Monthly Archives: December 2016

Reflections on the eve of Christmas

In the book All I really Want, by Quinn Caldwell, his devotion for the evening of December 15 has stayed with me. I have pondered his words and meditated upon them and wondered how they might be made real this year, this Christmas. I quote in part from pages 72-73

“There are something like 5400 animal species that make complex, intentional, repeatable, musical vocalizations. Which is to say that there are about 5,400 animal species that sing. The majority live in the trees, a few live in the oceans and very few live underground, but there is one–only one–singing species that lives on the ground. You guessed it: us.

Humans are also the only singing species with. Precise and shared sense of rhythm, which is what allows us to sing together…if a roomful of people sings at the same time, they start to breathe at the same time as well. And not only that, but studies have so shown that when people sing together, their hearts start beating together, too…Most other animals stop singing when danger approaches. But humans, at least humans in Advent, sing louder the closer the danger gets.”

I don’t if it is exactly true that we as humans sing louder as danger gets closer, but I do know that we as humans sing when we are sad, when we are joyful, when we are grieving and when we are feasting, when we are afraid and when we feel hope drawing near. Singing brings us together as a community, as a family and as a people who know death, despair and evil and stand and sing in the face of it all.

On Christmas eve, I will gather, as I have done for most of my life, to sing the songs that proclaim the goodness of God in the face of all that is dark and evil and unjust. As people have done for hundreds of years, I will hold a candle in the darkness and proclaim that the Light has come into the world and the darkness shall not and will not overcome it.

As individuals, we may not always be strong enough or hopeful enough or faithful enough to proclaim that love overcomes hate, that good overcomes evil, that light overcomes darkness and that God will redeem God’s creation. Our voices, my voice, can tremble, can soften and even be silenced by my a sense of despair or grief or lack of vision. Together, however, we can sing songs of love and of light and of justice and of hope. Our voices, combined, can bring strength and power and faith to a world that needs it so much.

As I prepare to move into the twelve days of Christmas, I pray you might join your voice with others and sing songs of hope, songs of joy, songs of love and songs of faith. Through the power of all of us singing together, hearts beating together, may we make music that is loud enough to be heard in the places of deepest despair. We need Emmanuel God-with-us as much today as 2000 years ago. Come Emmanuel, come filled our hearts with your peace and our voices with your love and hope! 

Merry Christmas!

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Third Week of Advent–Joy

The third candle that is lit during the season of Advent is always pink. The other candles are either purple or blue, but the third candle is pink. The third Sunday is also often Mary’s Sunday or the Sunday we focus on Mary’s great song of praise “The Magnificat” from the first chapter of Luke.

The candle is not pink because Mary is a girl or as we might think because the focus is love. The candle is pink for joy. In the old days, Advent was like lent and a time of penitence and reflection and fasting. The third Sunday was a break from all the somberness of the season was named “Gaudete” Sunday (which is latin for Rejoice)

Joy is a funny thing. Joy is not happiness and yet one can be happy and filled with joy. Joy is something deeper. Happiness can fleeting, here for a moment and just as quickly gone. One can have have and still grieve, or be sad, or uncertain or even have a bit of fear.

I believe Joy is having faith that God is with us no matter what. There are many things in the world that can cause uncertainty, sadness and even fear. Joy is the response of faith, that we are not alone and that no matter what God will be with us. I believe that is why Mary could proclaim “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for God has done marvelous things!”

In worship Sunday, we celebrate this kind of joy.  The third Sunday of Advent at First United Methodist church was all about joy! May this week you find the joy of this holy season.

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Hope of the world

I had good intentions of writing a blog during the first week of Advent. We lit the candle of Peace for that first Sunday. Now, I know, that the candle of peace is usually week two. I take a little artistic license with the order of the candles, EXCEPT for Mary’s candle on the third Sunday (always pink, always joy) and the candle of love on the fourth Sunday, Joseph’s candle (which I will go into next week.)

Week one is often hope, or prophecy or preparation, which makes sense as Christians begin their new year. This year, though, peace seemed more important to focus on as the year begins. As it was, I didn’t have a very peaceful week. Nothing went wrong, it is just was a week filled with appointments and not very much time to breathe, to wait and to fill peace-full.

Yesterday, we lit the second candle of Advent, the candle of hope.


I don’t know about you, but I need a little hope in my life. Advent, with the darkness descending and the days growing shorter, always seems encourage me to be more melancholy, more easily saddened. The world, certainly, doesn’t lack in things that would cause myself or anyone to feel hopeless. In some ways, the world seems both crueler and kinder. This election has divided our country, with an uptick in hateful attacks (particularly on persons of color, women and the LGBTQ community), AND an uptick on acts of kindness for people of the same communities.

Being a person of hope, is not about an attitude of optimism that has not acknowledgment of the pain, the violence, the war and the hatred in the world. Those things have always existed. People of hope and of faith and of peace are called to stand strong in the midst of those realities that do not point to the reign of peace, of love, of grace and of justice promised. As Christians, we understand that reign comes to us best through the incarnation, Emmanuel, God-with-us.

I was glad to remind myself of  that in worship on Sunday. It is what I really want for Christmas, to be a person of faith and hope.  Here is the link from worship yesterday, it is the service that has “Hope” in the title.

May you know Hope this week as we continue the journey through Advent.



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