Friday, December 30, 2011

RevGals Friday Five: Nearly New Year's Edition

Roxie, our 13 year old Lab-Red Heeler mix, on the deck, enjoying a wonderful early summer afternoon.

Sally, over at RevGals, offers this Friday Five Meme:

A simple Friday Five for a busy part of the year; indulge me by sharing two fives:

As you look back over 2011 share 5 blessings, they can be as grand or as simple as you like,if you year has been like mine they are probably a mixture!

As you look towards 2012 share 5 hopes- again, anything goes

Five blessings:

1. This new call. I feel very blessed to serve this community of very fine people, who are mindful of God's call to justice, compassion, and love.

2. Family stability. My family has had a rough time over the last couple of years. This year we each found stability. It's nice to enjoy my kids as young adults who are finding their way in the world.

3. Our dogs. Last spring our sweet dog, Roxie, at the age of 13 started to have seizure-like episodes, losing bodily function and the ability to walk. We took her to the vet who diagnosed her with arthritis in her hips and gave her pain meds and anti-inflamatory meds. Subsequently we moved and saw a new vet who confirmed the diagnosis. In the mean time, she has not had one of those episodes, seems to be relatively pain-free, and will even trot now and then like a dog half her age. We know that every day with her is a gift, and we are grateful she is able to enjoy life. We certainly enjoy her!

4. iPad. The church intended to buy the new rector a new computer. In conversation with the vestry we decided to get me, the new rector, an iPad. There are many benefits to my work like from this, but most importantly, for me, I appreciate being ablt to preach from it and not print off paper every Sunday, just for that. I also use it to store meeting notes, agendas, schedules, my calendar...and I love iCloud, the Apple feature that stores all my data.

5. UNCSW (United Nations Commission on the Status of Women) and AWE (Anglican Women's Empowerment). In February 2011 I attended the UNCSW in NYC, and a variety of parallel NGO events, sponsored by AWE. I learned so much about the status of women around the world, and the high degree of violence and abuse that women encounter....and our need, as a global community, to be proactive on the behalf of all people. I also appreciated the five-part series on PBS, "Women, War, and Peace." Again, I learned so much from this powerful, well made series.

Looking forward to in 2012:

1. The next UNCSW. This year I will be leading a couple of the workshops at this event on the WordsMatter Expansive Language Project. My work with that project continues, albeit slower and less involved than before I took this job.

2. General Convention of the Episcopal Church. This summer I will attend GenCon, and again, I may host a WordsMatter workshop at this event. It's being held in Indianapolis, so an easy commute for me. I look forward to this, it is a fabulous event.

3. Finding a spiritual director and a retreat center. I really need to find a new spiritual director and a place to go for rest and renewal. There are plenty of options in this area, I just need to spend some time organizing myself in this regard. So, this is one of my goals for 2012.

4. Getting back to yoga. I have not been good at exercise lately. (Ok, not good at all since about September). I really need to get myself back on track. I am wondering what this means for me as I age and find that I injure easier than I use to. (Usually my lower back). Joining a health club is out of the question, and taking class is not really affordable, so I am left to my own devices. I can do this, but of course it is much easier to maintain if I can have the support of classes. Anyway, one of my goals.

5. Gardening. We had a fabulous garden last summer and I look forward to gardening again this summer!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Story

A reflection on the readings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

A friend of mine is fond of telling a story about her life and then concluding with, “That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!”

The other night my husband, son, and I were watching the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the version that came in 2000 with Jim Carry as the Grinch. Several times we remarked that they changed the story, a lot, in order to make a full length movie out of it. It is significantly different from the version I saw as a child. Then our son said, this is the only version of the story he remembers. Same story, two versions…

Tom Satre told the following story to the Sitka (Alaska) Gazette: he was out with a charter group on his 62 foot fishing vessel when four juvenile black-tailed deer swam directly toward his boat. “Once the deer reached the boat,’ he said, ‘ the four began to circle the boat, looking directly at us. We could tell right away that the young bucks were distressed.

I opened up my back gate and we helped the typically skittish and absolutely wild animals onto the boat. In all my years fishing, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Once on board, the deer collapsed with exhausting, shivering. We headed for Taku Harbour. Once we reached the dock the first buck we had pulled from the water hopped onto the dock, looked back as if to say, ‘Thank-you,’ and disappeared into the forest.

