It’s the most wonderful time of the year….
Advent is back upon us. A time of hope, peace, love and joy. A time for family and friends; for baking and fun; for lights and gifts. A time to reflect on the year that is closing and rejoice in the year that will be.
I love Christmas — the lights, the crowds, the smells, the fun; but as an adult, I have lost the wonder, the awe of the season. This year, my pastor has chosen to give a sermon series on the Wonder of Christmas. She is encouraging us to explore the season with new eyes and try to recapture the wonder of the season.
Each week has a focus: last week (the first of the series) was the journey of the Magi to find the Christ-child. We need to be as diligent in searching for the Wonder of Christ this Advent season. Is it in the eyes of a child receiving gifts? or the feeling of love as we gather with friends and family? Is Christ present in us as we give to others this season? We are all called to be like Christ! What better way to show that then if the offering of love that comes so easily this time of year.
I hope you can come join us at Dunbar United Methodist Church this advent to renew your Wonder of Christmas.
We read about all this stuff that Jesus did; turning water to wine, raising the dead, healing the sick, and teaching us to pray. But did Jesus ever get sick?
I just spent a week with a hacking cough, intermittent fever, and aches. I stayed away from people as much as I could. Slept as much as I could. Now I wonder, did Jesus ever get sick himself?
From the time he started his ministry, he was surrounded by people. In the temple, there were people. By the sea, there were people. Only during his forty days in the wildness before his ministry began was Jesus not surrounded by people. Some may think that he was sick during that time — arguing with the Devil, but was he really sick?
Not that anything is wrong with people. But with people comes germs and with germs comes sickness. Did Jesus ever get overcome by all the germs? I don’t know. Being sick doesn’t make for great drama. A sick Jesus would not make for an interesting person. If He came here to experience the totality of human experiences than he had to get sick sometime. Maybe during the first thirty years of his existence that is just glossed over in the christian Bible.
It was a beautiful day. Bright sunshine, blue skies, slight breeze and music enjoyed by all. This was the setting for the sermon at DUMC last Sunday, October 22nd. We had the service outside as part of the Fall Festival. There were games, a bouncy house, a fun slide, prizes, food and music. Can you tell what I really liked?
Of course there was a sermon too. Continuing the parabole of the lost, this week the story of the prodigal son was explained. It seems that many storytellers gloss over the fact that the son that asked for his inheritance early was viewed as wishing his father was dead. The whole village was up in arms over the rude behavior of the boy. Pastor Teresa looked at how the village would have acted towards the boy as he returned — how they would have been ready to ridicule and harass the young man as he came back. That is until his father did the most unexpected thing — welcomed the child back with open, loving arms. Our Father wants to welcome us in the same way.
This past Sunday was a glorious day — a beautiful, yet hot, day. It was great to spend it with good friends and food. It was fun to listen to the host of singers that shared their talents with us. It was even funny when the canopy we were under tried to blow away. But it was the thought that we are always welcomed here in our Father’s house (or yard) that should have us running with joy.
This week’s sermon discussed the paraboles of the one sheep of 100 that got lost and the one coin of ten that the lady lost. The almost comically mental image of the lady lighting a lamp in midday and doing Spring Cleaning even though it was not spring to find that one coin will stick in my mind for a while. But maybe it is only comical to me to because I have been there. I have searched the whole house with every light on to find my keys or my glasses or some other everyday item.
But what if you were the one lost coin or the one lost sheep? Far from where you belonged? alone? afraid, maybe? trapped? Would you not want some one to search for you?
Jesus searches the world everyday for the ones who are lost, alone, frightened! He searches in darkness and light. I know that he searched for me when I was wondering in the light. My faith walk was never true. I grew up believing but believing in what? God, surely. Forgiveness, most definitely. Needing to be in a community of believers??? There I faltered. I did not grow up in a church; I did not grow up reading the Bible; but I believed in God and Jesus. I am thankful that Jesus kept searching for me even though I was only alone without my community of fellow believers. I love my church family very much and I love to help develop a church family for others. Others may have been lost in darkness; needing God to search for them even harder than for me. But I am thankful none the less.
Next Sunday we will hear about the Prodigal Son. Now there was someone else lost in the light; fallen from grace; alone without a community to belong to. I will listen and glean a new meaning from the story as I relate to being the one that was lost.
Tis the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….
I love Fall – October and leaving turning colors and temperatures dropping. November with lots of holidays and time off from school. Then comes December and Advent and Christmas and carols and singing and lights. but this is busiest time of year too. Candy to buy and hand out, fruits and nuts to buy and bake into cakes, cakes and pies to decorate and all the food to eat. ‘Tis truly a season to be thankful.
But how many of us take the time to truly be thankful? Do you pray regularly? Giving thanks and praise for all that you have in your life? Or do you merely survive one holiday to spring into action for the next?
Our pastors are delivering a series of sermons on committing ourselves to God. First we talked about reading the Bible regularly and yesterday Pastor Erin reminded us to pray regularly while in her PJs. (Nice touch, Erin.) . My mother asked as we drove home if I read my Bible regularly and I had to answer no, but I get a verse a day on my phone, does that count? It doesn’t really count if you don’t take time to read it.
But it is the busy season. I have places to go and people to see and things to do and food to eat Practice for the Christmas Play and Christmas Cantata and after-Christmas Choral show are coming up. I’m not in the choir, but still… it is the busy season.
God knows you are busy. He is busy too. But like your parents and grandparents, He would like to hear from you.. Unlike your parent, God is easier to get hold of. Any time, any place, you can pray! You can pray while pulling weeds from a stone garden, or driving to the next event or practice, or right as you are going to sleep, or right when you get up. There are no special words to say, nothing special formula that has to be followed. God would get bored if we all said the same thing everyday the same way.
So take the time to pray! Call your Father! then call mom and dad too.
This evening, DUMC’s United Methodist Women hosted a Mother-Daughter Potluck Dinner. It was great! There are a lot of great cooks in our midsts. Chicken, ham, turkey and stuffing, salads, and casseroles filled the tables. Tea, lemonade, water, and coffee was on hand. I was stuffed during the meal and again now just thinking about it.
The program that followed was a tribute to all women. Some Psalms were read, a devotional about women followed, and a retelling of the interactions of Jesus and his mother continued the theme. Then Rev Erin Daniels and her family filled the sanctuary with song. Songs of praise were beautifully harmonized by three generations of the Gibson women, even included the little ones in the presentation. Despite the technically issues that were had, the ladies made a lovely presentation.
It was a wonderful thing to see my church family come together to celebrate the female strength that is helpful to so many in so many ways. Thanks to the UM Men for cleaning up after the dinner. That was a nice touch to a wonderful evening.
Today Pastor Erin took the reigns of the traditional services. (Pastor Teresa busied herself with the children’s church group.) As the Candle of Love was lit, Erin asked us all, “How does God’s Love show through us?” How do we show the world that God Loves every one?
Do you do it by trying to exit the office “Holiday” party as quickly as possible or planning for a friend to call with an “emergency” at a certain time when you are to be a family gathering?
How about holding the door for a stranger? Helping a worker-bee load an oversized load onto a cart when it isn’t even your purchase that he is getting? Giving extra to the pot to buy for the working poor family that is falling through the cracks at the welfare office? Are these little tokens enough for someone to say that they see God in us?
“How will they know we are Christians?” the old hymn sings. “They will know by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love.”
This is a hectic season for most. But please try to take the time to be kind, generous, and patience. For it is thorough our actions, our little tokens of kindness, that people will see God’s Love thorough us.