Sunday’s sermon: Capitol Reef National Park – Reconciliation

Text used – Matthew 18:21-35

  • There’s a classic children’s book that’s currently in the rotation at my house. It’s a book that my mom read to me when I was a kid, and now, I’m reading it to my kids. In fact, it’s one of Julia’s current favorites. It’s a book by Margaret Wise Brown called The Runaway Bunny.[1]
    • Story about a little bunny who tells his mother he’s going to run away from her
      • Begins with bunny saying, “I am running away.” → his mother’s response: “If you run away, I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
      • Tells her he’s going to run away to someplace else or to be something else
      • Every time he comes up with a new scenario, his mother comes up with a way to find him in that scenario
        • “I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.” → “I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”
        • “I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you.” → “I will be a mountain climber, and I will climb to where you are.”
        • And so on and so on. The little bunny tells his mother he will become a crocus in garden, a bird in the sky, a boat sailing on the ocean, even a little boy running into a house. And every time, his mother comes up with a way to find him again until finally the little bunny gives up and decides that staying home with his mother isn’t so bad after all.
    • And as I was reading this book to Julia a few days ago, I was thinking about it in terms of this week’s theme – reconciliation. The restoring of relationships. Making one thing – one person, one life, one action, one belief – compatible with another again. You see, know matter how hard that little bunny tried to run away from his mother, she was always ready to reconcile – the find him and help him and be with him and protect him and love him. And it made me wonder what it would be like if we pursued reconciliation in the way that that mother bunny does. What if we sought out restored relationships with that kind of determination? What if we were that focused on putting things back together again?
  • Sermon series this summer = road trip through the beauty and grandeur and spiritual inspiration of a number of National Parks using America’s Holy Ground: 61 Faithful Reflections on Our National Parks by Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer[2] → today’s travels take us through reconciliation as viewed through the lens of Capitol Reef National Park
    • [READ 1ST PART OF REFLECTION – pp. 56-59]
    • Image on the front of the bulletin = some of the cliffs surrounding the Waterpocket Fold → you can see some of the different stripes of rock formations along the ridge … some of that “sleeping rainbow” as it arcs its way through the rock. And as you look at those different layers of rock and how persistent they are from one formation to the next despite such minor interruptions as millennia of erosion and geological shifting, I can see reconciliation in that.
      • Reconciliation = not about make things perfect again … not about making things exactly as they were → Reconciliation is about putting things back together in a way that both honors and heals the separation and brokenness of the past. To use a slightly altered version of a common phrase, reconciliation is about forgiving but very deliberately not
        • Forgetting implies that whatever caused that break, that rift, that separation was unimportant → But by the very fact that it caused the rift in the first place, that makes it important. So forgetting is not only impossible but also disingenuous. Unless you undergo some sort of memory wipe like something out of science fiction movies, you’re not going to forget.
        • Forgetting = also counterproductive → It’s from our mistakes and our missteps and our broken places that we learn. We learn what not to do and say. We learn how not to be. We learn about the ways that our actions or inactions, our words or our painful silences affect other people. If we say we’re going to forget, then we’re erasing the lesson. We’re erasing whatever path to reconciliation has already been forged.
        • Forgiving requires remembering → But it requires a remembering colored not by resentment and anger and misunderstanding but remembering colored by repentance and communication and understanding. Forgiveness requires remembering colored by reconciliation.
          • Scholar: Forgiveness means to release, to let go of the other. Forgiveness is not denying our hurt. When we minimize what has happened to us, gloss over it, tell ourselves that it was not really that bad, we cannot really forgive. Forgiveness is a possibility only when we acknowledge the negative impact of another person’s actions or attitudes in our lives.[3]
  • See this played out in our Scripture reading this morning → Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant
    • Story Jesus tells in response to Peter’s question about how many times he’s supposed to forgive – text: Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?” Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.”[4]
      • Part of larger portion of Mt’s gospel that seems aimed at humility
        • Jesus asking the disciples who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven → answering his own question by bringing a child into the disciples’ midst as the e.g. of how to be in order to enter heaven[5]
        • Jesus’ warning to the disciples about their actions causing others to sin[6]
        • Parable of the lost sheep → leaving the 99 to seek after the 1 and rejoicing in finding that one again[7]
        • Jesus’ lesson about how to handle a sibling in faith who sins against you → speaking to them first in private, then with a few others if they refuse to hear you, finally before the whole church[8]
      • And into this discussion of humility and lostness and sinning and forgiveness, Peter asks his question. “But how many times, Jesus? A whole seven times?” And I can’t help but imagine Peter both exasperated and a little self-righteous in this passage.
