St. Andrew United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Open Minds. Open Hearts. Open Doors.


         From the Sr. Associate Pastor’s Desk


The Gift of the Rabbi 


    There was a famous monastery which had fallen on hard times. Formerly its many buildings had been filled with young monks and its big church resounded with singing but now was nearly deserted. A handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters and praised and prayed with heavy hearts,. At the edge of the  monastery woods, an old rabbi had built a little hut. He went there from time to time to pray and fast. No one ever spoke with him, but the word would be passed when he appeared. "The rabbi walks in the woods." And as long as he was there the monks felt sustained by his prayerful presence. 


     One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and to open his heart to him. As he approached the hut, the rabbi was standing in the doorway with outstretched arms in welcome. It was as though he had been waiting a long time. They embraced like long-lost brothers. 


     The rabbi motioned the abbot to enter. In the middle of the room was a plain wooden table with the Scripture open on it. They sat in the presence of the book-then the rabbi began to cry, and as the abbot could not contain himself, he also began to cry. They filled the hut with the sound of their sobs. 


     After the tears had ceased and all was quiet, the rabbi said, "You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts. You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you this teaching but you can only repeat it once. After that, no one must say it aloud again." 


     Then the rabbi looked at the abbot and said, "The Messiah is among you." The abbot left without a word and without looking back. 


     The next morning he called his monks together and told them he had received a teaching from "the rabbi who walks in the woods" and this was never to be spoken again. Then he looked at each of his brothers and said, "The rabbi said that one of us is the messiah."       The monks were startled by this teaching but no one ever mentioned it again. 


     As time went by, the monks began to treat each other with a very special reverence. Visitors were deeply touched by their lives. People came from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer life of the monks, and young men asked about becoming part of this community. The rabbi no longer walked in the woods, but the monks who had taken his teaching to heart were still sustained by a prayerful presence.                                                                                                                           

In His service               









From the Associate Pastor’s Desk

In July I took some vacation to the charming little town of Adairsville to spend some time at Barnsley Gardens. If you’ve not been, I highly recommend it. Especially if you have an old soul like me, and a penchant for gardens and southern history! The gardens and greenery around Barnsley are simply breathtaking as is the history around its formation – the love of a husband for his wife and his endeavor to build her a garden of exotic flowers, trees, and shrubs reflecting the beauty of his love for her.  

As I walked around the garden I was struck by its winsomeness. There are deep purples, reds, and yellows that burst from the flowers meticulously planted and cared for with great attention. A striking, old marble fountain still cascades water from several tiers as the water pours into a shallow pool in the center of the garden. Behind it are the beautiful ruins of the Barnsley manor, still used today for celebrations of all sorts including weddings and wedding receptions. Spending time walking, reading, and praying in the garden, the words of one of my favorite hymns came into my heart: 
 All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Oh, praise Him!
Thou burning sun with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
Oh, praise Him!
Oh, praise Him!
I could not help but sense our Creator’s Holy Presence in the gardens at Barnsley. They are a sacred place for me. And it is important to have these kinds of sacred spaces in our lives, for it is too easy to go through life day in and day out in a blur, rushing here and there and letting the wonder of the sacred and Spirit-filled pass us by.  
It is not a garden for all of us. I cannot say where it is you feel more connected to God. But I would encourage us all to continue to explore and cultivate where it is for us. Where it is that we find our souls stilled and we are able to hear clearer the still, small voice within us that connects us to our Maker. We need these sacred places. 


 In Christ,

Rev. Beth