Monday, September 22, 2014

Sabbatical Journal, Day Eight


            Sunday---a gorgeous sunrise, with the sun illuminating low clouds as it rose in the sky above the horizon.  The tide was out, with the fishing boats sitting on the rocks.  Seagulls were flying here and there.  It was a very peaceful scene. 
            Morning coffee, a new kind we bought at the farmer’s market yesterday, tasted so good, as it does most mornings, bringing me to new life after a good and sound sleep.  We had coffee quietly looking out at that beautiful scene before us. 
            We plan to attend worship service at the United Church of Canada in Annapolis Royal this morning.  We feel at home in Canada’s UCC even as we do in our own UCC in America.  The United Church of Canada was formed by a series of mergers, the same as our denomination, back in the early part of the 20th century.  The Methodists, Presbyterians, and others joined to form it because they felt like they had much in common and could do more joined than separately.  That is the story of the United Church of Christ also, as it gathered one group after another to form the church we know today as the United Church of Christ. 
            Both UCC groups today feel they have a lot in common and are in conversation even now to have full communion with one another.  That means that each will recognize the ordination of the other so that pastors can move between the two groups more easily.  We will recognize each other’s baptisms and share Holy Communion and the pastors of each church can officiate at the sacraments of the other. 
            We have not been to worship in two weeks and I miss it.  I enjoy attending worship when I am away on vacation or sabbatical and if we have the opportunity to go then I enjoy being a worshiper in a congregation rather than the one leading worship.  I like to listen to the preaching of others too, although it is rather hard to turn off the natural inclination to compare what they are doing with a biblical text to what I think I would do with it if I were preaching it. 
            I love singing with others in their church, also, even if they sometimes use an unfamiliar tune with familiar words, as is sometimes the case when we worship in another country.  It is often the music in a worship service that connects with me even if the sermon does not. 
            We were not able to attend worship the past two Sundays as we were traveling on those days making it difficult to stop at a church and worship while we are driving.  We have tried to do that and have missed church services because we did not know the time of the worship service and found out it had passed or it was too far in the day to wait for it.  Also, traveling with a dog makes it hard to go to a church service because the dog has to have somewhere to be during the service. 

            We did attend church at the St. George and St. Andrew United Church of
Canada in Annapolis Royal.  The pastor is a tall woman who is German but who has immigrated to Canada.  She has a definite accent such as Germans who have learned to speak English have.  She was greeting people as they entered the church but did not greet us.  We chose a pew almost halfway to the front and soon a petite woman came to sit on the pew in front of us.  She started a conversation and we learned about each other.  She is a church organist who served churches through the years in the US and in Canada.  She is retired now and chose to live in Annapolis Royal.  The pastor stopped to talk to her and did greet us after that, learning where we are from so she could share that with the congregation during the service. 
            The order of worship was much as ours is.  Most of the hymns were very familiar to us and sung to the same tunes we use.  There were two that were new to us but were easy to sing.  The congregation also sang responses using familiar tunes or easy ones that fit with the theme of the service. 
            The pastor preached on the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  The sermon was good and was very similar to sermons I have preached on this parable.  It was a little longer than I usually preach but she kept my attention through most of it.  She read from a manuscript which is not something that I do but it is what many pastors do. 
            The congregation was not overly friendly but we did have several people greet us and one woman besides the one in the pew in front of us had a short conversation with us.  Canadians, in general, are a bit more reserved than we in the southern US.  They are usually friendly but may not begin a conversation but will talk when spoken to.  Nova Scotians tend to be friendlier than other Canadians in eastern Canada.   
            Isn’t it interesting how we compare the interactions we have with others?  Depending upon where they happen, we may classify others as friendly or not friendly, stuck up or aloof, reserved or outgoing, or a host of other words.  It may be that a person is shy rather than unfriendly but we may not recognize their shyness.  There are situations where we may feel more reserved than others, also.  In large crowds we may clam up and come alive in small groups.  Or it may be the other way around. 

            Accepting others as they are is part of being inclusive, inviting others into our lives and into our social settings.  Being a visitor in a church opens our eyes into what it feels like to be a visitor.  Some of us have never belonged to another church and we do not know how it feels to be the new person in a church group.  Sometimes it is eye opening to be a visitor elsewhere so as to relate to how others feel when they come to our church.  It helps us to empathize with those who see our church in one particular way or another.  Reaching out to those who are new to our church and social groups and including them helps them to see us as we hope they will---as inclusive, caring, and loving Christians.  


  1. Jerry, you really do need to consider writing for publication or at the very least an ongoing Blog on issues important to you or just relating life in Rural Texas. You write in an interesting, comfortable way that draws the reder into the story. And trust me as a person ho reads

  2. That should read, Who reads three or four books at a time. I know the difference. Keep it up! Wes.

  3. Thanks for the compliments and for your suggestion. I will try to do some more writing when I find the time or need to just set aside time specifically to write. When we were in NS, we had no TV or internet. It is amazing how not having those distractions gives us more time to read and write. I could do both with little trouble.