Monday, July 29, 2013

Look Ma, new hands!

Thanks to a church member who knows his way around a band saw, the church clock now has new hands! (The new ones are on the left.)

This morning, our contractor put the new hands on the front face of the clock tower -- a little lagniappe, as we would say in New Orleans, a little something extra thrown in at no additional cost on the mortar repointing job.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Easter in July!

In the North Country, Easter lilies bloom in July. In south Louisiana, they seldom bloom in time for Easter, but they're usually in bloom during the fifty days of the Easter season. Not here!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Off to Triennium!

Eight youth from our church, accompanied by Youth and Family Ministries Director Marianne Wilson, headed out bright and early this morning for the Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University. They were joining up with other youth and adult leaders from neighboring presbyteries in Albany and heading out on a bus for Indiana. Our prayers go with you all, and may you have a wonderful, life-changing week at Triennium!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Speaking of eternal things...

Like a clock face with no hands...

How appropriate for a church, where we speak of eternity, of a God whose understanding of time is not like ours..."For a thousand ages in thy sight are like yesterday when it is past..." Christian hope involves looking forward to a time when there is no longer any time. A time of God's reign, and the eschatological banquet, God's big dinner party (I preached a sermon on that once)...and kairos time...I preached a sermon on that one too, during Advent...

So yes...a clock face without hands on the church tower makes a significant theological statement to the community. As our website says, we really ARE committed to living differently from the secular world. Our clock face says it all. Look ma, no hands.

Or, to tumble from the metaphorical to the downright literal about it, the Lupini Construction guys have been working on the clock tower this summer, up on the lift, drilling out the old mortar around the stonework, and they noticed the wooden hands on the clock had dry rot. So they took them off (before they fell off and landed on somebody's head), and they are going to make new ones. But there's another problem. The clock stopped working a few months ago (after running backward for a while after lightning struck the steeple three summers ago, which REALLY makes for some interesting theological/metaphorical conversation). So, if we could just find someone who fixes 140-year-old clocks in towers...

Okay, there's a sermon illustration here somewhere. Maybe not this week's sermon. But a clock face with no hands...that's gotta preach, one of these days.

But for now, it'll blog.

P.S. Look what I found! The clock hands! Two sets, actually -- there are clock faces on the four sides of the tower. Now, that'll blog, too!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Midsummer in the North Country, 2013

Wow...we are now midway through our fourth summer in the North Country! I am sure this is a big surprise to a lot of people who thought we would run screaming out of here after the first winter (and that first winter was a booger even by local standards). But here we are.

This summer, though, is different from the ones in years past. It has been raining, and raining, and raining. I'm not sure the temperatures have gotten out of the low 80s yet this summer. Lake Champlain is now, I think, at flood stage (100 feet). It was quite a shock to go down to the local McDonald's along the lake and discover the little beach was gone and the waves were splashing up on the rocks at the edge of the parking lot.

I started my (in)famous cherry tomatoes in the church office window in late March. Brought them home to harden off on the front porch around Memorial Day. We had a cold snap that weekend with temperatures in the low 40s or lower, and rain, rain, maybe even sleet. (Memorial Day is the weekend the master gardeners around here tell you to put in your vegetable garden. Not this year.) I almost lost the little tomatoes. They didn't look good for quite awhile. Some recovered, some are still pretty small. I ended up planting them in big pots and setting them out in full sun (when there is sun!) out in the back yard. They're just starting to bloom. Seems to me that in years past they were bearing by the beginning of August. This is not looking good. By the end of August around here, it's getting chilly again. Grow, guys, grow!

And yesterday I heard on the Weather Channel that New Jersey is having a problem with late blight attacking the tomatoes and potatoes due to all the rain. We had late blight our first year here when there was a lot of rain in late summer -- but by that time, most of the harvest was done. I hope the prevailing winds don't bring the blight spores up here. In that last bout, the blight even got the tomato I raised from seed in the window of my office, that I had in a pot on the deck, far from the rest of the garden, planted in sterilized potting soil, so it was definitely a wind-borne disease.

And to get away from my tomato obsession for the moment, this is the summer of the lifts at church. We are having the mortar repointed on our 1873 stone church building, in particular the area around the clock tower. The workmen are out there every day, going up and down on a big orange lift that goes beeep! beeeep! like a backup warning device all day long. They're even out there in the rain, but when it starts to thunder, they're outa there. I wouldn't be up there on a metal lift when it's thundering, no way. One July afternoon during my first summer here, as I was watching a pretty enteraining thunderstorm from the safety of my office, lightning struck the steeple. Ka-boom! And the fire alarm went off. Now that was an adventure...

I bought a quality pair of noise cancelling headphones a few weeks ago to use on the plane for my trip to California in June. I discovered that they work very well in my office, too. I can still hear some sounds from the construction, but the beep-beep isn't so annoying. And if I plug the headphones into my iPod, so much the better.

So when people around here complain about all the rain and the humidity, I smile sweetly and say, "This is what New Orleans is like in the summer. Only it's hotter. Now you know why we like it here."