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Showing posts from May, 2010

Week One in Spello, Umbria

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May 24 Last Saturday Amy and I trained from Rome to Spello, our new home for four weeks. Since the second class train car was full Amy and I stood for most of the time. After a few stops passengers emptied from the train car, so I took a seat in a four seat section, and Amy took a seat in another. Next to me and facing each other were two African men, occasionally speaking English. One was dressed casually with a sweater, the other with a clerical collar, and both looked to be in their 30s They were from Uganda. Uganda? They are students, friends from childhood in Uganda, but studying in different masters programs in Italy. They live in the east, which is mostly Christian, and to the north is mostly Muslim. I told them I was a Presbyterian pastor on sabbatical, and they explained that in Uganda there is the Christian Association of Uganda that unites all Christians together—Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox. Ferdinand got off at the next stop with us, helped us figure out which track w…

Last Stories from Rome: May 22

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May 22, 2010
Before I tell you about our last days in Rome, I need to write that my good friend, Geoff Haskell died yesterday in Pleasanton, California. He was diagnosed last July with stage four colon cancer, had surgery, and has battled the cancer since then. He died on Friday, May 21 in the morning, with his wife Kendra by his side. Geoff's children, Emily and Matt (9) and Kate (10) were able to walk with Geoff till the very end. Please pray for Kendra and their children, that God would be gracious to them and remind them of his constant presence. Amy and I will be flying to SFO to lead the service and return to Italy. It will be a privilege to honor Christ and Geoff in his service. 

Geoff and I met when he was 15 (about 20 years ago) when he was dating Kendra and visiting our senior high fellowship at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church. Geoff came to faith shortly thereafter and I had the opportunity to baptize him, hire him as an intern then senior high director after graduating…

Stories from Rome: May 20

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This is not a short blog, but we hope meaningful one.
A book on Pilgrimage we read before we left home identified seven stages of pilgrimage: desire (what do I long for?), motivation (what do I want to get out of this?), timing (why is now an important time for this?), being led (how is God guiding me?), letting go (can I drop my expectations and be open?), prayer (how do I incorporate a rhythm of talking with God during my journey?) and sharing (what stories will I tell to others that are meaningful?).
The stages are not sequential, although the order makes sense. I find that the stages are cyclical. The more I let go the more I see what I am really longing for. The more I share the more I see how God is leading me. The more I pray, the more I am able to let go. This last stage of sharing comes right now in the form of blogging, but I know there will more stories to share when we come home. The lesson for me, and the author's point, is that pilgrimage is seen as an event, but it sh…

From Jerusalem to Rome

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Before dinner on May 11. Marcel Solomon, the public relations staff at the Dan Panorama, told us his story of being a holocaust survivor. He calls it a "light" story. He and his family escaped from Luxembourg, which, in spite of their neutrality during the war, was occupied by the Nazis. The organization in New York that was helping to move refugees from Europe to other countries helped them relocate in the Dominican Republic after taking a train back and forth across France before they were approved to leave by the Gestapo. He said his life was full of miracles and it's obvious that God has a plan for his life. He explained how his parents would always say "if": "If we had only" or "if we hadn't" and he swore to never say "if." If he wanted to do something he would. He became an observant Jew when his wife was in the hospital with a brain aneurism. He promised God if she became well that he would observe the Sabbath. She did a…

From Jerusalem: Day 8

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I am a few days behind. Where do I begin? Day 5 We left in the morning from Tiberias and drove to Mount Tabor for the Transfiguration. The church is beautiful, especially the small crypts below built on the earlier church mosaic floors and the deck to the right of the church where we read the story of the transfiguration. Mountain top experiences are important for what they are worth: not an end in themselves, but an empowerment for the valleys below where there is ministry to be done. God the father blesses Jesus publically.

We visited Beth Shean, the amazing ruins that rival Ephesus: marble columns, streets, theatre. We sang Great is thy Faithfulness in a tunnel next to the theatre, remembering that God has been faithful from one generation to the next. This is city in the Decapolis Jesus would have ministered in. We drove to Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The entire text of Isaiah was found, which corroborates the text which was previously the earliest, which was 1000 years older …

Holy Land: In the Galilee

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We've been at the Sea of Galilee (or Lake TIberias) since we arrived on Tuesday. It's a very peaceful, relaxing place to begin our journey. A highlight is getting up in the morning, as Jesus did, while it is still dark and waiting for the sun to rise. As it comes up above the Golan Heights to the east, and the half moon is still bright, I'm reminded this is the same sunrise and the same lake Jesus awoke to. This was the setting for his early ministry where he called the disciples to follow him, where he taught and healed and walked.
On Wednesday we visited Caesarea where Herod built a magnificent harbor on the Mediterranean and Peter met Cornelius in Acts 10, Megiddo the sight of 25 civilizations and the reference in Revelation to Armageddon, Mount Carmel where Elijah faced the 450 prophets of Baal. Yesterday we read the stories of Jesus calling the fishermen, calming the storm and walking on water from a boat on the Sea of Galilee, and we read Psalm 93 that speaks of God …