Monthly Archives: November 2014

First Sunday of Advent: Light

Hard to believe that today is the last day of the NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month). The challenge is given to write a blog post every day during the month of November. I did not make it. I think I missed five days of posting and six if you count the day I re-posted my brother’s blog with a few words of my own. I feel good about being pushed to write and to connect with people through this particular medium.

Today, in the Christian tradition is the First Sunday of Advent and the first day of the our new year. In many churches this day is accompanied with a candle to mark the Sundays before Christmas. Often the first Sunday’s candle is named for “prophecy” or “waiting” or “hope”. We chose at West Heights to use the image light. It is a good image as the days grow darker and shorter and considering the darkness that surrounds the world with violence, hatred and injustice.

I used a video clip from the Fellowship of Rings to help consider how much I, and I believe many need light.
It comes as that unusual company of men, elves, dwarves, hobbits and a wizard seek to fight the evil and defeat it. They need gifts and Frodo, who bears the ring that must be destroyed is given a particular gift by the elven Lady of the Wood Galadriel. The gift as shown in the video is light for the darkest of times when all light seems lost.

I preach from notes so this is not word for word from my sermon….but my notes said this:

I don’t know when this Advent will get dark for you or for what reason, but it will. There will come a time when all the violence and craziness of the world will come pressing in, or your grief from the loss of a loved one or the brokenness of a relationship will seem overwhelming dark, or when the circumstances of your life will not let up….in that moment, you will need a light to remind you that we are beloved sons and daughters of God, beloved children of the Light….and in that moment when all seems lost, I have gift for you to take home for you to use in that moment…a glow stick..seems a bit odd, but you can snap it and shake it and the glow stick will glow and you will see light and hope in the darkest times…because that is what we really isn’t this Christmas? We want light in the darkest places of our hearts and spirits and lives, we want the light of Christ to blaze and change us and change our world Paul writes: Live as children of light for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true
This week, my friends, may we remember that in the beginning was the Word and the WORD was and is God and that Word is the light of the world that as children of the light all that is good and right and true is made real in our lives and spirits and that Christ will shine on us and in us the darkness can not overcome it.

The glow stick glowed and I brought three home that had gotten jostled in the basket and they looked like this:
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I know that I will need light at some point in this Advent journey and one glow stick will make me smile and remind me that there is light in the darkest night and that God, whom I celebrate in Christ as “Emmanuel: God with us” is truly with me and with us all. With that faith in Light and Love I am graced to serve.

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Saturday six

In RevGalBlogPals each Friday there is a challenge to write on the “Friday Five.” Yesterday, I missed the post because I was taking down Thanksgiving decorations and began putting up Christmas decorations. I also re-posted a blog of my brothers from The Kansas Expatriate

So instead of a “Friday Five” I thought I would post a “Saturday Six.” This post will serve as a transition from Thanksgiving to Advent. I love the Thanksgiving season and I love the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany cycle and season as well. Here are my six things I give thanks for today as I move into the Christian New Year.

1. I am grateful for a husband who loves cheesy Christmas decorations as much as I do. He helps me decorate for all the seasons, but we go crazy at Christmas time with vintage outdoor Santas, snow men, candles and a Grinch who steals the light from our home each year.

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2. I am grateful to have a home that lends itself to multiple Christmas trees and the joy I have in decorating them.

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3. I am grateful for a beautiful day, where it was 70 degrees and I ate supper on the back porch. Tomorrow the temperature dips again and goes down for the rest of the week. Kansas in all its glory has very interesting weather!

4. I am grateful for the New Year that Advent brings. Once again, as Christians we come to a time where we hope for the coming of that time where there is justice, peace and joy.

5. In the midst of the darkness season of the year, and dark times as a nation and as a world, I look for the light that is promised in Emmanuel, God-with-us.

6. In the midst of violence, anger and pain, I pray for peace and look for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign forever and ever. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

With those Saturday six, I am graced to serve.

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Black Friday

My brother’s post today is on grief. The Thanksgiving season begins a frenzy of holiday parties, family gatherings and for many, a reminder of their loss either through death, divorce, a move, a broken relationship. I am blessed to share his words with those who may need them on this day.

The Kansas Expatriate

I actually have much to be thankful for.  I am safe, in demonstratively good health, I have a place to live, a small amount of financial security, and a new career that, although is still in its infancy, is actually starting to look promising.  In addition I just spent Thanksgiving with my niece, her husband, three over energetic boys, and her in laws.  In a word, all was perfect.

Yet, on the drive home, just two hours in the blustering snow and late at night pitch black, the barbarians I have so carefully bribed began to knock at the gate.  These demons, and their inky black shadows, licked at the edge of my thoughts, not yet invasive but definitely persistent.  Unlike in times of the past year I wasn’t even surprised by their presence. I know I have another year or so of this in front of me.