        • 1st part = exasperated (“Sure, Jesus. I can forgive. Once or twice. But where’s the cutoff point here? I mean, how many times am I supposed to keep on forgiving??”)
        • 2nd part = self-righteously magnanimous → I just envision Peter asking this thinking, “Wow, I’m going to impress Jesus with such a high number! Wait for it! ………… Okay, Jesus, how about I forgive seven whole times?” Impressive, right?
    • But instead of congratulating Peter on his forgiving-ness, Jesus humbles him all the more: “No, Peter. Not just seven times. Seventy-seven times. At least, that’s a good start.” And to drive his point home (as he so often does), Jesus tells Peter and the rest of the disciples a parable.
      • Story of a king who wanted to settle his accounts with his servants, wanted to clear his ledger
      • In this process of settling accounts, one of his servants is brought before him → owed him an astronomical amount of money – text: they brought to [the king] a servant who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[9]
        • Gr. = “ten thousand talents” → But even this isn’t really an actual measure – scholar: Ten thousand talents does not mean just ten thousand talents, since both “ten thousand” and “talents” serve in Greek as the largest possible number. The amount is so striking that some early Greek manuscripts reduce the number. However, the absurdity of the amount is crucial to the story.[10] → Suffice to say this servant owed the king a mind-boggling among of money – so much money that he would never, ever, ever be able to pay it back.
      • King’s first order is to sell the servant and his whole family and everything he had → Which sounds like a harsh and uncomfortable suggestion … maybe even more so because we hold in our minds the knowledge of our own nation’s history and how so much of our society and economy today was built on thousands upon thousand of just such barbaric and heartless transactions – slave families bought and sold and separated with no regard to their cries and pleas nor to the lives they had already established together.
      • This king = compassionate à hears the pleas of his servant to spare his family and not only decides not to sell them but forgives the servant’s debt entirely à This is a really important point. The king doesn’t just say to the servant, “Okay, you and your family can stay … but you still owe me this money, so start working on paying it back.” He doesn’t even say, “You and your family can stay … but you still owe me a portion of this money, so start working on paying just 5% or 10% or 25% of it back.” This king forgave the debt. Period.
        • Gr. is clear → “forgave” = cancelled, released, abandoned → This servant’s massive debt no longer exists. Not a single penny of it.
      • Instead of rejoicing, servant goes out to find a fellow servant who owes him a mere fraction of what he himself owed the king not 10 minutes ago – text: He grabbed him around the throat and said, ‘Pay me back what you owe me.’[11] → when fellow servant can’t pay him back, he uses the exact same phrase that the first servant just used with the king in regards to his own massive debt – ‘Be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ → first servant refuses and has his fellow servant thrown in prison until debt can be repaid
      • King finds out about this egregious injustice, becomes outraged by the fact that, despite the mercy shown to him, the first servant refused to show such mercy to another in return, and king has the first servant thrown in jail until he paid off his entire debt
  • It’s a difficult story to hear, especially in the context of the gospel – the good news that proclaims to us the love and grace and mercy given to us by God through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But I think this is also one of the truest-sounding parables that Jesus tells. As painful as it is, we can imagine this happening today, can’t we?
    • Imagine one person’s struggle to reciprocate forgiveness given to them by another à bring to mind times in our lives when we’ve been every person in that chain
      • Been the king: giving out the forgiveness
      • Been the first servant: recipient of forgiveness who couldn’t manage to give it to another
      • Been the second servant: one pleading for forgiveness that isn’t given
    • [READ 2ND PART OF REFLECTION – p. 59] → There’s an important point that I want to make here. This reflection talks about reconciliation – about rifts mending and wounds healing. And our gospel passage this morning talks about the importance of forgiveness. But in all of that, it needs to be said that first and foremost, the reconciliation and healing and forgiveness need to happen within yourself, and sometimes, that’s the only place where that reconciliation and that healing and that forgiveness will happen. And that’s okay. (touched on this last week, too, but it bears repeating)
      • Some relationships are too broken or too unhealth to mend
      • Some wounds, once healed, will still leave a scar – will leave us forever altered
      • Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you are beholden to opening yourself up to pain again
        • Forgiveness doesn’t have to come with full trust
        • Forgiveness doesn’t necessitate a relationship again
        • You can forgive someone and still walk away if that’s what you need to do to protect your body, your mind, your spirit. But the good news of the gospel remains that the one place that you can always find renewed relationship after reconciliation is with God. God will always welcome you back. God will always offer healing and forgiveness and life on the other side of the rift.
    • Want you to hear these questions from the end of the reflection particularly in the light of your relationship with God this morning: Where have you reconciled in your life? What reconciliation would help you most, and how do you think that might happen? How can you create reconciliation in your community and your family? Amen.