After some prodding and assistance, two more followed, but the smallest deer needed a bit more help. (for which he was put into a wheel barrow and transported from the boat to the dock).

Finally, with the help of three humans, the last buck got to its feet and ran off to join the others. …”

This true story appeared on Facebook last week with a link to some amazing photos that accompany the story.

In response, other people shared similar stories of animal and human interactions that break open our expectations of the normal way that humans and animals interact. The beauty of these stories is that they remind us that there is a thin line between creation, human beings, and the God who created all of us. And sometimes that line dissolves and we see the world as God might see it. A world called to live in harmony and peace, with grateful hearts for all the blessings and gifts of life.

On this most holy of nights/days we celebrate the reality that God is with us. In the mystery that is God, God has chosen to dwell in and within all creation, and most particularly in human life. This is our Christian story, of God active in the world through the birth of Jesus. It is story that reminds us that how we live our lives reveals the fullness of God in the world – particularly when we live with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and love toward all.

The Christmas story in our culture, of Santa, and presents under the tree, looks very different from the story we hear tonight. No doubt the culture Christmas is fun, and good for the economy, but we diminish the true Christmas story when we place too great an emphasis on Black Friday and record breaking holiday sales.

I have had Christmas’s when I could not afford to buy a single gift. I know what it feels like when the Christmas I am celebrating is not the Christmas our culture describes. Radio, television, newspapers, grocery stores and shopping malls try to tell us that our greatest joy is found through purchasing, wrapping, and opening presents. Truth be told, I like to shop as much as anyone, and I enjoy giving and receiving presents. So, the year we couldn’t buy gifts challenged me to explore the meaning of Christmas while overcoming depression and sorrow over the circumstances of life, and make my peace with it.

The true gift of Christmas cannot be placed into a box and wrapped with paper and ribbon and bows. In that regard, both versions of the Grinch, tell that part of the story. That Christmas is found in the heart.

And, as Christians, the true gift of Christmas is made manifest in the one whose life we celebrate, the one who comes as the fullness of God’s love, to walk with us through this journey of life. To be with us in our joys and our sorrows, to be ever present in our life story.

Even when life is at its most challenging, whether we are crazy busy, or feeling bleak and hopeless, or excited, or bored, or whatever life feels like - we can, with a little intentionality, recognize the gift of life and the presence of God’s abiding love for us in every aspect of the Christmas story. It’s true that often God’s abiding love for us is made manifest in a simple act of kindness that you extend to someone, or they extend to you.

Into the darkness of a winter’s night, God gave all creation God’s most precious gift of love, Emmanuel – God with us, the Incarnation, the birth of Christ. The mystery of the Christmas story, of that precious gift of love, is a paradox – for the dark night is the source and the place of new life, of love, of God manifesting the fullness of God’s self into the world, as a humble, vulnerable, human baby.

In this Christmas season, let the compassion of God fill you with hope. May you recognize, in your life’s story, the gift of how deeply God loves you, just the way you are.

That’s my Christmas story, and I’m sticking with it.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Sometimes I just have let go. Last week, as if I couldn't get any busier, I did. By Saturday afternoon, when I sat down to write my sermon for Sunday morning, I was completely drained. I managed to write down a skeleton of a sermon and then let it go. Over night the sermon percolated in my thoughts and by morning I realized that I was going to preach without the text, filling out some of the pieces, and only using my iPad for the quote and conclusion. It worked fairly well. Particularly my idea to have all of us sit in silence for a minute or so. People seemed to appreciate that.

Yesterday included two worship services, including one where we blessed items for worship that were acquired from Memorial Gifts. This was followed by the "greening" of the church, a short break, writing my newsletter article, reviewing worship for Christmas Eve/Day, and officiating at a Lessons and Carols performance, led by a chorus from a local community college. It was a performance, not technically a worship service -so a bit odd to be the "Officiant", but filled with lovely music. Benjamin Britton, Kings College, Lessons and Carols. All told, another 13 hour day.

Today I am resting a bit. Soon I will clean and prepare for my son to arrive on Amtrak. He will be here for the week. Our daughter arrives next Sunday. I am looking forward to Christmas and then some time off.

