Today my family celebrated the 31st birthday of Amy, my daughter. My daughter’s and I gathered together for breakfast and prayer and shared many memories and laughter. Late in the afternoon, Amy and I went to see the movie “Hidden Figures”. To say that the movie moved me would be an understatement. My goodness, humanity is very skilled in hiding the cause that creates effects. In the movie, based on fact, the audience learns that women of colour were the hidden figures, silent cause, behind the success of John Glenn’s and the grand US of A’s first successful orbit around the earth. I left the theatre wondering, “Why does humanity fear sharing the cause and effect, the truth around success or failure? History and this movie certainly proved this point, that failures are roads that lead us to success. And yet, causes that lead to failure, and sadly, the courage that lead to successes, are often covered up because of ego or egos.
When I read the first chapter of Matthew and see the genealogy of Jesus, I see that his bloodline leads us to five women of questionable repute. Yet each of these women exemplified faith and courage as they followed their hearts and the leading of their Creator, and each woman changed history for the better.
Each one of us have questionable people of repute, imperfect people, in our lives who have taught us valuable lessons and changed us for the better. So my question is, “What are the gifts we have received from the questionable people in our lives? What has our real or perceived enemy taught us, and are we viewing, perceiving, that person in a truthful light?
Who is the hidden figure, or figures, in our lives that the Spirit is using to draw us closer to what we need to understand in order to heal and become whole?
And what would happen if we dared to have a conversation with them so we could successfully orbit our journey?
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Blast off! May we dare to enter an authentic journey that is out of this world. I bet if we do, as in the movie, our hidden figures will become our rescuers and our heroes.
He sees me
Across the table
Underneath the table
He sees me
And I see him
And we alone know it.
Sabers are drawn but quiet
M&M’s don the outside of our lips like a model in Milan
Uptown Funk drowns in our focused anticipation
The battle is on
While watermelon waits on the kitchen counter and macaroni and cheese bait both sides
The rebellion is happening
Grandmother and grandson meeting in full Force while time screams this is just a phase, unimportant and silly
NOT TRUE we think, we know because
The red and the green sabers are playing hide and seek
Around kitchen counters, dinning room chairs and couches
Two layers of galaxy masked in two flights of stairs and rooms bid the battle onward
Yet they laugh, these two, red and green sabers blazing
They laugh and cuddle and take a time out for red and green M&M’s…and fresh squeezed orange juice, the juice of champions…
Then it happens…
The great one, the older one, sees the red saber coming and steps out to feel the force upon her
The awesome gaze of the two-year old hobbit’s red light meets her green light with certainty, as he foretold, telling her that he would defeat her as he lights the room with his laughter and she is overcome by his serious squint, by his belief in their play.
As he lifts his saber…
His force lightning smile and belief send her to her knees (slowly, oh so slowly), and she falls down, reaching for him, for her two-year old Jedi grandson saying, “I will never forget this battle”, who in turn says, “Nanny, I got you. I defeated you. Now I am going to put my saber under your arm and you will die…until we hug and come to life and do it all over again OTAY?”
“Otay.” She grimace’s as she offers her best Meryl Streep death and he follows her with a better Meryl impression because they always die and come back to life together.
*After we rise again, it is strange how M&M’s welcome us along with peanut butter because he does not appreciate mac and cheese like he imagined.
Tomorrow, we will do it all again.
I am blessed to play with you Jeremy Clayton Anderson.
Tomorrow, we will go to Sherwood’s Forest where danger and love wait to be discovered. After that, the Shire. AHHHH.
See you in the morning Jedi…like your father and brother before you, I love you.
P.S. I see you too, I saw you in my dreams before you were born and I see you underneath the table…so bring it on! I’m ready.
I did not capitalize annunciation for a reason. I wonder if we perceive the annunciation as a big deal, meaning that it was a huge event. A messenger appears to Mary and offers her a message, an opportunity, to lean into God and hold her life and loved ones loosely. Mary, quietly and alone, lives into the offering of the message to experience something more, become someone new.
God’s messages are seldom written on the stars or found flopping in the skies behind an airplane stating, “The Buffet is over here or there.”