[1] Margaret Wise Brown. The Runaway Bunny. (New York: Harper & Row), 1942.

[2] Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer. America’s Holy Ground: 61 Faithful Reflections on Our National Parks. (St. Louis: Chalice Press), 2019.

[3] Charlotte Dudley Cleghorn. “Proper 19 (Sunday between September 11 and September 17 inclusive) – Matthew 18:21-35 – Pastoral Perspective” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Year A, vol. 4. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 70.

[4] Mt 18:21-22.

[5] Mt 18:1-5.

[6] Mt 18:6-9.

[7] Mt 18:10-14.

[8] Mt 18:15-20.

[9] Mt 18:24.

[10] Lewis R. Donelson. “Proper 19 (Sunday between September 11 and September 17 inclusive) – Matthew 18:21-35 – Exegetical Perspective” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary – Year A, vol. 4. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 71.

[11] Mt 18:28.

Sunday’s sermon: Arches National Park – Connection

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, UT.

Text used – Romans 12:4-17

  • When I was in 3rd grade, I had the most amazing teacher.
    • Taught us about all those necessary 3rd gr things
      • Spelling
      • Cursive handwriting
      • Multiplication facts (using the greatest, Midwestern white lady rap ever!)
    • Also focused a lot on respect and wholeness → And one of the main ways that we did this was at the beginning and end of every school day, we set down in a circle in the middle of our classroom and sang the song “Love Can Build a Bridge” by the Judds.


