From Hal’s Desk, where Ron has been sitting until today……
As you know, I am literally on my way out the door. We are in town through Thanksgiving to be with the family, but the next few days will involve several things.
I have resolved to finish our Christmas letter. It is crazy and perhaps we will fail, but we decided to do it anyway because we know that our Advent season will be very short when we return home. It seems daunting, but I intend to make the time. It is so important to let loved ones and friends know that you are thinking of them and to share a memory and express a hope that there are things worth living for and dreams worth having. It is a sort of benediction (good words) on the past year and a blessing on the year to come, that we are planning to send out into the world by snail mail. I know it’s only a letter, but I believe that any chance to make the Word flesh is worth taking!
I also plan to complete one last weaving project. It has been a great Ft. Collins visit on that score—I have managed to weave 25 yards of fabric which includes 14 place mats, six table runners, and 7 hand towels. These were completed with the support of the staff at Lambspun, my favorite yarn store in Fort Collins, aided by the fact that I have only worked with this amazing congregation and its staff part-time. One real plus of my weaving time was the presence of a few Plymouth folk, who knit and weave there too.
Next Sunday, I will be sharing in the Baptism of my two Fort Collins grandchildren during the second service. Let’s be clear, I will be doing the traditional motions and asking the questions, but you, dear congregation, will be doing the Baptism. In our tradition, the Sacrament of Baptism belongs to the gathered congregation representing the Spirit of the Loving God. As I explained to the grandchildren, there is nothing magical about Baptism or their "Opa,” other than a biological family and a church family agreeing that they need one another and that they affirm one another as care givers for children in the presence of a loving God. The tradition can wax all theological about it, but Baptism is the church welcoming God’s children in a visible way!
Then the following week, just before we leave, we will share Thanksgiving with our family here. This is a holiday with more than a little freight. We could discuss that at another time, but it does have potential. It might raise a justice question or two in our minds concerning food, or the genocide of indigenous people, or the American fixation on the violent sport of football and the sacrifice of young lives destined to suffer the consequences of traumatic brain injury. Thanksgiving can be much more than well-stuffed relatives sharing a meal. I do love that part of it, of course!
Once again, thank you for the joy of sitting at Hal’s desk!
My season at Plymouth as Interim Director of Christian Formation for Children (I won’t miss typing that) is coming to an end just as the back-to-school season is creeping up on students of all ages, as well as parents, grandparents, teachers, principals, and professors. And of course, all the other folks who make schools run. Let’s hear it for the lunch ladies, custodians, secretaries, aides, nurses, and school resource officers! It does take a village.
But, what would the new school year look like if “God Time” got as much time as back-to-school shopping? As much thought as which backpack or planner or new shoes to buy?
One lesson from the pandemic is that we are all responsible for our children’s Christian Formation. Sunday School, when it is functioning, is at best an hour a week. We all have said the panicked prayers when we are fearful for them, but what faith are we sharing with our children? They may only hear the sigh of relief when they show up on time, or the lost is found. What are we teaching them about our relationship with God? How are we allowing for their relationship with God?
In her chapter of The Sandbox Revolution, Dee Dee Risher writes of how the Christian tradition is a path of love and “a spiritual corrective for basic human tendencies toward selfishness, violence and ego-centered living.” Rev. Risher suggests families participate in twice daily prayer--from the heart, not the rote ones, and reading, not from one right list, but books from many different kinds of cultures and characters. You’ll learn a lot, and have some cuddle time too.
You may have received my last mailing from church. It went to families with young children. I love the suggestions from Illustrated Ministries, especially the one about taking a deep breath before you open the car door when dropping your children at the myriad of places we drive them. You all pray for what is about to happen.
And please take one suggestion from me. The long drives to violin practice with my son were some of our best times because there was time to talk.
Take time for every season,
In 2020-21, Tricia returned to the interim position she held between Plymouth directors Sarah Wernsing and Mandy Hall. After leaving the Plymouth staff, she served as director of Children’s Ministries at St. Luke’s Episcopal for four years. Before moving to Ft. Collins with her husband Jim, she was Director of Children’s Ministries at the University Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas. She has served on Plymouth’s Christian Formation Board, Congregational Life Board and taught Sunday School for many of the current youth group. Tricia is married, has two children living in Texas, one golden retriever and 5 grand animals. Her idea of a good time is hiking and reading. Before COVID, she and her husband attended the 6pm service. Pronouns: she/her.