Thursday, December 31, 2015

Day #730

December 31, 2015

On the 7th Day of Christmas…

Seven of my favorite memories of 2015 - in pictures (it was VERY hard to choose just 7!!!)

     March 1 - as a representative of several baptisms in the year - always a favorite time of worship
     March 15 - one of the first sunsets seen from our new home
     April 7 - baking communion bread for their first Holy Communion - another worship time favorite
     June 25 - Vacation Bible School celebration
     August 22 - a fun family visit
     October 7 - precious time with my friend
     December 14 - part of our decorating our new home for Christmas
Quite a year!!!


Day #729

December 30, 2015

On the 6th Day of Christmas…

A reflection on the promise in Isaiah, chapter 9, verse 6: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests on his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NRSV)

Just who is this promised child? He is seen as Jesus. And here are at least 6 understandings of him in this verse:
    A child born for us
    A son given to us
    Wonderful Counselor
    Mighty God
    Everlasting Father
    Prince of Peace

Inspired by God Pause, I thought of how one of these understandings may become more, or the most, important to us at any particular time. For instance, when there are times of stress, knowing Jesus as Prince of Peace can bring peace to a troubled heart. Or when there are decisions to be made, or discerned, knowing Jesus as Wonderful Counselor can provide guidance.

My prayer is that help for your needs always be found in the promises and knowledge of Jesus - born for us, given to us - because of God’s love for us.


Day #728

December 29, 2015

On the 5th Day of Christmas…

At least five conversations - deeper than just a quick sentence or two.

What a joy it is to talk with others - sometimes rejoicing, sometimes sharing concerns, sometimes sharing dreams, and often listening. No matter what the purpose, having conversations is good and helpful.


Day #727

December 28, 2015

On the 4th Day of Christmas…

At the 4th hour of the afternoon - a meeting. And a meeting that is indicative of what so many folks do as part of their commitment to being church.

What takes place at a meeting? Planning, hoping, praying, serving, working - and ultimately hoping to be faithful in sharing God’s story and inspiring others to serve.


Day #726

December 27, 2015

On the 3rd Day of Christmas…

I am thankful for three very awesome, very welcome, very wonderful words: I love you.

And three things about those important words:
  • They are spoken in worship by God to us - especially on this 1st Sunday of Christmas through a service of Lessons and Carols
  • They are spoken by friends and family to let them know what they mean to one another
  • They are transformative words
Very important those three words!! And very welcome - I love you!


Day #725

December 26, 2015

On the 2nd Day of Christmas…

My hubby and I spent a couple of hours (plus or minus) on a date: movie and dinner. A rare occasion for us, and totally enjoyable!!

So, on this 2nd day of Christmas...may the force be with you. :-) (Guess what we saw!)


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day #724

December 25, 2015

On the 1st Day of Christmas...

A single reminder of just how radical Jesus coming to earth really is:


Day #723

December 24, 2015

On Christmas Eve, what could be more of an intersection of God’s love and grace than three wonderful worship services?!

The sanctuary was beautiful,

the children awesome in acting out the story of Jesus’ birth, the youth joyful/gifted in playing in the “band,” the special music touching, and the congregation present - all things to be thankful for!!!

And even though I left out the line that seemed most important as I prepared the sermon - “as the angel and the glory of the Lord pierced the darkness with Good News for ALL to the shepherds, Jesus pierces our darkness - the darkness of the world - with hope, peace, joy and forgiveness” - God was most present in the Word and the Meal. Thanks be to God!

All in all, a glorious Christmas Eve!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Day #722

December 23, 2015

Had a great question asked at Bible Study: where were you, and how old, when you first heard the story of Jesus’ birth?

I honestly cannot remember for myself, but others shared of Sunday School programs and worship services in different states and in different churches/denominations. A great reminder that the Good News of Jesus’ birth is for all.

Where were you when you first heard: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord (Luke 2:11)?


Day #721

December 22, 2015

What an honor it is to be invited into sharing the intimate feelings/emotions of another. To cry with someone - well, that just may be the ultimate of sharing. To be that real, to allow oneself to be that open and honest, and to be invited into that deep place of hurt - and hope - is, well, awesome!

