People need to rest. I knew I was due for a vacation, but I didn't know just how badly I really needed it. I left on June 27 for a week as Episcopal Chaplain at Chautauqua Institution. This first week was really a working vacation: two services on Sunday the 29th, a communion service at 7:45 each weekday morning, a reception at the Episcopal Cottage on Tuesday afternoon, and a bible study on Wednesday morning. I loved it. Here's the Episcopal Cottage, where I stayed. My windows are on the 2nd floor, just behind the tree on the right:
My printer wouldn't work when I got there, and so I preached from notes on Sunday. Here's the sermon as I wrote it:
and I think I preached it pretty much as it's written. It's about the binding of Isaac. The feedback I treasure from that Sunday was from a man who owns a home there and attends every summer Sunday: "She's the best we've ever had!" Now I know that's not true; I know some of the priests who have served as Episcopal chaplain there, and I know they're more gifted preachers than I. But I know I must have done well.
For the weekday Eucharists, I did not have access to the daily Eucharistic lectionary (list of assigned readings) for the Episcopal Church, so I used the Daily Office lectionary (meant for use at Morning and Evening Prayer) instead. The last time I was there (5 years ago), I used Lesser Feasts and Fasts (a book listing saints and others that the Episcopal Church commemorates, along with appropriate scripture readings), but this year, I preached from the ongoing lessons from Paul's Letter to the Romans. Each morning before church I would read through the assigned lesson and think about what I wanted to say. I loved it! I loved preaching about Paul, who's much misunderstood in the church, especially by women. I loved explaining what he was actually talking about in this letter, his good news about God's promises, and about inclusiveness and joy. I loved seeing heads nodding and lights coming on behind the eyes of those who gathered with me. It was fun to explain what's really meant by all those difficult terms like "the flesh," and "sin," and "death," and "the world." I love to preach, but this is the most fun I've had preaching ever!
Here's the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, where I had the privilege to serve for the week:
I didn't attend most of the lectures that week. The theme was about electoral process and reform, and quite frankly, politics gives me a huge stomach ache. I try to keep up with the news, and I always vote, but I refuse to pollute my head and heart with all the back-stabbing and mud-slinging. I'm pretty much a yellow-dog Democrat, anyway (I'd vote Democrat if they ran a yellow dog on the ticket), so I don't really need to avidly follow every late-breaking story and speech. I did attend two lectures and readings given by the Writer's Program that runs parallel to the main events at Chautauqua each week. I was privileged to hear Margaret Gibson lecture and read about memoir, and it was exciting and inspiring for me, since I'm trying to write a memoir, myself.
July 4th at Chautauqua is a time to remember. There are concerts of patriotic music, garden motifs in red, white, and blue, fireworks across the lake, and red flares are lit every 25 feet around the entire perimeter of the lake. It was a great evening to get outside and walk around, listening to music floating over the lawn from the Athanaeum, watching fireworks and flares, and joining the crowds out for a stroll along the lake. Here are just a couple of pictures of some of the stunning gardens and flowers I viewed while there:
I want to write more tomorrow. I spent two beautiful weeks by the lake, my true Sabbath. It was a wonderful time that I spent with my best friend, as well as seeing a few of my other old Buffalo friends. It was at the lake that I got rested and restored. But I can only do justice to that time by making it a separate post -- so it will have to wait for tomorrow!