Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Witnessing in Strange Places

I just got back from the wedding of one of Jama's nieces.  Caitlin is a wonderful girl who is studying for a PhD in linguistics -- Icelandic, to be precise.   The wedding was unusual because the groom is from a Catholic-Jewish background and Caitlin is from an agnostic-Catholic family.  But Caitlin and Joel found one another in this PhD program and fell in love.  They also joined the local Friends Meeting, which is where they were married.  Though there is no stated theology that I can see, a Friends (Quaker) wedding has some aspects to be greatly admired, especially the time of sharing that went on for about 45 minutes during which anyone who had a "message" from God for the couple could say pretty much anything they wanted to in order to bless the wedding.  Imagine if we orthodox believers instituted that practice?  We do something like that at funerals sometimes, but I'd much rather have people share things they thought would be valuable for me and my bride to hear when I'm alive.

The reception was held at an Irish pub in downtown Philadelphia.  The pub has a live "session" (a group playing traditional Irish folk music by the fire) on Sunday nights, and our party was held on a balcony overlooking the main floor.  It was a jolly family time, and the first chance Jama had to see all of her brothers and their children in one place since her father died back in 2002.

Toward the end of the reception I was standing by the bar giving Jama a bit of time to chat with her older brother, Sheldon, when his son Brendan walked up and engaged me in conversation.  He was pretty drunk, which probably is the reason he was so open to what followed.  He started by asking me about my job and what I was doing, but the conversation very quickly turned to my talking about Jesus and what it means to have God call you to do something.   We talked for about 20 minutes until the reception really broke up and it was time to head back to our hotels.  But a door was opened for the gospel.  I don't know if Brendan will be open to continuing the conversation online (I now have his email address) when  not at an occasion fired by good feelings and whiskey, but I've always connected well with him when we've met, and I hope the Lord will give me that opportunity.

There's a reason why Paul tells us not to get drunk with wine.   We should never put ourselves in a position where we are disabled when the opportunity comes to witness to Christ.  You never know when that moment may arise, even in an Irish Pub at a wedding reception.

"The next day* there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”
 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons.*  Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled,  he said,“Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.
 When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over.  10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”
 11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him."