I spent a good portion of my vacation time this summer with “my nose in a book.” It’s where I often go for time to imagine, think, converse (in my mind), ponder, and learn from others’ lives and thoughts. I remember an activist speaking at my college saying to us students, “Don’t take the opportunity you have here to read and study and learn for granted. So many don’t have the privilege to do that.” That has stuck with me and continued to motivate me to read and learn.
Here’s a sampling of what I read over the past two months: Christopher Heaney celebrates the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s (sort of) discovery of Machu Picchu in Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu. I learned much about the history of Peru and the influences of colonialism and imperialism on Peru’s past, a helpful background to our church’s growing connection with Peru. In the first of a trilogy about Calvin Becker, Frank Schaeffer wrote Portofino about a young boy trying to navigate life as the son of extremely conservative Christian parents. Loosely based on his own life, Portofino reflects the life Schaeffer lived as the son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, prominent founders of the Religious Right in this country, and the joys, confusion and struggles of that life. Walter Borneman’s book Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America considers one of the top ten most effective presidential leaders in our country. Polk set out to accomplish his goals (including annexing Texas) in one term. It was during his time that the phrase “manifest destiny” was coined, a term that defines an era and haunts our history. Finally, Wayne Muller wrote Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives. Muller writes that when “I’m busy” becomes the standard way we answer the question “How are you?” something is out of balance in our lives. Scripture tells us creation wasn’t finished until the completion of the seventh day, the day God rested, the Sabbath. Muller suggests that many of us never finish our week because we never take a Sabbath. We never rest and know God’s intended renewal, so Muller provides many suggestions for incorporating Sabbath into our busy live. I certainly commend your nose to all of these books and would like to hear what you have been reading too.
With the start of the school year just around the corner, it’s time for many of us, especially our young people, “to hit the books.” Similarly I would invite all of us to consider how we will learn and grow as part of our church this year. I believe that if we do not take time to grow in our faith, both individually and together, we miss out on the rich opportunities to mature as disciples of Christ and the rich diversity of experiences that are represented in the people of our church. We learn from one another in Adult Ed studies, in serving other people, in working on our church property, in conversations with others around the world. They are important times to learn what God is calling us to be and to do.
I appreciate the value I see in FPCY that it does not simply rest on what it knows. We seek to be a learning community, learning together and learning from many. My hope is that we will instill that in our children and youth as a central value of faith and live it in our life together and in the ministry God gives us.