      • Teacher even let me work out hand motions to it that we taught to the class (small example)
      • And sure, there were kids that didn’t love doing it. There were a few boys in the class that would be silly about it (because that’s what 9yo boys do!). But I’ll tell you something: to this day (almost 30 yrs. later), the 20 or so kids that were in that class still talk about those times. We still talk about how much fun it was. Some of us can still do at least some of the motions. And most important, as we get older and go through the motions and the ups and downs of life, we still talk about how meaningful that song has been.
        • Fully honest: I still can’t hear that song without crying! → even just listening to it in my office this morning, I was getting all teary
      • Chorus: Love can build a bridge // between your heart and mine // Love can build a bridge // Don’t you think it’s time? // Don’t you think it’s time?
  • So obviously, one of the things that got me thinking about “Love Can Build a Bridge” – and particularly my 3rd class’s experience with that song – is the connectionality of it. It’s a song all about coming together – about making meaningful connections with people, connections that build each other up and help each other out, connections that are based on the strength and power of love. But the other thing that got me thinking about “Love Can Build a Bridge” in connection (no pun intended) with today’s theme is that the music video was actually shot in Sedona, AZ.
    • Lots of fabulous 1990s-style panorama shots of them singing out in the desert
    • Scene in the video = the Judds (Wynonna and Naomi) standing on top of … Can you guess? An arch. → [READ FROM America’s Holy Ground[1], pp. 31-32]
  • All of those beautiful arches are points of connection. They bridge the cap between one pillar of stone and the next, creating a structure that is even more breathtaking and beautiful than those pillars would have been alone. And that’s what this morning’s Scripture is all about.
    • About how we need each other
    • About how we belong to each other
    • About how we are better together
      • Lift each other up
      • Compliment each other
      • Connect us to each other
      • Text: We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.[2] → These are surely powerful words, but I think they’re even more powerful when we think that Paul is writing them to people he didn’t know. So often, we read Paul’s letters to people in churches that he had established in his mission journeys.
        • Letter to the Christians in Ephesus
        • Letter to the Christians in Philippi
        • Letters to the Christians in Corinth and Thessalonike
        • All of them = letters to people with whom Paul had already established relationships → people with whom Paul had already made those connections
        • But Paul’s letters to the Romans was to a community unknown to him. Sure, they knew of Paul – knew of his reputation and his ministry, maybe even knew of his conversion story with the flash of light and the vision of Christ and the blindness and healing afterward. Yeah, they probably knew of Paul, but they didn’t actually know His mission travels hadn’t taken him there. He hadn’t planted a church there. There was no established connection there. And so into the absence of that connection, Paul sent them these words about just how powerful and essential connection is to the Christian faith.
          • Make his initial point of the critical nature of connectedness → how we all belong to each other
          • Drives his point home with examples: We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful. Love should be shown without pretending.[3] → Paul highlights all of those different gifts – all of those different pillars that surely could stand on their own. But with the connection of Christian community, the bridges that form between those pillars make us the Church together. Service can be inspired by teaching. Teaching can be informed by prophecy. Prophecy can bring out encouragement. Encouragement can build up leaders. When we combine all of those gifts that Paul talks about, we become stronger, wiser, deeper, closer to God together.
            • Mother Theresa: You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.
            • More humorous spin – FDR: I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I sure can pick smart colleagues.
  • Thing about connections: they aren’t always perfect, right? [READ FROM America’s Holy Ground[4], pp. 32-33] → The arches are fragile. The ecosystem is fragile. Even the dirt is fragile. And in truth, our human connections can be fragile sometimes, too, can’t they?
    • One of the hardest part of the last 5 yrs. or so → We seem to have lost a critical esteem for our connectedness as humans. We’re clinging so tightly to the idol of our own opinions … we’re clinging so tightly to “my rights” over my responsibility to my fellow human beings … we’re so focused on getting what’s mine we’ve lost sight of the importance of what’s ours.
      • Feels like more and more, we’re living in world of shattered connections
        • Children not talking to parents
        • Siblings not talking to one another
        • Neighbors not talking to neighbors
        • Even worse → horrific acts of violence perpetuated against other people simply because of who they are
          • Black and brown people
          • Jewish and Muslim people
          • Native Americans
          • People of Asian heritage
          • LGBTQ people
          • People who have come to this country seeking safety and hope and the promise of possibility
    • Paul addresses this fragility, too, as well as the importance of love and grace in the face of it: Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic – be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. Bless people who harass you – bless and don’t curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.[5]
      • Now, there are a lot of places we could go with that … but then we’d be here all day. There’s one central phrase in there, though, that I want to look at closer. → “Consider everyone as equal” = sort of Paul’s version of the golden rule – Gr. “think of/be mindful of/take up the cause of” + “each other”
        • Older translations: “Be of the same mind one toward another”[6] → But I want us to notice in that that it doesn’t say “be of the same mind with one another.” The Greek word for “with” is definitely not part of that sentence. Paul isn’t trying to tell us that we all have to think exactly the same thing. Paul is trying to tell us to “be of the same mind toward one another.” Treat others the way you want to be treated. Because mutual honor, mutual respect, mutual love … these are the ways that we build connections in the first place and the way that we rebuild them once they’ve been broken.
    • Passage about Arches National Park makes it clear that those connections – those beautiful, majestic sandstone formations as well as the minute connections in the ecosystems – can’t be rebuilt → once they’re altered, they are forever altered
      • But the beauty of being human … the blessing of being human … is that a lot of times, we can work to rebuild those connections. Not always. There are some connections that cannot be rebuilt – even some that should not be rebuilt when there’s abuse or neglect or other harmful intentions involved. Sometimes the mistakes other people make are just too great. Sometimes the mistakes that we make are just too great. But through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God showed us on the grandest scale possible exactly what kind of strong, powerful, beautiful, life-giving connection can be made through the gifts of love and grace. And as Christians, it is our charge and our challenge to follow Christ’s example out in the world. And that will always include connections.
        • Questions from the end of the Arches National Park reflection: What connections have made a difference in your life so far? What connections would you like to make? With whom can you connect, or reconnect, in a way that enriches you both? Amen.

[1] Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer. America’s Holy Ground: 61 Faithful Reflections on Our National Parks. (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2019), 31-32.

[2] Rom 12:4-5.

[3] Rom 12:6-9a.

[4] Lyons and Barkhauer, 32-33.

[5] Rom 12:9b-17.

[6] Rom 12:16 (KJV).

Sunday’s sermon: Acadia National Park – Beginnings

Text used – Genesis 1:1-5; 2:1-4

  • What is summer for, friends, but a good road trip?
    • Bags packed
    • Snacks handy
    • Sunglasses on
    • Hair wrapped a la Grace Kelly in opening scene of “To Catch a Thief”
    • Maybe you’ve got a map or your GPS … or maybe you’ve decided to venture out without one, opting instead to chase the horizon wherever it may lead you.
      • Incomparable American Beat author and poet Jack Kerouac: All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.
    • So that’s our plan for the summer, friends. We’re taking a spiritual road trip together – for fun … and for formation. → travel to 8 or 9 National Parks together, using the beauty of nature (virtual though we may be) to help us learn and think about God in some new ways
    • Book for the summer: America’s Holy Ground: 61 Faithful Reflections on Our National Parks by Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer[1]
      • Begin this wonderfully little book with a number of Scripture passages including one that really stood out to me and really captured the essence of this sermon series – Ps 8:3-9: When I look up at your skies, at what you fingers made – the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place – what are human beings that you pay attention to them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them? You’ve made them only slightly less than divine, crowning them with glory and grandeur. You’ve let them rule over your handiwork, putting everything under their feet – all sheep and all cattle, all wild animals too, the birds in the sky, the fish of the ocean, everything that travels the pathways of the sea. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth![2]
      • Also begin with quote from Scottish-American naturalist and mountaineer – and the person known as the Father of the National Parks – John Muir: No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening – still all is Beauty![3]
      • Purpose [READ FROM INTRODUCTION, pp.17-18, 19]
  • And of course, as we embark on this journey together, where better to start than the beginning? The beginning is, after all, a very good place to start.
    • Begin with the history [READ FIRST HALF OF REFLECTION, pp. 25-26]
    • Text: In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good[4]  It’s a passage you may have encountered any number of times throughout your lives.
      • Read in various devotional material
      • Heard interpreted lots of different ways
      • Heard preached lots of different ways Heck, it’s one I’ve preached myself in some form or another at least 4 times over the past 10 years and have referenced I don’t even know how many times.
      • This morning: want to take a look at this text simply for the beauty of the language and how it speaks to us about this incredible, beautiful world that God created dig deep into the Hebrew
        • v. 1: In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth[5]
          • Heb. “create” = word only used for God’s acts of creation throughout Scripture “create, shape, choose, select”[6]  There’s a sacred intentionality to this creation. It’s not a willy nilly sort of creating – tossing paint on the canvas to see where it lands and what comes next. This creation at the beginning of all things is God consciously and willfully entering into the act of creation.
            • Goal in mind
            • Hope in mind
            • Love in mind
          • Heb. “heavens” = word in particular dual form that encompasses both the known and the unknown in the heavens element of what we can see (clouds, sky) woven together with what we cannot see (“the part beyond where the sun, moon, and star are”[7]) There’s something so incredibly expansive and all-encompassing in this word – like those who first told this creation story around an open fire wanted to make sure those who heard about God’s amazing creation understood just how mind-boggling and far-reaching that creation truly was.
        • v. 2 makes it clear just how necessary that new beginning was – text: the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the waters.[8]
          • Heb. “formless,” “void,” and “darkness” are all words reverberating with chaos and obscurity, meaninglessness and emptiness, misery and destruction[9]  There’s a wildness and an uncultivated quality to this “before the beginning” time that sounds to me like Lyons and Barkhauer’s description of the water at Acadia National Park: From the coastal cliffs you peer down into narrow inlets of the North Atlantic Ocean where rough waters put on a spectacular display of spray and froth as they become trapped against the land.[10]
          • And yet over the face of that wildness – a wildness that we cannot even begin to imagine – blew the wind from God.
            • Heb. “wind” = not just a breeze or even a gale force wind No. This “wind of God” is so much more than that. This is ruach. This is a powerful, holy little Hebrew word that means wind … and breath … and Spirit.
              • Same Holy Spirit wind that blew over and around and even through the first disciples on that Pentecost morning bringing them purpose and power and a new beginning
    • The moving of the Holy Spirit of God over those wild and chaotic first waters brought the first beginning. It brought a newness and an orderedness and infinite, unfathomable potential. – text: God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night. There was evening and there was morning: the first day.[11]  From that wildness and chaos, the presence and purpose and power of God brought new life and new possibilities.
      • New … in the midst of the darkness and desolation
      • New … in the midst of the unknown and unfamiliar
      • New … in the midst of the unexpected and unpredictable
      • Friends, it is not lost on me the magnitude of the fact that we are reading this passage and “visiting” this park and this theme of beginnings (and new beginnings) at this a particular time.
        • Potential for new life and new possibilities in this church
        • Potential for new life and new possibilities in this COVID-endemic world
        • And so many of us are facing new life and new possibilities in our own lives right now as well. lots of transitions happening in our individual lives right now
          • Graduations
          • Weddings
          • New career paths
          • Retirements
          • New relationship opportunities
    • Scripture gives us blueprint for new beginnings from that first beginning
      • Presence of God
      • Openness to the intention and expansiveness of God’s creating power
      • And time to give God a chance to work and time to let that newness take hold – text: The heavens and the earth and all who live in them were completed. On the sixth day God completed all the work that he had done, and on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.[12]
        • Heb. “rested” = shabat  Yup. Sabbath. Holy rest. Intentional time away from the activity to marvel at and be in the presence of the One who set the work in motion. God rest. GOD rested. You can, too. Because that truth is that while there is beauty and possibility in newness … there is also a need to rest – to let the work of God work.
          • Chance to stop for a breath
          • Chance to set down your pack and rest
          • Chance to catch your bearings again Because, as we all know, new beginnings can be exciting … but they can also be overwhelming and disorienting. If you were hiking to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park to catch those first rays of sun as they graced the eastern seaboard, somewhere along that path to the top, you’d have to stop and rest (probably more than one “somewhere!”). Because if you burn yourself out before you reach the peak, you’ll never feel those first rays of the dawn – the beginning of a new day.
    • Questions from the end of Lyons and Barkhauer’s “Acadia” reflection: Can you make an important “beginning” in your life? Is there something that you would like to start over or begin afresh today? Regarding your relationships, is there space to create a “new day” with someone?[13]  Amen.

[1] Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer. America’s Holy Ground: 61 Reflections on Our National Parks. (St. Louis: Chalice Press), 2019.

[2] Lyons and Barkhauer, 15.

[3] Lyons and Barkhauer, 16.

[4] Gen 1:1-4a (NRSV).

[5] Gen 1:1 (NRSV).

[6] Exegesis by Rev. Elana Keppel Levy – “So Much Bible!” blog:  

[7] Levy’s exegesis.

[8] Gen 1:2 (NRSV).

[9] Levy’s exegesis.

[10] Lyons and Barkhauer, 25-26.

[11] Gen 1:3-5 (CEB).

[12] Gen 2:1-3 (CEB).

[13] Lyons and Barkhauer, 27.