Sunday the 31st started with service at Good Shepherd.  I sat between two old friends, Janet Smith and Linda Taylor, which made me think about one of the things that is so great about church friends. Though my political views are to the left of both ladies, we’ve never let politics get in the way of our friendship.  In fact, on one particularly tough issue, Janet and I went to Village Inn for pie (well, if it’s gonna be a tough conversation there has to be a sweetener) and spent a long time listening to each other’s perspectives.  I won’t forget that evening, and the closeness we found because of it.  Linda and I have taken a similar journey together.  Having arrived at XNA at 11:30 the night before, I was a bit discombobulated when I got to church, but I got there early (a rare event, indeed) so I was able to get situated before service started.

One of the fun things about the service was that Pastor played his guitar and substituted a song for the children’s sermon.  It is one of my favorite children’s Sunday School songs.  To put things in context you need to understand that one of the things we are working to accomplish is to keep church “weird”, which in my mind is fun, unpredictable, engaging, and sometimes wacky.  So, when we sang, Rise & Shine & Give God the Glory, everyone was required to makethe gestures that go along with it.  What a fun, & surprising (weird?)way to get the congregation smiling and engaged in the service. 

Pastor Clint’s sermon was based on Isaiah 55:1-5 & Matthew 14:13-21. He noted that both texts deal with feasts, but we should be thoughtful about how we interpret them.  One way to think of these two passages is that we are being called to “radical situations.”  In the Isaiah text, the prophet asks, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” So Pastor asked us to think about how we spend our money on non-necessities.  How do we make our choices?  Is it the accumulation of things, or is it things that make life richer? Similarly, how do we share those resources with others? Instead of sending a hungry crowd away to buy food, the text said, “… [Y]ou give them something to eat.” We should think about what we have and how we use what we have to make a difference in the lives of others as well. Basically, the take away for me was the wise and generous stewardship of our resources.

We also heard from a guest speaker, Jon Felker, who shared with us his terrific testimony on the “She’s My Sister” Bike Tour 2011 in support of women in the Congo.  She’s My Sister is an “initiative responding to vicious acts of war that have left women broken, and children orphaned in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.”  Jon rode his bike from Florida to Maine this summer, in support of this cause.  He was an impressive young man, and the compassion he had for the victims of violence in the DRC was evident and moving.

After church, I headed to Pea Ridge to get Mom for our “date.” She decided she wanted to go back to Roaring River for the fish sandwich, so that’s what we did.  While we were there, a couple walked in dressed as though they were riding, so I asked.  They ended up sitting next to us and we had a great conversation.  We exchanged cards and I’m looking forward to riding with them when they are in the area.  Sarah may even be a recruit for the Divas. Yay! 

 One weird thing happened while we were there.  An older lady who had been giving the four of us the fisheye, came over and whispered to me (she was being discreet), “Miss, I hate to tell you this, but there’s a stick on your black dress. To understand why this is strange I was sitting down, and it would have been tough for her to see my skirt.  Plus she said, “stick” not twig, or grass or something more likely.  It was as though I’d been out hiking and came in carrying the woods with me. Ok, I’m being a smart aleck, but you have to admit it’s odd.  Since I was wearing a pink top and black patterned skirt, I said, “Ok thank you.”  Mom asked, “What’d she say?” When I told her what the woman had said she really got tickled, and in between laughing pretty heartily she said, “Oh, she’s crazy, that’s too funny” and went back to laughing. (The lady and her hubby were gone at this point.) 

After saying goodbye to our new acquaintances we headed to the farmer’s market to buy treats for the folks at Mom’s place and the law school.  Mom bought a watermelon that the owner helped us pick out and I bought a box of peaches.  Afterwards, I dropped Mom off at her apartment and carried the watermelon to the kitchen.  As I was leaving she said, “I had a good day today and some really good laughs. Thank you.” Can’t ask for more that that.