Crossing the Threshold

Holy Week Side Bar
A threshold is a crossover point — a transition—an entryway into something new. It can be a place, a moment, or a season in time. As we continue our journey in the footsteps of Jesus, Holy Week presents a unique opportunity as a threshold. We hear God declaring, “See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” (Isaiah 42:9)

During a threshold time, we have a sense of anticipation as what lies ahead for us is significant: We are aware God is preparing us — a deep work may be taking place in our life. A threshold time is an opportunity to experience the call of God to greater intimacy as we look towards the future and the move of the Holy Spirit in our current circumstances. Holy Week brings us to the crossover point — Resurrection… At the threshold of Resurrection we leave behind all that separates us from life [Zoe life] and embrace redemption, reconciliation, grace, mercy, and God’s presence… We embrace a new anointing…

The Threshold is a Time to Pray… Let this Holy Week be a time of prayer as turn our hearts and life over to God, surrendering the weight of our souls and looking a ahead to the favor that is being released to us for what lies ahead.

The Threshold is a Time to Release the Past… Let this Holy Week be a time to receive God’s healing from grief over that which has been lost and shall never be recovered. Let us trust God to provide for us and take care of our future. Let us receive our fresh anointing and put on the garments of praise. Let us step humbly, but boldly into what God has ahead for us.

The Threshold is a Time to Consecrate Our Life to God… On the verge of the Promised Land, Joshua faced the biggest battle of his life to date. (Joshua 5) But there, right on that ground, the Lord of Hosts visited him. At the threshold, we may be facing the biggest battle of our life. But God is greater than the Enemy, and God has a plan. Now is the time to consecrate our life to God. This is a time to encounter God’s Presence and to listen, so we can hear and follow…

This Holy Week at the threshold, we take off our shoes and stand on holy ground.



out of the depths on the longest night

“Out of the depths to Thee I raise the voice of lamentation / Lord, turn a gracious ear to me and hear my supplication.”

Not all Christmases are white…  some are blue…

Blue christmas

When it seems like the whole world is awash in lights, celebration, friends, and family, many among us feel a sense of loss, grief, and disconnect.  Join us as we reflect on the meaning of living through dark times, holding out for healing and hope.

At 7pm on Friday, December 21st at the PERC, we will have a meditative service on the longest night, the night of the winter solstice.  We will remind each other of Jesus’ promise, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

“What though I wait the live-long night, and till the dawn appeareth / My heart still trusteth in God’s might; it doubteth not nor feareth.”


impermanent pine-hood

1 pine

 “The present form of this world is passing away.”  (1 Corinthians 7:31)


“Dust in the wind / All we are is dust in the wind.”  (Kansas)


Brad Cole, our resident artist at the PERC (and raker of pine needles), was the mind behind the Celtic cross splayed on the parking lot.


Where some might have simply cleared the pine needles over into the lawn, genius struck!


Of this creation from last Thursday, he acknowledged that it would be short-lived.


Banu and I expressed our assent.

2 pine  

By Friday afternoon, the wind had begun to assert the inevitable.


I was reminded of the Tibetan monks who produce elaborate images in sand.


They are filled with almost every color imaginable (and maybe some beyond imagining).

3 pine

Afterward, the images are subjected to a ritual sweeping, a ritual destruction—displaying the ephemeral nature of all we see.


We await “the time of universal restoration.”  (Acts 3:21)


Rev. James Moore, OblSB, Moderator of Session


a reflection…

As First Presbyterian Church officially opened the PERC (Presbyterian Event and Retreat Center) this past week, I was thinking about how the ribbon cutting event truly followed the session’s mission for the retreat center and our desires for the future.  We were able to welcome those who attended into community fellowship with hospitality.

1 percPreparing for the ribbon cutting was a bit like the preparations for other significant days for the church, for example, Easter and Christmas.  Each day requires planning and people’s contributions of time, skills, talents, rehearsals, food preparation, and last-minute cleaning.  Each day during the week before the ribbon cutting, the excitement grew, much like our feelings and emotions preceding Easter and Christmas as we readied the PERC and prepared to welcome the community.

Churches throughout history have provided sanctuary, literally and figuratively.  The FPC hopes to do the same with the PERC.  It is and will remain a safe place for those who are seeking comfort, quiet, and solitude—or for others, it can be fellowship with the calm, quiet presence of Jesus Christ.  Still others may find it a location for small group fellowship or retreats.  Sanctuary has many expressions; I hope the PERC provides that to our community.

Maybe it is a moment with the Blessed Mother at the grotto or a moment in the garden.  For others, it might be a memory that is recalled during a gathering that reminds one of a time when they most needed or felt God’s presence.  Each guest’s needs will be different: hospitality, faith, and generosity will greet them all.

The definition of hospitality is “friendly and generous reception to guests, visitors, or strangers.”  As hosts at the PERC, we intend to continue the rule of the Benedictines that “all guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.”  In keeping with the contemplative tradition of the Whitefriar Carmelite Order, recognizing their use and presence of the mansion from 1931 until 1975, we will offer “an oasis of prayerful silence in the midst of the bustling city.”

2 perc

The plan for a retreat center over a year ago seemed at times like the impossible. Without numerous volunteers, and God’s favor it would not have come together as quickly as it has. The expectancy and energy that has remained present and delivered us to our official opening leaves me in awe. I believe the PERC has just begun a continuing history that will evolve and include many in our midst and be a blessing for many.

Elder Darlene Podolak

labor on

In worship yesterday, I noted a holiday that is not on the church calendar, which is Labor Day. Having said that, it is entirely appropriate to thank God for the good gift of work.

We give thanks for work that edifies the human spirit and does not crush it.
We give thanks for work that builds the earth and does not destroy it.
We give thanks for work that leads us to praise and does not become a curse.


Today I was reminded of how appropriate the Monday morning prayer is for Labor Day. This comes from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship:

We praise you, God our creator, for your handiwork in shaping and sustaining your wondrous creation. Especially we thank you for the miracle of life and the wonder of living…
particular blessings coming to us in this day…
the resources of the earth…
gifts of creative vision and skillful craft…
the treasure stored in every human life…

We dare to pray for others, God our Savior, claiming your love in Jesus Christ for the whole world, committing ourselves to care for those around us in his name. Especially we pray for
those who work for the benefit of others…
those who cannot work today…
those who teach and those who learn…
people who are poor…
the church in Europe…

I especially like the themes of giving thanks for “gifts of creative vision and skillful craft” and “the treasure stored in every human life.” How dramatically different we would be if we truly took that to heart.

And then there are prayers for “those who work for the benefit of others,” and “those who cannot work today.”

Indeed, the entire prayer is shot through with giving glory to God for the ability to serve creation, to serve the part of creation that is us, and to serve the Lord.

(The photo is posted with a nod to my wife's excellent work in the kitchen!)

And a special thanks to all who have labored for the PERC!

Rev. James Moore, Moderator of Session


if these walls could talk (or make other sounds)

Another transmission from the PERC.  Actually, I am reminded of a comment one of the session members at First Presbyterian in Auburn made.  (For those who don’t know, the “session” is Presbyterian-speak for the board of elders.)  Early this summer, someone spoke of how things would soon be “percolating at the PERC.”  I’m not sure if she meant that as a pun—but it works!

Now, back to talking walls.

1 walls

I’m sure some jubilant sounds have been uttered within the walls of the dining room.  Is it possible there’s also been dysfunctional table talk from time to time?  Who can say?  Still, there is a welcoming atmosphere (and aroma) to be found.

2 walls

How about some pool or foosball?  The game room has heard cries of the thrill of victory and cries of the agony of defeat.  I’m sure everyone has been a good sport about the outcomes.

3 walls

The acoustics of the ballroom lend themselves well to the celebration of dance, voices raised high in songs of praise, and overlapping waves of excited discussion.  And then acoustics take a back seat when silence is observed.

4 walls

Silence reigns in the prayer room, the chapel.  The walls do not talk about that.  Still in the foreground of the photo, part of the organ can be seen.  So let’s not forget that silence can be carried in music.

5 walls

Speaking of silence, we visit the library.  Shhh!  And one more note on silence: behold the secret door between the fireplace and a bookcase.  To where does it lead?  Ask the walls; I’m sure they have the answer.

6 walls

Moving into the main living room, the Jacob Doll piano has no doubt been a source of delight for decades.  Of course, much depends on the skill of the person sitting on the bench.  Applause and tears of joy have sounded in harmony with the melodies.

There are other walls here.  Maybe we can visit them and strain to hear what they say.

Rev. James Moore, OblSB, Moderator of Session