Good Weekend

October 1, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Religion 

I’m tired, but happy.

Friday evening I headed out to church to be the 2nd wave driver for the Sr. High retreat.  There were a few youth who played football who needed to leave later than the 6pm departure time.  I got there at 6:15, and the first wave in the big van didn’t leave until 6:30.  Ultimately we all got to camp and settled in about 9pm.

We headed out to the waterfront and held a campfire, complete with singing and S’mores.  I’m not usually a big fan of s’mores (I prefer to eat the components separately), but I had one anyway so that the vegetarian youth could roast a marshmallow (they contain gelatin, you know).  After that we finally got to bed around midnight.

The next morning was quiet.  After breakfast, we headed into the woods and did a trust/togetherness exercise that involved walking along a rope strung between trees with your eyes closed.  It was done alone, then with a guide, then alone again.  It’s sort of a “walking with Jesus” exercise.  After that we had a talk about when God is and is not present in your life and the youth got into some pretty heavy topics.  I was very impressed with the way that this group handled people’s difficult times without making fun – that’s pretty rare in this age group.

The rest of the morning was “free” time.  A group played football in the meadow while others rested in the lodge.  We ended the morning with a game of “Have you ever….” Jenga.  This uses the book “Have you Ever …?” along with a Jenga game with the tiles numbered (by hand).  Each participant pulls a tile out of the stack, places it on top, and the number on the tile is used to find a numbered question in the book.  If tiles are recycled you just add 100, 200, etc. to the tile number.  We got the stack up to 29 levels before it fell.  (The record is 40 plus two tiles.)

We had lunch, and then headed home.

This was an incredibly low-key and relaxed retreat for Senior Highs.  We had no serious problems with behavior and even though we had a gender split of 7 boys and 1 girl, the girl did fine.  I came home exhausted but I had a great time.  This was also the first time that I felt that I really bonded with the youth.  I was a bit worried about that – I missed the mission trip in the summer and was worried about being “outside”.

Sunday was another church-packed day.  The morning service included an introduction of our 3 seminary interns (with CAKE at the Fellowship Hour).  After Fellowship time, Temple Micah invited us to join them in the sukkah that they’d built on the front lawn of the manse.  There was also the 2nd half of an adult forum series on Presbyterian beliefs that I attended (tough choice, but I’d already done the homework for the forum).  (Discussion for another post – what the heck are we doing listing people’s pledges by size for comparison when we’re doing Consecration Sunday that is supposedly NOT about the numbers?)

At the end of the adult forum I got recruited to usher at the afternoon Jazz Vespers service, which brought me back to church after a 2 hour rest.  The music was provided by Presbybop, a jazz quartet founded by Presbyterian clergy.  The service was attended by about 130 people, and was wonderful.  Presbybop has taken some traditional hymns and jazzed them up while retaining the proper feeling and words.  We sang two of those, and other music was included.  Rev. Bill Carter did the homily.  The service was based on the Book of Common Worship’s “Evening Prayer” order of worship – appropriate to the setting sun.  The congregation was energized by the service.

After the service, dinner was provided by the choir.  Excellent food was catered from Chuckles with dessert from church members and the leftovers from Fellowship Hour in the morning.  Carolyn and I sat with the youth group for dinner, and met Rev. Karen Hernandez-Granzen of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton.

After dinner we headed back to the sanctuary for a one-set concert by Presbybop.  Folks, these guys know their jazz.  You can find them on iTunes, and their CDs are for sale at  The congregation was brought to their feet at the end for a standing ovation (and we did get an encore).  It was hysterical to see the upright and sometimes elderly Presbyterians swaying and nodding their heads to the wonderful jazz.  I saw one guy air drumming using the pens from the prayer card racks in the pews.

I’m still short on sleep, but it was a truly wonderful weekend.

Rhythm for the Soul – Jazz Vespers, dinner, and a mini-concert

September 20, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Music, Religion 

On Sunday, September 30, 2007, the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville will be holding its first Jazz Vespers service.  A flyer can be found HERE.

The evening kicks off at 4pm with the jazz vespers service.  Dinner follows at 5pm ($5 donation requested).  After dinner there will be a mini-concert at 6pm.  The Rev. Bill Carter and Presbybop will be the performers for the concert and will be featured in the service.  Presbybop is a jazz quarter made up entirely by Presbyterian clergy.

All are welcome.  Come on down!