My experience of the Sacred in human history and in my own is a whispering of what God is offering. And so, as we begin a new year, the song I penned and lead in worship, “I Am My Offering” compels me forward through calm and gentle messages, to continue befriending the ordinary moments and become my offering.
I believe that in the ordinary, God is annunciating, God is whispering, God is revealing and God is showing us that the kingdom of God is within.
Happy New Year. May we dare to play with the sacred ordinary.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if every person on the planet opened their hearts to everyone who crosses their path?
Imagine what the world would be like if we truly were open and respectful to every skin tone, every social and economic status, open and respectful with every level of education, with every personality type, with every gender identity, with every story that crosses our path?
I wonder what would happen if we opened our hearts to Christ coming in everyone we meet? I wonder what would happen if we believed that God’s DNA is weaved in every human being and that God is coming and speaking to us through our harshest critic or through a perceived or real enemy, or in our loved one who is driving us to our last nerve? What would happen if we stopped doing things the same way, hoping for a different result in our relationships and inner being?
I wonder how we would be filled with hope, peace joy and love if we exchanged our fears for a life of wonder? Life has a way of presenting situations that feel impossible and full of what if’s. Prices are going up on food while many are unemployed or on fixed incomes causing fear around how needs will be met. I wonder what sharing our stories with one another would look like? I wonder kind of healing change a bartering system and the sharing of our resources would bring for all daring to engage in vulnerability and generosity?
Advent means something is about to happen that will transform us, prepare us for something new, something healing, for God’s presence to be personally real to us.
For the past two years I have been aware of that God was bringing many adverts into my life. I intentionally abandoned old ways of thinking and being and became open, peaceful, to all that would unfold in my life. My choice created space for me to see and appreciate others in new and life giving ways. I experienced the impossible becoming possible inside of me and outside of me. I became and continue to be pregnant with PEACE, joy, hope and love beyond my comprehension. On many accounts, I should not feel this way yet I do and I trust my journey because I know that God is always coming, always being born in a situation, in a conversation and in a relationship. This Advent I invite you to join me and exchange fear for wonder, exchange judgement for wonder, exchange disappointment for wonder, for wonder empowers us to love like God loves us. Wonder empowers us to embrace uncertainty with the certain knowledge that God is with us and we are not alone. Wonder empowers us to get to know those who judge us or those we judge at the foot of the cross that awaits our Christ. Wonder empowers us to see another through the eyes and heart of God revealed through the ways of Jesus. Wonder beats the numbers in the stock market every day for holy wonder is based on the unchanging and ever growing secure love of God. In our ever changing political world, we have a leader who has our best intentions at heart. We have God in us and with us. Emmanuel is here in all of us and Advent is always now…I wonder who we could be together if every day we lived intentionally in unwrapping the Christmas presence in our souls. Wonder and wander with me into the gift of God who has come and is always coming for God is with us in all of us. Merry Christmas. Amen
This Sunday we will be celebrating Love, particularly the love God has for all of us.
I believe the word LOVE is a word we often use carelessly. I say this because the word LOVE has its definition in what and who we want to love, who we want to love us, and what our definition of love means. The love of God for us is built into our DNA. It is always and forever, dependent only on the constant nature of our God who dwells within and is constantly leaning into us, desiring a deeper connection, a stronger uninterrupted knowing. When we read the scripture that announces, “Love casts out all fear and does not involve punishment,” those of us who live prisoner to deep abiding wounds, prese our lips and think, “If this is love, if this is true, why am I afraid?” Why does it hurt when someone we care about extravagantly shares their love for us and then our protective mechanisms kick in and create all sorts of reasons about how the presence this extravagant love must have hidden or unhealthy motives? It hurts because our unhealed wounds are desperate thieves and liars who want us to feel like they do, unworthy, not good enough, not important. How can we trust the love of another, especially our Creator, when we allow our cells to be on high alert to protect us from the possibility of being alone, abandoned or misunderstood? One of the saddest realities among us is how many of us sabotage the love we seek by believing we will be devoured and unable to be free to be who we are. The truth is, healthy love empowers one to be their best self and then live into their gifts and dreams. Unhealed wounds may be able to lead others to healing waters, but the reality is, they become a lens of either – or, confusing independence with the empowering journey of inter-dependence that creates connection that causes us to soar, expanding us to be able to receive more love and give more love. It’s amazing how fast we can conjure reasons to run like the wind away from the presence of the very thing we need, love, and then blame or shame the presence of this present love into silence.
