postcards from sabbatical – week 8

postcards from sabbatical – week 8

Dear Faith Friends, The three flights and 30 hours of travel that got us from Athens to Washington, DC, weren’t as bad as we expected.  We were thankful for that because it meant that we could really enjoy the time with at the Shipman reunion. Every year, for 27 years, my husband’s children and grandchildren have been gathering at North Myrtle Beach, SC, on Father’s Day.  My sabbatical threw all of that off this year, as we would be in Greece during June.  One daughter had the inspired idea of using this opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  All tickets are timed entry now and we had to plan four months in advance, but it was worth it. The history section begins by taking you down an elevator, back in time to the 1400’s when enslavement of African peoples and slave trade in Europe and the Americas began. Slowly we walked up through the history of oppression, dehumanization, cruelty, greed, resistance, overcoming, confession and persistence that is the story of America and the story of African-Americans.  It was moving, filled with shame and pride. The story is still unfolding, of course.  I am grateful to our Sunday school class that has tackled “Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race”, by Debbie Irving.  The need for knowledge of history, self-understanding and radical openness to the other is so important for those of us in the majority if there is to be hope for our nation.  I believe that, as Christians, we accept a greater responsibility for changing our society. To be...
postcards from sabbatical – week 7

postcards from sabbatical – week 7

Dear Faith Friends, We had four wonderful and rich (and very hot!) days in Athens.  The Acropolis was our first stop.  The beauty and immensity of the Acropolis, the Hadrian Wall, all of the temples, and – especially – the Parthenon are remarkable. The next day, we got up early to visit the Agora, the marketplace. In the afternoon, we went to the new (air conditioned) Acropolis Museum.  It is an excellent resource for imagining and understanding the life, politics, art and religion of ancient Greece. All of those spots were teaming with people. Fewer people climbed up to explore the Areopagus.  The Areopagus is an enormous boulder, poised between the Acropolis and the Agora.  Here, between the sites of worship and everyday life, Paul proclaimed good news to all nations. The Areopagus isn’t fenced off, as other sites.  You don’t need to pay to visit it. There are no plaques to read.  Those of us who were present spoke quietly, took fewer pictures and lingered longer. We were taking in the marvelous knowledge that the world – and our lives – were changed by words spoken here.  And our lives are still being transformed by the God we know, who is never far from us. Blessings on the journey, Charlotte What…you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything it it, the One who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is served by human hands, as though this Divine One needed anything. From one ancestor God made all nations…so that they would search for God...
postcards from sabbatical – week 6

postcards from sabbatical – week 6

Dear Faith Friends, After hiking the largest Greek island, Crete, for two weeks, we walked four smaller islands – Santorini, Serifos, Sifnos and Milos.  Each had its own character.  Santorini has dramatic beauty and LOTS of people, especially from Asia.  Serifos was overmined for centuries and looks a bit like deserted deserts of the Wild West; there is little infrastructure and tourists are mostly Greeks from the mainland. Sifnos is well cultivated agriculturally – enough for export – and has produced many great chefs.  Lots of French visitors – maybe because the food is so good!  Milos is still a wealthy mining community and has only recently welcomed tourists; we heard a lot of German. On Sifnos, we took a Greek cooking class on a small family farm.  George and Dina explained how they are returning to traditional seeds, species and methods of planting to use less water and insecticides.  They want to yield diverse and healthy crops.  George learned from his parents, grandparents and other elders in the community. Now, his sons are carrying on the tradition. It is a lot of work, but also a joy, George said.  I know that feeling in ministry.  The Christian life is joy and effort, work and rest, planting and harvesting, and passing on the goodness of our God. I’m looking forward to cooking some of the recipes I learned from George and Dina for you. Blessings on the journey, Charlotte So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity,...
postcards from sabbatical – week 5

postcards from sabbatical – week 5

Dear Faith Friends, The hiking has turned hot and dusty, testing our will and tenacity, and our sunscreen. We left Crete, for four smaller islands.  Santorini was chilly enough at night that we had to go back for more clothes.  But, Serifos – which we just left – and Sifnos, where we are headed to, are blistering.  Even the locals say it is too hot.  Paths are devoid of shade and everything is uphill or down. We keep walking, step by step, to appreciate all there is to see – a plant I everyone has seen but has no name for, an old man riding his donkey home laden with goods, stone walls built hundred of years ago, red lava cliffs and black sand.  The chilly waters of the Aegean Sea, down below, go a long way to restoring our good humor. This isn’t a hardship, of course, but a gift.  Yet, it is a training of sorts for taking what is and living into it with delight and curiosity, because it is what God has set before you. Paul loved the congregation in Philippi, in the north of Greece (where it may have been cooler), encouraging them to keep moving forward in faith, no matter the circumstance, rejoicing in the presence of a living God.  I tramp on with his hymn singing in my heart, for this time and for you. Blessings on the journey, Charlotte Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say: rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near…The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds...
postcards from sabbatical – week #4

postcards from sabbatical – week #4

Dear Faith Friends, The hospitality we have received on Crete has been overwhelming and touching. Cretans are a fiercely independent people, with an astonishingly ancient history.  Three continents have tried to dominate the island.  There are ruins of multiple cultures all around and built upon. It is the faith of Jesus Christ that has eternally captured and molded the souls of the people.  The Apostle Paul established churches here and could be confident that the gospel would prosper here. The people of Crete turned to a living God who gave life and purpose, courage and kindness.  I am grateful to have traveled through their landscape.  I like to think that the hospitality of Jesus has fostered their spirit of openness and kindness. Blessings for the journey, Charlotte For the people of these regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.  – 1 Thessalonians...