Andy’s Flaming Chalice – August 2012

Greetings to you. Gee, it’s amazing that August has already rolled around; how quickly time passes! I hope that your August includes some end-of-summer treats like another picnic or barbeque, a bit of vacation, extra time with children and pets or perhaps some peace and quiet to contemplate the beauty around you or dig into a good book.

We are presently in the middle of the Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, which will conclude on August 18th this year (it migrates through the calendar). Ramadan is said to be the month that the Quran was revealed by God to humankind through Muhammad, and it is therefore venerated with extra prayers and fasting during daylight hours. The end of Ramadan (that is, the first day of the following month) is a time of joyful celebration called Eid-ul-Fitr, and observed all around the world. I was once privileged to be among celebrating Algerian Muslims in Nice, France when Ramadan concluded, and there truly were dancing and singing, finest dress and feasting and many smiles. It’s an experience I’ve treasured.

Speaking of vacation, I have just returned from a couple of weeks in the Midwest (flying to Lincoln, NE and then touring both Dakotas by car) and I’m still relishing being at home and not riding in the car for hours at a time. One of our highlights was visiting the National Music Museum (NMM), also known as the Shrine to Music, in Vermillion, SD. Housed on the grounds of the University of South Dakota, the NMM has an international reputation and houses more than 13,500 musical instruments of American, European and non-Western provenance, representing all historical periods. Its collections are among the world’s most inclusive. In all my time living in Nebraska, I never got to this area gem and am really glad to have been there.

Perhaps my most anticipated events this coming month, in our church life, are the arrivals mid-month of our new Ministerial Intern Roy King and our new Director of Religious Exploration Darcy Baxter. Each of these individuals is talented, well-qualified, amiable, bright and enthusiastic, and I truly look forward to their contributions and fellowship with excitement. When they come among us, be sure to seek them out for a direct and friendly greeting and make them welcome! We are most fortunate to have them collaborating with us as we deepen and refresh our collective ministry in the coming year.

May your ending summer greet an expectant, invigorated September with new adventures and satisfactions such as Autumn reliably brings.