Notes from Jan

Sunday Thoughts on Tuesday

February 7, 2023

Sorry I’m late. Really, I meant to write last week but life interrupted, mostly in good ways. Between bundling up due to the DEEP freeze and preparing to speak in chapel at Gordon yesterday, I didn’t blog. Odd word, but not my topic.

Church is. I need the discipline and connectivity of going to church each week. On-line church served an important need during the pandemic. And for some, who are house bound, it still does. But for the rest of us, it’s too easy to sleep a little later and stay in our pajamas. It’s so undemanding. Just grab a cup of coffee, then cozy up to the television for a taste of church.

Remember the company Toys R Us? Well , Church R Us! The Church is a living organism. How we live and act says to curious ones and hurting folks if church holds any place for them. And maybe that’s why for too many young people, but not limited to, church is irrelevant. For some, the church resembles a club “For Members Only.” We might as well post a sign,”No shoes, no service.” That leaves me with deep sadness but not devoid of hope. Meanwhile, I “tink” and pray.

Two Sundays ago, I sat off to the side in my usual spot, where I hear better. I also like it because it’s mostly populated by young families. Across or behind me sits a family with three young girls. Ayla, the youngest, keeps me hopeful. She’s probably two-ish and apt to sing out “Old MacDonald had a farm,” while I sing “Holy, Holy, Holy.” She fascinates me, as do all these young families who show up when staying home would be simpler.

Well, two weeks ago, as the last notes of the organ postlude rose towards the heavens, Ayla clapped. For sure, clapping is not forbidden in this Episcopal church, nor is it a usual practice. But she didn’t just clap, she yelled, “Yay!” As if that wasn’t clear enough how she felt, she added, “Fun church! Fun church!”

Which brings me to chapel at Gordon yesterday. It did my heart good to be back. To see familiar faces among faculty, staff and to meet students. But at the beginning of the service, the student worship leaders announced today was Sunday School songs. Well, students clapped and cheered. Like Ayla and her “Fun church!” Something wonderful happened as I looked around. Generations connecting through familiar words.

Just before I spoke, we sang Jesus Loves Me. I wiped my eyes as something holy enveloped me and this place where Jud and I served for so many years. Jesus Loves Me is so much more than a Sunday School song. It’s the Gospel truth. We, the church, get off on so many side issues, fighting for position and influence. Yesterday reminded me if The Church is not the most welcoming, redemptive, loving place on earth, we might as well be Toys R Us.

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27 Comments

  • Reply Toni Lovingood February 7, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    Beautifully said Jan. We need more vocal cheerleaders in church.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 7, 2023 at 9:36 pm

      For sure, we need more JOY and less divisive talk and actions, dear Toni. And remain hopeful and helpful to the generations coming after us. Every age has its challenges. Keep doing your part to love and encourage younger ones in your church, family and wherever God leads you.

  • Reply Stan Gaede February 7, 2023 at 4:29 pm

    Fabulous!! My only regret is that we weren’t able make it to chapel. Only 3,000 miles away. Why not? Other than the temperature, of course. 🙂

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 7, 2023 at 9:39 pm

      Thanks, dear Stan. I’m sure they’d love to have you speaking in chapel again. Such a treat for me to return and responsibility. Looking forward to seeing you and Judy soon. Thanks for all you did and do to cheer on the next generations to follow Jesus and to be The Church.

  • Reply James Griffin February 7, 2023 at 5:07 pm

    Thank you Jan! People don’t believe me when I say I went to chapel twice a week and convocation on Fridays for four years! I have mostly good memories of it. It also gave us a sense of “us” which was quite a good priority considering the number of Christian traditions on campus. Of course, it was good in that Rev. Harold Bussell was a great preacher and he did his best to schedule good preachers.
    I wish you every kindness.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 8, 2023 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you, dear James, for reading the blog and taking the time to respond. Yes, Harold did a good job as Dean of the Chapel. We served together for many years at Gordon, which was a privilege. He and Carol are living in Maryland now, after many years as pastor of Hamilton Congregational Church, then in California. Required chapel at many of our sister Christian colleges doesn’t seem like a good gift at the time, but for many it proved to be so. It always surprisesed me how much I picked up just showing up for required chapel at Wheaton during my college years. Often the music helped me leave behind my worries for an upcoming exam and opened my heart to pay attention to the sermon.

  • Reply Linda Coonrod February 7, 2023 at 5:09 pm

    Jan, So wonderful to hear your chapel message yesterday, though I will confess that even I did so in a “home church” mode, from so near! Thank you for sharing such a grace-filled message to all of your listeners. And thank you for keeping on with your gift of sharing that “Jesus Loves Us”!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 8, 2023 at 12:47 pm

      Oh, Linda, seeing your name reminds me of your faithful years as part of Gordon’s women’s prayer group and our fun lunches together. And I think of Margie, your wonderful sister. It’s been fun hearing from alums who watched the live-streaming of the chapel service. Technology amazes me. when put to good use. Thanks for tuning in, then responding. Say hi to my friends at Hamilton Congo.

  • Reply Radina Welton February 7, 2023 at 5:19 pm

    AMEN and AMEN!!! CHURCH! I can’t live without it! That first-day-of-week is my Sabbath rest and renewal day.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 8, 2023 at 12:51 pm

      So true, musical Radina. I hope your new church in Oregon is discovering you have much to offer through your musical gifts. Well, wherever you are I’m sure you represent Grace to them. May Go bless you in your new home and your wonderful family. Say Hi to the Petrocellis for me.

