Too many rules rule us. Try five.

Too many rules rule us. Try five.

Traveling involves a lot of rules. There are rules about what you can bring, how big it can be and how much it can weigh. Rules about when you can sit down and stand up and use the restroom. Every country we come from or go to has its own rules. Every country applies some rules more strictly than others. In Greece, where we are traveling for the first part of this sabbatical, isn’t much of a stickler for traffic rules. Speed limits are ignored. Pedestrians must yield to be safe. Passing on the left – or right – is accompanied by much honking and gesticulating. On the other hand, if there is an accident, Greece is all about the rules. If you are stopped, you better have plenty of proof of insurance, and you must have – not just a license from your own country – but an International Driver’s permit. That’s no big deal. Here in the States you go to the AAA office, give them $20 and show them your driver’s license and you have an International Drivers Permit. Unless you have unexpectedly been notified that your driver’s license has been suspended. Let me tell you my story. I am generally all in favor of traffic rules. In fact, I am often one of those annoying traffic rule followers. I am the person going 40 mph down 71st street, with another car riding my bumper. I’m the driver who stops at the yellow light, only to have a driver pull from behind me to run a red light. I use my turn signals so religiously that...
Worship after Pentecost

Worship after Pentecost

The Apostle Paul was called to preach Jesus crucified and risen to those who were part of a different culture.  Wherever Paul went he learned the setting, developed relationships and spoke to the spiritual longings of the people. We delve into Paul’s encounters in Greece, to learn how we can be friends with those who we live, work and travel with – even when they are different from us. Our series on Paul and Greece will unfold while our pastor, Charlotte Lohrenz, is traveling in Greece as part of her sabbatical.  Scriptures will help us explore relationships Paul established and nourished in five sites he visited (or was shipwrecked on): Athens, Corinth, Phillipi, Thessaloniki and Crete. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. – Ephesians 4:21-23 Join us for the journey, the experience, the friendship.    June 11 to July 9. What happens when we each one meets another in Jesus...
Someone Made Room For You

Someone Made Room For You

I grew up in a traditional Midwestern White Anglo-Saxon Protestant suburban family just past the middle of the last century. My parents didn’t have the proverbial average 2.5 children, just 2. In our kitchen, each member of the family had an each equal side of the square wooden table, and our own solid wooden chair. I remember being fascinated by another kitchen set up I saw when I went to a friend’s home during college. Lisa Marcucci was from an Italian family outside of Pittsburgh. In her family’s kitchen, there was a long rectangular table with a chair at either end. On the long sides of the table were open -backed benches. I remember thinking it looked a little uncomfortable not to have a back to lean on. Then I remembered that Lisa was a twin, and six more of her siblings were twins and there were some singles mixed in there, as well. When we sat down to eat it was clear how helpful those benches were as younger ones were sentenced to the end so they could hop up and get anything that was needed and older ones stepped over and out of the bench, arriving or leaving for work and sports. And there was room for me. Mrs. Marcucci said, “There’s always room for one more at this table.” My husband’s family has an expression that always reminds me of the Marcucci table. “Sit like you have a family.” The first time I heard Gene say it, we were in church. It was a signal for people sitting in a pew to scooch on over, get...
Surgeries, Systems, Circumcision and Salvation

Surgeries, Systems, Circumcision and Salvation

My husband’s surgeon is thrilled with the surgery.  According to all the medical care providers, everything has gone just as planned and expected. It doesn’t always feel that way to Gene. As we approached the decision to have a partial pancreatectomy, Gene and I learned loads of details about what could happen, what was expected, how the body would respond.  I am incredibly grateful for the patient expertise of the many (and many different kinds of) doctors who were specific and thorough with us before surgery. We thought we knew what to expect. After surgery, the surgeon dropped a surprise.  In the post-surgery conversation -you know, the one when the patient isn’t present – he mentioned that the stomach is “flipped out of the way” to get to the pancreas.  “The stomach gets pretty rough treatment and doesn’t like it,” he said with a wince. No, the stomach does not like being pushed around.  Gene finds that thirteen days post-surgery his greatest problem is not the removal of his pancreas, not his incisions, and not any changes to his blood sugar.  What he does have, he didn’t expect: a lot of pain in his stomach.  The surgeon belatedly predicted this. “The stomach resents how we treat it, so it just shuts down.  We call it lazy stomach.” A metaphor won’t make Gene feel any better, but we all know that changing one thing can lead to unexpected problems.  Systems – bodies, organizations, families, personalities, religions – tend to resent being flipped around.  It can lead to pain.  It can lead to resistance.  It can lead to a shutdown. In...
We Are Family. Ask Us About Our Stories.

We Are Family. Ask Us About Our Stories.

Do you remember the song We Are Family?  It was sung by four sisters, who named their singing group Sister Sledge. It was a song about families.  It featured a catchy tune that was popular in 1979 and continues to be used in commercials and is heard often at weddings. Sledge family rule spelled out in the last verse: Here’s what we call our Golden Rule, Have faith in you and the things you do, you won’t go wrong. In those lines, the sisters told us one of the rules expected to be followed by those living in their family.  It is a rule that must have worked for them, as the family stuck together.  Three of the sisters were still performing until early this year, when sister Joni, died in March.   The written rule must have guided them well over the years. Does your family have rules?  Do all families have rules?  Are they as public as the Sledge’s was, or are they unwritten and known only to those in the family?  Do Christians have family rules?  Does our Faith Presbyterian family?  Are they all written or do we have unwritten guidelines that family members understand, but are unknown to others?  Are there family stories and family secrets that we either consciously or unconsciously keep to ourselves?  If we do, do they hinder others from feeling welcome?  How do we share them in welcoming others? Suppose I asked you “where are the Apostle Doors?” How would you answer that question?  What would you say?  Would you look around and wonder if you missed seeing them when you came in...