If this week goes as planned it will be slightly slower than the previous 10 weeks. However, if there is one thing I have realized, life rarely goes as planned.

That's my week. What about yours?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tender Time

Goodness. Here we are, Advent Four, already!

I find that the season of Advent has flown by – from that first Sunday after Thanksgiving and the Sunday’s following when we celebrated the Rite 13 service and welcomed two young men into adulthood, and last Sunday with the flurry of celebration and activity that always accompanies a Bishop’s visit. Parish life has been full of celebration. It has also been a time of healing and tending to those who are ill. As it happens in life we have had a number of critically ill people this month, thankfully most of them are on the mend. We have E.P., who died yesterday after a long battle with leukemia and Alzheimer’s. All this busy-ness seems inevitable in Advent, a season in which we are called, paradoxically, to be still, to be quiet, to reflect on the various ways we come to know Christ in our lives.

Unexpectedly, I found myself, last night, sitting in silence. No television. No radio. No music playing. Sitting in the living room with the Christmas tree lights on, the gentle sound of the flames lapping in the fireplace, my dogs shifting on the area rug, the cat purring at my side. It was delightful to just sit and be still.

Where are you, at this point in the Advent season? Have you had more silence and solitude than you care for? Or are you, like me, overflowing with activity, yearning for a quiet moment to catch your breath? Take a moment, just to breathe…. Close your eyes, if you wish. Or pull out the piece of paper in the center of your bulletin and doodle, or write a note of gratitude on the abundance card in the pew rack. Just be still. After a moment of silence, I am going to share a short reflection by Caryll Houselander.

“When a woman is carrying a child she develops a certain instinct of self-defense. It is not selfishness; it is not egoism. It is an absorption into the life within, a folding of the self like a little tent around the child’s frailty, a God-like instinct to cherish, and some day to bring forth, the life. A closing upon it like the petals of a flower closing upon the dew that shines in its heart. This is precisely the attitude we must have to Christ, the life within us, in the Advent of our contemplation.
By his own will Christ was dependent on Mary during Advent: he was absolutely helpless; he could go nowhere but where she chose to take him; he could not speak; her breathing was his breath; his heart beat in the beating of her heart. Today Christ is dependent upon us.

This dependence of Christ lays a great trust upon us. During this tender time of Advent we must carry him in our hearts to where he wants to go, and there are many places to which he may never go unless we take him to them.” (The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander)

Houselander, known as a Christian mystic, was born in the early 1900’s and became a prolific writer and artist. Most of her writing speaks of Christ within each of us –ordinary, broken, imperfect, challenged, human beings.
The season of Advent is a time to ponder how it is that Christ is in and within us. Our reading this morning from Luke reminds us that God made a home in the body of Mary. Her willingness to birth God into the world brought forth the means by which God comes to heal us, to love us, to be present in and through our lives. Houselander reminds us that just as God resided in Mary, so God chooses to reside in us, that we can be the means through which God’s love continues to be poured into the world. Let us be attentive to God’s love in our breath, in our words, and in our actions.

May it be a tender time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Five: The Making a List, edition

Jan, over at RevGals, offers this Friday Five meme:

Ever since I was little, I heard that Santa is making a list and checking it twice. I can see why he has to keep checking it, because there is so much to do before Christmas! Only nine days left, and I don't have church services to plan, but there is much left to be done. My daughter-in-law tells me that she feels behind, which is how I have been feeling.

No matter how organized you are, there must be some things you still need to do. For this Friday Five, tell us five things on your Christmas "To Do" List. Include anything you have decided to skip doing this year. As a bonus, give us something that helps you remember why this season even exists.

1. My shopping is almost complete. I have had a big list this year, although most of my gifts are little "Thank-You's" to people who have done so much for the church and our ministry. I am in the midst of baking, wrapping, and signing cards as part of the thanking process. Most of that will be finished by Sunday, and then I can move on to wrapping gifts for family.

2. I hoped to send out Christmas cards this year....but I did not shop for cards early enough and now I can't find a set of cards that I like...so, I am still on the hunt for these.

3. Sermons and worship services - I have three sermons to write and several services to finish planning. Most of the services will be exactly what we have done before, but with a couple of small changes. Still, these require some focused attention, which I have not been able to give them.

