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England Day 4: Abraham Again

So I have been thinking about Abraham again.  And how God came to him and said – leave your land, and your people and your father’s house and GO to a land I will show you.  And how he took his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot and their possessions and went.  Being a person who naturally asks questions, there is a lot I want to know.  For example, why only Sarah and Lot?  Why not others?  Did Abraham ask anyone else to come along?  Were there others who were asked but they refused to come?  Were there others who came but they turned back?

The truth is, I have been reflecting on traveling companions lately.  Robyn and I are on this educational trip to England along with my covenant brothers and their spouses.  18 months ago, our group asked if the scholarship fund paying for this opportunity would be willing to sponsor twice the number of recipients as usual?  That way our covenant group (and spouses) could go together.  Traveling together would make the trip that much more enjoyable.  Plus, having been accountable to each other for years we would be able to help each other better assimilate what we were learning into our own contexts.

I don’t know about you, but I have found that the people you travel with on a trip can make or break that experience.  Throw together a group who doesn’t like each other or doesn’t get along and a wonderful trip can seem painful drudgery.  But put together a group that cares for one another and laughs together and even the most trying trip can be fulfilling.  That is why I am so thankful to be here with Robyn.  And also with my brothers in the ministry.

There are 8 of us in our covenant group.  All of us are pastors in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Each of us has served in that capacity for at least 18 years (I hit 25 this year!).  We all know the ups and the downs, the challenges and the joys.  There is Scott. He is at FUMC Ormond Beach.  He is funny as all get out.  He is the grand master at center ring who keeps the conversation fresh and lively.  Sometimes he makes me laugh so hard I cry.  Roy is at Cornerstone UMC in Naples.  He is the group’s conscience.  Big and muscular with lots of tattoos, he looks nothing like a pastor.  But don’t let that fool you.  He totally is.  Brett is at Chris UMC in Ft. Lauderdale.  He is very, very smart.  Always has a perspective that makes me think.  Always has a great insight to the thorniest challenge.  Cameron is at Lakeside Fellowship in Sanford.  Cameron is the most disciplined, most structured guy I know.  He is a writer who reflects deeply.  He loves to learn.  Steve has just moved to Trinity UMC in Gainesville.  He is an encourager.  He is good at coming alongside of you and offering powerful words of courage and healing.  When Steve offers a thought, you know he has chosen his words carefully.  I have known Craig the longest.  He actually served as an associate at the same church in Miami several years after I did.  He is kind.  The kindest of the bunch of us.  And he is a great listener.  If you want to be heard, go to Craig.  Finally, David W is at Grace in St Augustine.  He has a gift of reconciliation.  I admire his courage and ability to resolve difficult situations.  He is gentle.  I love that about him.

That is just a sketch of my traveling companions.  And by that I don’t just mean this trip in England.  I mean my traveling companions in ministry.  We share this journey to a land that God will show us.  I am thankful for them.  Their presence makes all the difference!  More tomorrow.  For now – who are your traveling companions on the path of faith?  Who is going with you to the land that God will show you?