Extravagant love joyfully pours itself out for another. Jesus had to cram pouring out God’s extravagant love into a 3.5 year journey and his pouring caused either extravagant peace and joy, or internal, and then external chaos, everywhere he went. The impact of the love of God depends on the state of our minds with regard to the state of our wholeness. Many of us miss the birth of love, the opportunity for loving healing relationships, because our wounds, our cellular memory, our unconscious, demands love to look and feel a certain way, a way we have defined as “safe”, because we are trying to be in control of the uncontrollable.
This Friday my daughter Amy and I will enter into our traditional Christmas date that we anticipate with wonder and joy every Advent. We will dress up and go out to enjoy a beautiful meal, sweet and fun conversation, and then venture to the Jack Singer Hall to watch and FEEL the music and movement of The Nutcracker. Amy and I have been enjoying this date with love, music and movement for twelve years. One of the beautiful aspects of this familiar adventure is that each year, both of us are independently moved by a different piece of music, familiar music to be sure, however, we acknowledge that time has passed and we are evolving, experiencing a new moment. Our acknowledgment of being moved by what we are experiencing creates room for the familiar to surprise us and fill us with joy. Every year, we glance at one another in a different place in The Nutcracker and we smile in awe and appreciation of the music, of the movement and for our relationship, our shared love for one another. This is yearly shared experience is intentional because we allow room for love and music to rapture our senses. Life is too fleeting to allow the past to steal love’s rapture, love’s gifts and love’s empowering lessons.
Everyone of us have been created by perfection to enter into the world of imperfections where for whatever reason, fear continues to try keeping us living wounded, emotional and spiritual zombies, desperately searching to be devoured by love. Extravagant love, God’s unexpected love alive in another, the kind that intrigues, surprises and opens our hungry wounds, arrives when we least expect it, when we most need it and usually when we believe we are open and ready while we lace up our inner and outer track shoes. The deal is, real love, extravagant love, and God’s love can be terrifying, especially for our wounds who do not want to lose their grip on us. But as a friend recently shared with me, things that are terrifying can be “Kinda Awesome”. This Advent, dare to receive the “awesome” this Christmas because love is on its way…in fact, it may have already knocked your socks off while you are tripping on your laces. Love and music have a way of stripping us to our beautiful core. Terrifying? No! Beautiful and healing and freeing! When the love we need shows up, may we dare to take the plunge and be fully immersed in the extravagance God has gifted to us, trusting that we will land upon the shore of safe and encouraging sands.
If our countenance is authentic, what does it reveal about the state of the union of our hearts and minds?
What does “being filled with joy” mean to you?
What or who is the source of your joy?
When do you feel joy?
Where does joy come from?
Who is joy to you?
How do you become filled with joy?
Come to church this Sunday and bring your questions. Joy is waiting to fill you. Fill like getting pregnant with joy?
Next Sunday we will be lighting the Candle of Peace not long after we have passed the peace.
The peace…hum, I began to wonder if many of us or any of us are aware of what passing the peace really means. Then I began to wonder if we knew what it meant would we keep enjoying our weekly love fest, the hugs, the kisses and the handshakes, or would we enter into the role of being God’s peace, intent on creating God’s peace in our midst?
First, I thought, whose peace am I passing and what have the effects of my passing the peace been? Then I began asking a few questions like: WHAT exactly is THE PEACE? WHERE can I find PEACE? WHO is the source of PEACE? If THE PEACE is something unworldly, HOW can I access it and exchange my anxieties for the real deal, for PEACE? WHEN is PEACE available?
I received some answers and, well, these answers sent me to PEACE where I sat down and indulged myself and you know what happened? I became PEACE. This Sunday I am prepared to pass THE PEACE with you because I AM with I AM. Daily I make room for God to rule in my heart and my life and I end my prayer saying, “Your will be done in me and on earth as it is in heaven”. And guess what? PEACE reigns in my soul even when it is raining impossibilities on the outside. Mary, the mother of Jesus, understood this experience all too well. Join me this Sunday as we explore THE PEACE that we are called to be, THE PEACE that passes all understanding, THE PEACE of who God is and longs to become within us.
- A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
“he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information”
synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design
a feeling of trust
- want something to happen or be the case.
“he’s hoping for an offer of compensation”
synonyms: expect, anticipate, look for, be hopeful of, pin one’s
hopes on, want
This is Google’s definition of “hope”. When I was a little girl, living with my father and step-mother, waiting for my mother to pick me up for my weekend visit I would sit in the window and hope that she wasn’t going to be late because I would lose time with her. When I was a teenager, I hoped my boyfriend would call me the day after we kissed. When I was married, I hoped we would have healthy children and a strong and happy family. Today I have two spiritually and physically healthy adult daughters with strong and happy marriages as well as two healthy and happy grandsons, oh yea, and two failed marriages. So now I hope that I have grown, healed and will continue to live a whole and authentic personal and professional life. Most of my hopes are for others – for my family, friends, my church and the world. I hope to be healthy for a long time so I can continue to practice the presence of God and give God’s love away. I hope to dance with my grandsons at their weddings. I hope to finish my books, record my songs and make people laugh and ponder until my last breath.
These are my hopes, but what is the Biblical definition of hope? I don’t think it’s “I hope the Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl”. Biblical hope is not a hope-so but it is a know-so. It has nothing to do with feelings and it isn’t a waiting game watching for things to turn out the way we wish. Hope is about possessing knowledge of facts. Lately, I have heard many people say, “I hope things turn out the way we hope” but these good intentions do not provide any guarantee. To possess a biblical hope is to live into the anthem the choir sang last Sunday which encouraged us to place the anchor of our soul into the Rock of who God is and will always be. Hoping in God’s nature and God’s desires for us has nothing to do with wishful thinking which is completely powerless to make anything happen. As a Christian, a follower of the ways of Christ, my hope is concrete in the unchanging heart of God who cannot lie (Hebrews 6:8). My hope is wrapped up in “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
This coming Sunday we will enter the Season of Advent where we hope for the coming of Jesus. I know that no matter what unfolds between now and Christmas Day, my faith will not be shaken by what I see or do not see, for I know and trust God because I have seen his/her faithfulness to me. The Star of Hope is already in the sky. I invite you to join the Jedi Magi and me as we find the manger underneath a Death Star and rescue the promised Holy Jedi. The Force is with us so if you need your hope to awaken, come join The Force. God promises you will not be disappointed. I don’t know what is coming, but I know we are not alone.
Yesterday a friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:
“We need more love in the world, so let’s keep it going! If you like this status I will tell you something I like about you. Feel free to do the same in your own status.
So I pushed “like” and an hour later this is what she wrote about me:
“I am so grateful that you are in Calgary and that I know you. You are upper division compassionate. Your empathy is wide. But you are also a do-er. You are the change you want to see in the world, and you live your authenticity every day. I so admire and respect that.”
I am not sharing this to toot my own horn. I am sharing this because the timing of her affirmation for me could not have been more perfect. Her words reminded me of Proverb 25:25
“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.” My friend does not know what is going on in my life but God knows and I believe the Sacred sent me some much needed encouragement yesterday. As of noon today, she has sent affirmations to 125 people on Facebook and their responses mirrored my own.
This Sunday is Children’s Sunday in the liturgical year and I am preaching on the power of a word. I have been researching what children around the world are feeling and saying about a bully being elected as President of the United States. The uncertainty and fear that children are experiencing over Trump breaks my heart. The monies educational, government and work institutions are spending on bringing awareness to bulling and how it has literally murdered millions in personal and global wars and has also caused young people to commit suicide is astronomical.
Words are one of, if not the greatest, tool we possess. Words are free to share yet their intent may cost more than we can imagine. Words are assessable anytime we want to use them. Words were meant to be gifts not weapons.
