Sisters in Scripture
First Week of Advent    11/30/2019
  He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 
Isaiah 2:4

First Week of Advent

Over the last several Advents, Betsey Beckman and I have collaborated in presenting the Advent retreat ONCE UPON A TIME IN A TOWN CALLED NAZARETH. While I cannot possibly re-create that experience for you here in newsletter format, here is a sampling sent to you as a labor of love. May it bless your preparation for the coming of Christ. 

 Once Upon a Time in a Town Called Nazareth

"Once Upon a Time. . ."

Don't the best of stories begin that way? If ever there was a "Best Of" story, this is it. 

And it really happened. It happened at a particular time, in a particular place, and started with a particular person. 

Let us begin at a time before awareness. In our creative imaginations, we are going to a specific time: 12 hours, BC, the night before the Angel Gabriel will appear.

The one the angel will come to is Mary, Miriam in Hebrew, a young Jewish teenager in first century Palestine, in a town of Galilee called Nazareth. This was the world, the people, the home into which will come God's great hope for humanity.

Is it fair to say, "What were you thinking, God?" For these were desperate and dangerous times. Israel was an impoverished, occupied nation and the Jews were a rebellious people, deeply divided along political, religious, and economic lines. 

This was no time for a child to be born--let alone this child, the one upon so much depends. But then...is any time a good time...? 

An Advent Holy Question: Love still takes the risk. . .

What risk is God's love inviting in you this Advent? Inopportune time or God's time?

After the Shabbot prayer and meal, under the moon and spray of stars, we imagine a youthful Mary, betrothed of Joseph, lying upon her pillow. 
 
Something’s coming! Do we remember those restless days of our youth when we just knew the future held something unspeakably great? When we were the age of Mary? Night time came but we were unable to sleep and looked up at the stars, their brilliance a sign of some shimmering promise we felt, we hoped, but we did not yet know. 
 
Was Mary restless as well that night, this last night of B.C.? Were there stirrings in the silence that tingled her flesh? Did the sound of breath and heartbeat fill her ears? Fill the room? How long might she have lain awake in exquisite anticipation before sweet sleep at last carried her into dream? This last night of B.C. This last night that her heart beat alone within her breast—before another heart began to beat beneath her own. 

Sometimes the days pile up in their seeming sameness but we become aware slowly that these are also times of ripeness and rightness. A time comes when we know we’ve outgrown what was like a dress two sizes too small. We, too, have known that change is knocking on our door and sometimes when we are open enough, still enough, desirous enough, we have known who it is that knocks. We have known that what comes is of God and it is holy.
 

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A Thanksgiving Challenge    11/26/2019

 A Thanksgiving challenge. . .

A Preposition 
   Proposition   for Thanksgiving 

So here's the Thanksgiving challenge:

Before and after dinner weigh in? Nope
Push away that second piece of pie? No
Favorite recipe throw down? Not this time!
Loudest snorer in the living room? Don't think so. . . . 
 
Instead, a simple grammatical substitution. At Thanksgiving, we pause to recall and name all those things we are grateful FOR—and that’s good. This year let’s take it up a notch. Let’s not just say, "I am grateful FOR,” let us say, "I am grateful TO.”  

For example: 
"I am thankful for the food before us,” can expand to: 
"I am grateful TO Mom and Sally and Grandma for cooking, 
to the farmers who grew the food, the truckers and grocers who brought it to us, 
to the good Lord who causes all things to grow and nourish us, etc.”

"I am thankful for finishing my first quarter at the university,” becomes:
"I am thankful TO my parents paying my tuition, 
the good teachers who prepared me, especially Ms. Devine, my 3rd grade teacher, 
and good friends who helped me study, etc.”

"I am grateful for good health,” now adds:
"I am thankful TO God for the gift of life and healing
to the doctors and nurses who helped me with chemo,
my family and friends who gave me support
our church community who prayed for me, etc.”
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