4. Baking, cleaning, planning - for Christmas dinner with my kids. I'm looking forward to all of us sharing a meal. This year our meal will replicate Christmas with Busha and Papa. My father and mother in-law made a grand feast for Christmas. My FIL died about 14 years ago, and my mother-in-law died in August - so, even though we won't be with the entire family, our kids will be here and we'll celebrate life.

5. Resting. I have been very busy and it is on my list to rest....LOL

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

I'm recovering today from a lively, wonderful, intensely busy weekend due to the Bishop's visit and the nine people we confirmed. In the Episcopal Church the primary confirmation event takes place at baptism when the priest or bishop dips their thumb in holy oil, makes the sign of the cross on the forehead, and pronounces the person "marked" as Christ's own forever. This action of baptism and confirmation in one ritual recreates the rite from the ancient church. Then, taking into consideration that confirmation has already happened, the church offers an rite for young people and adults, to make a profession of faith reaffirming the statements made on their behalf at baptism.

Although it is not required, I offered a "confirmation preparation" retreat. At this retreat I used a "journal" with questions intending to help us unpack the Baptismal Covenant. So, for example, we reflected on the nature of sin, evil, dignity, justice, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We also made communion bread from scratch, with each person bringing an ingredient and all of us participating in mixing, stirring, kneading, rolling, cutting, baking, and freezing the bread. Then we used the communion bread in the worship service yesterday. We also have enough bread, in the freezer, for all of our services through Jan. 1.

This retreat was a mixed generation group - 7 young people between the ages of 15 and 17, and two adult men in their 60's (I'm guessing). I had a co-leader who is in his 30's, or 40's? And I am 54. In planning this retreat my co-leader and I thought it would be interesting to use a movie to spur our reflections - especially considering that some of the young people might not have real-life experience to draw on. So, we thought that using the movie "Crash" would get us there, with lots of examples that show sin, evil, dignity, integrity, loving our neighbor. It proved to be a good idea!

All of this was anchored in the Book of Common Prayer with a thorough review of what is in the BCP, and opportunities to use it to assist in our answers. We also went through the baptismal covenant and intentionally looked at the questions and response.

My hope through out the retreat was that those being confirmed would have an informed understanding of what they were really saying and confirming as their faith. I also hope that what we reflected on continues to shape and form and inform them every time we say the baptismal covenant.

It was delightful to host the bishop. He was really engaged with the people being confirmed - laid his hands upon their heads and looked them right in the eye as he said the prayer for confirmation. Following the service the bishop met with the vestry. We had lunch and a lively discussion. All in all, a good day.

Today I will enjoy a well earned day of rest. I intend to knit, walk the dogs, read, and do a little grocery shopping.How will you spend this day? Will you find time for rest this week and renewal? If so, what will you do?

Friday, December 09, 2011

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: the Random edition....

RevKarla over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

I don't know about you, but my life seems to have a lot of random surprises lately. Just little things, like the doggy who was rescued by a Good Samaritan from running into traffic, who then brought him to the police, who brought him to my neighbor's house. I took the doggy, now named Scout, to the vet on Monday, and the woman behind the desk said, "This dog looks so familiar. Were you here last week?" I told her no, that this particular dog is a stray, and she looked at me, and said (use your best Boston accent here), "Oh my GAWD! I rescued that dog on Satuhday! I took him to the police!" and then she proceeded to tell me the story. She was Scout's angel.

Random, right?

So, for our Friday Five, I invite you share five random things about you, or five random thoughts, or five random surprises in your life.

Just be random...

1. Lately I enjoy drinking the Yogi brand teas. I am fond of their "Relaxed Mind" - which is a lavender and sage blend and their "Stress Relief" - which is a curious blend of herbs that are calming and their "Revitalize" which is a mint and black tea blend. I also enjoy a cup of mixed mint tea (chocolate mint, peppermint, spearmint...) from an herbalist in Nova Scotia.

2. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. My ancestors were pioneers who travelled by wagon train to help settle the area. I moved away from SLC when I was nine and have visited occasionally in the years since. It is one of the most beautiful places to live.

3. My current home in Dearborn, Michigan is delightful. We really enjoy being here. The people are interesting, creative, intelligent, kind, invested in the world around them. There is plenty of culture and lots to do. Plus I can walk or ride my bike almost any where.

