Tag Archives: faith

All Souls Day

Part of this post was written three years ago. Our culture doesn’t know much about Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Some of what is shared in the next three paragraphs are from that blog, but I end with some new thoughts about this early church tradition.

Today, in Western Christian tradition is All Souls Day.  It is the third day of the “triduum of Hallowmass.”  Who knew that Halloween was a holy day?  The first day of the three, All Hallows Eve, October 31, was a day when early Christians believed that some how the space between this life and the next life was thinner.  They would don “masks” to keep former souls from recognizing them.  Of course in North America this became “trick or treating” through costumes and pranks and the offering of treats.

The second day was All Saints Day, November 1, which remembers all martyrs and official saints of the church both known and unknown.  The third day, All Souls Day, November 2, remembers “all the faithful departed.”  In most protestant traditions, these days are lumped together and often celebrated on the first Sunday of November.  A google search will give multiple hits on these traditions.

I, being who I am, love this history and the layers that surround these practices both from the Christian tradition and other traditions.  What I love most, is the remembering and the giving thanks.  Often in the U.S.A. graves are visited on the last weekend in May.  I always tried to avoid focusing All Saints on that weekend, because it is also the first three day weekend of the summer and consequently loses some of the religious significance that the first Sunday of November can offer.

Remembering those who have gone before is holy, sacred and spiritual work.  The act of remembering is a blessing on those who take the time to laugh, to cry and to tell the story of those who have made a difference in their lives.  After thirty plus years of ministry, the list gets longer each year for me.  The spaces around those memories grow more tender as I remember, as I grieve and as I smile through tears and give thanks that I have been so blessed by so many.

The holiness of these moments become more sacred in the midst of a time of great anxiety and fear. Next week, will be an election which has been filled with bigotry, hatred, lies and ugliness from both sides. The fear mongering has been almost overwhelming. Many, myself included, will be glad when the election is over.

Add to that another horrible shooting in Des Moines where two police officers were ambushed, another black church is vandalized,  and where the deaths in Syria mount, is it any wonder that many are just tired and afraid. It is important in times like these, to remember the saints and souls and spirits who went before us. We are NOT living in the first period of time fraught with fear and anxiety.

Those who went before us lived through wars and rumors of war, violence, hatred and natural disasters. The early Christians were persecuted and wondered if the end of the world was coming. In these days, we are hearing the same from both parties. Neither is speaking the whole truth. These elections and difficulties are part and parcel of being part of this world. The saints that have gone on before us, understood that whatever occurs day in and day out is not the kingdom of God. The reign God continues to challenge all of us “saints” to live lives of faith, of hope, of love and justice.

We keep eyes and hearts and spirits focused on the promise that the time is coming when we will experience something new and wonderous. In the meantime, we lean into each other for strength, and trust God’s Spirit to help us believe and God will make all things new in God’s own time.

And so, remembering I am “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) , these saints and souls of God, I am graced to serve.

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To Boldly Go on Faith

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first episode airing of Star Trek. I was a little girl, but was so enamored of this television show. I loved studying the stars and watching Apollo missions and reading everything I could find on the “world” out there.

When this show launched, I was immediately transported to “Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”   I wanted to be an astronaut, but was told again and again “girls were not allowed.” Supposedly we were not strong enough or smart enough to do space flight. Newer series and movies change the quote to boldly go where no one has gone before, but the original is important because it was made pretty clear to me as a child that women mostly were allowed to boldly go nowhere.

Yet, Star Trek challenged that assumption. Granted, the original series mostly kept men in the “important” jobs, still there were women on the bridge and in space! Subsequent series had women as doctors, engineers and certainly captains and admirals. I eagerly waited each week for the next episode to see what wonderful adventures there were beyond the solar system. For years after that I watched every space launch and a man walk on the moon. Now I read and look at the pictures sent back from all the satellites as we continue to explore beyond this planet earth.

So many of Star Trek’s made up technology is now standard. The flip phone, reminiscent of the communicator, automatic doors, voiced computers (Siri anyone?), tablet computers and visual communications all have come to life since that amazing television show. The ideas of respect for different cultures and ethnic groups and religion and species was a hallmark of the show as well as an ideal of peace between peoples.

For me, the opening lines of the show speak to a different place inside of me than when I was a little girl. There are strange new worlds and new life and civilizations all around me. I don’t need to fly “light years” away. Faith itself is its own frontier. Attempting to live a life of love, of grace and of acceptance is boldly going where many do not want to go.

Right now, in the middle of a political season that is proving to be mean, ugly and hateful, I long for a place to go where there might be a new worlds of peace and justice, love and grace. Yet, wherever I go, there I am. If I am not living out a new life and a new civilization in my heart and spirit and mind, it doesn’t matter where I go.  It is more than a five year mission, it is a lifetime. of seeking out a new world of love, light and grace.

Perhaps, as it has always been, the final frontier is faith. Faith that challenges me to trust that when Jesus says to love one another, this is a new world and a new civilization. When Jesus says that the only way to truly know God is to serve one another and to turn the other cheek and to believe that good will overcome evil. This frontier is one that asks me to follow the path of righteousness and peace, regardless of what others say. This frontier reminds me that those who who walk the path of peace and love are children of God.

So today, I celebrate the 50th anniversary of this show that set my young heart and spirit on fire. I celebrate with my favorite Mr. Spock saying in my profile picture from Facebook

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May this final frontier bring peace, bring justice and love to this strange world. May you live long and prosper!

I am graced to Serve

 

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Finding the Center in the midst of craziness

I am struggling to make sense of the craziness of the world. The struggle is not new of course, but still, within a couple of days, social media is filled with people angry, frightened and ready to do unspeakable things in the name of safety and security.

The terrorist attacks in Paris have brought the best of the worst of humanity to the forefront. I have been heart sick over the comments and posts that no matter what, none of “those” refugees will be allowed into Kansas, or Texas or anyone of about two dozen states. Children and women and men who fleeing for their lives. Women and children who are being raped and sold into slavery.

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I don’t have enough wisdom or knowledge to truly write about these issues other than to believe that I can not claim the name Christian and turn my back on those who are fleeing such horror. I do not choose to live in fear, and to claim that God wants us to take care of the least and lost.

Better writers and minds than mine have written numerous blogs and news stories. I will write something in the next day or two. Later than everyone I suppose, but I need more centering and prayer before I am prepared to put my thoughts out into cyberspace.

I am part of group called RevGalBlogPals who have taken the challenge to blog daily during November. I haven’t made it every day, but each day a “prompt” is posted on facebook. Today’s has to do with what keeps one connected to God and to others.

So in responding to that prompt, I am aware there are many things I do to recenter myself when I am overwhelmed, confused, scared, or just need to be reminded of who I am. I pray, I read, I cook. Cooking is practical and creates something that is helpful. Everyone needs to eat. So I can do something that makes a difference in that moment. I listen to music, occasionally watch television or movies. I find a way to laugh and smile.

I think true “power” lies not in how strong one might be, but in the ability to find joy in the midst of all: tragedy, grief, pain, sickness, uncertainty and fear. Today, I ran across video that features dancers from old time movies in a mashup using Old Town Funk. It made me smile today and I have watched it a couple of times.

http://www.slate.com/articles/video/video/2015/11/mashup_of_uptown_funk_and_hollywood_golden_era_movie_dancing_video.html

In the midst of life that would grind us down, I share this for a smile and moments respite. May joy infuse our lives. May a little laughter bring some happiness in the midst of a time that would wear us down and bring us despair. Today, I choose faith, I choose hope and I choose life.

 

 

 

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Spring peeking out

I went on a walk today. Not long, not fast, just a meandering around the neighborhood with my husband. It was sixty plus degrees, a beautiful blue sky and the sun shining. It fact the sun was already going down in the west. I took some beautiful photos that did not do justice to the fall leaves.

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Some of the trees are not as pretty, but I caught these at the right time. I expect to see the leaves turn, the beautiful colors of the mums, marigolds and pansies. Imagine my surprise, when one of my irises bloomed. These are the ones that bloom first in the spring. I stopped and looked and was amazed.

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The spent dried leaves of the tree are all around this beautiful spring iris who chose to pop up in the middle of the season of dying. This purple flower is a reminder that even though the winter is coming, and with it cold and darkness, it is not the final word. Spring is waiting underneath, ready to bring light, love and brilliant color after the long dark nights of winter.

