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Keeping up with Scott Shelton

Dear ZPC Family,

The Shelton Family, all 6 of us, recently returned from a trip out West during my sabbatical. We visited some Lewis and Clark sites in North Dakota and Montana, then had some fun in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. I enjoyed seeing the historical sites where Lewis and Clark traveled, such as their winter quarters in Mandan, North Dakota, and where they portaged their canoes at Great Falls, Montana.

Our kids enjoyed seeing all the wildlife in Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. We had lots of sightings of black bears, elk, moose, antelope, bison, bald eagles, and mountain goats. We missed seeing a bull moose with antlers - but oh, well. Claire and I enjoyed quiet moments reading and looking at the Tetons behind Jackson Lake Lodge and at Colter Bay. Our kids enjoyed the rodeo, rafting the Snake River, and hiking.

Part of the joy of being on sabbatical is that I lost track of what day it was several times - relaxing! But it wasn't all relaxing. Some days we tried to do too much - and it was exhausting. One of the things we learned is that with 6 people, there are 6 different opinions on where to eat, what to do, where to go. We learned that we had to negotiate on what to see and do, and sometimes compromise what I might want to do for the good of the family. Part of being a family is give and take, and learning to look out for others. I was reminded that is something we must remember as a church family - to look out for the other person and to care for them - at times setting aside what I might want personally for the good of the family - even for those not in our church family.

Now that our kids are heading back to school, I'm doing some reflecting and reading. I'm reading Tod Bolsinger's book on Lewis and Clark and church leadership called Canoeing the Mountains. I'm also reading two good books on resting, being quiet and being present with God and others. Good lessons for me in all these books. I also made a two day visit to Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois, and learned more about the great man. I've learned that Lewis, Clark, and Lincoln were all very human as well as heroic. They had flaws and made mistakes, but they stepped out with courage to take on incredible challenges. I'll be sharing what I've learned in a class when I return, including all the great things I learned while traveling and studying in Israel. I'll tell some stories in worship this fall, too.

Another thing I've reflected on recently is church. We've worshipped at different churches and truly enjoyed them all. God was present in all those churches and in warm welcomes we received. But I realize that I miss worshipping with you all - and your warm love to me and my family. So, while I'm still enjoying the time away, I look forward to seeing you all again in September! 

God bless, Scott

Editor's note: Rev. Scott Shelton is the associate pastor for discipleship at ZPC. He has been on Sabbatical since May 15 and will return to us on September 15.

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Israel Highlights from the Sheltons

Our Shelton family trip to Israel was moving in so many ways. We were reminded that Jesus is still calling his disciples today, even you and me. 

Some highlights were sitting on the southern steps of the Temple Mount, where Jews in Jesus time would have entered to go to Temple, where rabbis taught and where people gathered. The original steps are still there! This means Jesus walked there and probably taught there and so did Peter and Paul!

We also visited Jacob’s Well (see below) – where Jesus met the Samaritan woman in John 4 and revealed himself to be the Messiah. The well there is the same well from the patriarch Jacob’s time and from Jesus’ time - active and working – and we drew water from it! The well is located underground – underneath the altar area of a beautiful Eastern Orthodox church, manned by a faithful priest, who has protected the well since 1979 for pilgrims like us to visit it.

We also spent a night at a Bedouin camp in the desert. Bedouins are nomadic people and told us they come from the tradition of Abraham, several thousand years ago. Jerry would like that they really practice hospitality – giving us tea and coffee on arrival and feeding us well with traditional foods. Although this camp is there for tourists like us, we still
 “roughed it” by riding camels (great fun – but uncomfortable), and sleeping in a tent with rugs on the floor and blankets for walls – an amazing experience! There were camels, goats and peacocks roaming around – strange but cool nonetheless.

We started each day on our trip reciting the Sh’ma in both Hebrew and English with our teacher and guide, Geoff Carroll. The Sh’ma is what Jesus says is the greatest commandment in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 which says “Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might!” Jesus also says, “and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18). While this commandment is familiar to us, it was more ingrained in us as we recited it each morning – as good Jews have recited it from memory for thousands of years, including Jesus, who as a Jewish rabbi would have recited the Sh’ma each day.

“Sh’ma” means “Hear” and we talked about what it means to hear. There is not a word for “obey” in Hebrew, but the word “hear” can also be loosely translated as obey. When we tell our children to “listen” we are really saying, “listen to what I’m saying and please obey.” As followers of Jesus we are to hear – or listen and obey what the teacher, or rabbi, says - to hear what Jesus calls us to do and be.

One of my favorite memories will be sitting along side the shore of Sea of Galilee at the traditional spot where Jesus reinstated Peter as a disciple by asking, “Do you love me?” and then Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21). I think Jesus is also wanting to know if we love him too – and we can show our love by listening and following him.

As we sat along the shore of the Sea of Galilee there at that same spot, our teacher Geoff, pointed up the coast and said Capernaum, the town of Jesus’ ministry and Peter’s hometown, just about a half mile up the
coast. An aside: One of the highlights of the Sea of Galilee region is many of the famous villages and locations of the gospels are very close together – most within a few miles of each other! Between where we sat and Capernaum was a spot where a warm spring fed into the Sea and a place where fisherman for centuries liked to fish and to clean their nets. Scholars think this spot, just 100-200 yards from where we sat, is where Jesus called the fisherman, Peter and Andrew, James and John, to be disciples in Matthew 4. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” As we traveled to so many incredible sights around Israel, we felt the call to come and follow Jesus.

The trip made the Bible come alive for us. These places from the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (we visited the site of their tombs at the Machpelah in Hebron!) and then to the time of Jesus are real places – we could see them, walk them, and touch them – many of the buildings or ruins are still there! So for Claire and I, our faith is more confirmed after this trip – and our hope is that our kids’ faith is strengthened as well.

We didn’t just live in the past on the trip, we ate new foods, met Jews and Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem tending shops, working in restaurants, driving our bus and driving cabs. We played cards, laughed a lot, and got really tired. So the call to come and follow Jesus is not just a call for disciples 2000 years ago but for us today as well in the present. Being there for me was also humbling, and I am reminded that although I get tired and fall short in many ways, Jesus can reinstate me as his disciple – and I can respond by following him. May you hear Jesus’ call to come and follow him even this week, and say yes when he calls you too.

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