This week's portion: Shall (Emor)
T-minus one day and counting

A minister and a rabbinic student walk into a coffee shop...

Meeting other bloggers is one of the perennial pleasures of blogging. In some ways, meeting a blogger is like meeting an author whose works one knows well. Though in the latter case, the relationship tends to be asymmetrical (which is to say: given the opportunity I would totally fangirl Annie Dillard or Michael Chabon, but they don't know me from Eve) whereas when two bloggers meet the odds are good that we'll already know some things about each other. In an ideal world, that means one can skip the awkward pleasantries phase and leap right to the good stuff.

This must be a pretty ideal world, because I got to have lunch today with James Lumsden, a UCC pastor who moved to Pittsfield last August, who blogs at When love comes to town. I can't entirely remember when I first started reading his blog, but I've been a fan for a while now. His posts during Holy Week were especially resonant for me; most weeks he posts his sermons (illustrated by all manner of images), which never fail to be thought-provoking. But what speaks to me most in his blog is the sense I get of his joyful service, especially filtered through the prism of his simultaneous engagement with church and with rock music of various forms.

Lunchtime conversation ranged from who we are (how he came to the ministry, how I came to the rabbinate), to community and the Berkshires, to architecture and how it shapes the worship experience, to brokenness and wholeness, to the tension between love of liturgy and the desire to facilitate an accessible experience of prayer, to the desire to help (and how frustrating, and valuable, it is to be reminded that making things better isn't always in our hands), to Jewish Renewal and the emergent church, to deep ecumenism, to what it might mean if we understand ourselves to be walking parallel paths toward the same ineffable Source. And more. 

One of this blog's origin stories goes, "I started Velveteen Rabbi because I wanted to be having conversations about God and prayer and scripture, and my local friends were good sports about listening to me ramble, but I knew they were basically humoring me. I wanted to be engaged in conversations about all of this, so I started blogging." The pleasant surprise, five years in, is that my circle of conversationalists has been broadening both online and off. And today I got to make another online relationship into a f2f one, which was a treat. Thanks for lunch, James! Next time it's on me.

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