Something is Waiting

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone, / when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks, / the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, / to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, / to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations, / to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
—“Now the Work of Christmas Begins” by Howard Thurman

As we enter this Christmas season and the New Year, we are invited to hold the tensions of mortality—life and death in a moment—and to allow ourselves to be deeply human, fallible, imperfect, beautiful, messy, brilliant, uncertain. For just like the baby Jesus—born into our world once again—we each cradle a multitude of births and deaths in our own lives. Something is waiting to be born in us. And something is waiting to die.

Jesus is born into our world to demonstrate the powerful possibilities of being deeply human—to live and die—in all our complexity—in indivisible relationship with others. This is so very important. That no matter what, we are not alone. We are surrounded by vast communities of God’s other children. No matter what exists in this moment—good, bad, and everything in-between—Emmanuel. God with us. Even in the bleakest and most heartbreaking circumstances. Even in anxiety, frustration, and overwhelm. Even when we can’t seem to find hope or peace or joy or love. Emmanuel. God is with us.

And we are the ones God calls—in this moment—to do our best to incarnate the hope and peace and joy and love that the world so desperately needs. And this has always been the case. Our God has always chosen the most unexpected, unsuspecting people to do the most incredible and world-changing things. Like asking a poor, unwed, teenaged, Palestinian girl to give birth to the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Savior, the Christ. Who would have expected that? And likewise, God invites us—and people everywhere—to be deeply human, to rely on relationships with others, to trust Emmanuel—God with us—and to incarnate the justice and joy, the goodness and grace, and the hope and possibility that will liberate an imprisoned and broken world.

You are invited to be a tabernacle for the holy. God chooses to dwell in you. And if we listen closely, we will hear our own annunciations—the voices of angels whispering to us continually, “Do not fear. You are not alone. The Holy One has great things in store for you.”

See you in church,

I Am Inspired

Every night before I go to sleep / I say out loud / Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant / Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble, / And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life / Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Sunlight, and blueberries, / Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain, / A good friend, / Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health, / My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry, / Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
Decent coffee at the airport, / And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me, / The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos, / Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat, / A new poem, / My library card,
And that my car keeps running / Despite all the miles.
And after three things, / More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going, / I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning, / Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder / At the sweetness of it all.

    —“Three Gratitudes” by Carrie Newcomer

After the John Pavlovitz speaking event on Friday night, I went home absolutely inspired and amazed. But as wonderful as John was, he was not the source of my inspiration and amazement. I was amazed and inspired by you. Now, seeing as we are into our 7th year of ministry together, perhaps I should not have been amazed. But I was amazed—and ever grateful for the many things you continue to teach me.

I wish I could have kept track of the incredible number of people who approached me at the event, thanking me for our church’s overflowing hospitality and grace. “Please let your people know how much we appreciate all they’re doing and their generosity!” Over and over. “They were even outside making sure we got inside safely!” “Oh, thank you for the coffee!” “Everything has been so easy and lovely and accessible and welcoming!” “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”

And even toward the end of an exceptionally busy fall, your hospitality and grace, your generosity and compassion continues to shine through. And I am left absolutely inspired and amazed. You teach me about the kind of Christian I aspire to be—simultaneously holding the world as it is now and holding a future vision for the world that can be full of greater justice and love and hope. I see you showing up—over and over—holding both of these things. I see you pouring your heart into serving our shut-ins, shepherding our Ministers-In-Training, visiting those in the hospital, giving to the Capital Campaign (and new church windows, lighting, roof, and gutters!), praying for all those in need and praying for all the ways God is present, leading special worship services, singing in the Choir, attending Anti-Racism Training, participating in FLURCH and Adult Bible Study, planning powerful events like Pavlovitz and Haircuts 4 the Holidays, organizing the Stewardship Campaign and Church Budget, being baptized and making baptisms possible, coordinating the Global Holiday Faire and its incredible local and international outreach, asking for help when needed, building / painting / stocking the Free Little Pantry, bringing scripture to life in the Scripture Choir, preparing food to feed whoever comes (There is always enough!), working on Church Councils, committees, gardens, and whatever else needs attention. I see you! And I am inspired, amazed, and grateful for you. You continue to teach me about what it means to live faithfully out of generosity and abundance — even when it might not be the most comfortable thing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

See you in church,