Saturday, February 23, 2008

Yes, I'm still alive!

Here it is February 23, and I realize I've been silent on this blog for more than three weeks. I guess it's been something of a blur since our plane landed back in Portland following our week in Kansas City, and now here we are preparing for another take-off -- this one for two weeks in England.

We are excited! We're going with two laypersons from the established church we serve -- two delightful seniors (is that an acceptable descriptor?), both of them women, from the congregation. Yes, we are excited, but they are even more excited. At least if the date of packing is any indicator. Both of them have been packed a full two weeks. I still have not begun to pack... but no worries: our plane doesn't leave for 11 hours. From Boston. After I finish my sermon, get some sleep, then lead worship, and get ready to take a bus to Logan. Maybe I should think about locating my luggage and doing some last-minute laundry. That would be a good place to start...

We will spend 10 days at the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, where our work with John Vincent will help us to sharpen a vision for a new kind of ministry here in Portland. Our itinerary is still a bit fuzzy in my mind, but as I understand it, we'll participate in some learning sessions on Bible & the City and Living the Gospel in the Urban Setting, visit some churches doing innovative things, meet with church leaders, and participate in worship and fellowship gatherings connected with a faith community of which John Vincent is a part. Assuming we have access to the Internet, we hope to post now and then with updates.

And then, since we're already in England, we'll conclude our trip with four days in London once we've delivered our two parishioners to Heathrow for their return trip. Sara has been to London, when she was in 8th grade and her grandparents took her; I have not. The specifics of our adventures in London will depend on how Rachel is doing at that point. We're learning every day, in new and more profound ways, how unpredictable 19-month-olds can be!

My hope is not to anticipate too much, but just to take in all that this trip will afford us... to learn as much as we can, to enjoy our time away, and hopefully to find the experience renewing on many different levels. We are incredibly thankful for the diverse opportunities we've had over these past nine months or so, to travel, to meet some gifted and generous people, and to learn so much from others. I know God is going to use all of these experiences as we continue our ministry, both helping the established congregation imagine a new future, with new purpose and new vitality, and also in our very exciting efforts to plant a brand new congregation.

So... back to sermonating. And then there's that whole packing thing... But then, sleep is overrated.