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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Monday, February 05, 2007

On the Road FROM Damascus

Sorry, I just couldn't avoid the reference.

Paul had a revelation on the road TO Damascus. OK, OK.... be picky and say it was a different country, a different time, a different mode of transportation.

Yet this afternoon, at about 3pm I was on the road FROM Damascus.... Damascus, NY and the road was Route 17 East. Barbara and I had just finished a wonderful weekend with the delightful folks @ St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Horseheads, NY.

We arrived there Friday night - later than expected or hoped - having passed through a snow squall or two, often wedged in between 18-wheeler trucks that buffeted Harriette Honda a bit -yet we priest, one deacon, one faithful EpiscoPup (Emmy Lou), two bags, boxes of books and provisions for the road. By the grace of God and some relatively new tires we arrived with all parts intact.

"Be ready to hit the ground running" Barbara said as we got off the exit from Rte.17 into town, not knowing if we had made a wrong turn in the swirling snow. Keeping the car running I pulled into a convenience store on the main drag. "Oh, THAT church... it's 2 blocks away on the left". Back into a toasty Harriette, 2 blocks and a U turn later I dropped Barbara in front of the Parish Hall. She was wisely decked in clerical attire... I was dressed for comfort, thinking we would have arrived much earlier (not having factored in the nasty weather). Emmy, in her red collar and knitted red sweater at least made a positive fashion statement... in loose jogging pants and a Michigan Hospice T-Shirt my appearance inspired little awe... more like "ahw, nnoooooooooo".

As usual, the initial presentation went well. The Rafters- Michele and John - were perfect hosts in every way. By Saturday things were moving right along.... and Emmy-Lou was getting the royal treatment by everyone (especially those who 'accidentally' dropped a morsel of food on the floor). Unless my ears deceived me, I thought I heard Em burp more than once between bagels, soups and desserts galore.

The talks were held in Church, Barbara sitting and using a microphone to make sure one and all got every word and many a nuance. The group was encouraged to decide to keep fairly silent - and speak mindfully: i.e. speak when there was a need for information to be transmitted - not as a means to ease the discomfort that often accompanies internal and external quiet. No church business to be transacted, no chatter.

After talks Barbara and I each took individual conferences with those who signed up to speak one-to-one with us. Lunch. Another talk. More conferences. Eucharist began at 3. Because there was there were more people than 'slots' for conferences, the last conference was over at 5:05. We each had a power nap before a wonderful dinner.

Sunday started... with new snow and a pre-windchill temp of 4...yes, four degrees. I toddled down to let Em out at 7am for a little relief and locked myself out on an exterior a t-shirt and shorts. Luckily, Michele was still in the kitchen and rescued me.... talk about a rude awakening! Yikes. The 8am service - then I went back to the rectory to set the bags in the car and let Em run in the snow a bit... an adult forum, the 10:15 service during which the divine Miss Em was nearly whisked away by several families. Back to the house to eat a quick, delicious lunch and off on the road......through Damascus on the way to St. Bart's in NYC by 5:30 for a series.

Vocation is a strange and wonderful thing. Those of us in ordained ministry make vows and sign papers saying we have no intention of perpetuating heresies. Bishops lay hands on us and we become links in a chain that goes back to Peter. We ask our supporters and witnesses to support us in our ministry.... whatever it is. Yet ministry often starts in one arena - on one path and along the way the path leads somewhere else to whatever it will become.

Paul, never had an apostle lay hands on him to welcome him into the fold - he fell off a horse after having had a divine revelation from Christ. Starting off on the road to Damascus one thing was on his heart and mind.... and it wasn't the propagation of the faith. After leaving his destination something entirely different was there.

My revelations along the road FROM Damascus are manifold: my preconceived notion of who I am and what my ministry is will be in flux (as well it should); I am learning to work with a three dimensional person who has much to teach (and I SOO much to learn); if you consider yourself humble you may be very mistaken.

You never know when some insight - some in-light - will seep through. How much better evangelists of the Good News we become when that sight and light pierce through the layers we surround ourselves with and we are transformed by their grace!


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