Thank you! For the honor, the love, the real! Always!!!


Day #720

December 21, 2015

What a treat, and honor, to be invited to a local Hutterite Colony to watch their annual Christmas Program. What joy to see the children celebrate the season and the Good News! What fun to be a guest at such a special time! What welcome into the community!

God’s Good News in the birth of Jesus is for all! But how interesting are the different ways and customs that news is celebrated. Thanks be to God for diversity - and unity - in the message!


Day #719

December 20, 2015

I am humbled - and amazed. In just 719 days of posting, The Daily Intersection has surpassed 10,000 page views! Certainly some of those posts are attributed to me checking my typing, etc. But still, 10,000 page views!?!? I am speechless!

Certainly this has mushroomed way past just a blog started in honor of our Godson. It has become a joy, an expectation, a constant reminder for me that every day there is something to be thankful for, to see God’s presence in, to celebrate, and, sometimes, to lament.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to those 10,000+ views. I pray that each of you are filled with the expectation and joy of God’s presence/intersection in your lives - every day.

And one more thing I am thankful for - a beautiful Cantata worship service!! Thanks be to God for folks sharing their talents and gifts in such a moving way.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Day #718

December 19, 2015 

This quote from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer about Advent sure made me think:
A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes—and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside—is not a bad picture of Advent.”
There can be such a sense of darkness in the season of Advent, even as we prepare to celebrate the birthday of the Savior of the world. We can get so caught up in the preparation we miss the joy and hope in God becoming incarnate in Jesus Christ.

So it is good to be reminded that freedom from the darkness, fear, apathy, doubt, and loneliness does come from the outside - in God’s relentless seeking of relationship with us out of love and grace. Quite a lot to think about!

And on a lighter note, it was an afternoon available for baking and cooking with the husband. A rare and wonderful gift to one another. Merry Christmas to come!!!! And there will be lots of goodies to enjoy as we celebrate.


Day #717

December 18, 2015

The staff I work with are dedicated folks who do their best, and I greatly appreciate them!! What fun, then, to get together outside the church walls as we hosted the annual Staff Party/Dinner at our home. It was an honor to do so in order that we could have some fun, laugh together, share a meal, and just relax.

And speaking of being outside the church walls - couldn’t help but share this cartoon I saw. Hehe - and hmmm…..

Day #716

December 17, 2015

Once again, Chris Cash has written words in d365 “think” that speak deeply to my heart:
We're not entirely sure why Mary chooses to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Neither of them had expected to become pregnant until angels showed up, bringing news of what was to come. Mary is younger, Elizabeth is older, but they both are experiencing the disruption of this life-changing event. The bonds of love between them include not just blood relation, but this shared experience. This is a joyous yet uncertain time for them both. God's love is shown to us in many different ways. Sometimes it comes in the form of the love and support of others who know a bit of what it's like to face what we are going through and walk in our shoes. Mary and Elizabeth are able to lovingly walk with one another through this time. Who has been that type of person in your life? Who around you is now going through something you've faced or are still facing? How might the two of you be able to help one another?
I have been fortunate to have countless folks in my life who have walked with me through good times and bad. Sometimes they are folks who experienced something similar - sometimes they are just empathetic folks who show they care - not by giving advice or fixing things, but by just being there to listen and care.

And so, I join with Chris Cash in praying, with deep appreciation:
God of Love, thank you for the gift of others to walk with me through the journey of life. May both my joys and struggles help me be a better friend to others who face similar things. Amen.

Day #715

December 16, 2015

One of my deepest hopes for the people I serve is summed up in this prayer (the author escaped me):
Today, may you experience the relentless, faithful love of God entering your world. May it change you. May that same love send you out into this world to relentlessly, faithfully love others as you have been loved.
To know deep in my being the depth of God’s love for me has transformed me in ways I could never have imagined. My hope is the same for others. And that this love will surely transform our world!!!