4. I have had several "careers" - I was a dance major in college and worked as a lighting designer for dance in the 1980's. I worked for a small non-profit theater in Chicago, but travelled once in awhile to NYC and Minneapolis. It was a tough time to work in the arts - regardless of what people think of President Regan, now - his economic decisions were not kind to the arts. Tired of long hours and little pay I left that position and went to work for an interior design firm. Our clients were some of the wealthiest in Chicago. That experience, in contrast to my work with the artists, put my values in perspective. After four years I left that job to became a stay-at-home mom. After our son was born (four years later) I became a massage therapist with a small private practice and a volunteer ministry in a local hospital offering massages to parents of sick children. That led me to discern a call to ministry. I never really imagined I would become a parish priest...but it is the best vocation for me! As a parish priest I am able to combine, in some capacity, all of my life work and experience into one...

5. For the first time, ever, I am knitting a sweater. As I do this I recognize how knitting socks has taught me a lot - and that learning how to knit this sweater is not so difficult! Of course I am only on the yoke - which is a very cute pattern of increases and decreases creating a puckered effect. We'll see how I feel about it when it's time to knit the arms....lol...I already have the local knitting experts on stand-by for frantic calls of help.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

It's a chilly, rainy morning here. I am sitting by a fire, Bach Adagio Christmas music is playing, the Christmas tree is lit, and the coffee is warm and delicious. I am grateful.

No doubt I am working hard. So much going on at the church! Every weekend brings some significant activity. This Sunday the Bishop will visit, and so we have a confirmation retreat planned for Friday night and Saturday day. I am working on collecting some movie clips to show examples of the baptismal covenant being lived out. We'll make communion bread, with each person bringing some of the ingredients. We have a journal to guide us, some of the work will be quiet, reflective writing, some will be group discussion. We'll share a couple of meals. The following week we are hosting a local choir for Lessons and Carols, and then it's Christmas.

We also three people in the hospital, all in serious condition. Actually they are in different hospitals about 30 minutes apart. I've been to the hospital six times in less than two weeks. I'll go again tomorrow.

In the midst of all of this I am trying to re-establish a pattern of self care. It is always so much easier for me to exercise and take care of myself in the summer. I tend to slip in winter - less inclined to go outside in the cold...and not so inclined to adapt my exercise to the indoors. But I am trying to do some core work and yoga every day. I figure even a little bit will be better than nothing. And, then of course, walk the dogs as the weather allows.

That's my week - preparing for confirmation and a Bishop's visit, tending to people in the hospital, and trying to establish a better pattern of self care. But first, I think I will have another cup of coffee, and perhaps read some of the book I have on loan from the library....

What about you? What does your week hold in store?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Taking Comfort in Angry Birds and other things that call me to pay attention

One of my favorite games on my old cell phone was Bejeweled – a puzzle game played by matching three colored jewels in a row. I was sad to learn that there is not a version of Bejeweled that will play on my new cell phone, nor on my iPad. So I’ve been on the search for mind games, other than solitaire. Many people recommend the game, Angry Birds. I have resisted this game, mostly because I didn’t like the title – Angry Birds – not wanting to endorse violence, even cartoon violence. So, I refused to get this game. Refused that is until the other night when I found a free version of it, and became instantly hooked on the game – finding it endlessly amusing. Essentially the puzzle offers a tower built of various materials – glass, wood, concrete – and within the tower are pigs, often dressed like construction workers. To the side is a huge sling shot from which one propels birds into the tower. The sound effects include the birds squealing with delight as they fly through the air, a resounding clunk as they crash, and the sound of falling debris. The silly cartoon effects are amusing. Within 24 hours Dan and I had played through all the levels of the free version, and we are now faced with the dilemma of actually purchasing a version.

A recent discussion on the internet focused on the portrayal of violence in books, on television, and in movies – and the potential that being confronted with violence is desensitizing us to real pain and harm. On the other hand hearing the stories of human beings who have lived through tragedy, like the stories told in the Women, War, and Peace, series, has the potential to deepen our awareness and enhance our compassion.

