Thursday, November 17, 2016

CRUNCH TIME

Indeed, it is Crunch Time. Thanksgiving is just a week away! Advent starts a week from Sunday!
I am caught up in a whirlwind of activity.
   I have council Monday night and thankfully, folks were ok with cancelling Tuesday evening Bible Study. Tues is my pick up the turkey and veggies and make stock and rice night. I simply can't be up til 1 am and be in the office the next morning. I am getting too old for that kind of thing.
   I will have to clean house this Friday, declutter the dining room table, pick up a couple of items so that I will be ready for two days of prep and cooking and the day of Thanksgiving. It will all get done and happen.
   Then there is the yearly Christmas letter and cards to write and send. The German one takes at least a couple hours to write.
   Gifts need to be wrapped, packaged and sent.
   Worship services to plan and prepare for. This year being a wee crazy with Christmas eve and Christmas Day service since Christmas falls on a Sunday. We are inviting kids to wear their pj's and adults their Christmas sweaters! It will be a bit less formal and probably shorter than an hour. I don't anticipate there will be many in church.
   Christmas Eve will be a variation of Lessons and Carols and I will do my special communion - with bread in the manger - praying and hoping the visual will touch people as to the gift of God's love come to us, given to us, the life, love, hope, joy and peace and the giving of Christ to us and for us.
   On the third Sunday of Advent, the Bishop will be preaching and presiding and I will be more nervous than normal! It's not every Sunday that one is graced with the Bishop's presence. I have helped with the cooperative confirmation service at which the Bishop presided, but I was just one of many pastors taking part in the service. This is more shoulder to shoulder. I pray I won't goof up on anything that evening. The service will be Saturday and they are cancelling Sunday morning so that everyone will attend Sat. evening and stay for the potluck dinner.
   Then, of course, it'll be New Year's day - and I have to make sure I have all the star words to give out. That will need to happen before long.
    Sigh. I know it will get done, but it is a daunting list and a daunting time.
    I need to remember to pace myself and make space for God to be a part of it all. I will make it through by the grace and help of God.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

RAINY AUTUMN DAY

It's a rainy autumn day and I am back stateside after our trip across the pond and a well-earned, well deserved vacation!
  I did most of the driving in our rented Peugot, which actually I kinda liked. It handled real well. I drove more than I had expected. I did make it up to 140 kph on the Autobahn. We were fortunate to have visited a few Luther sites - although we didn't make it to Eisleben - thanks to all the detours of road construction that weren't necessarily really well marked and losing time by driving through Luther country!!! We did enjoy Wittenberg very much - lovely old town. Unfortunately, the Luther house was closed - which we knew before we left - but it was awesome just to see the outside and know the Luthers lived there. We strolled around Wittenberg which is very stroll friendly and besides
the church, we poked in some shops. Wartburg Castle was also an amazing place. Take the tour, it's worth it otherwise you just see the Luther Room and don't get to see the other parts of the castle. As with all museums, historic sites around the world - you get dumped into the gift shop at the very end!
   Leipzig is a big city and our hotel was on a tram line. Thanks be to God! Parking is horrendous in Europe. We took the tram in and had a marvelous day at St. Thomas and St. Maria churches. St. Thomas is where JS Bach was the organist and my favorite composer. It was a wonderful church with 2 organs. We stayed for quite a while soaking up the history, atmosphere and of music, that transcends time and still touches lives today. Mendelsohn was also composer in Leipzig and there is a statue of him as well. LH bought me two Christmas presents from St. Thomas Kirche!
   We ate well - guess Europeans haven't learned portion control! We never really had a bad meal. Lots of venison as it was game season, and some wild boar. Across from our hotel in Leipzig was a Lebanese restaurant that had the most scrumptious gyro so wonderfully seasoned and different from the ones here.
   In Eisenach, I had a meltdown when I mistakenly drove into the humungous parking lot of a Bosch factory, ran into construction traffic on the way to Wartburg Castle, and then when I should have
turned left into our hotel (there was a sign that had an arrow and 50 meters) but LH said to keep going. You couldn't see the hotel from the road at all. We had seen it when we entered town from the Autobahn. The road looped back to the autobahn and we took the other road and there was the hotel on our left. They had no restaurant, this being the budget hotel with rooms like a dorm room, so that
meant I had to drive back into Eisenach, whose old town is full of one way streets and no parking.
I said that we would stop at the first place we saw. Well, the first place was Burger King - not happening, the second place was a pizza joint - not really. Then I followed a parking garage sign that lead to a small parking garage. The side street was under construction and gravelly. We walked along it and onto the bigger street and lo and behold, a restaurant. There was a huge fountain in front of it.
It was a bit Italian with homemade noodles. LH had liver and onions and I had pork with a gorgonzola b├ęchamel sauce that was to die for. I would've licked the plate if it wouldn't have been gauche!!!! Bellies full we headed back and found the hotel, no problem.
  We spent a day in Luzern shopping and walking, we went up on the Rigi the next and got the panoramic view of the Alps, we spent a day in Alsace - Riquewhir - a lovely old, historic town full of shops, pottery, wine tasting, and restaurants. We enjoyed a cousin gathering of 34 related cousins and many were not able to attend. We ate well with lots of talk and family history until the restaurant kicked us out!!!!!!!!
   I spent a an afternoon with my closest cousin and her husband and enjoyed out dinner and time together.
   We savored fresh croissants, Buenderfleisch (air dried beef) Langjaeger (a jerky sausage), baked perch, and all good things. Shopped for chocolate and cheese.
   Spent time with my godmother and marveled at how much older we are all getting.
   So much has changed in 4 years and 6 years since I was last there. A lot more traffic and lots of
buildings. It was a bit sad - as it Switzerland is losing some of its charm. I did get to hear cow bells and that was just what my soul needed. Everything is so expensive. Germany and France were
 a bit cheaper.
   Now, it's starting a new L church as their interim - just 7 minutes door to door! But they want 3/4 time at 1/2 time. It will keep me busy and on my toes.
   All is well. All is good. I have been refreshed and renewed and back to driving where I know where I'm going!!!!