things around MRC are slightly less adventurous.

In church life/ministry, it’s called the summertime-slowdown. Many people are away on vacation; regular church programming stops, except for worship and Vacation Bible School; the choir is not in rehearsal or in worship; and normally scheduled meetings for organizations/ministry partners of ours are put on hold until September. Because of the summer season, I have enjoyed spending more time in prayer and sermon study; getting administrative tasks crossed off my list that have been languishing there for a while; and planning for new ministries and fall worship. It’s summertime, and the living is eas(ier). I realize not everyone can or will have the opportunity to experience this slowdown; I am well aware it is a gift. 

But then, everything is a gift from God. Everything.

In Henri Nouwen’s book Gracias! A Latin American Journal he describes “his travels in Bolivia and Peru, [and] ponders the presence of God in the poor, the challenge of a persecuted church, the relation between faith and justice, and his own struggle to discern the path along which God is calling him.” In his time of discernment he says, And slowly I learned. I learned what I must have forgotten somewhere in my busy, well-planned, and very ‘useful’ life. I learned that everything that is, is freely given by the God of love. All is grace. Light and water, shelter and food, work and free time, children, parents, and grandparents, birth and death – it is all given to us. Why? . . . So that we can say gracias, thanks: thanks to God, thanks to each other, thanks to all and everyone.

Everything is a gift because all is grace. And because all is grace we can say gracias, even when we may find it hard to say thank you amidst the whirlwind of life. Gift = grace = gratitude.

Yes, things around MRC are not as “adventurous,” and I’ve been able to get certain items crossed off my list, but really, what this season allows me to do is what I love most about my call: I get to spend more quality time with you all. And so, during this season of summertime-slowdown, of a space to say gracias, I would like to issue an invitation. I have office hours on Tuesday, 1-3; Wednesday, 2-4; and Thursday, 1-3. Starting on August 14, come and sit on the front porch of Coventry House and let’s look and listen for God’s gifts. Come and be still, and have a conversation over a cup of coffee/tea. No agenda, just a moment carved out of the day to be still in the presence of God as we say thanks to God, to each other, to all. 

I did share one “adventure” with Ms. Ruth. I’ve seen a few hummingbirds in the area, so on Sunday afternoon, I bought a hummingbird feeder and hung it from the garage eaves next to the cedars. Since then, I’ve been eagerly looking each day for one of those tiny, whirring creatures. And then, in the early evening on Thursday, there it was, drinking happily from the feeder. “Tell your friends,” I called out as it whisked away. And I cheered.

Everything is a gift. Indeed. 

In gratitude for the privilege to be your Pastor, and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish