Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thought For The Day

"When you come to the edge of all the light that you know, And you are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, Faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly." - Barbara J. Winter

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Darkest Time of the Year

I have been thinking tonight, and it occurs to me after a very strange fashion, that this may be the darkest time of the year. Yes, in terms of the Earth's trip around the sun, we are now on our way back to long daylight hours and short dark nights. In the dusky hollow between Christmas and the new year though, many of us grow introspective, reflective, retrospective. We turn and look behind us at another 12 months gone by... slack-jawed, agape at the swift passage of time which has taken no notice of us as it dashes by, save perhaps to gray a hair, deepen a wrinkle, or add inches to young frames. It can make us melancholy, thinking of things left undone or unsaid. Wrongs not righted... goals not met... old times gone by. Meant-tos and should-haves. This is the time of year when we self-evaluate, make resolutions and simultaneously flog ourselves for falling short in the current year, while puffing ourselves up with great hopes for how spectacular we will be in the year ahead.

How do we get to this place every time? Well, to start with... it IS darker and colder. Our souls (and our bodies) would really appreciate it if we could make like a bear and crawl into a cave and wait for spring. (Goodbye Christmas, wake me when it's Easter!) We've all come off this family-friends-food-fun high that kicks us in the teeth when we find that it is over... our spirits seem to be in some sort of detox from the drug of conviviality and community. We've run ragged to every party, gathering, family function, school show, parade, company Christmas, reunion, potluck and shindig we can possibly cram into a month. We've shopped til we drop, or madly baked, cooked, created and crafted our gifts. We have compromised our health, our sleep, our waistlines and our wallets in the name of one big party that is increasingly lost on the celebrants. We've spent lots on things that maybe don't matter as much as the one thing we all need more of but can't ever get... time. We're tired of everything and thirsty for something more all at once. We are too much time out of joint, too much of the time.

The sense of the liturgical calendar is gone from our lives too, it seems. I know so many people that couldn't wait to get their Christmas decorations out before Thanksgiving... now, just a few days into the "Twelve Days of Christmas", they are all bemoaning what a chore it is that they must be taken down. Everyone is dreading the return to work, to school, to ordinary life. For them, the star in the East has already set. The shepherds have returned to the fields and flocks... the magi have gone home by another route. We get so caught up in preparing for the big party at the manger for weeks ahead of time, that we don't spend most of the 12 Days actually celebrating it. We don't wait for Epiphany to reveal the visions of the three kings. I have my guilty moments too... I used to leave the tree up somewhat unintentionally, but fairly consistently until February or March. Now I set a strict January 5th deadline. I know that the modern, progressive church does not necessarily set much store by a lot of seasonal/liturgical hoopla. Nor does the modern Christian very often either I suspect. That's okay... but I'm a bit of a medievalist on this score. I adore the changing seasons of the church calendar, and the natural calendar. I continue to the think about the words from Ecclesiastes, reminding us that there IS a season for everything, and a time for every purpose under heaven. I think about how that might benefit us, to reserve a little time for each part of our lives... the mundane, the extraordinary. The holy, the profane, the profound. The sacred and the secular. Some will disagree... but for myself, it gives meaning to things to think about them each in their own context, and as part of a cycle of continuation. It gives me hope in the dark days of winter... it gives me something else to look forward to, and a new season in which to dwell, reflect, and revel. I'm still celebrating Christmas, and you can't stop me!

My big resolution for 2010? To live a very full and rich life, with time set aside for each thing after it's own needs... including time for God... so that this time next year I'm feeling blessed and fulfilled, instead of wondering what I've done with another year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Get Out Of The Way...

I'm pondering how much, and how often, we get in our own way.

I think about all the times we're asked to do something, something that will be really good for us, or for those around us, and we get all tangled up in doubt and second-guessing ourselves and the circumstances. We make excuses that become self-fulfilling prophecies. I wonder if Noah would have had as much trouble moving on faith as many of us do, whether we would even be here to talk about it.