Day #714

December 15, 2015

d365 for December 15th included these words for “think” from Chris Cash:
Today, take time to cry out to God about the pain in the world and even in your own life. Ask God to bring healing and set things right. But be prepared: one of the ways God might want to do this is by working through your hands, feet, and voice.
Perhaps there are no truer words - for God does need our hands, feet and voice to bring healing and set things right. How we act, what we say, and where we go makes a difference. Are our actions ones that promote peace and build relationships, or are they doing the opposite?

Perhaps this struck home even more after hearing Barry Beach’s talk about the power of prayer in his life. Perhaps I needed a reminder of what prayer has meant/does mean in my life as I experience God working to transform me.

Thank you, Chris Cash, for your helpful words! May I be convicted and moved to action by them!


Day #713

December 14, 2015

My husband and I were personally invited to a public gathering of supporters for Barry Beach and I am very glad we went!

To say that I am humbled by his sharing just a little bit of his experience is an understatement. He is such an articulate man, with a deep faith he talks about easily. As I listened, it occurred to me that having endured decades in prison only deepened his reliance on God - and helped him to put into words what that reliance means to him.

What a gift his sharing was to me and I am grateful I had the opportunity to hear him firsthand and again be in his presence!


Day #712

December 13, 2015

What a day!! How thankful I am for so many folks who are helping prepare for Christmas - a Youth Band practicing for the Christmas Eve early worship service and folks who baked and packaged cookies for delivery to homebound members/friends are but a couple. I very much appreciate folks chipping in to help!

But I’m most thankful for the congregation’s welcome of Barry Beach! For more about Barry Beach, here’s just one article that helps tell his story just after his recent release: Barry Beach Interview. It certainly was heartwarming - and Christlike - to see folks graciously welcome him at worship.

Then the day ended with another fun time at Carols and Beer at a local pub. Singing carols and being with folks having fun - a good way to end a very good day.


Day #711

December 12, 2015

With less than two weeks until Christmas, it’s no wonder the day was spent shopping and decorating. Yet, there was also work to do - if you want to call making a visit and having a chance to hear one of the youth at their recital work. :-)

And those friends/colleagues who gathered for dinner last night (Day #710) included a couple we had the fun to host overnight, so they didn’t have to drive a long distance home afterward. Just an addition to the joy of the season!!


Day #710

December 11, 2015

One thing I really appreciate is having colleagues in ministry. I have been fortunate to have trusted colleagues in both calls - folks I can bounce ideas off of, look to for guidance and wisdom, trade covering for one another in times of vacation or needed time away, and those who I count as friends.

A tradition started long before I came to this call is to gather for dinner at Christmastime with other Lutheran clergy-types. What a fun time it is - being with those who share this wonderful calling. It is good to just be together, include spouses, sing a few Christmas carols, and even share a birthday celebration.

So at the end of a beautiful weather day (rare in these parts!) was quite a wonderful gathering. Feeling very fortunate and thankful!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day #709

December 10, 2015

Making decisions is something we do every day. But, how do we make them? Maybe the answer depends on what the decision is about. Sometimes, with tougher decisions, I listen to the voice in my head, trying to discern if what it says comes from God. Other times I search to find some peace in my heart about a decision - which option seems to settle my heart instead of making it anxious.

The prayer from the d365 devotion brought to mind the thoughts about making decisions: Oh God, what shall I do? Help me to listen, to pay attention, and to respond to your presence that is alive and at work within me and within the world. Amen.

Perhaps the most important part of that prayer is not about making a decision, but about how I “respond.” Does what I think I hear move me to a response that is a building-up of a relationship, of the community, etc? Does what I think I hear move me to a response based in love, mercy or justice? What consequences might there be from my decision/response?

There is much to consider about decisions in these days where responses seem to be ending more often in violence or judgment. How can we help others listen, pay attention, and respond in a God-like way?


Day #708

December 9, 2015

In preparation for John the Baptist’s words hundreds of years ago for those who came to hear his message (check out Luke 3:7-18), this prayer from the d365 devotion hits home:
God, it’s so easy to make surface level changes, but I know that the changes I make from within are the ones that matter the most. Help me to know what needs to be cut away in order to create space for new life to be birthed within me. Transform me from the inside out. Amen.
Something to consider, however: the prayer mentions changes I make from within, but can I really change myself from within in any way? Just like, can I actually figure out what needs to be cut away? For example, we can know that a short temper isn’t healthy and needs transformation from within. But, can we really change any of our feelings on our own? Certainly we can learn ways to deal with feelings, maybe through what can be a very long process of learning. But transformation, I believe, really comes from God.