  • Reply dale February 7, 2023 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    The fifth Sunday of a month (God needs to make more of these) the children get to attend “big church.” They are alive and are not worried how their singing sounds (they have their own tunes) – however it would be nice if they started and stopped with the rest of us. Church is like walking into your warm home after a vacation and knowing your home. I pray church will become that for the next generation as long as they don’t sit in my seat. 🙂 Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 8, 2023 at 12:58 pm

      Hah! I’ve become “one of those” who sits pretty much in the same seat each week. As I said, it’s because I can hear better there….but I also love sitting with squirming kids, since I tend to be a wiggler. Your description of coming home after being away is very much how I feel when I enter the sacred space we call church or a sanctuary. It feels safe and welcoming. Always good to hear from you, brother-friend Dale. And thanks for encouraging the next generation through your years of involvement with Young Life and teaching Sunday School.Love always to you and Marty.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe February 7, 2023 at 6:18 pm

    Oh Jan, choosing a favorite post of yours is like saying which one of my children is my favorite. I can’t pick. But this one is near the top. I am so glad you spoke in Gordon’s chapel! I’m wondering if I can find it on the Gordon website. Do they record and then share chapel messages, by any chance?

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 8, 2023 at 1:02 pm

      Well, wherever I am, I’m just thankful I made the cut and you’re still reading these blogs, amazing Maggie. As for the chapel talk, they live-streamed it. Check with bob.whittit@gordon.edu. He’s the chaplain. Or maybe check the Gordon website. I’m not too bright when it comes to technology. But I know a good friend, writer and speaker when I meet, read, hear them…and U R It!

  • Reply Wendy February 11, 2023 at 8:31 pm

    Sooooo good! I just read it to Steve, and got choked up before I finished. Yes, Jesus Loves Me is so much more than a song. And church is so much more than Toys R us! Our son has 3 “littles” 5 1/2, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 and they take them to church each week – it’s not easy, but oh how thankful I am they do that! My sweet 3 1/2 year old Livi (Olivia) the other night asked me to sing to her as I was putting her to bed. I started a song, and she said “no Nana, Jesus Loves Me!” And as I sang she drifted off to sleep, forgetting that minutes earlier she was crying for her mama. Priceless. Thank you for making me laugh and cry dear Jan. Love you!! Oh – and I’m so sorry we missed you speaking at Gordon – I just checked their website but don’t see it anywhere. Perhaps I’ll email them.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 11, 2023 at 9:45 pm

      It’s on Youtube, according to Stephen Dagley, their web designer, a Gordon alum. Stephen was in the Freshman Seminar Jud and I taught. Love picturing you singing to your Grands. Nothing like it. Much love to you and Steve, dear Wendy.

  • Reply Marty Lefever February 12, 2023 at 1:37 pm

    Haven’t written in a long time, but….AMEN to “Fun Church” and “fun you!” No one paints a word pic better or expresses the love of Jesus or “Jesus Loves Me” better. Jud would be so proud of you speaking at Chapel. Love and miss you, dear friend…

  • Reply Jan Carlberg February 17, 2023 at 9:11 am

    Yea!! So fun to hear from you my “faithful Phil” of a friend. Speaking of fun, I ran into a Gordon student last week at church, not on the highway! He saw me and said, “You were funny in chapel.” Well, I’d hoped for more but I’ll take it. Love always to you and Dale.

  • Reply Jeri Mahurin March 25, 2023 at 11:13 am

    Your message as always, Jan, was sooooo wonderful to hear! Laughter, tears and so many thoughtful stories (when we get to this age we build up quite a large volume of those!!!) that pricked the heart and mind. Thank you for sharing your amazing gifts of faith-filled inspirations to us all. Glad that Gordon has made this public for many to learn from. So good to see you up on that stage. Maybe more of those to come???

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 25, 2023 at 9:02 pm

      Oh, wow, I forgot that you could have access to the chapel talk still. Thanks so much for tuning in and sending this encouraging response, dear Jeri.
      It was good to be back. Love to you and Ron.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood March 26, 2023 at 11:10 am

    Jan,
    I wanted to listen to the chapel service, but my email to the man at the college bounced back as unreceived. Is there a link that you could post to the service?
    Thanks so much! Happy Easter season to you!
    Toni

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 26, 2023 at 9:31 pm

      I’mm sorry, dear Toni, I don’t have the link. I think if you google Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts you can get to a place
      where they’ll list chapel talks. Hope this helps.

  • Reply Jeri Mahurin March 26, 2023 at 12:21 pm

    Here is the YouTube link!
    https://youtu.be/OxAmTDde4l8

  • Reply Radina Welton March 26, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    Would the chapel service be on YouTube? I also would love a link in.
    Radina Welton

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 26, 2023 at 9:34 pm

      I think so. I’ve been hearing from other Gordon alums who listened to it weeks after I gave the talk. Maybe your very own Gordon alums can help. They’re two of my favorites! Great to hear from you dear Radina.. You can also email June.Bodini@gordon.edu and I think she can help you..

  • Reply Toni Lovingood March 27, 2023 at 4:17 pm

    Jan,
    It was so good and uplifting!!!! Ken has been having heart issues and had a cardiac cath 12 days ago and a stent put in. He is still in atrial fib so still more tests and procedures in the future. Hard for a man that has exercised hard for the past 25 years. So the timing of your message was just perfect. What a homecoming it must have felt like for you to be back in that chapel that was dedicated to you God in honor of you and Jud. Can you in the future share the meatball recipe passed down from your family? It was served with love on many occasions.
    Sending a hug,
    Toni

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