Oil and perfume make the heart glad,

    and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

–        Proverbs 27:9

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

–        Ecclesiastes 3:11

Having just returned from the UK, I have much on my mind and heart to process.  It was an amazing trip filled with great conversations, meetings, sights, and new and old friendships strengthened.

It was beautiful.

Not just the landscape, but the relationships.  My family and were poured into by friends who have journeyed with us over the years who now live in the UK.  We met with many other new friends who have a kindred passion for authentic living and a quest to see church be the Church…for everyone and from the “outside-in”.

While in the UK, I was reminded of a conversation that I had with a fellow Presbyterian pastor who works for Young Life in Nicaragua.  We were talking about the concept of doing ministry that we call “quality of excellence”.  This means that we want to do ministry at a high level, we want to do it well, pour in resources, and make it attractive.  There is some good to that, but it’s not what they strive for with Young Life in Nicaragua much anymore…they don’t have all the resources that we have in the states, so they strive for something better:  “beauty”.  It’s beautiful to see teenagers sitting on a hill at a camp sharing life, laughing and crying together.  It’s beautiful to see folks believing in each other and giving and receiving grace.

I have seen this beauty at Northminster in many ways the past 13 years.  I have said often to our NSM leaders that I’m not so concerned any more about “how” we do ministry, but that we “be” a community that is marked by a deep and abiding Love.  That we look at each other and see persons made in God’s image, and see the beauty.

As my family embarks on a new adventure, I cannot tell the future.  I do not see all that God is doing.  But, I am sensing a deep beauty in the past, present, and future for our family, for Northminster, and for Cincinnati as we explore building community hubs and discern where God may be calling me as a pastor.

Our trip to the UK was fruitful, and it will continue to bear fruit…beautiful fruit of friendships and community with God and with others.