Monday, September 16, 2013

Back At It

Rev. Old Duffer with groom and best man
Upon returning from the sabbatical, my first pastoral act was to preside over the wedding of T.C. and Julianne. They selected an organic farm in the northern woods of Pennsylvania as the site for exchanging their vows.

It was a perfect day. Just perfect. I am frequently cautious when a couple wants to write their own vows, get married in a field, ask all guests to take their folding chairs to the reception tent, grow their own flowers, and request the father of the bride to make all the wine. But I have to say, this is not an ordinary suburban couple.

A really good-looking couple
I have known the groom since he was a little kid, and have worked alongside his mother Nancy for twenty-three years. He used to come over to my house when he was a high school senior and listen to outrageous jazz when he should have been studying for a math test. His bride is an oncology nurse in Philadelphia, and she embodies healing in her voice, touch, and demeanor. They are a perfect match for one another. What a privilege to take part in their incredible day!

Re-entry has started. A handful of wedding guests were church members, approaching Jamie and I with hugs and hellos. We discovered that Dick and Marie bicycled through the Canadian Rockies shortly before our trip there; they lunched in the same Irish pub that we enjoyed in Canmore, Alberta.

I stopped by the church to chat with Roger, the recently retired minister who covered for my summer absence. He has a short list of some matters that he thought I needed to know. Our lively congregation stayed busy over the summer (that's an understatement!) and kept Roger on his toes. With a sweet grin, he asked innocently, "How in the world do you keep up with these people?"

I smiled.  Why do you think I took a sabbatical?  Both of us chuckled.

What love looks like
The first Sunday morning went well. Roger preached and I prayed. That was plenty. After shaking lots of hands, we both arrived late at coffee hour, where a cake with our names inscribed was waiting for us. The elders presented each of us with an enormous yellow chrysanthemum, and sent off Roger with a very appropriate gift. He did a great job, and I cannot thank him highly enough.

The week ahead is intentionally unscheduled, and numerous folks promise to stop by and say hello. I have missed the stories of their lives, and I am look forward to catching up.

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