Today's blog post is courtesy of parishioner Brian Wommack. Brian delivered a sermon at Shrine Mont this past weekend, and the text of that sermon is below:

When someone asks me to visualize my happy place, this is what I see. A pastoral, idyllic setting, resplendent in natural beauty, without pressures of time, without many of the anxieties and problems of everyday life and where a beautiful community comes together as one. The kind of place where during Compline – the instruction says “silence will be observed” – and the congregation complies – but creation all around – most noisily in crickets, and bullfrogs and birds – riotously and gloriously ignores the rubric.

Today feels like a time to return to basics. Last week, many debated whether we would turn a corner and finally begin to grapple with this society we’ve all constructed for ourselves. Much has already been said about the coarsening of our culture, the incivility of our dialogue, and our inability to find common ground. People long dug in on positions are now equally dug in that it is those people on the other side who are trafficking in hateful rhetoric.

So, in addition to our lectionary readings today, in the midst of this mountaintop experience, allow me to interject one more reading for you to consider:

A Reading from Robert Fulghum - All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

Most of what I really need
                To know about how to live
                And what to do and how to be
                I learned in kindergarten.
                Wisdom was not at the top
                Of the graduate school mountain,
                But there in the sand pile at Sunday school.

                These are the things I learned:

                Share everything.
                Play fair.
                Don't hit people.
                Put things back where you found them.
                Clean up your own mess.
                Don't take things that aren't yours.
                Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
                Wash your hands before you eat.
                Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
                Live a balanced life –
                Learn some and think some
                And draw and paint and sing and dance
                And play and work every day some.
                Take a nap every afternoon.
                When you go out into the world,
                Watch out for traffic,
                Hold hands and stick together.
                Be aware of wonder.


brian-wommack-6.21.17-blog.pngIt sounds a bit like how we live on the mountain, doesn’t it? We could add a few more, based on our weekend here together:

Bring something to share with your friends – whether it's a passion, a skill, a couple of bottles of wine or a complete coffee bar, if you are the Knapps. You will have fun sharing it, and your friends will appreciate you.

Dance at the sock hop as if nobody’s watching. Join a conga line if one happens by.

If you are going to wade into the pond, wear shoes that fasten on – or at least that float.

Don’t set an alarm – wake up to natural sunlight and birds chirping.

Fall asleep to crickets with a belly full of pizza and s’mores.

Pay attention to the canopy of stars in the night sky.

Get lost in conversation with someone you just met, but have seen around for years and years.

Appreciate the unbridled joy of free-range children roaming the mountain.

Understand that things aren’t always what they seem – that a hayride doesn’t necessarily need hay and a fishing pond is sometimes fish-free.

Walking the labyrinth is good for your spirit.

The view from the top of the mountain really is worth the climb.

And as my cousin Lee Ann says – and I'm paraphrasing here – if you get the chance to sit it out or ring the bell – ring the bell!

What do these mountaintop experiences – this time apart in this place apart – prepare us to do? What role should we play – what role can we play – in this broken and hurting world?

I think it’s as simple as today’s Gospel.

Jesus calls his twelve disciples from many backgrounds and professions. He gives them work to do – work that is still ours to do today: proclaim the good news, and tell that the kingdom of God has come near. After the horror of last week, our work is more essential than ever.

But as one of my own role models Mr. Rogers says, whenever there is tragedy or trouble, look for the helpers. If you look for the helpers, you will know there is hope.

They were certainly there in abundance on Wednesday. Some of their names we know – Special Agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey literally ran into harm’s way, drawing fire away from those they protect. And they have the battle scars to prove it.

Others we can't name, but we know that countless police, first responders, doctors and nurses showed themselves to be heroes.

Still others acted heroically, even though they probably don't think of themselves as heroes at all, bringing Chick-Fil-A, barbecue, home baked goodies, cold drinks and buckets of that famous Dairy Godmother custard to all those doing a hard job on a hard day. I know some of you were among these everyday heroes. 

I believe we are called to be everyday heroes. I imagine Jesus commissioning us and sending us out to do the work he calls us to today: 

Go and feed the hungry and teach them financial literacy in the Lazarus ministry.

Welcome the strangers and help them learn English in the New Neighbors program.

Walk alongside your brothers and sisters in faraway places like South Sudan, Uganda and Honduras. 

Train and teach youth through Sunday school, mission trips, service activities and VBS.

Build up the Foundation to carry the work into the future.

Work to stamp out societal prejudices.

Practice radical welcome so no one is turned away. 

Minister to each other and build up other members of the body of Christ – create community through fellowship breakfasts and weekend mountain retreats; be there whenever anyone may need an encouraging word, a mentoring presence, or a casserole and a hug while dealing with an illness or death – or a near-death.

Truly, these – and so many other things – we are called to.

May we continue to answer that call.

I have had a restful and restorative mountaintop experience – one of the best I’ve ever had – and it is my privilege to bring the Good News to you today.

Now let’s take that Good News, infuse it with a hearty portion Shrine Mont spirit, and go back into the world. After we’ve had our fried chicken, of course.

Today’s Gospel says: “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.”

May we be the laborers God calls us to be to help to heal a broken and hurting world.

Lord Jesus Christ,
your kindly Spirit sets us free
from hastiness and angry tempers,
from harshness and ill-will.
Help us so to live
in the brightness of your presence,
that we may bring your sunshine
into cloudy places.
Take our hands and work with them;
take our lips and speak through them;
take our minds and think with them;
take our hearts and set them on fire
with love for you and all your people;
for your name’s sake. Amen.

Book of Common Order, Church of Scotland