This morning…

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What’s in a name: some fun creativity

Four years ago, Grace Med, a ministry of the United Methodist Church started a 5K race on Thanksgiving morning. This year there were 1600 runners/walkers. Some are serious, really serious runners, as in it was 26 degrees and they were in short running shorts and tanks. Me? I was in thermal leggings, thermal ear warmers, thermal gloves, thermal jersey….well you get the picture…or here is a picture (at the end of the race with gloves off!

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Part of the fun, of course, are those who dress in costume, and those who come up with team names. I wish I had gotten some pictures of those costumes! So much creativity! Part of the joy of being there a little early was to see some of the t-shirts that the teams created.

Some of favorites:

Forced Family Fun (three generations of bright blue t-shirts with bright orange letters)

Huffin’ for the Stuffin’ (again at least three generations, long sleeve gray t-shirts)

Fifty Shades of Gravy

We Got the Runs…..

There were turkey hats, fake “tail feathers”, tutus in fall colors of course and just us normal folk, out to get some exercise before the big feast. There were families, strollers, wheelchairs, some who used walkers to do the race, plus plenty of runners and walkers doing the best the could. All were there, supporting a great cause.

I am grateful for so many things, not the least is the ability to walk a 5K we were not fast, but we finished and felt pretty good overall. I am grateful for the ministry of Grace Med and the ability to support it. I am thankful for family, friends, food and laughter. I am thankful that because of all good gifts and blessings in my life, I am graced to serve.

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Thanksgiving Eve

Yesterday I wrote about that it had been one year since my mother’s memorial service. Last year on this day my brother’s and I spend all day cooking and baking and enjoying preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Today, I prepared a much smaller feast to be shared tomorrow with my husband and his mother.

First, my husband and I will participate in a 5K run/walk for Grace Med. This ministry offers health care to the underserved in the Wichita area. They are a ministry of the United Methodist Church. Four years ago they began the “Say Grace” race.

There is much I have for which I am grateful. Yesterday, I was thankful for the memories of my mother and the celebration of her life. I was also thankful for a day bookmarked by a gorgeous sunrise and sunset. I don’t often see both but yesterday morning at the downtown YMCA, this was what I saw as we walked in preparation of tomorrow’s race:

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The end of the day’s picture did not turn out quite so lovely, but the view as I left the church was just as stunning.

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On this night I am thankful for the ability to walk 5K to help the medically underserved in the greater Wichita area; a plan to “skype” with grandchildren; to cook for my mother-in-law and husband; some days at home to enjoy with my husband and to begin to decorate for the upcoming Christmas holiday. I am deeply grateful for family and friends, a roof over my head, and faith to make each day a gift. On this Thanksgiving eve, I am graced to serve.

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One year ago

The news is filled with pain and anger and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. While I can’t begin to understand the suffering and grief for many, I find myself distracted from those events from my own memories of this particular day. For me and my family, this is the day one year ago when we had my mother’s memorial service.

We gathered the week of Thanksgiving for the first time in years and years. Unfortunately my mother did not live long enough to celebrate with us, but we gathered in remembrance and in honor of her life. Here is the picture taken that day before her service.

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My brother wrote a eulogy to honor her unique life. Re-reading his eulogy made me smile and feel a little sad. I miss her. I am grateful for all foibles and her unique and unrepeatable spirit. Chris captured her well.

Postude

Sometimes the personal takes precedent over the political and global nature of life. This evening I am striving to just be at peace with memory, with grief, and with a sense that the world is always a bit unsettled, a bit crazy and all too violent. Tomorrow and the next day and the days after there will be time again to engage in all that the world offers and the hope and promise that faith gives. Tonight it is enough to say Thank You to the One who loves, who comforts and who offers grace enough to face whatever comes. With that prayer of gratitude, I am graced to serve.

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Reading

I think it is amazing how many people spend time sharing their thoughts through blogs. In the “old” days people did newspaper articles, if they were lucky enough to be published. In the twenty first century, it is privilege to be able to put thoughts into the internet and connect with others.

In today’s blog, I want to share some of my favorite bloggers. They are all over the map and some are very well read and some not so much. These are the blogs I come back to because they make me laugh, make me think and challenge my creativity.

I love Ali Ebrights recipes and reflections:
Gimme Some Oven

A shameless plug for my brother’s blog: he makes me laugh
The Kansas Expatriate

I have followed Brandy for a long time. Back in the day when I was a “poor” parson:
The Prudent Homemaker

I ran across Peacebangs writings about 8 years ago she makes me evaluate how I dress:
Beauty Tips for Ministers

Tikiman is a neighbor who has published a couple of novels for my writing push:
The Tikiman says

Rachel Held Evans ALWAYS inspires me and challenges me spiritually:
Rachel Held Evans

While I have many more, I have a SHOUT OUT to the group that got me blogging each day
RevGalBlogPals

I am grateful for these writers, their lives and my opportunity to glimpse in, to laugh, to learn and to remember I am graced to serve.

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