Imagine what could happen if we contacted one person a week with the intention to share how they have made a positive difference in our lives? Imagine affirming 52 people a year! It’s easy. We can affirm the way someone gives us customer service, or the way someone smiles, or the way it feels to see how excited your grandchild is to see you. We can send a hand written note to a parent, child, friend or leader who has touched our lives in a special way. Words have the power to kill and heal. Words have the power to stop wars and bring peace.
This Sunday we will have two canvases in the Sanctuary. One has a manger painted on it while the other has a star. The children are going to take the manger canvas to Sunday School and write the words of affirmation they need to hear from adults so they may be empowered and the manger is a precious place to land. The adults are going to have an opportunity during the Offering time to write their words of affirmation for the children under the star. These canvases will hang in our Narthex during Advent as we focus our attention on “Hope Awakening” through Christ and through us.
I look forward to seeing you there, prepared to share a word that just might be the very word someone needs at such a time as this. May the Power of Peace, Hope, Joy and Love Be With Us.
The unexpected has happened. Trump had a card we didn’t expect. He looked for the broken and angry voices, he listened to them and he gave them what they wanted to hear and now he will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. He conquered and divided and then accepted his crown with a new and gentle face. Who Trump is will be revealed as all truth comes to light.
Today, voices are crying out across social media, streaming and screaming, what is going to happen to me and those I love? Some in the global church are saying, “I now believe God is not in control” while another clergy quotes Joel 2:17, “Between the vestibule and the altar, let the ministers of the Lord weep.” This morning a theologian and professor of theology and preaching at Southern Methodist University shared, “I woke up in a foreign land. For me, lamentation and weeping is not a sign of loss of hope, or loss of trust in God – but is rather biblical.”
I want to say some something to clergy and people of faith. Jesus wasn’t politically correct. He listened to the voices and needs around him and courageously spoke up and out on behalf of the marginalized, the sojourner in a foreign land, the excluded, the ones assumed untouchable and non-redeemable. He had the courage to speak the truth with love, compassion, strength and power. He was clear about his purpose. He was not running a race to win a title, but to die for love, even love for his enemies. He was bold when he spoke to the hypocritical clergy who were spiritually abusing and exploiting the church. Jesus knew his purpose and he lived into divine love courageously, with his eyes wide open, sharing the burden of the people’s pain.
As America waits to crown Trump with a title many feel he does not deserve or know how to live into, people of faith, this crowning calls us to be Christ. When we remain silent from the sidelines, afraid we will rock the boat if we speak up for the victims of abuse, exploitation, exclusivity, racisim or any other form of denigration and demoralization, we are imitating the ways of the abuser. When we refuse to be silent, when we dare to show up and when we choose to feel the burden of painful stories, we open doors for change and healing and we imitate the ways of Jesus.
The cost of imitating Christ in the church and outside her walls may be considerable and the divide may widen before enough people are willing to step out of fearing the costs and step into being light in the dark. If people of faith, if church leaders, are unwilling to speak the truth in love, we have nothing to offer the world. If we are unwilling to be people of integrity no matter the cost, what will the witness of our lives amount to at the end of our days?
Today, I am called to be brave. I am called to embrace a Hope that by nature cannot disappoint me. Today, I am called to remember that God knows me and loves me unconditionally and His/Her love is not exclusive to me. The grace of this Presidential election is it has revealed the depth, width, length and height of America’s divide and divides that exist in nations, cultures, places of worship and homes around the world. This election has taken the scales away from our eyes. We can longer pretend to be blind to ways that we are being called to be the hands, feet and heart of God in our stories and in our world. This sad and despicable race has shown us the shadows with whom we dance with in complacency and friends, the music of our selfishness must stop. Today, we are being called to rise strongly for the weak, live courageously for the exploited, love humanity greatly and awaken hope for the hopeless. This is a new ADVENT. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot extinguish it.” People and leaders of faith, be strong and courageous just as the Love that came down and dwelt among us. Hope for the hopeless lives in you and me. We were created for eternity, so for now we are all sojourners in a foreign land but we are not alone. God is with us and we are stronger together. God have mercy, Christ have mercy.