Saturday, December 10, 2011
n pl -cies
1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) government by a deity or by a priesthood
2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a community or political unit under such government
theocratic , theocratical adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
I make my home in Iowa and right now the TV airwaves are dominated by the Christmas shopping deals of the day and political advertising.
As friends have pointed out, it feels as though the GOP candidates are running for Pastor-in-Chief.
When other governments are led by a religion different than their own approved brand of Christianity, these same candidates wage war against them for imposing their beliefs on their people and the rest of the world.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Many years ago, I remember looking across the street with utter disdain at my tacky neighbors who had decked their yard and home with all their Christmas regalia before Thanksgiving. It was certainly beautiful but... Good Lord, it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet, let alone December.
I spent a few days in my puritanical Congregational "you just do not get it, do you?" line of thought, until I met her in the grocery store for that last big shop before Thanksgiving.
"Laura, I'm so excited!"
"Your home looks really lovely right now, all ready for the holidays." I said with the best false voice I could muster...
"I know it's a little early to have it all up and ON, it's not even Thanksgiving and all... but our entire family is coming and we haven't been together for years. We will celebrate Christmas together for the first time in ages. I'm really looking forward to it."
So much for my prissy view of WHEN and HOW we should celebrate Christmas.
In today's UCC Daily Devotional, writer Martin B. Copenhaver says that Christmas is a surprise party, illustrating Mark 13:22-25 from today's lectionary.
Martin writes, "In a way it is unfortunate that we always celebrate Christmas on the same day of the year, because that makes the coming of Christ seem almost predictable. But Christmas is more like a surprise party."
We never know the hour or the day... be ready at anytime so you don't miss it.
I'm an Advent person. I am. This can be a richly transformative time of year for me. I'm very good at waiting. I am extremely patient - anyone who knows me well knows that to be a true fact. And during Advent, I can do all the right things and it still feels anticlimatic on Christmas.
Waiting and patience...
Lately though, the holiday song on my mind comes from the Broadway musical, "Mame."
Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now
For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet...
For I've grown a little leaner
Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder
Grown a little older
And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder
Need a little Christmas now
For we need a little music
Need a little laughter
Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter
As I have seen more and more houses decorated with holiday lights turned on, Christmas trees in windows...I am reminded that the days are tough. We've grown a little colder, a little sadder, a little older...People need a little hope, a little joy, a little laughter... maybe especially right now. And just because I am an Advent person, doesn't mean that I get it any better than anyone else.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Don't we all have stuff? You know, a drawer, a closet, an attic, basement, garage...your heart, your soul...
Our stuff is one of the hallmarks of American life. We overspend, overconsume, and obsess, and we're left with too much stuff crowding our lives. Television programs help us "sort" and "store" and even show us how our stuff can be a psychological disorder when it becomes hoarding and some of us live in filth because we simply cannot let go.
It is said that our internal life can be manifested in how we live. Life coach maven Martha Beck says that our psyches choose and arrange our homes according to our life histories.
I believe this because I have lived this... there is a dumpster in front of my house right now. Dear friends have come in to help me sort it out... Am I holding onto something because it is important or is this one of the things needs to be passed on to someone else who can use or appreciate it. We've created a new verb, "Goodwill it," we say.
Recently at the Iowa Conference United Church of Christ annual meeting, J. Bennett Guess, likened this time in the life of the church as a time of going through the attics and closets of our church and denomination. What do we really need to move forward? Just like going through our own personal things, it is hard. We are attached in many ways both emotionally and spiritually to that which we hold on to at home and at church.
And yes, we will be changed for this effort. There's no doubt that change happens, whether you want it to, or not. Ben says that you simply cannot go through a period of change without changing yourself. A true fact. And that can be just a little more than daunting for some of us.
For me, it has gotten to the place where I have really evaluated everything and pared down. Household stuff, books, clothes, some bad habits...even found that my body is getting smaller.
Our congregation is in the midst of transition. The theory is that when people move to a new house, they go through their stuff so they don't spend money and effort moving what they don't need any longer. Same is true as a congregation evaluates where they have been and where they think they are headed. Lots of closets and attics to go through. Lots of dark corners to shine light into and see what's there. It is hard work and hard to let go of things that we have a strong emotional attachment to. There are good reasons, we might say, for why it is kept away in the dark. It's better just left there...
But it is necessary work. Just as it is good for us to have a good sort and clean at home, in our personal lives, and in our congregations. It's important to have a good look. There are certainly things that need to be brought out, dealt with, and let go. It could be the phrase, "that's the way we've always done it," or "we tried that and it didn't work."
We may also find treasures that are worth dusting off and using again. What's waiting for you?
Friday, May 27, 2011
On Friday afternoons as others are gearing up for a weekend, I am honored.
I spend time reading to a friend in a retirement community here. I knew him for a few years before a stroke rearranged his mind. No longer can the pastor preach or read. But, he's been every bit as much of a pastor to me than any other I have ever had on my journey.
It was a Friday in mid-March when we first started meeting. On one of the first Fridays, I came to him to read to him and broke down in tears. My husband, from whom I am separated was very seriously ill and being taken to a major hospital from our community hospital. I was facing the reality that my kids' father might not live and how would I handle that.
I imagine in times like these, clergy and spiritual leaders must pray, "Please God, help me to say what you need me to say. Help me to say what they need to hear..."
I had been totally numb until I walked into his room. It was in that moment when I could let down my guard and allow the tears to come. Without saying a word, we prayed, we sat, and he was the presence of God for me. I felt compassion and care. I was pastored.
When I come into his room, we smile and giggle. He whispers a few words and I blather on...
Why am I honored ?
Because I get to read his mail to him. He receives gobs of church newsletters, wonderful cards and letters. We often get misty from the lovely and encouraging things these dear friends write to him. We often laugh until we cry. I do not know any of the people who write to him, but I feel like I do. I enjoy the everyday stories of life that friends share with other friends. It's what real life is. I feel honored to be invited in to share in these moments.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
My view today was that of love. It was a day to focus on love as much as possible. Not to forget the violence of the week, but to choose love instead.
Today is the Sunday that the church celebrates the baptism of Jesus and ours was no exception. We were offered the chance to remember our own baptism, hard to do if we were baptised as infants, though... Many of us chose to dip our hands once again in the baptismal font and wash our hands or bless ourselves.
My view was that of a young woman coming to the font with her father. She took her hand out of the bowl and rubbed it over his balding head. Her father smiled with nothing but love. It was quite a sight to see them connect in such a way.
"What if the mightiest word is love?" Elizabeth Alexander