And, the good news, God never gives up and never tires from our seeking transformation. Thanks be to God!!


Day #707

December 8, 2015

Saw this and really appreciate the “new” take on the Christmas Season (remember “Jesus is the reason for the season?”)
Also, there was this quote, or rather this question, from the presenter of a continuing education event about our place in creation: “can you love what you cannot control?” There are so many things we cannot control, but can we love...the weather? Other people? God? Hmmm...CAN we love what we cannot control?


Day #706

December 7, 2015

This may have been said before, but it truly is an honor and joy to be asked to pray, and then do so, with someone. As the hymn goes, “what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”

Joseph Scriven, the writer of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” must have known the power and peace that comes through prayer. It is doubled, I believe, when the prayer is with/for someone else. I have certainly felt it, and am thankful for every opportunity.


Day #705

December 6, 2015

How fortunate I am to be able to spend time in worship – to sing, to pray, to be with community, to hear where God has been seen at work; then, getting to spend time with youth in Sunday School, making gifts for others, having fun, learning. It’s all so wonderful!

Perhaps all that joy just spilled over into lunch. We went to a place we often go to get a quick, delicious meal, and were just being friendly with the waitress. So we thought. As we were preparing to leave, she said something like: thank you for being so nice. You were fun to wait on, and really turned what has been a bad day with grumpy customers upside down.

Well, there you go! How wonderful to spread joy, uplift others, and thereby be uplifted! Thanks be to God!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Day #704

December 5, 2015

Saw this and thought, wow! Why didn’t I think of this?!

Next year?! Or maybe for Lent?!


Day #703

December 4, 2015

We went to buy a tree - a once-live tree. Helping out at the tree lot were a couple of men from the Transition Center Pre-Release program, described as “a cost-effective alternative to incarceration for offenders through a variety of community-based correctional/treatment programs.”

Men from Pre-Release have helped out at a couple of events at the congregation where I serve. I was talking with the person taking payment about the benefits of the program. I told him I was familiar with Pre-Release because I was the pastor at a church that had benefited from its helpers, and that I am glad they are at the tree lot. He then told me how much the program appreciates the congregation. He even said, “were it not for you folks, we would be in a world of hurt.”

What a wonderful testimony to those who have a passion to accompany folks in this situation! I’m pleased, too, that I was able to pass along the sentiment/conversation to one of them.


Day #702

December 3, 2015

Read about a man in Oregon who befriends and takes pictures of homeless folks, then writes about their stories. What a gift! Here is a link to his FaceBook page: Pedro On the World


Day #701

December 2, 2015

Wondering how it first began, I did the obvious - Googled the Heimlich Maneuver. According to Wikipedia, it was first described by Dr. Henry Heimlich in some first aid instruction in 1974. I wonder just how many people over the years have benefited from the action? I know one personally and today witnessed a second.

It is not something you want to have to do very often (or even observe), but what a blessing that people use their God-given talents and skills to figure out ways to help others. Thank you for that, Dr. Heimlich.

And thank you to the person who mustered the courage to try it. It was just what was needed!


Day #700

December 1, 2015

As I gathered with colleagues to study and contemplate the scripture readings for Sunday, I was reminded that God also asks for us to move - in action. Preparation for Christ’s coming really means more than just reading, praying and worshiping - it also means moving, as in our feet, our mouths, and our hands. Helpful!

Then there was this reminder from the “out of the mouths of babes” file: Four year old, out of the blue, says to mom - “I’m thankful God created the greatest. Do you know who that is?” Who is that, mom asks? “That’s us!” Yep, God made us all, dear preschooler. Thank you for your observation!

And from the “something to think about” file:

Day #699

November 30, 2015

On the 30th day of November, I am thankful for…
Thirty days of being intentional about noticing things for which to be thankful - and the reminder that every day there is something worthy of being thankful for. Every day - all year through!