Today was my last day at Montreat Conference Center. I had been leading a retreat for incoming students in the Certificate of Spiritual Formation program. After morning prayers, I decided to take a hike up Graybeard Mountain. I walked the bridge across Flat Creek and followed the water’s edge up the lower end of the trail. I stepped across roots and rocks making my way higher up Montreat’s premier peak. Trees were budding. Birds were chirping. A couple of dogs were running. The sky was blue. I marveled…

Four years ago, two members of the Senior Minister Search Committee from First Baptist Greenville picked me up at Asheville Regional Airport. I was scheduled to lead a retreat at Montreat, and they used this opportunity to meet and chat. Until this moment, we had only communicated by telephone and email. We arrived at Montreat, I dropped my luggage in the room, and we made our way to a small gazebo on Lake Susan. We chatted, questioned, laughed and dreamed. Today, I sat in the gazebo after my hike…and I marveled…

I left Montreat around noon and drove through the town of Arden – a community on the outskirts of Asheville. I stopped for lunch at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack. The sign on the door read “Tattoo Tuesday – 10% off if you show your ink.” I ordered and ate at a discount. I marveled…

I’m not sure how many Holy Weeks and Easters you’ve seen in your lifetime. I lived through over 50, yet each year I’m humbled by the quiet meal on Thursday. I’m stilled by the darkness of Good Friday. Easter Sunrise Service is always a joy, and the annual Easter Sunday Service is celebration at its finest. This is Christianity’s high and holy season. This is the pinnacle of our hope and our faith. Each year, I step into the crowded Sanctuary to read and hear the story one more time, and I marvel. No matter how many Easters come and go, I hope I never lose my marvels. I’ll see you Sunday morning, and we will marvel together…

— Jim