From the Pastor

Krista, Anna, Leo, and I ventured up north for Spring Break, stopping at some of the most historic cities in the country: Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since Anna and Leo are both high school juniors, we also toured some colleges along the way, but the main item on the agenda was to reconnect with our country’s past. And that we did.

If you haven’t been to DC or Philly lately, do yourself a favor and go. From a private tour of the Capital (thanks to Congressman Budd’s office) to the National Portrait Gallery (the new, life-size Obama portrait is amazing) … from standing where MLK delivered his “I have a Dream” speech, to a silent walking tour of the Korean War memorial … from a glimpse at one of the few Guttenberg bibles still in existence (Library of Congress), to an interruption of an NBC live news update at the Supreme Court building (yep, that was us). And that was Day 1!

Anyway, go if you can. You certainly won’t regret it.

I learned something new at the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia. As you probably know, the Pennsylvania colony – and Philadelphia itself – was founded by William Penn, a Quaker who was determined that the city be designed and ordered according to Quaker beliefs. Central to Quakers is the belief that all are created equal and possess within them a bit of God’s eternal light. Government, by extension, must be a work of the people, and decisions should respect the opinions, insights, and “truth” that all bring to the table. And the people, Penn thought, should reflect a rich variety of backgrounds, denominations, and races. He actively recruited non-Anglicans and made sure that Pennsylvania was the first colony to outlaw slavery.

In addition, City leaders gathered in circles so that no one voice was more dominant than another. The country’s first flag symbolized that ideal, with 13 stars arranged in a circular pattern, all states as equal partners. Likewise, representatives to the first Continental Congress (1774), chairs arranged in a circle at Carpenters’ Hall, weren’t yet interested in revolutionary phrases or incendiary actions; they simply wanted the English king to hear their collective voice and be recognized as equal participants in decision-making.

Carpenters’ Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Here’s an idea: let’s force President Trump and leaders of Congress to take a walking tour of Philadelphia! And what if we add to that list talk show hosts from MSNBC and Fox News? Reconnecting with a little Quaker-inspired ideology just might make a difference in these oddly combative, ego-centered, overly-opinionated times we’re living in. Or we could always hope …..

Until then, circle up with some friends and enjoy some time together. Listen to each other’s opinions and be open to glimpses of light that emanates from within. Sounds like a good way to spend a Spring evening, doesn’t it?

Blessings to you and yours this month. What a joy it is to work in the Garden with you.

+Pastor Rhodes


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