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A Letter from the Interim Associate Pastor to Presbytery

Gas-tronomy Lessons
May 19, 2011

School's nearly done, but there's still time for a quick lesson. How do you spell refresh, renew, re-energize, re-create? Let me count the ways.

Seventeen years ago, I bought a brand-new car. It has been a good and faithful vehicle for all this time. Like many good things, it has come to an end. In order to pass inspection, it would have required more costly maintenance/repair work than the car itself was worth. Now it is providing a little extra income for a regional charity and we have been happy to replace it with a Toyota Prius, a hybrid.

It's been my hope to be a little greener and lower the carbon footprint I'm making, so a hybrid fit the bill. Some people have asked where it gets plugged in to recharge. Having read up a little, I can explain to them that hybrids are just that -- a combination of gasoline and electric power and don't require a charge from an electrical outlet. It has a gasoline engine and an electric motor. When you apply the brakes, the force generates electricity for the traction battery. You're converting energy. No 40-mile-long electrical cord required.

There are many benefits to this transportation innovation including an unexpected life lesson.

According to the manual: MAINTAIN GASOLINE IN THE TANK AT ALL TIMES; SERIOUS DAMAGE TO THE HYBRID SYSTEM CAN OCCUR IF THE VEHICLE RUNS OUT OF GASOLINE. Did you "hear" that?  If you neglect to feed the vehicle, you can ruin the ability to convert energy. You can kill the car. No one is going anywhere.

It applies to people, too. We need fuel --physically and spiritually -- to keep going in a healthy way. Neglect it at your peril. If you let yourself be used up, you're not going anywhere or accomplishing anything that's meaningful.

I cherish those times when the scriptures talk about Jesus getting away to a quiet place. He prayed, he connected to his Abba, he refueled. He entered anew the dance of days, healing, teaching, confronting, proclaiming and living the Kingdom of Heaven in the middle of us. Our theological tradition affirms that Jesus did not go through life as a super hero in disguise. He knew what it was like to be human and have ordinary, human needs. He had urgency about his mission. Yet, I like to think he recognized the value of a good nap. He knew who was in charge.

The Book of Genesis declares that God made human beings in the image of God. Whatever else that means, it may be that we have the spark of our Creator's creativity stamped on us. When we "creat-ees" get caught up in trying to do everything ourselves (you know who you are), the spark burns out.

Sumer is icumen in.  MAINTAIN  FUEL IN THE TANK AT ALL TIMES. GOD SO LOVES YOU SO DON'T DAMAGE YOURSELF AND YOUR RELATIONSHIPS BY TRYING TO RUN ON EMPTY. Vacate any routine that grinds. Shun overdoing. Take a vacate-shun. Get away to what counts as a quiet place for you -- a day of pretending to fish on the banks of Slippery Rock Creek or sitting on the porch swing. Play. Try a water balloon challenge in the back yard (the Pumponator makes them easy to fill!) or a bike hike or a few Sudoku puzzles. The One who has searched you and known you can find you when you are away from the office, the study, the assembly line, the laundry room, the place that you think makes you who you are. Be with your family. Just be. Listen for the still, small voice in the slowly unfolding center of the rose or the thunder of the American falls.

Read the manual. It's a Good Book.


The Rev. Carol Divens Roth, Interim Associate Pastor to Presbytery

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