Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas blog! Merry Christmas!

Blog for Christmas Week

As I sat in the Christmas Eve worship and looked out at the faces worshiping God with glory, praise and love.  I couldn’t help but see and think of the stories of the year: the people that were lost and no longer celebrating next to their families, the people who were going into 2014 without jobs and in general just the life that came to pass in 2013.  It is a very interesting parallel between the bright and awestruck wonder that our colorful Christmas full of beautiful and richly decorated gifts brings and the dull poor manger that the infant Jesus slept in on his first night of humanity.  You see, most of our life is spent in those dull moments – the mundane of the everyday when we are reminded, especially on the news, of just what kind of society we live in.  We live into the ordinary and in the dull.  And yet on Christmas we are reminded that out of the dull and ordinary God’s only Son was born – that out of the dull and ordinary God’s grace was revealed to the world.  That out of the dull and ordinary EXTRA-ORDINARY things can happen with God.

I know I have used that phrase in service before, but I think it is so important for us to remember.  Jesus our Lord and Savior was born on Christmas Day out of the love that God had for humanity and for offering the amazing gift of grace to ALL (not just a few, but all). 

As we reflect on our past year, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior let us not let the moments that seem dull or perhaps gloomy define us but instead remember the moments in which God’s love was felt, in which God’s grace was known, in which God’s mercy was given and in which God’s forgiveness was allowed.  For these are the moments in which our lives move out of the ordinary and into the realm of God’s Kingdom, the extraordinary. 

On Christmas Day an infant was born into a dull and ordinary life and yet from even the beginning hope was brought into the world.  Today we continue to celebrate all of his glory on Christmas.  When many put aside their doubt to spread love.  Where it is more than OK to be Christians.  Where THOUSADNDS pray at the dinner table this ONE time a year.  Where Jesus’ name is mention and the infant baby is remembered.  These are pretty extraordinary things, miracles perhaps. 

The spirit of Christmas is nothing more than the Holy Spirit working within and through us to spread God’s amazing love and grace to ALL.  The Christmas spirit is nothing more than millions of us being more open to the Spirit that works throughout the year to spread God’s love to all we meet. 

Let us remember this week that the birth of Savior, no matter how dull it may seem, brought with it miracles and love the continue to be spread now and every day! Amen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tis the Season to Hope


Russ and I have done a lot of dreaming in our years together; mostly wishful thinking with a dash of hope.  We realize that God is in lead of our life and in God lives our hope.  Children during this time of year write a letter to Santa asking for their hearts’ desire.  They are hopeful that on Christmas morning they will get some – if not all – the items of their wish list.  This hope is set in the guarantee that is the Santa story.  Santa brings you what you ask for.  Hope can be short lived if as a child Santa forgets your house several years. 

However, Christmas for us as Christians isn’t about asking Santa for what you want and receiving it. Instead it is about the birth of a baby who brought to us something we never knew we needed.  You see the hope that lies in the manger is not the same as the hope children but in Santa.  For this hope comes the knowledge that although we might not get what we ask for, we get what we need. 

NO one in Jesus’ day expected that the Messiah was to be anything like what Jesus was – they expected someone who would retake the earthly thrown of David.  They expected someone who was more military and more of a religious leader like they already knew.  Many couldn’t accept Jesus because he wasn’t what they expected.  BUT he was what the world needed.  The changes he made in the relationship between God and humans was so important – brining divinity and humanity together.  

Hope as a Christian is realizing that in God lives our hope.  Not that we hope in God – we hope in Santa – but that is not how we are to hope in God.  For God is bigger than a Santa story.  God is bigger then giving us all our hearts’ desires…for God is our hope and knows what we really need.  This holiday season as we strive to bring hope to others in new and exciting ways let us remember this.

