Pastor’s Post for the Week of July 31st!

Dear friends in Christ,

This morning we are “up with the chickens” (if they say that in France) to catch our flights back home from Lyon to Brussels to New York to Portland. I am sure we will be pretty tired by the time we get back home.

Patricia and I have had a wonderful time exploring the south of France, the region called Provence, starting from Avignon and going north on the Rhone River to Lyon. This whole area is a birthplace for Christianity in Western Europe. We stood over the ruins of the first church edifice in Lyon on Monday, dating to ca AD 150, right about the time the New Testament collection of documents was probably completed.

Yesterday we visited the ruins of the Abbey at Cluny, one of the largest and most influential monasteries of the Middle Ages, dating to the 10th century.  This was a fascinating place, destroyed by the French after the French Revolution. One could begin to see how the monks tried to create “a little bit of heaven” in the difficult and unsettled Middle Ages. The abbey offered safety, community, and a contemplative life of prayer and work…a good deal in those days.

We also learned a lot about the Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. The story behind his painting is a sad story of mistreatment and misdiagnosis. It was at the Cloister of St. Paul in Arles that he found some peace and security to do some of his most interesting work and was blessed with a time of healing, again through the ministry of the church in the late 19th Century.

We pray for safe travel as we make our way back home today.

This Sunday we will be officially commissioning our transition team. My thanks to those who have agreed to serve. They have been very busy and will be meeting weekly through the month of August. Please keep them in your prayers and support their efforts to set a vision for the kind of pastoral leadership needed at our church. Don’t forget that we have our congregational voters’ meeting this Sunday right after fellowship so there will be no “Cross Gen” Sunday School.

Our Gospel reading this Sunday reminds us that every day God gives us life and joy that is a blessing beyond measure. So let us gather and give thanks to God for all our blessings, especially for the blessing of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who sustains and equips His church by the Holy Spirit in this and every age.

In Christ,
Pastor Joe Hughes
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