A Long Weekend

It’s Monday. For most people, it is the first day of the week. For me, it is my day to relax after the weekend. This weekend more than most I am enjoying a day to sit back and breath before the plunge into this week’s tasks. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very enjoyable time; just one that I need to recover from.

This marathon weekend actually began on Thursday. Betsey and I kicked off my day with a two-and-a-half hour meeting about Evangelism. All Saints set a goal last year of becoming more visible in the community. We want to update our branding from our original (c. 1948) image. We need a new website. We then want to get ourselves and our ministry in front of people who we believe would really like worshiping with us, if only they knew we existed. The obstacle that is currently sitting in the way is the need for a new logo and tagline. More deeply, we need to discern what we want to tell the world about our church.

After this meeting and a quick bite to eat, came the usual Thursday routine. I get the bulletin drafts back my proof-readers and make the corrections. I also get the weeks Hymn selections from Mr. Nelson and add them to the 10:00 am bulletin. It takes about 20 minutes for the printer to get the 8 o’clock version (26 copies) out and 45 minutes for the 10 o’clock (58-75 copies). Thursday works best if I can get the printer running and then work on other things. So sending the bulletin to press is a top priority. Next comes the “extra stuff.” A printed copy of the Prayers of the People for the Intercessor, and a copy of the Psalm with the psalm tone on top that the organist marks up and copies for the choir. Finally the announcements sheet gets updated and sent to the printer (75 copies) while I go and fold the bulletins that are now done printing.

This last Thursday was also our monthly finance meeting. I attend in my role as stewardship chair. Before the meeting, I get my numbers together so I can give my report. All Saints has had a balanced budget since 2010, but it is balanced only by holding a very tight reign on the expenses. The goal of the finance committee is to keep a close eye on the finances in order to allow the vestry to focus on the “big picture” ministry goals of the church. We got through the meeting alright, but the summer lull has taken a toll on our cash flow. Finance meetings are just less fun when the numbers are in the red.

Friday morning began with a dentist’s appointment in Auburn. This is the appointment I had to reschedule after my recent bike crash. I still don’t like dentists, but I have found one that is able to deal with my issues and doesn’t insist on needing to fix everything that is amiss with my mouth all at once.

Then it was off to the church to pick up tables and chairs for the dinner we hosted on Sunday. Once they were safely delivered a trip to the grocery store was in order. Usually Beth and I go grocery shopping together. That way we can decide what we want to eat together, and we make fewer impulse buys. But, it didn’t work out this time. I served lasagna for our dinner this year, in large part because I could make it ahead of time. Once I was home from the store I spent the rest of the day putting together two homemade lasagnas. Not hard, but rather time consuming.

On Saturday, I played in a slow-pitch softball tournament with a team made up of people associated (often rather loosely) with my wife’s company. The league had been running since May and this was the final tournament. Based on our past performance we didn’t expect to make it very far in this double elimination tournament. But somehow we won our first game and that meant we got to play a total of three. In between games we held a barbecue potluck with some amazing ribs and brisket. It was a hot day and by the end of the third game when we were eliminated, no one was overly disappointed to be finished. I went home, showered, and after a few hours on the couch watching the Olympics, got back to work preparing for our dinner.

Saturday was also more complicated because one of the Jeeps tires let go and so we are down to just one car. Thank you to Jim Colgan who got Beth to church and back on Saturday.

Sunday started as usual with Church. My job at All Saints can make the church feel very much like a small business, and Sunday worship is always a good way to remind myself that we are a community brought together to worship God, not just another business or social-service organization.

This Sunday we also hosted our spring event dinner. Our churches major fund-raiser for the year is a large dinner, that comes with silent and live auctions and a raffle. One very popular item at the silent auction are various luncheons and dinner parties. We host one of these each year and Sunday was the date we had set. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time.

One of my favorite parts of hosting this dinner is that I can use it as an excuse to serve (and eat) all the things I like to find at a dinner party: Fancy chess and 7-layer dip for horderves, good wine, homemade lasagna with extra cheese, and angel food cake with strawberries and blueberries for dessert. The real trick is getting the house cleaned and the food ready without going completely insane. This year particularly was a little stressful as four of the best hostesses in the church were on the guest list. Fortunately, everything went well and by the time May rolls around again we will likely have forgotten how much work this was and agree to host another one.

I’ll close with a last amusing story. Even though I helped set the table for years, when it comes right down to it I don’t do it often enough to remember all the little details. For example, the blade of the knife should face the plate, water glasses are placed above the knife while bread plates go on the left. Beth inherited her Grandmother 1956 edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook which has in the front section several pages devoted to hosting a dinner party, including – thankfully – a detailed illustration of place settings. I find it quite amusing though to read through the rest of the advice given to the housewife hosting guests. The gender stereotypes give me a particular chuckle as we break almost all of them. Food tastes have changed as well as non of my guests were scandalized by the lack of a Jell-o mold. Time and culture have changed in the last 56 years, fortunately the joy of having good friends over for dinner has not.