Away in the woods

So this past week I and the family took the week off after Christmas and spent about half of it up in the Sierra in Georgetown, CA, staying with friends and being out of cell service, off the grid, having to come into town and make sure there were no church emergencies every other day. I was once told that if you do not leave town, then you are not on vacation but when it comes to a congregation, I do not understand how you can simply detach yourself from a group you have come to love so much, even in the midst of a time of sabbath.

During this time away I was ably replaced by our fabulous Council President who sent me a copy of the homily she delivered but I didn’t ask for permission to share it so it’ll have to wait.

The Carnahans worshiped in Georgetown at Georgetown Community United Methodist as the nearest ELCA congregation was in Auburn and I didn’t want to drive there and back through the mountains. We decided to adopt the old-school method of picking the church closest to you and GCUMC was the place!

It is an odd sensation to be a worshiper when you are used to being a pastor. I’m not sure that I can adequately explain it to anyone who has not spent years leading services, standing up front and giving voice to the scriptures how it feels to be simply sitting there, hearing the Word, singing the songs as another member of the laity, a lamb of the flock at last.

There is certainly a temptation to be critical. I love the preaching of the Word and have a certain style, a certain comfort in the pulpit and so there is certainly a tendency to listen and measure and weight this versus that, how I might have done it.

That is why I do not save sermons, I mean they are all in “the cloud” and are there for as long as the cloud is there, but I do not refer to them once they are preached. I do not look back at them, they are bread for the journey, not something to last forever, or even later that week. I also do not read other people’s sermons. Down that path lies madness it seems, the chance to be creepily critical and voyeuristic while avoiding any sort of worshipful state of mind.

And so I sat there and simply received the gift of the word of God from the pastor serving that community. I worshiped, I sang, I enjoyed thoroughly the fellowship afterwards.What a small and simple gift to have forgotten, to have completely lost the notion of being just a child of God for an hour or so.

GCUMC is where we will worship when we visit Georgetown. It is good to have a place to land when you are traveling, and this community was a great blessing to me and mine.

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