June 15th, 2021 by Barb Buffington
Carl and I were at the Orlando Airport ready to board our plane for our adventure to the Grand Canyon. It was bustling, people everywhere all around, standing, some sitting on the floor and all eager to get going!
There was a dad, 2 moms and 2 toddlers next to us, and it was quite a scene! The adults were all glued to their phones, while the children were running around out of control, trying to open the emergency doors at our gate, climbing into the baggage carts, and screaming – parents didn’t seem to notice or care. Lucky the kids were still around when it was time to board!
Then, the announcement came…Flight to Chicago is delayed due to weather. UGH! Three hours later we took off, and I thought: 1. Please may I NOT be sitting by this family on the plane, and, 2. If this is a preview of how our trip is going to go, perhaps we should go home now!
Well, glad we kept on going! We had a great trip to the Grand Canyon via Chicago, then on to Amtrak, and our destination was the Grand Canyon – 32 hours on the train! Along with stunning scenery, we met some interesting folk, who each gave us a gift in sharing a story; allowing us a glimpse of God at work in His children. Here are just a few of the stories we heard last week…
June 8th, 2021 by Tracy Harper
When I was a young mom in my late 20’s, I was a church attender, but not involved in anything but my presence each week. My son, Ian, was an infant and we frequented the nursery and a church pew. One day, out of the blue, I received a phone call at work. Fr. Andy, our Assistant Priest, wanted to meet me for lunch to discuss a problem. Curiously, I said “Okay.”
May 26th, 2021 by Sara Buffington
I am a nervous talker.
If there is an uncomfortable moment, a dramatic pause, a conversational lull, you can count on me to fill in the gap with chatter.
Once I was given a massage gift card by a relative. During the massage, I was so uncomfortable being touched by a stranger that I talked through the whole experience. 60 minutes of my incessant talking.
It was awkward, not relaxing.
For me, silence is a hostile stranger, not a friend.
So these words slap me on the hand:
"Saying nothing sometimes says the most." -Emily Dickinson
"A fool is known by his speech and a wise man by his silence." -Pythagoras
"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly-timed pause." - Mark Twain
If I want to love my neighbor by listening to them, I have to let silence do its work.
May 18th, 2021 by Carl Buffington
Barb and I were packing for a few days at a beach. So when we reached the end of the road or destination, we figured a T-shirt, bathing suit, and flip flops was about all we needed. Our dog, Sammy, even less, a water bowl and food bowl. And I packed my newly purchased book, Chess For Dummies.
We, along with several others at New Covenant Church, have been mentoring at Orange County Academy in Bithlo on Thursday mornings. Erik, my 11-year-old mentee, clobbered me in a game of chess this past week. Hence, the beach reading material. (Barb’s brother, Walter, was an honest to goodness for real chess master, and made a living playing Backgammon. I would love to have him as a coach but he’s now with the Lord).
“The odyssey was a turning point in the arctic exploration because of its well-publicized failure. The preparations were more suitable for the Royal Navy officer’s club in England than for the frigid Arctic. The explorers made room on their ships for a large library, a hand-organ, china place settings, cut glass wine goblets, and sterling silver flatware instead of additional coal for their steam engines.
May 11th, 2021 by Lee Grady
In early 2020, two months before I ever heard the word "coronavirus," I stopped at a convenience store near my house in LaGrange, Georgia, to fill up my gas tank. When I went inside to grab a few items, I noticed the clerk had a thick Indian accent. "What part of India are you from?" I asked.
The man seemed surprised that I knew his ethnicity. He asked: "You know India?"
May 3rd, 2021 by Sara Buffington
What do you associate with summer? Here in Florida, we get to do certain summer activities year round, like go to the beach or barbecue.
I do go to the beach year round, but I only go in the water in the summer! I hate cold water.
One of my favorite things about the summer: the fruit. When the watermelons go deep, deep on sale, my heart skips a beat. It is my favorite fruit by far. When I was pregnant with my third child, I cut up an entire watermelon, propped the bowl up on my swollen belly, and ate the entire thing while I watched So You Think You Can Dance.
Ah, summer memories…
This year New Covenant has a new way to launch into summer. It involves looking up and looking out.
April 28th, 2021 by Sara Buffington
Did you grow up on Sesame Street like I did? Then perhaps you too know the song:
Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
Say, who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day
It’s an outdated song because we don’t meet the people in our neighborhood each day.
At least I don’t.
I live in Winter Springs Village. It has green spaces, a community pool and mailbox area, and front porches on every house. My family has the smaller sized home—a bungalow—and our houses sits on a zero lot line. That means I can almost reach out and touch my neighbor’s house.
And I still don’t know my neighbors.
We live in an age of looking down at our phones, electric garage door openers, and minding our own business. Gone is the neighborhood economy (“May I borrow X?”) and the front porch leisure while kids play on the sidewalk. With the pandemic, talking to strangers is more than odd—it’s hazardous.
Is this a problem? Not for some, but it is for me.
Because God tells me to love my neighbor.
April 21st, 2021 by Barb Buffington
April 14th, 2021 by Ruan Humphrey
“And Who is my neighbor?”
Two days a week, our trash goes out to the side of the road. On one of those days the recyclable containers are added. Once the cans are out, they are forgotten, even if the big noisy collection truck is heard.
Later in the day, the emptied cans appear near our garage. Who brings them up?
It has to be one of our neighbors.
April 5th, 2021 by Carl Buffington
Resurrection reactions move from fright to frivolity, or we might say from fear to freedom, for the disciples. The death of Jesus shattered the community of followers. They were fearful.
‘Strike the shepherd and the sheep scatter,’ as the prophet says.
Hiding, gathering in secret places...in the minds of the disciples the death of Jesus not only ended his physical life but murdered the truth he believed in.
In one final stroke the cross poses the ultimate religious question, which throughout his life Jesus had witnessed to!
“Can the last power of life be gracious if this man is crucified?”
Was the joyous confidence which characterized Jesus merely whistling in the dark?
Was he wrong? Does the sparrow fall and no one cares? Are the hairs of our heads left uncounted? What manner of love allows this? Pilate dies in his bed and Jesus is nailed to the wood?
“If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” is not only the taunt of the high priest but the deepest question of the disciples.