Ok, this blog is becoming more of a monthly exercise than a weekly one. I have been so tired and so busy during the month of October. My 25th anniversary of my ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament went by on October 31 and no one noticed. I am kind of disappointed about that...
Anyway, today is my monthly retreat day at St. Francis Retreat Center in Dewitt, MI. And boy, I can tell you all that I certainly do appreciate the chance to get away for a while.
I don't usually do this, but I grabbed a hold of a NT and Psalms and simply opened the Bible up to wherever it would. I landed on John 4 where Jesus comes to the Samaritan woman at well. He is so tired and so thirsty. He asks her for a drink of water. She tells him that the well is deep but he has no bucket to draw the water with.
That's where it hit me like a ton a bricks, Jesus got tired...Jesus got thirsty...Jesus had to stop every now and then and just drink deeply and rest. Gee, maybe I should do this more often too.
The well is deep but I need a bucket. God's resources are endless, but I need faith and prayer to receive them. My prayer life (or lack of it) is my bucket.
So, today I am dipping my bucket in God's well and drinking and resting and not feeling one bit guilty about it. How about you?
Well, all nine of us made it back from Massanetta. It took us 11.5 hours to travel the nearly 600 miles from Massanetta to Jackson, but it was well worth it! I am sure glad that I wrote my sermon for tomorrow a week ago
The last day at Massanetta Springs Middle School Conference 2007 was a half day. We woke up (some of us woke up-some of had to be woken up by the girls!!) around 7 a.m. to pack and then go to breakfast. After breakfast we finished packing, loading the vans, and cleaning our rooms. Some of us went to the Hotel Lobby to buy final parting souvenirs.
We then went to our respective "Encounter Groups" (small groups of 8-10) that we had been in all week long. We wrote affirmations for one another to take home, shared email and My Space addresses as well as filling out an evaluation for the whole week, and then ended with a prayer and a group hug.
The final worship service was awesome! It was more low key than the previous ones through the week. It was very Reformed yet 21st Century as well. I can't say it LOUDLY enough that you can still be Presbyterian and Reformed in worship while also responsibly using the technology that is available today without causing a distraction, but rather enhancing worship!!! Hey, we didn't even have to use bulletins and yet we still worshipped deeply.
In worship there was Holy Communion by intinction, confession of sins (new words that were sung to an old tune from the 1800's), reading of scripture, a message from the keynote speaker.
Our seven Middle Schoolers ARE the backbone of tomorrow's Senior High Group. We as parents and adult members of our church need to be "their Number One Fans". We need to remember that they are still kids going through lots of changes in their bodies and their lives in a changing culture. They were great! Massanetta was great, and I hope that we do it again next year.
As a group, the nine of us ( 7 Middle Schoolers + 2 Adult Chaperones) got closer to each other, grew in God's grace together, played, laughed, cried, and was God's family together.
God is Good!
The MSMSC 2007 students were:
The MSMSC 2007 chaperones were:
pj (Pastor Jim Hegedus)
Massanetta Moments Wednesday:
Yesterday’s theme was "sealed". Alan the keynoter used film clip from the Lion King, Spiderman, and a dramatized reading from Dr. Seuss’ "Sneetches" to illustrate how the ways that we label each other in culture and especially in the world of Junior Highs is silly and often hurtful.
We were challenged to find the hero inside each of us. Just as Moses when he encountered God at the burning bush was reluctant to go back to Egypt to set his people free, if we listen to God’s call on our lives God will give us the strength and direction to find that hero.
Last night we did a scavenger hunt in the dark where the items we collected as a church group will be part of a care package for a back-to-school kit for needy kids. During our back home devotional time together before we went to bed we brainstormed together on how we can be heroes back in our own communities by delivering these kits to folks who need them.
During our back home devotional time I challenged each of our Middle Schoolers to share who in their lives was THEIR "Number One Fan". The range of responses were diverse.
Massanetta Moments Thursday:
Today’s theme is "delivered". We heard from the book of Exodus God telling Moses, "I have heard their (children of Israel) cries and I will come down to deliver them."
In our theme/worship time Alan addressed the theme of "delivered from" by using a number of video clips and vignette/skits done by the counselors. We saw very moving and funny clips from High School Musical ("Stick to the Status Quo" song), Freedom Riders (the Line Game scene), and Finding Nemo.
We were reminded that God promises to come and deliver us. Each of us then went to be with our own Encounter Groups to discuss the issues raised and then we split off into our different workshops that elaborated on the subthemes of the main theme for the week.
The afternoon is recreation time when we will all gather at very tall hill (taller than the Cascades sledding hill) to do "Slip and Slide". KOWABUNGA!
