Monday, October 24, 2016


We hath arrived in H-town and the unpacking has commenced.  I am now in my office in the space between "organizing" and "destruction." 

While putting my things away, I came across a book entitled "Parishes of the Diocese of Maryland."  Being a little curious, I turned to my new parish to see what it had to say.

It was set apart as its own parish in 1806 and the present boundaries are as follows:

Beginning at the mouth of Licking Creek on the Potomac and following Licking Creek to the Pennsylvania line, thence eastward along the Pennsylvania line to the intersection of the Frederick County line at South Mountain, thence south with the crest of the South Mountain being the Frederick-Washington County line to the Funkstown and Smoketown Turnpike, thence following the line of Antietam Parish westward, i.e., following the Funkstown and Smoketown Turnpike northwestwardly to Beaver Creek, thence with Beaver Creek to a road leading to Roxbury Mills, thence with the said road to the Hagerstown and Sharpstown Turnpike, thence southerly with the said turnpike to Lapan's Cross Roads; thence westwardly with the Williamsport Road to the crossing of the Cumberland Valley Railroad, thence with the said railroad to the Potomac, thence with the Potomac to Licking Creek, the place of beginning.

No wonder I get lost easily.

My favorite part of that whole description is:  then with Beaver Creek to a road leading to Roxbury Mills.  Don't worry ... just pick a road.  It's all good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Trip

We left GP on 10/1.  We are still a day out from our arrival at H-town.  It has been a long haul of different rooms, different beds, different shower heads, long drives and longer drives, and living out of the car.  I am ready to be done.

But over that time we have seen the sun set over the Pacific, family, friends, and places near the heart.

Today we are off to the NFL HOF and our final hotel.  Tomorrow we arrive in our new home town.  And, with any luck, our moving van will arrive within 24 hours of our arrival.

I am ready to be done and begin work.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Day 14

Moving right along . . . we are now on day 14 of our move east. 

We haven't killed each other yet, but Mrs. Ref is currently having a discussion with the cats.

Today is a quiet, restful day, which is greatly needed after two long drives and two time zone changes over the last three days.  Tomorrow will include a trip into Chicago proper for breakfast with a cousin of Mrs. Ref and lunch with several seminary friends.

Sunday we are debating on which church to attend.  If FP+ shows up for lunch, then we will attend St. A's.  If FP+ isn't at lunch, then we will look to attend the church where he is guest preaching.

Monday we will be leaving our host/hostess EARLY EARLY EARLY in order to get to Detroit to see our friend Dave.  He wandered into the church in VC one Sunday in 2006 saying he was the musician for the local summer theater and asked if he could play for us on Sundays.  I may be slow, but I'm not stupid, and he played every summer for three years.  He works for the Detroit Fox Theater and plays for the Red Wings, as well as a bunch of other stuff.  And then we head to Ann Arbor to see more old friends.

On Tuesday we will head down to Canton, OH, pay a visit to the NFL Hall of Fame and get rested for the final leg of the journey.

And on Wednesday we will finally arrive in our new home town.  With any luck the moving van will arrive the next day (but I'm not holding my breath).

All ..... most ..... there.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Captain's Log, Stardate .....

Well, no, not really.  But it's been awhile since I've posted anything here and wanted to give my loyal readers (Spooky and LadyAnn) an update.

The final Sunday at St. Luke's went well.  It was the second Sunday in the newly reconfigured chancel space and we seemed to have worked out all of the glitches just in time for them to handle the influx of supply clergy.  A lovely potluck followed with the giving of a few gifts (a signed book about the Rogue Valley and a beautiful quilt).

The following week of getting ready for the movers was typically hectic.  I had thought things went well until the day we were to leave when we discovered a cupboard full of tupperware that the packers forgot (and I missed on the walk-through), and an early morning dump run because the planned dump run arrived 10 minutes after closing. 

But we eventually got out of town just fine and headed up to Seaside, OR, for a couple of nights watching the sun set on the proper side of the ocean.  All was well until we discovered that our box of mandatory medicine got packed for the moving van rather than put into the car.  Major oops.  We are working through that problem.

We then had lunch with my biological father and his wife, dinner with Mrs. Ref's aunt and uncle, and spent two days with my mom and dad.  We also had a late date with our niece.

