Sabbath Keeping

B9870A05-F0A2-4070-AE4F-49BF44CE62C6Lately I’ve taken to walking the Monticello Trail. I can’t resist it. There are beautiful trees, the sweet smell of flowers, and the sound of water running in the creeks. The beautiful weather is good for the soul. It reminds us that winter doesn’t last forever. Spring finally arrives. It’s also a good reminder about Sabbath keeping.

Remembering the Sabbath goes all the way back to the wilderness days. The people have been saved from slavery in Egypt. No more working all day, every day, without end. No more working for someone else. No more working without pay. And no more beatings and abuse from the Egyptians. And when they finally walk through the Red Sea and into the wilderness, God wants to set up some ground rules.

The Ten Commandments come pretty early in their wilderness days. And one of those commandments is Sabbath Keeping. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God: you shall not work. God took a day off after creating everything in six days. The Israelites are supposed to do the same when they leave Egypt.

God gives this command to protect the people. Working everyday is what they did as slaves. They aren’t slaves anymore. They are God’s people and they will work six days and enjoy the seventh day. The sabbath is for rest, for enjoyment, and for recreation. Life isn’t all about work. God wanted to teach his people this as they begun their new lives after being in Egypt.

God gives us this command too. We are all supposed to take a Sabbath. We are supposed to take one day a week off every week. It’s so we don’t become slaves to our work. It’s so we can enjoy our lives. It’s a day to remember that we are God’s people.

So, that feeling of Spring fever? Maybe it’s our innate sense of Sabbath keeping. We should go out, take a walk, enjoy the weather, and remember we are God’s people. We should embrace it.


A Celtic Prayer for the Journey

St. Patrick is known for many things. He is known for driving all the snakes out of Ireland. He is known for teaching people about the Trinity using a Shamrock. And if you are really up on your St. Patrick lore you might know that he was originally sold into slavery in Ireland, escaped and came back to share the gospel with his former captors. That particular story is moving and full of meaning. A former slave preaching the good news of Jesus to his former captors? Priceless.

As Christianity spreads throughout Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the surrounding islands the faith begins to take a different flavor than it does in other parts of Europe. Celtic Christianity is born. In the Celtic Tradition the church is ruled by monastic leaders, not bishops. Monasteries are started and become prominent in everyday life. The people brush up against the monks all the time.

And the people begin to pray all the time like the monks did. Celtic Christians are known for their prayers-prayers for everything-healing, their homes, birth, death, and journeys. A man named Alexander Carmichael begin traveled all over Ireland, Scotland, and Wales and recorded their prayers. He gathered them and published them in a book: The Carmina Gadelica.

Here’s one of their prayers for a journey. May it be a prayer for our journeys whether it is our Lenten spiritual journey or some other journey.

Prayer: The Pilgrims’ Abiding

God be with thee in every pass, Jesus be with thee on every hill. Spirit be with thee on every stream, headland and ridge and lawn.

Each sea and land, each moor and meadow, each lying down, each rising up, in the trough of the waves, on the crest of the billows, each step of the journey thou goest. Amen.


For All the Saints-Ann Faris

Two weeks ago we lost a dear friend, mom, grandmother, sister, friend and teacher. Ann Faris died at home peacefully and unexpectedly. She is dearly missed and fondly remembered.

Ann is originally from Durango, Colorado and migrated to Virginia after college. She became a teacher and taught at Red Hill Elementary School. She did her career at the school and she made a huge impact on the children and families of our community. After retirement she continued to go back to Red Hill to read stories and volunteer.

Ann is the wife of Bob Faris, of 50 years. She is the mother of Courtney and Christie. She’s the grandmother of Damon. She’s also part of our Mooreland Baptist Church family and she’s been a mother, sister, and grandmother to all of us. She had a habit of making everyone part of our family. Mooreland is part of Ann’s family and we are better for it.

Ann was such a big part of our community and church that I have so many pictures of her from the past few years. Here’s a few of them.

Dietra Ann PatThanksgiving 2Dominos 1Ladies Craft Ann

Ann loved the color teal and is wearing Teal in all of the these pictures. She will be remembered as someone who never met a stranger, who loved everyone, and who loved all the children in her life.

A Party in a Dangerous Place


I love the Olympics. I like watching the Olympics more than watching other sports. I especially like the Winter Olympics because we get to see sports we don’t normally get to see. I love watching the bobsleds fly down the track. I love watching the ski jumpers fly through the air. I love watching speed skating to see who will win. I always wonder how the cross country skiers have the energy to keep going. The Olympics are so much fun.

At this point in our history it is such a relief to see people from around the world competing, celebrating and having a good time. We are in desperate need of good news. We need something to remind us that the world isn’t always so terrible. Instead of focusing on politics, poverty and instability, it’s fun to focus on who’s going to get the Gold Medal.

This year the Olympics are held in South Korea, which has political implications. Even at the Olympics we can’t completely get away from politics. But there’s something more to it than just politics. There’s a certain defiance about throwing the world’s biggest competition and party just 90 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone. It’s as if we are all thumbing our noses at the violence of the world and throwing a party instead.

I can’t help but relate that to our faith. The world has always had its downsides, to put it mildly. Humanity has a way of finding ourselves in holes that we have pull ourselves out of-wars, famine, poverty, prejudice, racism, and greed. But as Christians, we are supposed to serve our communities and make them better places. But we are also supposed to live abundant lives, even in the face of terrible things.

Jesus came to the world to save us, yes. Jesus also came to the world to bring us life-life abundant. So that means that we get to have fun even when things are tough. We get to laugh even when darkness surrounds us. We get to love our families and community, even when love is hard to find.

As Christians we have always been throwing a party in dangerous places. I think having the Olympics 90 miles from the Demilitarized Zone simply highlights this. Where will you find joy today? May we live our lives abundantly, even today when things seem uncertain.


Feeding the Hungry


On January 28th, Mooreland joined with Cove Presbyterian to pack 10,152 meals for Rise Against Hunger. Our meals are now on their way to the Dominican Republic. These meals feed hungry people who don’t always have enough to eat. And as the Church, we fed them. We do this because we are called to serve others. We do this because Jesus feeds us.

I can’t help but think about Jesus feeding the five thousand in Mark 6. Jesus has been teaching all day and the crowd is beginning to get hungry. They are too far away from their homes to get some food. They need to eat something. The disciples realize this and inform Jesus. Instead of sending the people away, Jesus tells the disciples to feed them.

They think it’s impossible. How on earth would they have enough money for that? It would take two hundred denarii. Jesus has a suggestion. Go see how many loaves you have. They go and check. We have five loaves and even two fish. It’s not much. But it turns out that it’s enough.

The crowd sits down and Jesus makes those five loaves and two fish go a long way. Jesus takes what’s available and multiplies it. And when we packed those meals a few weeks ago, Jesus did the same. Jesus took what each one of us could give and multiplied it. 10,152 times.

Sometimes it can feel as if the small church cannot do its part to serve the world. Well, that’s simply not true. When we gather together, combine our resources, and work together, we can do our part to serve the world. We did just that a few weeks ago, and Jesus multiplied our efforts.

May we remember this packing event when we feel like our little church isn’t doing enough. Especially when the problems of the world seem so big and daunting. Remember that we fed 10,152 people. Remember that we too have a role to play in bringing God’s love to this world.

Dietra Ann Pat


Thinking Warm Thoughts


It’s been a typical January around here. It’s been cold and we’ve been huddled up in our houses trying to stay warm. In an effort to beat the cold and have some fun, we had a fellowship night during Supper Church. Georgia fed us with a roast and noodles. She even made a cake in the shape of a Ukulele. This was all part of our theme for the night.

We all brought our vacation pictures and souvenirs. I brought my pictures from when I went to Disney World with my family in high school. We also brought my daughter’s sea shell collection from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Jim brought pictures from Disney when the Starrs and the Tylers went together years ago. Georgia brought pictures from Hawaii when she and family member went years ago. Dietra brought pictures from Pennsylvania’s Amish country. It was a fun night.

Fellowship and visiting with folks is part of being a church. We can’t discount this. Fellowship and visiting with folks is what makes a church go ’round. Without it, we’re just a bunch a people who get together to sing songs and pray, and that’s it. With fellowship, we become a family. And that’s what it’s all about-being family to each other.

In a country that seems more divided than ever our church families are needed more than ever. Churches can be places where people can come together instead of arguing with each other all the time. At Mooreland we love each other. We care about each other. We share our vacation pictures with each other. We disagree, but we don’t let it divide us. We value each other too much to let things divide us.

May our church always be a family. May our family show the community how to come together and love each other.

Vacation Fellowship 2



A Church’s Footprint

New Year's 3

(Picture above:  Our Midweek Meal group playing spoons. This is a group for seniors that meets twice a month. We eat together, have parties, and have become like family. We are made up of people from all over North Garden.)

One of the things we’ve heard about in recent years is our carbon footprint. How much energy and natural resources does our everyday life use? How can we reduce our consumption to protect the environment? These have been the questions we’ve been asking ourselves in recent years.

Lately I’ve been thinking about our congregation’s footprint. And not in environmental terms, that’s not what I mean. I’ve been thinking about what kind of impact our congregation has on our immediate community. What effect has Mooreland had on the North Garden community, Charlottesville and even the world? Have we had any effect at all?

Sometimes as a congregation we look at the usual measurement of success-numbers. We look at attendance and our budget. Both things are good to know. We need to know how many are attending on Sunday and if we need to check on those we haven’t seen in a while. We know that there’s always room for more people in our congregation. We also need to know how our budget and finances are doing. We can’t do things without our budget and savings account. But we shouldn’t stop here. We should keep looking at things beyond the budget and attendance.

I believe Mooreland has been a longstanding, stable church in a community that has watched the world around it change significantly. North Garden is still a small rural community that has deep family ties. Time seems to go by a bit slower in North Garden than in other places. North Garden has changed, but not as much as other areas around us. And throughout the years, Mooreland has been doing ministry in our community and in the world at large. We’ve always been here. We’ve always been welcoming people into the neighborhood and into our church. We’ve been serving, worshiping, praying and fellowshiping together over a hundred years.

And it goes beyond that. It hit me recently that we have church members in all kinds of professions and doing all kinds of things. We have our group of medical people who serve at the hospital. They are on the front lines of taking care of people in emergencies and also in routine visits. We have a few who work in doctor’s offices and pharmacies too. They are also on the front lines helping folks. We have a couple of school teachers who teach elementary school children day in and day out. They make a big impact on their students. We have our farmers who raise cattle to feed all the rest of us. We may not eat their beef, but we wouldn’t be able to eat without farmers. We have our retired folks who are probably as busy as they were when they worked. They are serving the community, they are visiting the sick, and doing projects here and there. We are a diverse group of people and our influence is big when you think about it.

Mooreland Baptist Church is a place that matters not just to us, but to the community. If we disappeared we would be missed. Our absence would be noticed. How we live our lives in the community matters. Taking our faith with us to work and loving people there really matters.

We are called to be the Church everywhere we go. It could be the hospital, the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, the school, the fields, or the nursing home. We are to be a Church beyond the walls of the sanctuary. And as a congregation, we do that well.