I asked you this Sunday to think about how you can make hope this holiday for someone – allowing for a this hope to be long lasting and felt in throughout the year.  Perhaps it is in reminding people that God is not Santa but instead in God lives our hope and should we place it there we might not get everything we want but we get everything we need!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Let Us Unite

As the weather decided to bring a holiday storm, I decided to take the train to see my mom instead of driving.  The train from Penn Station (NYC) to FL was around 18 hours and luckily for me and the kids most of those hours were spent sleeping.  During our wait in Penn for our train, L kept on proclaiming that: “it looks like Christmas” and “I’m going to my grandmas for Christmas.”  As I tried to explain over and over that it was Thanksgiving and we were going there for Thanksgiving I could not convince her otherwise because “it looks like Christmas.”  She got it when we got into my mom’s house and it certainly wasn’t decorated for Christmas.  On Saturday we went into a Home Depot with my mom and L said “WOW there is a lot of Christmas in here!”
We are surrounded with Christmas and it seems like earlier and earlier each year.  This advent began by lighting the candle that represents unity.  The unity that Christ being the Prince of Peace and a Barrier Breaker brings to the world. 
As I watch Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies this season, there is one theme that is pretty common throughout the plots – unity.  Often in these movies people are reunited as a Christmas miracle or perhaps people break down their walls that they keep as barriers to the world and finally find love.  Either way, during the Christmas season, we set our hearts up to be open to the miracles that God brings and more importantly we open ourselves up to the true gift that is a Christ child. 
Let us this week reflect on the UNITY that Christ wants to bring to our lives and allow the Prince of Peace to break down the barriers that we as humans build and insist on.
Let us unite in this goal.

Friday, November 22, 2013


The big “thing” or fad on Facebook right now is the challenge for every day in November to write something you are grateful for.  If you all remember I challenged you to do this for the 40 days after Easter leading up to Pentecost.  And the interesting thing is that most of these posts are very general, in fact if I was to categorize them I would say they are: list of people, usually spouses or children; extended family; weather; money; jobs; you get the picture.
I have been challenging us on Sundays to share an grateful or giving moment we experienced in that week that showed God moving in our lives. I could give up on this, but I shall not…for I believe you are all experiences God.
The realization I have come to is that we are not doing enough self-examining.  As a society and as individual we are so caught up in our busy lives – in our technology that keeps us connected, in the mindless television that doesn’t miss an hour and in our 9-5 jobs.  We have completely forgotten how to really look at our lives and not only examine but see where there is room for thankful hearts.  We also in this world of connectedness get ourselves lost in the mindset of: “well mind isn’t important” 
BUT you are important! As is your story!  As is where God has helped you!  These things all matter.  No matter how “insignificant” your experience may feel, it not only matters to God but it could mean the WORLD to someone else.
On Facebook this week I also read this, it didn’t have to do with the November days of thanksgiving, but was instead a true story of blessing and encouragement.  A friend ran out of gas getting off an exit.  He knew he was low but was running on fumes “in order to get to a cheaper gas station” He thought he had enough but he was wrong.  It was kind-of cold as he began his walk to the gas station.  He wasn’t 5 feet in front of his car when someone pulled over and offered him a ride.  On the ride to the gas station he found out that this person was a traveling pharmaceutical sales person and was on his way to his next appointment, right across from the gas station.  After he filled the gas tank the young sales person drove him back to his car.  On the ride back, he found out that he was adopted through Catholic Family Services when he was a young kid and it was this family that helped him overcome some pretty tough challenges. 
God is a glorious God.  This friend has adopted several children and several who struggle each day.  His hope is that he is impacting their lives.  He also was very thankful to have had a ride instead of having to make that walk. 
His story is profound, his story is impacting other’s lives and I’m thankful that he shared it.  He could have shared he was thankful for strangers but instead he shared this beautiful story.  He could have decided that this story wasn’t very significant because really it only showed his own foolishness in running out of gas, but instead he let the voice in the story be heard.
Let your own voice be heard.  Examine your day and be thankful – be proud of your thanksgiving – that God does amazing and glorious things in our lives.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Each month we collect 2-cents a meal on the last Sunday during worship.  Our children going around collecting the change and with excitement bring it to the front.  I assume the older children understand what the big picture is to this, especially since I see some bring coins from home; but I have never given much thought to how the little children experience this.
Yup, confession of a Pastor / mother.  I haven’t really done a lot to talk to L about this practice, even when I remember to bring in our change.  Recently we were having dinner with friends who are also clergy and who have children.  At their dinner table is a house shaped piggy bank in which they collect coins for the poor.  I immediately thought I clearly wasn’t doing something right and should start this practice with our children before they get too old.  But as we were preparing to sit down and participate in their “dinner ritual” L quickly picked up on what was going on and wanted money to put in the house for the poor, adding that we should bring it to church on Sunday.  Later when we were home, she found a coin and asked if she could bring it to church for the poor.
Our children are incredible and they can teach us the power of God’s love every day.  Mostly out of the blue.   Things might seem like they don’t understand or cannot figure out faith until they are older but children understand more then we know.  They are truly gracious and generous souls. 
Sometimes the 2cents can feel like a “last minute” thing that we just “remembered” and some Sundays it is.  Some Sundays we may wonder why we still do it…but the truth is that it means more than just the food that goes to feed the needed; it means helping our children understand giving; it means reminding each of us that even something that feels like a chore can have meaning and a reminder that God works even in the ordinary. 
God is working in each of our Sunday services, present and through the Spirit working in and through all of us.  God is working to help our children understand, even if we adults fail to, the ways of love and grace.  Let us all work at giving to God with such joy our lives so that we may truly be working in generous and gracious souls to bring the Holy to all we meet.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Yup...I'm Going there...

