God Provides

This year, Katie and I bought a share in CSA “Community Supported Agriculture.” Once a week we get a box of fruits, vegetables, and eggs grown directly in the Maryland and Virginia regions. We’re very happy to be supporting local farmers, eating things produced with fewer chemicals, and lowering our carbon footprint.

One of the interesting challenges of having a CSA is that you don’t always get exactly what you want. Sometimes it’s delicious strawberries, cherries, and summer squash, and other times it’s kohlrabi and garlic scapes (no offense if you happen to love those as well!). It means we’ve had embrace that “what we get, is what we get,” get creative with how we cook, expand the “comfort zone” of what we eat, and perhaps share with neighbors what we’re just not going to get around to eating.

Of course, in life, we don’t always get exactly what we want either. We all know that. But sometimes, perhaps even oftentimes, we also have the opportunity to get creative, expand our comfort zones, and share the load with our neighbors. And so perhaps the way that God provides is less like an all-things-year-round grocery store, and more like a CSA: To everything there is a season, and the gifts we are given will sustain us, challenge us, and draw us into community with one another.

Thanks be to God!

Peace,
Chris

Transporting on A Sunday Morning

This week I had the pleasure of seeing Hello Dolly at the Kennedy Center. It was a wonderful production and sheer entertainment bliss. The dancing and the costumes were remarkable. The actors were thoroughly enjoying their roles. The musicians led the whole show with aplomb. We sang under our breath and were transported to another era of haberdashery, matchmaking, and millinery. One of my favorite lines was, “We don’t dance, we’re Presbyterian!”

I thought about the ability for these performers to entertain, uplift, and transport the audience from their busy days, their personal woes, and their professional endeavors into a different space altogether. In worship on Sunday mornings, on a different scale, we try to do a similar thing – lifting thoughts, turning hearts, and instilling connection with the divine.

It is the most important hour of the week – when we can transport ourselves, in the company of the faithful, to worship God alone. It is a huge blessing and a gift when worship allows us to do so. You leave with new perspective, reconnections with God, and the inspiration to seek faithfulness in the coming week. Yet strangely, unlike the Kennedy Center, the front rows are always available!

See you at church, 

CCM

Rebuilt Through God’s Grace and Mercy

In the Spring of 1989, on a choir tour to Paris, with just a couple of minutes before I had to be back on the bus, I ran into the Notre Dame Cathedral and purchased a recording of the organ symphonies of Louis Vierne, played on the great organ of the cathedral by Olivier Latry, still the organist to this day. That night traveling on the bus, my headphones on, the music, recorded in the very room where Vierne had served as organist, changed my life as a musician. I hadn’t heard anything like it in the dry American churches in which I’d grown up. It was brooding, mysterious, exultant, passionate, and resonated with emotion, and the history of that great room and organ.

In February of this year, while visiting my wife Joy, in Paris on a Fulbright Scholarship, we attended one of the weekly organ recitals and marveled at the sound of that incredible organ and room. Then, on April 15 of this year, I watched an online video stream as a horrific fire tore through the roof of that great cathedral. It looked certain that that amazing historic organ would be lost to the ravages of flame and heat, but when the smoke cleared the next morning the organ stood, covered in soot, but mostly undamaged. Thanks to the technological marvel of the vaulted stone ceiling and the physics of heat exchange, the temperature inside the organ hadn’t risen above 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

Last month, I strolled around the cathedral and saw workers already hard at the tasks of cleanup and eventual restoration of the great cathedral – a reminder of resilience of the human spirit. I will sit in that beautiful nave one day and hear that great organ sing again. Buildings burn and are rebuilt. Fires happen in our own lives through loss, hardship, and tragedy, yet strengthened by God’s mercy and grace, we rebuild and continue.

Peace,

Mark