Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the first shoe...

After more than a year of relative calm and quiet, it looks like I am dealing with my first serious member illness and very likely immanent death. (I say that knowing this is a relatively anonymous blog.) It's pancreatic cancer. Sadly, not good statistics for remission. And she's an elderly lady as well, though fairly spunky. She was diagnosed last week and the family is still reeling. She's been released from the hospital to the skilled nursing facility of the nursing home/retirement community where she and her husband live. I won't speculate at this point about what that means.
I haven't even been a part of a funeral other than observer. While I don't mind them, I fret about saying the wrong thing. While that may be putting the cart before the horse, the truth is, it's just about certain to come sooner rather than later--hers or someone else's.
Prayers for Spirit intervention--for me and them--are coveted as we continue on this journey.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thoughts on Simeon and Anna

I admit it, I'm excited to preach about Simeon and Anna. For some reason, I just really like these guys. They have quite a lot of depth for just 18 verses. I'm thinking of naming my sermon "Of widows, virgins, and barren ones," and talk about the prominent roles that Anna, Mary, and Elizabeth have in Luke as being the ones to recognize the Messiah, even though they were considered next to nothing by their culture and society. We'll see. That's where I am today. I have all week to change my mind. :)
I might even get around to posting it. I haven't posted a sermon in quite a while. Laziness is some of it, shyness is also a part. I usually get good reviews, but I'm never happy enough with them to actually post them where, (gulp), just anybody could read them. (That's actually really ridiculous of me since I'm pretty sure only about 8 people ever come here to read anything--and I know you all love me!)
I know quite a few people right now who are either pregnant or have just recently given birth, several for the first time. I have to admit that it's the first time mothers (and fathers too) that are so much fun to watch. At least one couple I know has struggled with infertility for many years and only just a couple weeks ago had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Another couple I know is having fraternal twins without the help of any fertility treatments whatsoever. No matter what, becoming a parent for the first time is rather overwhelming.
Babies bring something with them that we seem to lack in our daily lives--an expectancy of great things to come. We lay our hopes and dreams on them, what we hope they will turn out to be, what sorts of traits will they inherit, what jobs they will get when they are grown, etc. Even most parents I know who intentionally try not to put undue pressure on their children have some sorts of expectations for them, such as getting a good education, taking some sort of extracurricular classes, whether it's dance, gymnastics, martial arts, or music lessons, or even just going to church regularly. With young children, we make those decisions for them, molding them, even ever so slightly, to our own expectations for them.
I wonder just what expectations Mary had for Jesus when she took him to be presented in the temple. Even then, I don't think she could have known what sort of Messiah he could be. Her Jewish heritage expected a warrior Messiah, one who would overthrow the oppressor with a fiery sword and angry redemption. Yet as she carries her newborn in her arms, can she truly envision him as such? I wonder.
And Mary isn't the only one with expectations for him, after all. What do Simeon and Anna expect from him? What do they see his role as Messiah to be? What about his father? His grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the rest of the Israelites? Sure, we expect great things of our children, but Messianic leadership? That's a tall order for a tiny baby.
What do we expect from a Messiah, even now? What expectations do we place on the one who comes to us in such unexpected ways?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's official...

I'm ready for Christmas to be over! I've made all the cookies and sent all the gifts, ordered to ones to come to our house, planned all the services, made the Little One's costume, and decorated as much as I care to. (No tree in our house this year folks--I'll get to that in a minute.) That means I'm done right? Right?!
Ok, so I still have to write sermons, lead those services I've planned, wrap the gifts as they trickle in from Amazon and Overstock and Apple, and do I have enough 'stuff' for the stockings? what can I get done ahead for our late night, Christmas Eve, right-after-the-service drive to the in-laws house? Too soon for laundry, don't have all the gifts ready, guess that's a big, fat "nothing."
Ah well, one week and counting. As for no tree, the stand of the one we inherited is broken and P doesn't feel like fixing it, setting it up, and decorating since we're not going to be putting presents under it as we'll be at his parents' home. I tend to agree. I have a lighted garland on the faux mantle (it's really a large shelf over the piano as we have no fireplace) and the stocking are hung there, well, all except mine which is in need of some work. Guess we have to add that to the list. It seems the more things I check off, the more I find to add to the end of the list.
On the other hand, I think we've agreed on a name for the new addition. Check.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winding Up

The official wind up for Christmas begins at church this week. We start tonight with the Diaconate team hosting a Chrismon tree decorating dinner. We'll have soup and sandwiches, a short devotion (not led by me) and then go in and decorate the tree. I accepted the request to bring a crock pot of chili (I DO make a pretty good chili, I admit) and decided to bake a loaf of bread to go with it and it's in the oven now, and smelling amazing. Let's hope that I can manage to make it out the door with the camera and then maybe I can have this year's pictures of the little one (who's really not so little any more) by the Chrismon tree again.
Sunday is the children's program, which we'll put on during worship, so that means I don't have to preach--a good thing since I seem to be more tired this week than usual (the dreary, rainy days may be a big part of that) and I can usually find an excuse to come home in the afternoons and take a nap.
Then there's session meeting in a week, then, wow, it's the fourth sunday in advent! that's the week we do gift wrapping for the church's social services christmas family and go caroling afterwards. We'll do a traditional candlelight service of nine lessons and carols on Christmas Eve. I am so proud of my youth, every one of them stepped up, from seven years old on up to seventeen to do a scripture reading that night (ok, so I think some of them were forced by their parents, but still, most of them volunteered)
At home though, we just this week got out the decorations, discovered that P will have to make a new stand for the fake tree that lost a leg in the move and so we probably won't get it up soon since he'll have to make that before we can get it up and he is planning on going out of town to visit his family this weekend so it won't happen then either. Blah. Blah, blah, blah. The tree is the one thing that makes it feel like Christmas for me, at least inside the house. (Outside, it's the neighbors who have had lights up since thanksgiving, covering every square inch of their house and yard--ok, not really, but it's quite a sight!)