A lovely, colorful handful of cards came in the mail this May 21st, my birthday. Phone calls came too, before I was even awake. Both brought congratulations that I had reached 91, and was still alive.
They were all encouraging words to me. One sweet young friend, from a very early confirmation class, said, "Hello, Arthur. I re-read some of your blogs today. It is so comforting to 'hear your voice.' Every 'touch' by a friend is so much more precious in these days of isolation. Love to you and Molly."
Then, she went on to say, "Looking forward to seeing you at the Hilltop on Thursday."
That hit me with a pang of sadness, because this very day our Laury has sent an email word to 30 or 40 of the wonderful band of brothers and sisters who have made a tradition of gathering with me by the fireside in the patio of the Hilltop Restaurant at 7:00 am to introduce ourselves round the horseshoe table with our names and the important things on our hearts, with prayer and reading of a scripture passage for the day. And finally they allow a little teaching by the old man. It all closes with common prayer around 8:30.
You'd think they would duck for the door. Instead, little clusters gather, and talk, and "renew the tie that binds."
It is a sight to see. And our pals, Ken Johnson and son Brett, the owners, not only don't charge us for the room, they work around us as they clean up and allow this group of 20 or 25 Christians to disperse at their own pace - with their blessing.
And so this Advent-Lent motley group of Christians have not only grown deeper in their faith, but in curious ways, they have become a little Christian company of brothers and sisters, sharing a precious and important, and life-changing love for each other. So often I leave, having witnessed the hand of God and the working of His Holy Spirit through this company of His people. Deeply moving to me.
So, it hurts to have to say, "We cannot yet keep our promise to gather back at the Hilltop." The Governor has said, "No," and we are committed to caring for each other from afar. Somehow God will open a way.
Maybe, when the time comes, you'll be able to join up, and we can be side-by-side, and - most of all - heart to heart around Jesus, the Risen Lord. Please pray for each other, and for this little group of your friends.
Your friend, too,
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES