The Queen

Dear Rose Park,

            I read a small devotion this morning from a book in my office that was collecting dust on the shelf.  It’s a thin green book and it was given to me as a gift from a supporter of mine during seminary.  The title for the devotion is “The Queen”. If you’re like me you instantly put on your detective hat and ask the question, who is the queen?  If you read the devotion though, the queen isn’t a who, it’s a what.  To explain, let me share the brief devotion with you:

My New Friend Don

Dear Rose Park,

Last night I attended a meeting at Fellowship Reformed Church. The meeting’s content was an update from the Vision 2020 Team. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, I’d highly recommend you follow the link at the bottom of the page to a recent article from the RCA website. In short, in light of some deep divisions in our denomination a team has been formed to consider the future of our denomination. Last night’s meeting was an update from that team. The meeting began with lament. The meeting endured intense moments. And because of my new friend Don, the meeting ended with hope.

Worldwide Communion Sunday

Dear Rose Park,

            This coming Sunday we’ll celebrate Worldwide Communion Sunday. Communion typically happens in our community on the first Sunday of even numbered months.  For some Reformed churches this still happens quarterly and for others it occurs every month.  Communion Sunday’s are some of my favorite worship services, especially when the entire global Church is also joining us around God’s table; it’s a beautiful time together where we gather in remembrance, communion, and hope.

The DMV

Dear Rose Park,

Yesterday afternoon Sam and I finally made our way to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV is the three letter acronym that causes our blood pressure to rise and our patience to thin. If you’d like some peace and quiet, the DMV is not the place you want to be. If you’d like your own personal space, the DMV is not the place you want to be. And if you’re in a hurry, the DMV is not the place you want to be.

Grass Seed

Dear Rose Park,

Do you know the best time to plant grass seed? As a disclaimer, I’m more like Tim the “Toolman” Taylor than I am Bob Vila or Chip Gaines; which is to say, I’m no expert but I thought the best time would be in late spring when the rain is coming and the season is changing from spring to summer. In reality though, the best time to plant grass seed is the fall. Sounds odd doesn’t it? Why would you lay seed in the fall when the temperature is about to drop, snow is in the forecast, and the winds are howling? The simple answer is time.

New Glasses

Dear Rose Park,

If you didn’t know I wear glasses. I don’t wear them often, even though I should. I first noticed my vision becoming a bit blurry during my senior year at Hope College. As I was stood in Dimnent Memorial Chapel, I noticed the words on the projection screen during worship seemed to have an extra layer. It took a few months, but I eventually had an eye exam and purchased my first pair of glasses. This past week, I had to order my third pair.

Opposites

Dear Rose Park,

He’s almost two. She’s in her nineties. He wears t-shirts with dinosaurs and food stains. She wears beautiful sweaters and is delicate with her manners. He runs with abandon until he’s red in the face and sweat is on his brow. She carefully walks with a walker and is precise to find her footing. He’s relatively new to our community. She saw the last sermon of the first pastor of Rose Park. His name is Simon. Her name is Nell.

Back to School

Dear Rose Park,

If you read the title of this letter you might be wondering, “why is Pastor Mark writing a letter to the church about the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield movie?” Though that’s a good question, and a pretty funny movie, don’t worry I’m not. As many of you know, our local students are officially back to school. The buses are out early in the morning. Recess is filled with basketball and laughter. Week nights are packed with activities and games. But going back to school, isn’t just limited to our young people.

Hand 2 Hand

Dear Rose Park,

Yesterday morning I met Barb Kleeves, Diana Beltman, and Amy Lemire at Fair Haven Church in Hudsonville for the annual commissioning service for Hand 2 Hand. It was a beautiful service; one filled with heartwarming stories and convicting testimonies. However, if you aren’t familiar with the ministry, let me briefly fill you in: Hand 2 Hand is essentially a backpack-ministry providing food for the weekend to our local students and families throughout the academic year. It’s a ministry we have faithfully supported with our time, energy, and resources and it’s beginning another year of inspiration, encouragement, and hope.

Good Fences

Dear Rose Park,

Good fences make good neighbors

This is a line from Robert Frost’s poem entitled Mending Wall and it seems just as appropriate for today as it did when it was written in 1914. When I read this poem, and particularly that line, I read it as meaning neighbors are fine as long as they are kept at a distance. In other words, fences might do a lot of great things; they might keep our animals safe and they might even protect us, but they certainly don’t make good neighbors.

Sunday at 3:00PM

Dear Rose Park,

Will you strive to fulfill faithfully, diligently, and cheerfully, all the duties of a minister of Christ: to preach the Word of God in sincerity, to administer the sacraments in purity, to maintain proper discipline in the household of God, and to shepherd the flock faithfully?

I will, and I ask God to help me.

The Gold Barn

Dear Rose Park,

Last night Sam, Simon, my mom Kathy (aka “Boppy” to Simon), and I went blueberry picking at the Gold Barn on Quincy. Blueberry picking evokes great memories for me growing up in Holland. I can still remember going picking with my mom when I was younger. I remember tying the bucket around my waist and eating more than I picked. I even have a vague memory or two of picking with my Grandma Brinks and then afterward enjoying the fruits of her labor; namely, a blueberry crisp or a muffin.

Nothing Extraordinary

Dear Rose Park,

I had breakfast with a friend yesterday morning at The Biscuit in Washington Square on the south side of Holland. If you haven’t been there, I’d highly recommend it as the breakfast tacos certainly have me hooked. It was a beautiful morning: humidity was low, the sun was rising, the birds were singing, and the coffee was hot.

The Church Directory

Dear Rose Park,

Do you like to clean? Every once in a while, I get the need to tidy up. The feeling came on fast Monday morning as I was having my first cup of coffee. I spent almost thirty minutes tidying up my office; I threw away old post-it’s, filed away important notes, and organized a few books. But as I was cleaning, I also found a few vhs tapes, a couple book series from the nineties, and the always flattering church directory.

My Office Bulletin Board

Dear Rose Park,

I’m getting settled into my office. Picture frames are being organized and put into place. Books are being alphabetized and placed on shelves. Old folders and notes are being filed away for later use. My putter has found its’ home in the corner and my baseball sits quietly on my desk. And my coffee mug with Simon’s picture on it has already left a ring next to my computer. I’m definitely starting to feel at home.

Welcome Back

Dear Rose Park,

Many of you have mentioned the phrase “welcome back” several times to our family as we’ve spent time with you at our house or at worship. Not only does this phrase remind me of the theme song to “Welcome Back Kotter”, but it also warms my heart to be welcomed with such hospitality and love.