It's been quiet around here! I've been out of town twice, and am about to head out of town a third and fourth time, so it's about time that I did a quick recap of July goings-on before August gets too far underway.
The end of June/beginning of July was spend with this amazing group of people:
The 11 of us spent a week in Denver, Colorado, spending a week doing urban ministry around the city. We worked at nursing homes and packed boxes at the Food Bank of the Rockies. The food bank was an intense operation: at the beginning of the line, one person would grab a box, put two boxes of cereal in it, and push it along the rollers to the next person. This next person would grab three huge cans of tomato juice – nearly 10 pounds! – and load them into the box, pushing it down the line. And so it went – from the tomato juice to evaporated milk, canned vegetables, applesauce, beef stew, rice, and beans. At the end of the line the box would get taped up and loaded onto a pallet. Our arms were aching at the end of each day! But it was worth it: in our three combined days of work, we packed 40 pallets of boxes. That’s 2000 boxes. That’s well over 60,000 pounds of food. That’s over 8000 people being fed across two states, thanks to our 3 days of box-packing! After a week of hard work, we celebrated by spending the 4th of July at the Denver Zoo, and then to Coors Field, where we rooted the Rockies on to a 18-17 win over the Florida Marlins and then enjoyed the fireworks together.
Then it was back to Rockford for a couple weeks before heading off to St. Olaf for the Conference on Worship, Theology, and the Arts. The theme for this year's confrence was "Fling Wide the Gates," and the week was spent talking about what it means to fling wide the gates of our worship and what it means to connect what we do in worship with what we do out in the world. We opened each day with Eucharist and closed each evening with evening prayer. (I read the gospel in worship on Thursday the 24th - you can hear the stream of the service here.) We experienced the colorful and whimisical artwork of He Qi. I spent my mornings at an in-depth seminar led by Mel Bringle about hymns based on the book of Isaiah, and we even wrote our own Isaiah-based hymn-texts at the end of the week! I went to special interest sessions on the context of the ELW (Evangelical Luthearn Worship - the ELCA's new hymnal), on the use of visual arts in worship, on Barth and Shleiermaker's approaches to theology and how these approaches relate to experience of music and experiences of God in music, on worship and social justice, on how God speaks in our worship and in our music, and on how what we do at the table in worship leads us to what we do outside the doors of the sanctuary. I could write for ages about everything I learned and experienced, but I'll spare you. :)
The rest of July was spent in Rockford, packing up our apartment here (our lease was up at the end of July) and moving most of our things back to Chicagoland. Life at church has been normal-crazy, and we spent a lot of time and effort re-visiting the question of worship times, even holding a special congregational meeting and a special council meeting to decide what to do (we ended up shifting each service inwards half an hour, which may or may not solve anything and which may or may not make anyone happy...such is the way of things). I've turned in all of the rest of my candidacy/first call/ordination paperwork, so now I just have to be patient and wait until my approval interview (end of August), and then (if all goes well at that interview) wait for assignment, which will happen sometime in October. I'm mere months away from knowing where in the country I'll be placed. So close, but yet so far! So much waiting!
As far as August goes now, Matt and I are heading to Minneapolis this weekend for a wedding, and then to New Jersey next week for some good family time and beach time. And then, I return to my last two weeks of internship...saying goodbye is going to be so hard...I've come to love this place, and these people, and I can't even begin to imagine how to tell everyone everything that I want to say to them before I go. Sigh. That's a post for another time, however. Today, it's time to get myself organized before I go traveling! :)