Our reading this morning from Isaiah is just such a story - the people have survived a tragedy and are coming to a new place of hope and healing. The book of Isaiah is an ancient text written by three different authors over the course of several hundred years. It tells the story of the people of Israel subject to violent wars by the super powers of the day – first the Assyrian Empire in the 8th century BCE, then the Babylonian Empire that dominated the country and enslaved the residents, and lastly the Persian Empire, who under the leadership of Cyrus, enabled the people of Israel to establish their own nation, Judah. But within this story of three hundred years of war, slavery, and violence, is a story about the faithfulness of God. God never leaves, never abandons the people.

This morning’ s reading comes at the end of the rule of Babylon and the beginning of the Persian Empire – or, about a 160 year gap between the events described in chapter 39 and the events in chapter 40. All the while the people of Israel have been slaves in Babylon, but are now finding themselves freed. Comfort, O comfort my people, cries God in the opening verses. Speak tenderly; know that God is present in the midst of trauma, violence, and suffering. God lives through the bleakness with us, holding us in God’s embrace and love. God’s calls each of us to be present to the suffering of others, to show compassion and love. God calls us to be the gentle encourager – reminding others that sometimes all one can do is take the next breath, or walk the next step – but that that is enough. Each moment in time takes whatever it takes to live through, a breath, a step, a hand to hold, the quiet presence of another, just being there. Comfort, O comfort my people, cries God.

Thinking about love, compassion, and the enduring presence of God reminds me of a book by Anita Diamant called, "Day after Night." This is a fictionalized story about four women, refugees from World War II Nazi invasions. The four women of this story: Tedi, Zorah, Shayndel, and Leonie all come from different places in the war – bound by virtue of their survival. Zorah is the only one of the four to have spent time in a concentration camp, Tedi was hidden in the Dutch country side, Shayndel, a Polish Zionist fought with the partisans, and Leonie was forced into prostitution in Paris. Each wonders how they survived when others they love did not. The book tells the story of the hard work required to recover from a trauma so intense they cannot even speak of it, let alone comprehend it. It’s a story of the work it takes to remember the past while moving into the future. It’s a story of rediscovering kindness, of holding in tandem love and grief, of comforting one another, of friendship. It’s a beautiful story of an agonizing journey from despair and brokenness toward hope, and a new life. Comfort, O Comfort my people, cries God.

Today’s reading from Isaiah reminds us that God commands us to be present with others, to be a source of compassion, kindness, love, and support. And it gives us clues how to do this – because God is present and doing these very acts within human life and suffering. What God is doing, and what we are called to do is: be present with others in their suffering. We are not called to solve the problems of others as much as we are called to listen and to be present. God’s call to compassion invites us to sit with the person, to hold their hand, and to be present without judgment. We are to speak tenderly, without condemnation or placing any kind of value statement on the condition of a person’s life, why and how they got there.

Sometimes the condition of our lives and the source of our suffering is the direct result of our own actions – and at other times it is the result of the actions of other human beings. And, so we are also called to examine our own lives and consider how our actions may be contributing to the suffering of others. We are called to consider how we are acting in ways that serve the well-being of all humanity, as an act of participating in God’s justice.

Never is our suffering the result of God doling out punishment or inflicting pain, disease, or disaster.

We are to remind others that God is present, God is faithful, and even when all signs are to the contrary, God is with us. And lastly we are to remember that God is actively working to transform the suffering and the tragedy of our individual lives, and the world, into new life, into hope, through God’s mercy and grace.

In a few moments we will celebrate a Rite 13 service, welcoming into adulthood, two members of our congregation – George and John. Over the years, as these boys have grown in faith and in age, we have helped to shape them, form and inform them as young men of faith. Today we celebrate that formation and welcome them into the next stages of their faith development as they grow into young men. It is our hope that they will continue to take on leadership roles in the church and that they will continue to be examples of God’s compassion in the world around us through their words and actions. Let each of us remember that we are the living hands and heart of Christ in the world, and what we say and do matters.

And so, perhaps it is less an issue of what books we read, music we listen too, movies we watch, or computer games we play, rather it is a matter of how we allow them to shape us – will be become insensitive and callous? Or will we understand more deeply and become more compassionate? Comfort, O comfort my people, says our God. Let us go and do likewise.

Resting on the Spiritual Porch

I have a good friend who is always late for everything. Whenever my friend and I schedule a date to get together I plan to arrive 15 minute...