Natalie Sleeth wrote a contemporary hymn in the 1980’s as she contemplated autumn/spring, life and death. Upon hearing it not long before he died, he asked that it be sung at his funeral. “Hymn of Promise” has become beloved in many denominations and used to reaffirm life, faith and hope when confronted with death and to celebrate Easter. There is version often sung at the church I serve for funerals. Unfortunately, I could not find an adequate rendition on youtube.com

The first verse goes like this:

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

I do love this hymn. The hopefulness, the promise, and the trust that in the midst of it all, God is there and that not one of us is left alone. I am and you are surrounded by grace. I often experience that grace through music and relationship. Others experience it in other ways.

The last two verses of the hymn say this:

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Natalie Sleeth’s words ring true for me. The oddest things are paired together: doubt and faith, word and melody, dawn and darkness, past and future, winter and spring. That little iris reminded me of that today. I am grateful in the midst of the vibrant colors of autumn, that spring is hidden beneath the brown grass and the blowing leaves. Life will burst forth in the most mysterious ways throughout fall and winter. Through those peeks of spring, I remain a person of hope and faith.

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A new year

I am not much into New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps because I am not very good at keeping them. Perhaps because my time to make “resolutions” tend to be in the fall when the days grow shorter and the night longer. In the middle of the deep darkness others call winter, it is harder for me to think about, let alone set resolutions. I am sort of “bear-like” what I really want is to just hibernate.

Having said that, I do think about some things I would like to do in 2015. These tasks are not much different than what I had hoped to get done in 2014. Most are a continuation of what I am already doing, I just want more of it. Someone had posted in a blog that they like to list “goals” for the new year. Somehow that makes more sense to me. Ali Ebright in her blog Gimme Some Oven has a word that she uses to be a goal for her new year. I like that as well.

After the year I have had, my goals or resolutions or whatever name you want to call them are pretty simple. I want to quit looking over shoulder because while I know there are always people who are cynical or pessimistic or looking to see other fall, I do not want to give in to that kind of negativity. I want to be more intentional about disengaging from work in order to enjoy family and friends. I want to continue to be healthy through exercise, getting enough sleep and eating right. I want to cook more. I know that sounds silly, but some weeks I do not get to cook at all, and I find myself spiritually centered and more joy filled when I cook. Along with cooking, I plan to continue to garden, so that part of what is served comes from my hands. In other words, I am looking for more peace, more joy and more love to share and to experience.

In other words, I want this:
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When I type “more” I don’t mean more stuff, but more intentionality about life, love, joy, peace and faith. In the best of the Christian tradition, I believe that is what Jesus was all about. The Beatitude, his parables, his time at table teaching, eating and challenging was focused on helping people know that they had everything they needed to live well and in community. I hope to pay better attention to Jesus’ words in 2015.

In my own Christian denomination there is long tradition of saying the Covenant Prayer on New Year’s Day and often on the first Sunday in January. It is attributed to John Wesley by United Methodists, its origins are subject to some discussion. Regardless, the prayer itself is powerful A musical version is in the newest hymnal supplement Worship and Song. I love it and while this video isn’t great, it gives a taste of this powerful prayer put to music.

On this day, I say this prayer
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with hope that I may continue to be 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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Life of Faith

I continue to respond to the challenge to blog each day. I have missed a couple. I am grateful for those who prompt me to consider writing each day.

In my daily devotions I ran across this quote from Linda Carter:

“In one sentence, a life of faith is this: Avoiding the very real,
very human propensity to let the worries of the indeterminate
tomorrows divert us from what we have to do today,
we dive into the day’s own trouble, seeking in it
justice and God’s commonwealth,
firm in the knowledge of the love of God for us.”

Truly it is real that the worries of tomorrow divert us, diver me from what has to be done today. Sometimes those worries nag me in the middle the night and rob me of rest and send me into a new day weary from troubles that have not appeared. A life of faith rests in the knowledge of God’s love and grace and that same grace and love is sufficient for whatever lies ahead.

The beloved writings Christians call scripture of filled with promises of God’s care and of hope. Jesus said “Don’t worry about tomorrow, today’s troubles are sufficient for the day.” Basically Jesus said has anyone ever added one moment to their life by worrying about it?

The takeaway for me is that when I allow worry drive me, nag me or distract me from the life in front of me, I am losing a very real chance to live life to its fullest. Certainly there are always problems, there are always distractions and issues to be addressed. Each problem or distraction or issue can be an opportunity for me to grow, for me to pay attention and for me to make choices as to how I will live authentically and faithfully.

Today I choose to live life “firm in the knowledge of the love of God” and surrounded by God’s infinite care. With that knowledge I am graced to serve.

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