God, I suspect, has more patience with us than we often rightly deserve. Like a parent who can calmly and capably repeat themselves 100 times until their child gets it right, until they understand. I hope that I, and others, are listening to what is being said to us, and through us. I hope that I have the faith to keep trying as long as God will keep repeating those instructions, to do what is asked of me.

In this time of year when we're busily making way for all the trimmings and trappings of a 21st Century Christmas... and hopefully also for that precious Christ-child, I pray that we all remember that we are on assignment. We're on a mission to make a highway through the desert... through the barren places of our own spirituality, and the desolate places in the world... make a road that will take us right to the source of love and light if we let it. Each of us, one voice, crying in the wilderness. I believe that voice is one, but not alone. It was never alone. This path has been walked countless times by numberless souls. Prophets, shepherds, servants, magi, brave young girls, wise old men, fools, saints, sinners, dreamers... and maybe even Jesus himself. And the voice of God, there the whole time, was and is patiently, gently guiding us.

Listen. Try it again. Don't give up. This work can be done... you can make this path, though the hills, the valleys, the curved places. God does not give up on us. God does not grow weary. Stop. Redirect yourself. Get out of the way so that you can make God's way. In the wilderness of our souls then, the road will be straight, and the desert will bloom.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thoughts For The Day.

"Many demolitions are actually renovations." -Jalaluddin Rumi, poet and mystic (1207-1273)

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
--Colossians 3:13

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. God's grace is with me when I fail, when I challenge, when I am hurtful, when I am selfish, when I fear. By the grace of God - all of these oh so human trappings can be shed and I can become vessal to transport God's love to others. NEUCC - our family may be dysfunctional at times, but you are still my church family, and I still love you all and GOD IS STILL SPEAKING! In this advent season, I am praying for quiet and peace and openness so that I can hear what God is trying to tell me. God is shouting at Holly. I believe God is whispering to me - don't be afraid to love unconditionally, let it come from Me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Annual Advent Post

It seems like every year I have to do a post around Advent. Maybe this is just the time of year when I get inspired...

In the United Church of Christ, we believe that "God is Still Speaking."

God is still speaking to the church, still guiding us, still growing us, still challenging us. I have been, along with many of our congregants, EXTRA challenged in the last 48 hours or so. God is still speaking to us as individuals... every moment of every day of our lives, there is the chance that God will say something to any one of us... it might be a great thing, or a small thing. Sometimes God speaks with silence, and sometimes God shouts at us in a deafening roar.

I finally, reluctantly joined Facebook this year. After some painful and cathartic moments in a church meeting, I came home to find the following things posted at random by fellow Facebookers:

Zinger of the day part 1: “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnegie

Zinger of the day part 2: "Traditions are group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening."

Zinger of the day part 3: A motivational video that talked about upping your output just a little bit more to achieve great things.

God is shouting at me right now... Now I have to figure out what to do with that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Attitude adjuster needed

Hi, we need help. We don't have the money for anything. We can't start any new programs because no one will come. We don't have any young people getting involved. We need all of the families with children to sit at the back of the church because they're annoying. We can't do outreach ministry because we really don't like people that much. Did I mention that money was a concern? We're putting a lot of effort into some fundraisers that we could be putting into new programs if only people would attend them, which they won't. If only we had some money and some more members.

People are making copies of music and we're not sure that should be allowed. People are blocking the worship center with their praise and worship and music. The cross and altar are for putting flowers and rocks and moss and pretty material all over it. And worship. No one is joining the choir. Dang it, I need some fricking help up here in the choir section. I can't carry these people all by myself. We're getting discouraged, our choir is. It had been almost two weeks and you hadn't hired a choir director yet. Now it has been seven months.

Our Council meetings are sad because we have no money. People don't like each other because we have no money. No dinero. People need to contribute more money to our church. We can't resolve any issues either, because I'm not going to work with you and deep down, you're a nice person and you won't confront real problems anyway. I'm going to ignore the things you have to say anyway.

We need help. Buy a ticket to our fundraiser. Bring your friends to buy our food. This is the only time we ask you to bring people that you know.