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Monday, July 14, 2008

Sourdough Jesus and the Mountain of Doom

I’m back from vacation, so now it is time to spend a bit of time catching up from all of the exhaustion that comes from aggressive recreation. It is also time to catch up on (or, more accurately, start) my blogging so that my son doesn’t end up calling me a slacker.

As we have for the last many years, my family spent the 4th of July week with friends in the Adirondacks and it was great to be with them again. We loaded our station wagon to the gills with gear, strapped our canoe and kayak to the roof and headed off for our adventures in the North Country, with a side trip to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec.

We had some great paddling on the Rollins Pond loop and another more ambitious trip along the Saranac River that took us through a lock, which is the first time I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing a lock in action, though I’ve seen plenty of old ones on other trips. My son did a great job with his kayak on what was certainly the most demanding trip he’s taken under his own power.

Another day, my family and some of our friends decided to climb Mt. Poco-Moonshine. While I love hiking, the Adirondacks are my least favorite place to do it. The folks who laid out the trails were, in my considered opinion, nuts. They did their best to draw straight lines between the trailheads and the summits, with the result being trails that are steeper and rockier than anywhere else I’ve ever hiked. This year, my knees (which I hurt a few years ago on the Appalachian Trail) were threatening to give me trouble and the heat and humidity were making it hard to breathe so I turned around partway up the trail and let the rest of the group finish the hike without me. Fortunately, Kimberly brought me some blueberries that she picked at the summit, so the day wasn’t a complete loss.

On Sunday, we attended the Willsboro Congregational United Church of Christ,, which was a real treat, as it was the first time I’ve been out of the pulpit since my sabbatical and I was really much more in the mood to participate in worship than to lead it. Since it was the Sunday following July 4, the hymns were all patriotic ones, which didn’t suit my taste as I would really rather keep God and Country separate, but the Rev. Jan Jorgensen gave a great sermon, the choir sang very well and the congregation was warm and welcoming.

It was a communion Sunday and the sacrament was served by intinction with a wonderful sourdough bread that reminded me of the many types of bread that I’ve used when celebrating communion. On World Communion Sunday, I’ve often used a mix of breads to celebrate the diversity of God’s people: Russian black bread, tortillas, pita, naan, challa, even those communion wafers that taste like cardboard. My wife has often joked that we should use raisin bread, so we’ll have all of communion in one simple package, without having to worry about the perennial wine v. grape juice controversy. My favorite was on a youth retreat many years ago, when the people who were supposed to bring the communion elements forgot, so we ended up using grape soda and a somewhat stale hotdog bun; it wasn’t gourmet, but it was definitely in keeping with the spirit of the gathered community. Sourdough Jesus in the Adirondacks was perfect, much better than the time in the Poconos when the deacon brought in onion pita, which has an unforgettable flavor when dipped in grape juice, but that’s another story for another time.

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