From there it was off to Mrs. Ref's mom's place in north-central Washington, where we are now.  We are going to spend the day roaming around the touristy Bavarian town of Leavenworth.

And through it all, FatCat and Troublemaker, are becoming seasoned travelers.

From here we will head east to Spokane for a night, then to Sheridan, MT, for a few days, and then the long trip across MT, SD, and MN.  

Things could be better, but they could also be a whole lot worse.  I am looking forward to getting home.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sermon . . . Not

Today was my last day at the parish.  I'm taking this upcoming week off as vacation while I work on the last of the details before we leave town.  Consequently I didn't do any sermon prep this past week and decided I'd just do it on the fly.

Luckily it was an easy gospel lesson:

"Jesus said, 'There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day.  Outside his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man, who wished for even some scraps from his table and even the dogs would come and lick his sores'."

The parable goes on to say they both died, the rich man being everlastingly tormented for how he treated Lazarus, and Lazarus being delivered to everlasting life.

In my last sermon to the parish I said two things:  Not only are we called to care for the less fortunate among us (as the rich man clearly did not), but we are also called to SEE those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  We may not be able to help a person, we may not be able to get them off the street, we may not be able to house everybody, we may not be able to employ everyone, but we can SEE them.  We can recognize them as people.  We can, as our baptismal covenant says, "Respect the dignity of every human being."

Don't neglect to see those outside our gates.

Service was followed by a potluck brunch with some lovely parting gifts and well-wishes all around.  There were some tears.  There was some laughter.  There was the acknowledgement that we were all taking off on a new adventure.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sermon; Collect for Proper 20C

Collect for Proper 20C

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

It's not often I preach on the Collect; I may have done so one other time, but I can't remember exactly.  As I was going through the readings for today, nothing was jumping out at me.  And, to be honest, with all my books packed away, the activity around the new chancel project, making final visitations to shut-ins, and a myriad of other things going on last week, I really didn't have the time to sit and work on a sermon like I normally do.

Packing the office.  Packing the house.  A family spat as the deadline gets closer and the stress increases.  Closing out accounts.  Filing paperwork for a new house.  Sending deposit checks.  Changing addresses.  Yes, there's a little anxiety in the Young household.

There is also a little anxiety around here.  There was the building project.  There are issues around supply clergy.  There is the attempt to locate an interim priest.  The pledge campaign is upon us.  Advent and Christmas are fast approaching.  Vestry positions need to be filled.  And the list goes on.

But as I was being pressed upon from all sides, as I was beginning to feel the pressure and anxiety levels increase, I read the Collect for today.  Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things.

Grant us to not be anxious.  To not be anxious about packing.  To not be anxious about moving 3000 miles with two cats.  To not be anxious about who will fill in on Sundays.  To not be anxious about where we go from here.

Don't get me wrong – this isn't about not having a care in the world.  This isn't about happily floating downstream letting the current take you where it will.  This isn't about not planning.  This is about being non-anxious.  One way for me to be non-anxious is to plan.

I have a list of things I need to accomplish before the move.  Utilities to discontinue.  Hotels to find.  Friends to contact.  What needs to be packed and what needs to stay.  Having that list and working through it helps keep me on track and helps cut down the level of anxiety.

Likewise John Barnard is also planning for the future and he has his own list.  He has been inundated by calls, e-mails, and conversations from people offering to be on the Search Team.  And while it's great to know that people want to be involved, that's not where you start.  John is putting together a list of supply clergy.  He, the Vestry, and the Bishop are working on the details of calling an interim.  St. Luke's needs to spend some time in evaluating where you are and where you think you need to be.  An accurate profile needs to be developed.  A lot needs to be done.  There's a list.  And hopefully that list will help ease the anxiety.

Love things heavenly and hold fast to that which shall endure.

All this will pass away.  Our anxieties and stress will all pass away.  What will not pass away is God.  What will remain is love.
How might we, in the midst of our anxieties, become un-anxious?  How might we, while living in the midst of things that are passing away, hold fast to that which endures?  One way is to make a list to keep things straight and manageable.

Another way is to pray and worship.

How often do you sit and intentionally pray?  And I’m not talking about a quick grace at meals or a parking lot prayer, but intentionally praying.  How often do you sit in silence to focus on and listen to God?

