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On Being Church - a blog

Written by Amy Veatch

I’ve been working on this essay for months, ask Marietta Wynands or any of the other Youth Design Team members, Elizabeth Battle, Lauren Cochran, or Drew Rick-Miller. At each one of our meetings, and in occasional in-between emails, Marietta asks me if I’ve finished it or not. I reply that I’ve almost got it. She is patient and faithful in her reply and encouragement. After six starts and many months, this one is it, yes, this is it! What has kept me from getting it finished is sort of a mystery to me. I would faithfully start and, then yuck, it wasn’t what I wanted to say, or I couldn’t finish it. My reasons for failure, I think, involve the importance of the topic, how many things I have to say about it, and how hard it is to evaluate. What is the topic of this essay that Marietta has so faithfully waited read? The topic is faith; how we get it, how do we keep it going, and what we do to instill it in our children. The Youth Design Team has been studying how to support faith development and continuity for the youth of our church. We’ve looked at studies, read books, told our own stories, asked others to tell their stories, talked with young children, school aged children, and teenagers, and their parents. We meet most months to look at what we are doing well at WRPC, and what we want to be doing better. We make plans and go over strategies for building faith in our kids, with the hope that it has an impact.

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This time last week, we were marveling at God’s glory revealed in creation as we shared our stories of the eclipse. This week we are watching in horror at the destructive power of creation as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall for a second time in four days and the rains continue to fall from Texas to Louisiana. Almost everyone knows someone who lives in affected areas. On Sunday Terry Apter led the Installation of Officers for the Presbyterian Women; on Monday she asked for prayers for her sister, Jennifer, who lost everything to the flood.

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For a few minutes, maybe an hour on Monday, the world slowed down in order to look up into the heavens. Some folks left home over the weekend; or set out early on Monday to be in the Path of Totality. Others went to the roof top, the backyard, the Brickyard or the courtyard to catch a glimpse of the Great American Eclipse of 2017. There was so much that was beautiful about Monday – the heavens declared the glory of God and the firmament proclaimed God’s handiwork! But, something of heaven happened on the ground too. America divided, looked up and, for at least one important moment, saw herself (ourselves) as one Nation under God.

Below is a devotion written by Mary Ellen Taylor for the Presbyterian Women Coordinating Team on Tuesday, then adapted for West Raleigh’s blog, On Being Church. It is a beautiful reflection on her eclipse experience. There are many other experiences that bear witness to what happens on the ground when we take the time to look up. Please, please share those experiences by adding a comment so that we can re-member that eclipse moment and let it shape our common future.

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Drew, Ruth, Margaret and I just returned from two weeks in Europe (our two-year-old, Emma Kate stayed with my Mom and played with her cousins – thanks, Mom!). The trip was our Christmas present to Ruth and Margaret, and it was a thank you, given to them on the one-year anniversary of our move from Philadelphia, PA to Raleigh. Our move was an adventure they did not choose, and yet they embraced it with courage and faith, mixed with anxiety, sadness and a reasonable touch of anger. This trip was an adventure that we chose and planned – as a family (although truth-be-told, Drew did most of the planning – thanks, Drew!)

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At the baptism of every child, our congregation, representing the church as a whole, makes a commitment. We pledge to assist the parent in bringing up this child in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord," and to share the gospel in the communal life of faith with this child. Much of the congregation’s life of worship, education, fellowship, and service is ordered to that end.

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by John Gordon

As am getting along in years, I realize more and more the fact that who I am today is the sum of many years and experiences in my life. Six days from today, I will be 84 years old. That fact brings back many memories, some pleasant and some not so pleasant. I was born late in the Great Depression and spent most of my early growing up years during World War II. As a grammar school youngster, I remember the students in my school being herded into the auditorium at regular intervals to watch newsreel movies. We saw Hitler's rise to power, the early days of World War II, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, just to cite a few subjects shown. Our teachers would often discuss what we had seen when we returned to our classrooms. In those days, it seemed to us that everything in the world was rationed. I was a Sergeant in the "Junior Commandos," a program in the schools where you earned your stripes based on the weight of the "scrap iron" you collected and brought to the school to be weighed. I was also one of six youngsters, who had bicycles, called the "Jeep Patrol." We were to serve as runners in the event of a bombing or even an invasion, when all other means of communication were no longer available. There were the blackout drills and the barrel of sand to be used in case of and incendiary attack. I was completely immersed in wartime activities on the "home front."

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