A Sunday service in Cos Cob

Connecticut Pastor Vicki I Flippin, AB'05, explores need and want.

In March, during a short visit to my childhood home in Connecticut, I spent quality time with family, enjoyed some New England seafood, popped into Friendly’s for ice cream, and took a day trip to Cos Cob, a small village known for its historic train station. While there I interviewed Vicki and Thomas Flippin, both AB’05, for a Core profile. Vicki is lead pastor at Diamond Hill United Methodist Church; Thomas is a classical guitarist and the composer of Neverland: Depicting the Narrative of a Dream (2009).

Before meeting the Flippins at their home, I attended Sunday worship at Diamond Hill and heard Vicki deliver the sermon she had spent the past week preparing. It was based on John 4:7-15, which describes a conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. Referring to the water in a nearby well, Jesus tells the woman, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I give him will never thirst.”

After reading the passage, Vicki called the children in attendance to the front of the chapel. She asked the congregation to consider luxury car commercials that ask, “How could your family not afford to buy this car?” Modern advertising, she said, tells us we need things we don’t even know we need. Yet as the scripture puts it: “Don’t you see all you need is right here?”

She asked the parishioners to close their eyes. “You’re running on a hot day," she says. "Then you arrive at a pool of water.” As she spoke, the children gathered around and help her pour water from a pitcher into a bowl. “That water is like God.” She extended the comparison: God is like sitting at a table to feast after one has gone hungry or hearing an uplifting story after receiving terrible news.

“Then you come full circle and realize, ‘How can I not afford to seek out God’s kingdom?’” she finished.

I left the service grateful for the chance to witness Vicki’s facility with language and imagery but regretful that I wouldn’t be able to attend one of Thomas’s performances before my story was due. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, all was not lost. I’ve spent more than a few hours back in Chicago listening to the videos on Thomas’s website. Who knew guitar could sound this glorious?

Katherine Muhlenkamp

August 18, 2010