This was a very special Christmas. With all the stuff going on in the world that makes you want to curl up and hide, it was especially nice to think about Jesus and how he came into the world to be a fighter for justice, to show that love is a cure to all our woes, to help us see that being in relationship with God and with each other is heaven on earth.
Decorating the tree was great- I got to pray for so many people as I hung each ornament. The house looked cheery and I noticed that many people chose to decorate early this year. My guess is that like me, they needed something bright and happy to counter all the killing, abuse, violence and hatred in the world. Celebrating Christmas gives you strength and energy to make a difference in the world around you. I am grateful for my faith, for Jesus and the celebration of His birth. Worshiping with my church family was special this year.
I was surrounded by my dear wonderful family. It is fantastic having adult children who want to spend the Holidays with you. I am abundantly grateful for family and friends. I pray for all those who are lonely, grieving, or can’t enjoy Christmas for whatever reason. I wish them comfort. My prayer is for the deep peace of Christ to enter into their hearts to help them heal.
We are in the process of rethinking who we are as church in our congregation. The transition period is a little unnerving for a woman who likes structure. I have been praying a lot in these many months. I’m trying to discern where God wants me in this. As is always the case, when I pray there is hope and a sense of well being in me. It is still uncomfortable but I know God is present and active and I trust that I will be called where I will grow.
So, that was not enough, the region has decided to undergo a complete transformation as well. Here is one way I am being called to act. I have taken on some leadership at this level. It is a bit uncertain as well but I am trusting that I was led this direction for a reason.
I just returned from General Assembly and guess what? The entire denomination is beginning a transition. The writing is on the wall and we are at a place where we either change or die. WOW!
In every case the movement is away from a corporate model to a model much more like the beginning of our Christian movement. I mean WAYYY back when people were gathering who still knew the person Jesus or his disciples.
I am all for that kind of thinking. It pains me to see what some people do in the name of Jesus. They act like they have never read the Bible or heard the stories of Jesus’ ministry on earth. The man was passionate about justice, about caring, about equality and about living a life filled with love. If we can get ourselves out of the confines of the church building we might find that living a life that is truly Christ-like is actually easier than we thought. He said love one another. If we take that to heart we can change the world.
Last weekend Opening to the Sacred, the retreat ministry I share with a friend who is also a spiritual director, offered a retreat called Rest For Your Soul. We had a good group and it was a lovely day of exploring scripture, prayer, and reflection. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-29
My partner considered the nature of aspen trees. A stand or grove of aspens grows from a single seed. It the the root system that spreads and the trees multiply in this way. We related that to our connectedness as people of God. For as the days of a tree , so will be the days of my people. Isaiah 65:22b
It was a quiet, wisdom-filled and restful day.
Moved by the sharing of ideas and thoughts about the Matthew text, I wrote a poem
I thought a yoke was limiting
But it depends on the "yokees"
Being yoked to Christ means freedom
Trusting in loving guidance.
We are led in the Way designed for us
Specially and lovingly for us
Not sent where we don't want to go
But in the direction we must go
to fulfill our destiny
Our own path but side by side
With the One who knows us
better than we know ourselves.
I will take your yoke and I learn from you
In gratitude and humility
This last month was a time of loss. Beginning April 2 our congregation has mourned the loss and celebrated the lives of 4 members and the brother of one of our pastors. It was particularly hard to see the pain in those left behind. April 3 was the one year anniversary of my own mother’s passing. I also have to say goodbye to friends moving away. The burden is heavy and I recall the Scripture about the yoke.
‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ Matt 11:28-30
The yoke ties us to Christ so that we are no longer working alone. The burden is lightened because we have help from one who understands. So it is with grief, we are not alone, our strength is increased by uniting with the Lord and our faith won’t let us fall, will keep us close, will help us carry the burden until the work is done.
So even as I feel the heaviness of sadness and loss, I feel the load lightened because I am not alone, I feel God’s presence holding me up, keeping me moving, and sharing my pain.