Savoring My Passage - the monthly journal of A. C. Gray

February 2010

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Savoring Every Moment
Arbreux Retrospective
L'Abri Retrospective
April 2010
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June 2010
August 2010*
September 2010
November 2010
Christmas/December 2010
February, 2011
March 2011
Moments of Reason
April 2011
Newspaper Readers
Mennonite Buggies and Quilts - Shenandoah Valley

“Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ….Greet all the brothers and sisters with Christian love….May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”  Paul to the church at Thessalonica, circa 65 AD.

A unique characteristic of the community to which I recently moved is life shared with Old Order Mennonites.  It is quite common to see horse drawn buggies and carriages on the highways and backroads; they are verboten on the Interstate.  Enroute to church on my first Sunday after moving here, I passed five Mennonite families, all dressed in black.  Invariably friendly, they all smiled and waved as we passed.  The scene keeps recycling in my thoughts: no matter the critics of their old fashioned ways, how marvelous to witness their ethic of nonviolence and abstinence from what they believe to be worldly indulgence.


The Bridgewater Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simmons (1496–1561), who, through his writings, articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The teachings of the Mennonites were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. Rather than fight, the majority survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families tolerated their rejection of infant baptism. In the Bridgewater community, some of the Mennonite people do drive cars and use modern technology for farming.


Bridgewater College adjoins the Bridgewater Retirement Village where I live.  Both were founded by the Church of the Brethren.  Many of my neighbors are former ministers in the Brethren Church. I became acquainted with the Brethren while working alongside many of them on Red Cross disaster operations.  Historically, they have partnered with Quakers and Mennonites in their peace efforts, declining to engage in military service as conscientious objectors.  They emphasize peace, simplicity, and equality of believers and consistent obedience to Christ.  During the Second World War, many worked as volunteers for various civilian government agencies as alternatives to combat and some did serve in the military in non-combat status.


 Bridgewater dates back to 1740 when the first settlers arrived from Scotland and Ireland, followed soon by German settlers.  Several early families built mills and the settlement was first known as Bridgeport. On February 7, 1835, the settlement was chartered as the Town of Bridgewater. The name was derived from its proximity to the North River and the bridge that was built there in 1820. The original land area within the town was approximately twenty acres. On a relief map of the Shenandoah Valley, Bridgewater is almost right in the middle, so both the Blue Ridge to the East and the Alleghenies to the West are in view. 


Even though the divine life that is given to us in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, is essentially the same life that we shall lead in Heaven, the possession of that life can never give us perfect rest on earth.  A Christian is essentially an exile in this world in which he has no lasting city.  The very presence of the Holy Spirit in his heart makes him discontent with worldly and material values.  He cannot place his trust in the things of this life.  His treasure is somewhere else, and where his treasure is, his heart is also.  Thomas Merton in his book, No Man Is An Island


Rainbow Sunset