First Impressions

I arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan a couple of hours ago. And, I must say, "it's great to be home!" Now, let me explain. I've never been here before. But, from the woman working at the information booth who helped me get in touch with the shuttle service for my hotel, to the security guard who let me stay inside to stay warm (it's 20 degrees here - more on that in a moment), to the shuttle van driver who, as it turns out is from Jersey (LBI) but was transferred out this way for work, to the woman who delivered my calzone to my room, I have experienced nothing less than good-old fashioned midwest hospitality - i.e., HOME.

As for the temperature - 20 degrees (with a windchill factor resulting in an 8 degree winter experience) - this too is reminiscent of home. Oh, and there is snow on the ground - measurable snowfall (10 - 14 inches, by my estimate). The type of snow that might result in a nice, quality snowman - one that is white when it is finished except for the colorful scarf that is added.

Now for those of you in South Jersey thinking, "uh-oh, we're going to lose her!" - FEAR NOT! There is something quite charming about a South Jersey snowman (you know the type: more brown and black than white - from the leaves that are strewn about the ground - lasting for less than 48 hours). And, South Jersey has its own kind of hospitality - after all, everyone knows you - or knows someone who knows you - and people drive without honking their horns or making rude hand gestures (at least most of the time). And, my churches - have I mentioned lately that I love St. Barnabas and St. Mary's? Like all churches, each has its quirks but those too are part of the charm. So, South Jersey is my home, but this trip has brought back memories of HOME.

I'm here for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Symposium which begins tomorrow morning. I'll be attending a number of workshops on a variet of topics from "Youth, Worship, and the Seven Second Attention Span" to workshops on fully including persons with autism and/or other disabilities into worship. Several years ago, when I was in the ordination process, I read Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down by Marva Dawn. I lent my copy to a colleague in Chicago - never saw it again. Nonetheless, it remains with me and Marva Dawn will be preaching on Friday evening and will be leading a workshop that I will attend ("Preaching to Expose the Principalities and Powers"). Let's see what else --- "Moving Word, Moving Worship" offered by Rosanne Barton-DeVries who promises to get all of us on our feet dancing (and I don't think she means the chicken dance).