So usually I don’t go there, I don’t do stewardship campaign.  Partly because of two bad experiences and partly because as the Pastor I don’t like to know who gives what.  When I was in high school we had been attending a church we had decided to become a member of, after this we did not join.  They asked people to turn in their taxes and then “helped” you by sending you a statement of what you should give.  If you didn’t pledge that, that weren’t happy.  The other experience came when Russ and I moved to Rochester and started attending a church.  We had been asked to help teach a high school class but we could not become members.  On our third Sunday we were handed a box of envelopes, hmmm that seemed a bit soon and pushy.  I decided then, stewardship was not for me.
But here we are in the middle of stewardship season and I can’t help but think I need to write something.  You see Huron has had an amazing year, despite the difficult decisions you have made, you have grown in the number of worshipers, you have grown in the outreach programs and in our building usage.  We are an expanding congregation as families are bringing children to our Sunday school programs and our Monday night worship.  And prices of things are not going down.  In fact, with the price of gas and general living expenses most of us have had to change our lifestyle in the last few years.  This year, I want you to pray and think about your giving. Not because I am trying to pressure you into giving more or handing you giving envelopes before you are ready – but because I care about our congregation and all that we do. 
If we truly want to live into “continued ministry” and not just remembering our past ministry then we need to use funds to keep our building up (heat, electricity, ect…) and to keep our worship meaningful. We need to strive in every way to come together and pass along our blessings to others through the Golden Oldies, Easter Party and various fellowships.  We are an amazing family that comes together during trails to pray for each other, lean on each other and offer comfort.  Let us continue this by thinking and praying about what we can give to our church. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fill up

I had a youth who looked forward to the mission trips he was able to take every summer because they “filled” him up.  Although Sunday mornings and some youth group events help to fill him spiritually he would slowly but surely feel his spiritual meter sink through the year and get recharged every summer.  I worried about him as he “left” youth group and went off to college as he wouldn’t have this time to be filled up anymore.  I hoped that he would find something else or some other way to fill him up…I don’t believe he has and he doesn’t attend church regularly. 
This sounds like a classic case and in fact I just read in a book a quote from an older church member saying that it is not only expected but anticipated that youth leave the church right after college and that’s ok because once they are settled they will come back – but you see that was the churches mistake…they are not coming back.   These youth – from Russ’ generation down, left during their college years and yet are remarkably missing now that they have settled down, had children and are comfortable in their lives. 
You see today what is missing for people – young and old is that spiritual fulfillment and for each it will come differently.  For some it may come in more physical forms and others more mission work. What is great about this is we have several different churches around the world because we get our spiritual fulfillment differently.  The big key is finding yours…
So this week and into next think about what fills you up…what keeps you going when the goings get rough? 
I can tell you that for me it is simple – meditation.  Just sitting in the silence and lifting everything up to God knowing that if I am still enough I will know God’s presence.  And for me, those moments fill me up for a crazy day…