How often do you read Scripture?  Not just the good parts, not just what you get on Sunday, but how often do you read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest?  Pray the Psalms through the month.  Pray one Psalm for a month.  Find one verse that quickly centers you.  Learn what verses are saying in context.

Can you commit to participating in worship regularly or more often?  Sunday Eucharist is obviously the main worship service, but there are other opportunities.  Morning Prayer will continue; can you commit to getting up a little earlier once a week?  Can you expand that to three or five times a week?  Would the choir host a monthly Evensong service?

Prayer and worship can draw us closer to God if we let them, and if we participate in them.  Prayer and worship draw us into the holy presence of God.  Prayer and worship allow us to see what will not pass away and what will remain.  Prayer and worship allow us to hold fast to that which endures.

These are anxious times for everyone.  May I suggest making this Collect not just the Collect for today, but the Collect of our lives – or at least the Collect of the next few months.

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sermon; 17 Pentecost, Proper 19C; Luke 15:1-10

Today isn't so much a sermon as it is a reflection.  Or maybe it is a sermon; I’ll let you decide.

For almost everyone here today this will be, hopefully, something new.  For a select few, this will all sound vaguely, or maybe very, familiar.  For those select few, all I can say is, “Yes, you have heard this before.”

Six years ago on this very Sunday I preached on this very gospel.  The situations between that day and today are eerily similar.  On that day in a small Montana parish, I was looking into the face of my future.  On that day my small Montana parish was being visited by four people from what would become my new parish.  That decision was still several weeks away, but we had a sense that both the end and beginning were near.

In that sermon I compared the two parishes, Christ Church and St. Luke's, to the sheep in today's parable.  In one sense, Christ Church represented the 99 sheep who had a shepherd that was about to leave them to go help the lone sheep that was represented by St. Luke's.  In another sense, St. Luke's represented the 99 sheep who were patiently waiting for the return of the shepherd.  And now, six years later on this very same Sunday, I find myself preaching a very similar sermon.  How's that for coming full circle?

Right now you are the 99 sheep.  Right now some of you are feeling like your shepherd has left you alone in the wilderness to fend for yourselves.  And that's not wrong or bad, it just is.

St. Luke's is entering a wilderness period.  One way to look at the wilderness is as a wild and untamed country.  A place full of lions, tigers, and bears.  Or a place full of spiders, snakes, and pestilence.  A place where you realize that really, when you get right down to it, we are not at the top of the food chain.  And if you are not prepared to wander through the wilderness, if you don't have the right equipment or the right skills, the wilderness is a scary place to be.

But being in the wilderness can have another connotation.  Ishmael, son of Abraham by Hagar, lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow.  The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before coming into the Promised Land.  Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry.  In these examples, the time in the wilderness wasn't about lions, tigers, bears, spiders, and snakes, although there was probably some of that.  What these wilderness experiences were about was learning who they were.

Ishmael, son of Abraham and Hagar, scorned by Sarah, banished from the family by his father, lived in the wilderness.  It was in the wilderness that he learned to use the bow.  It was in the wilderness that he learned he could survive without his father's help.  It was in the wilderness where he learned to be his own person.

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  It was in the wilderness where they learned to escape from the bondage of slavery.  It was in the wilderness where they learned to be free.  It was in the wilderness where they learned who they were as an independent nation.

Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness.  It was in the wilderness where he clarified his call.  It was in the wilderness where he learned how he could best live into that call.  It was in the wilderness where he came to terms with being fully human and fully divine.

The wilderness isn't solely a place of trials and temptations, a place of loneliness and doubt.  Those can be elements of the wilderness, but they aren't the entirety of it.  The wilderness is also a place of learning.

Ishmael learned to use a bow.  Israel learned what it meant to be free.  Jesus learned what it was to be God's only begotten Son.  St. Luke's is entering a wilderness period.  What will you learn?

How did St. Luke's get here?
What is the most important thing about St. Luke's?
What is our vision for the future?
Who do we want to become?
Who are we now?

These and many more questions are needing to be asked about the past, present, and future.  And hopefully the questions asked will generate answers that cause you to learn about yourself and St. Luke's.

The shepherd is leaving you 99 in the wilderness.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.  But before you go wandering off, or before you get all panicky about lions, tigers, bears, spiders, and snakes, spend some time in wilderness learning.

Because what you learn in the wilderness will shape how you live on the other side.