Changes to the Chancel?

Everyone has their special places.  Those places where they go when they need to rest and recharge.  Those places where they feel safest and best.  Where they feel most grounded and secure.

My special places tend to revolve around nature.  I love nature.  Nature grounds me.  Nature has a way of reminding me of who I am and whose I am.

So when I am at home in Louisville – I find that I am drawn to our back steps when I am craving a quiet place to sit and think.  Or simply a quiet place to sit and just be.  Our back steps are my safe place.  I love the way the sun warms those concrete steps and I can feel the sun’s warmth right down to my very bones.  I sit on those steps through the warm spring days, the scorching summer evenings, and during our toasty fall evenings too.  I sit and I knit (no surprise there). Sometimes I may read. Other times I watch our sons play.  Or I sit and chat with Jason.  Or I may just sit and knit and watch the world around me while enjoying a mug of tea.

I love to watch the leaves on our old oak tree blow and rustle in the breeze.  I watch birds soar through the sky.  I watch ants crawling across the patio.  I admire our garden and marvel at how quickly the weeds grow (so – so much faster than the tomatoes that’s for certain).  I often watch Jack and Will do wildly wonderfully boyish things which amaze and dazzle me with their daring and fearless bravery.  

I am also big on watching the sky.  I marvel at the seemingly endless shades of blue that the sky can be over the course of the year.  I love to watch clouds drift or zoom or amble across the sky.  

I find being in nature to be peaceful. Or at the very least – being in nature give me space to think.

I am trying to be more mindful these days.  To notice the world around me.  To slow down and breath deeply and to give thanks for the small – quiet moments of life too.  To give thanks for the blessings that are easier for me to overlook – to never even notice.  You know – those blessings that we all take for granted.  I don’t want to rush through my life and end up feeling like I missed out on the good stuff because I was too busy being busy. I think that it would be easy to do. To come to the end of my life and to have missed the really good parts because I spent life being busy simply for the sake of being busy.

Some days I am better at this than others.  Some days – I just get moving too quickly.  Some days I forget to be thankful.  Some days I am overwhelmed by life and all that there is to do. 

(Especially now that there is this whole new dimension to so many of our lives = work and homeschooling our children/grandchildren. I am not complaining. I really do love helping Will learn. Jason covers Jack’s subjects because Latin, computer programming and advanced math are way more his speed. But wow has it added to the busyness of my days.)

Some days I just forget to be grateful.  Life can be complicated.  Life is just like that.  We aren’t promised that life will be smooth sailing – just that God will be with us always.

So when I start to I start to lose perspective I head for some green space – for nature.

Nature is balm for my world weary soul.  Jason and the boys are awfully fond of nature too.  It is comforting and healing for all of us.  

The other green place that is incredibly special to me is the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.  I have been coming here with the McFarlands since I was just 17 years old.  It is our special place (us and about 1 billion other people but who’s counting).

We have so many wonderful – happy memories of time spent hiking and walking and just hanging out in the Smokies.  We hike and laugh and chat together as a family of 10 every single time all of us are here together.  We are a wild and wonderful and truly weird entourage – but that is just how we roll.  We have been coming here more and more as the years have passed.  And then a few years ago – Townsend, Tennessee became our home away from home when Jason’s parents bought a home here.

Townsend is the quiet side of the Smokies.  It isn’t touristy or tacky or built up.  It is very green and very – very nature-y.  And so this weekend – Jason and I decided to bring the boys to TN for a few days of big green.  I needed to be immersed in green.  To be surrounded by it.  To be able to see green for as far as my eyes could see – and at our TN house that is just what you get.  Not very many people and green as far as I can see – just what we needed in this COVID-19 world.

So – when you see my sermon this weekend – you won’t see me preaching from Saint Stephen’s chancel.  I will be sharing God’s Word with you from our family home in TN.  I am so thankful for great Wi-Fi and the blessings of a husband who doesn’t mind driving and our God who blessed us all with such an incredibly beautiful world.

I will be back in the chancel at Saint Stephen next Sunday.  And I will be posting my sermon just like I always do on Saturday evening.  I just wanted to explain the unique background setting of my sermon this weekend.

And I also would like to encourage all of you to spend some time thinking about where you are most at peace?  Where do you find yourself most aware of God’s presence in your life? Where can/do you go that reminds you of who you are and whose you are?

Can you go there?  If you can’t physically go there right now because of COVID-19 – use your imagination and go there.  I can close my eyes and be on my back step or in my favorite chair on our porch in TN in less than 1 second. Try it – you might just be able to do the same thing too. . .

Give thanks for those places in your life that help you feel closer to your Lord.  Give God thanks for the ways our Lord has made himself known to you and continues to make himself known to you. I know that these are difficult – stressful – demanding times – but our Lord is with us always.

You are all in your pastor’s heart, thoughts, and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri 

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