We are a hospitality.

Living Stones

A group of grandmothers is a tapestry. A group of toddlers, a jubilance (see also: a bewailing). A group of librarians is an enlightenment. A group of visual artists is a bioluminescence. A group of short story writers is a Flannery. A group of musicians is — a band.

A resplendence of poets.
A beacon of scientists.
A raft of social workers.

A group of first responders is a valiance. A group of peaceful protestors is a dream. A group of special education teachers is a transcendence. A group of neonatal ICU nurses is a divinity. A group of hospice workers, a grace.

Humans in the wild, gathered and feeling good, previously an exhilaration, now: a target.
A target of concert-goers.
A target of movie-goers.
A target of dancers.

A group of schoolchildren is a target.
                     Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild” by Kathy Fish

          We know that there are things that desperately need to change in our world.  In God’s world.  In this world that God has entrusted to us to nurture.  This season of Lent gives us an extra invitation to open our hearts and to pay attention to those wrongs we have done, as well as the good we have left undone.  God calls us forward and asks, How might we recognize, celebrate, and support the light we find in everyone and everything around us?  And how might we bring healing and hope to all we encounter?
          I hope that each one of us arrives on Easter Sunday a different person than we were on Ash Wednesday.  And to make this happen, we will have prepare our hearts, exercise our spirits, strengthen our resolve, and draw support from our community.  We can do this!  We are not alone, no matter how lonely we may feel at times.  We always have a deep source of hope, no matter how hopeless we may feel at times.  We are called as creative agents of God’s grace and love, no matter how depleted we may feel at times. 
          We are a group of Christians from FCCV.  We are a hospitality.

See you in church,

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

1.     Something came up / out of the dark. / It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before.
It wasn’t an animal / or a flower, / unless it was both.
Something came up out of the water, / a head the size of a cat / but muddy and without ears.
I don’t know what God is. / I don’t know what death is.
            But I believe they have between them / some fervent and necessary arrangement.
      2.   Sometimes / melancholy leaves me breathless…
      3.   Water from the heavens! Electricity from the source! / Both of them mad to create something!
            The lighting brighter than any flower. / The thunder without a drowsy bone in its body.
      4.   Instructions for living a life: / Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.
      5.   Two or three times in my life I discovered love. / Each time it seemed to solve everything.
Each time it solved a great many things / but not everything.
Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and / thoroughly, solved everything.
      6.   God, rest in my heart / and fortify me,
            take away my hunger for answers, / let the hours play upon my body
            like the hands of my beloved.
Let the cathead appear again— / the smallest of your mysteries,
            some wild cousin of my own blood probably—
            some cousin of my own wild blood probably, / in the black dinner-bowl of the pond.
      7.   Death waits for me, I know it, around / one corner or another.
This doesn’t amuse me. / Neither does it frighten me.
After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.
It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy. / I walked slowly, and listened
            to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.
                         —“Sometimes” by Mary Oliver

The Christian season of Lent begins this month on February 14, and will continue until Easter Sunday, on April 1.  This year, with so much going on in our world to distract, disorient, and scatter us, I invite us to heed Mary Oliver’s “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  These instructions are quite similar to the words of Christian prophets through the ages: “Stay woke! Expect the miraculous. Speak your truth.”
Throughout this new year—and throughout this Lenten season—we will continue to walk in the ways of Jesus.  We will contribute our time and talents to building a compassionate and strong congregation capable of repairing the breach of care and grace and hope in our communities.  And by sharing our gifts with those around us, we will build bridges, empower those in need of support, and expand the possibilities of love.  Astonishing things are happening all around us.  Walls are coming down.  Blinders are lifted.  Hesitant voices are speaking.  Doors are opening. Hearts are welcoming.  Diversity is cherished.  Let’s be part of these miracles.  And let’s be sure we tell about it!

See you in church,


Pray for Peace

Pray for Peace

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekhina, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.
Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.
Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.
To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.
Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.
Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.
If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.
And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas–
With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.
Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.
Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.
Ellen Bass