…OK, I am now back from the "slip and slide". What a blast! They had a 50 yard piece of industrial strength plastic stretched out over a hill with water and soap running down it. For a while I had the longest slide that went about 10 yards beyond the end of the slide.
My roommate Woody decide to try it. He is a very BIG guy and rotund around the middle, but somehow when he dove face first he landed on his face and got a bloody nose that would not stop bleeding. After 40 minutes he was taken to the hospital for x-rays to make sure that nothing was broken. I was just a few persons behind him and I took it as a sign from God that I should stop my slip and sliding. I still held the record though for the longest slide for the over 40 crowd!
Today was another great day at Massanetta Springs! We really immersed ourselves in the theme for week for the Middle Schoolers, "Signed, Sealed, and Delivered". The worship services have been a nice blend of Reformed theology and worship using a lot of creative video storytelling to deliver the message. Our Junior High kids were challenged by the keynote speaker to remember that they are children of God and that no matter how the world tries to brand and market to them that their identity is first in Christ. Again, there were lots of good energizers, praise choruses, and even an old time Presbyterian favorite, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" sung at our worship/theme time.
The kids now are all worn out and asleep which is where I am headed now...
Yes, we all made it safe and sound to Massannetta Springs. The last 100 miles of our trip was on US 33 through West Virginia and Virginia. It was both the most beautiful and at the same time the longest 100 miles that I have ever driven through the mountains. It truly was as the song says, "Almost Heaven". Also thank heaven that we will be going back a different way Friday afternoon that is flatter and less "rugged".
We left Bethany Presbyterian Church near Pittsburgh a little before 9 a.m. It was about 45 miles into the trip that the two minivans were separated. We eventually hooked up again with each other at the West Virginia Welcome Center on I-79. When we stopped at Wendy's in Elkins, WV it was kind of funny how hard of a time the Michiganders and West Virginians had in communicating with each other. We are definitely in "Y'all Country" now!
The Junior Highs are behaving very well and having a great time at the same time. At our "back home meeting" at the end of the day Lynddy and I "laid down the law" again about IPODS and cellphone use for the Junior Highs. The Massanetta leadership made it abundantly clear to us as adult leaders that this week of conference was also to be intentionally a retreat from our culture as well and these items were off limits.
Tonight we all shared about our "baggage" that we took with us from Jackson--concerns about family, friends, moving, the return trip, and we asked God to help us lay it aside for the time we are here. Our group is starting to build a real cohesiveness.
Tonight after back home devotions and before lights out I took our entire group down to the springs for which Massanetta Springs is named. It is an underground spring with the clearest, coldest water that bubbles up. It is first put through a filtration system before it flows into an open pool and eventually into a stream where folks can dip their feet and fill their water bottles. The kids were really fascinated by this "living water". Most likely I will take them down there again to do devotions on Jesus as the "living water".
Monday, July 9:
We left the parking lot of Jackson's First Presbyterian Church around 11:15 a.m. There are 9 of us going to the PCUSA's denominational conference for Junior High youth all around the country. We made it to Pittsburgh with only one stop. We are spending the night at a church in Bridgeville, PA just south of Pittsburgh by about 10 miles. It is the Bethany Presbyterian Church and it s just off I-79. Jenni did a great job in choosing this place for us to stay. We got there about 5:15 p.m.
The church is an old congregation in a new building (2005). We are sleeping in the Youth Room tonight. There are showers just around the corner from us. Wouldn't be great if Jackson First could add some of these? There is a gym for which I am glad. It gives all of us an opportunity to get out our pent up energy from 6 hours in a car! I shot hoops with Jae and Trae and played a little volleyball with Stephanie.
We drove into Pittsburgh tonight to eat dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse. What a great place! We have been there before when we took groups to the Pittsburgh Project. Jae and Trae got to eat for 99 cents each because Monday night is Kid's Night and if you order from the Kid's Menu you get to have anything on it for 99 cents!
Tomorrow we leave around 9 a.m. for Massanetta Springs Camp and Conference Center. I am hoping that everyone will get air conditioned rooms. The drive ahead of us is about 150 miles or 3 hours and we will stop for lunch somewhere along the way.
It looks like our two 8th graders, Stephanie and Talore are already asleep....zzzzzzzzz
I am so glad that I got a GPS for Father's Day as a present from my family. It has already come in so handy. Pittsburgh is the city of bridges and it is so easy to get lost after entering downtown coming through the tunnel.
The Bethany Presbyterian Church is so NICE and hospitable to us. They are bringing us donuts in the morning for breakfast. I had a nice talk with the pastor, Rev. Dan Hrach (pronounced "Rock"). I bet that he has heard a lot of jokes about his name in his time...
Well, the batteries in my brain are r u n n i n g d o w n GOODNIGHT--pj (AKA Pastor Jim)