25 of anything is a good amount
but 25 years
that’s even more of a profound number
and account. . .
A QUARTER OF A CENTURY
25 Years and more. . .
So very, very much more
I began serving North Royalton Christian Church on January 15, 1995, knowing that I NEEDED to have a part-time position to supplement my income having jumped from a full-time Senior Minister position at Westlake Christian Church and a part-time chaplain’s position at St. John Westshore Hospital to a Spiritual Care Coordinator’s position at Hospice of the Western Reserve. It was a JUMP then and now I don’t regret even though it was a major change for me and the family. I NEEDED to have this position more than I WANTED to have the position and when Susan Cash, an Elder and also one of the primary people on the Search Committee, stood up this past Sunday in Church and marked the occasion with some fabulous and humbling remarks, (which can be seen at the bottom of this post in full taken from the February Church Newsletter) It only summoned the memory to recall things that the weight of, buckles knees and humbles the heart.
I thought 25 years ago, I NEEDED North Royalton Christian Church for the supplemental income when there have been few moments in those 25 years that have failed to remind me that I NEEDED North Royalton Christian Church for so very much more, and oh, oh how they have delivered in more ways that we will all fail to fully comprehend. My best moments (and hopefully, theirs) is when we have lived in full, vivid living color that I am not THE minister of North Royalton Christian Church, but actually and fully, A MINISTER of the church and our greatest achievements and even failings, have been when we’ve seen each other that way. WE, US, not I or me, do the ministry of the church. In essence, they made me A Caring Catalyst before I knew the true definition on one.
Maybe it’s ironic, but as we are celebrating 25 years of ministry together, I am also looming on celebrating 40 years of being ordained this May. In such a profound and powerful way I fully KNOW that I’m not just a sum total of all the pieces/parts/experiences that make me up, but literally, all of the lives who have made my life, MY LIFE.
What excites and motivates me now is that there are still lives, pieces, parts, and experiences that continue to be added, to further, and not just expand or make my tapestry, but actually BE MY TAPESTRY. A single thread a tapestry does not make. I’m so richly consecrated to have that proven moment by moment and better still, person by person.
Much in the same vein of Robert Frost’s poem, STOPPING BY THE WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING, I so much embody the last verse:
THE WOODS ARE LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP,
BUT I HAVE PROMISES TO KEEP,
AND MILES TO GO BEFORE I SLEEP,
AND MILES TO GO BEFORE I SLEEP.
In a way that echoes those very sentiments, Susan ended her much appreciated remarks with a quote by an author I’ve never really read, Ursula Le Guin. It comes from her novel, ALWAYS COMING HOME:
“When I take you to the Valley, you’ll see the blue hills on the left and the blue hills on the right, the rainbow and the vineyards under the rainbow late in the rainy season, and maybe you’ll say, ‘There it is, that’s it!’ But I’ll say, ‘A little further.’ We’ll go on, I hope and you’ll see the roofs of the little towns and the hillsides yellow with wild oats, a buzzard soaring and a woman singing by the shadows of a creek in the dry season, and maybe you’ll say, ‘Let’s stop here, this is it!’ But I’ll say, ‘A little further yet.’ And we’ll go on, a you’ll hear a quail calling on the mountain by the springs of the river, and looking back you’ll see the river running downward through the wild hills behind, below, and you’ll say, ‘Isn’t that the Valley?’ And all I will be able to say is, ‘Drink this water of the spring, rest here awhile, we have a long way yet to go without you.’”
I know that my best steps are the ones I’ve never taken alone
but in sync with others
and that the ones to be taken
could be the best ones
still yet to come
with the promise
that those taken long after my last step
could be the very best yet
because of any step I’ve walked along with others
. . .those are the steps
that keep marching forward
. . .ALL-WAYS forward
inspiring other steps
to be taken
s h a r e d
so very, very much
M O R E
that shows you the difference between
N O T I C I N G
K N O W I N G
I have been so magnificently blessed
in experiencing both
and the best part–
I still do
I still am
WE ARE HUMBLY APPRECIATIVE
January 26, 2020
In Honor of Chuck and Erin’s 25th Anniversary
In January 1995, we didn’t have GPS. There was no Febreze or Swiffer. Selfies & texting didn’t exist because there were no smart phones. Invisible braces were far off in the future. There was no Wikipedia, Google or Facebook and online banking and shopping at Amazon were not yet available.
If you were attending NRCC in early January of 1995, you know we didn’t have a minister either until later in the month. That’s when Chuck joined us.
Over the years, Chuck has presented about 1200 sermons to us. He doesn’t preach, he tells parables—I remember one of his first Sundays here he told us about a character in his hometown who the towns’ people called Ugly. It was a very touching and dramatic story. Chuck has delivered a sermon from the top of a ladder; he’s come dressed as a bum; was an Elvis impersonator; has been Paul, Peter, and Judas; and he often sings his sermons. Once his niece sat in our congregation as a homeless person.
I don’t think he has ever repeated a sermon let alone repeated a theme.
And standing alongside Chuck is Erin—we got a twofer—two special gifts to this congregation. We thank God for sending you both to us. You’ll never know how much we appreciate your devotion, your dedication, your love, your spirit, your teachings, and your wisdom.
I was watching a program about the writer Ursula Le Guin recently and the program ended with her reading from her novel Always Coming Home. I think her words speak to Chuck and Erin’s ministry here:
“When I take you to the Valley, you’ll see the blue hills on the left and the blue hills on the right, the rainbow and the vineyards under the rainbow late in the rainy season, and maybe you’ll say, “There it is, that’s it!” But I’ll say. “A little farther.” We’ll go on, I hope, and you’ll see the roofs of the little towns and the hillsides yellow with wild oats, a buzzard soaring and a woman singing by the shadows of a creek in the dry season, and maybe you’ll say, “Let’s stop here, this is it!” But I’ll say, “A little farther yet.” We’ll go on, and you’ll hear the quail calling on the mountain by the springs of the river, and looking back you’ll see the river running downward through the wild hills behind, and you’ll say, “Isn’t that the Valley?” And all I will be able to say is “Drink this water of the spring, rest here awhile, we have a long way yet to go and I can’t go without you.”
Thank you Chuck and Erin
Written by Susan Cash