This week, depending which way you turn, it looks like autumn or winter. One tree may still be full of scarlet, orange and yellow leaves, while another is almost empty. That’s a pretty good analogy for how I’m feeling today: grateful for so much love, grace and beauty in my life, struggling with the challenges and spaces where God is (or seems to be) absent.
Yesterday afternoon my son was taken by ambulance from his high school to the ER. He has a chronic health condition, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. However, the school administrator got confused and erroneously told me the medics had used a defibrillator! So, I drove the twenty minutes to Holy Cross fearing the worst. The good news is: they did NOT use a defibrillator, and my son was stable (thank God!) when I arrived. The bad news is: he’s unable to stand upright due to autonomic (blood pressure and heart rate) issues, and that’s not only scary it’s unacceptable (did you hear that God?).
So, though I rarely write about myself or my family (which is, generally, a good pastoral boundary), today I ask for your prayers. Tate could really use some bright autumn color in his life. He’s done with the empty branches. And so am I.
Our Sunday worship service will continue this theme of gratitude amidst life’s garbage. How do we focus on the good amidst the not-so-good (or downright bad)? How can we see all the beauty around us when, admittedly, there’s ample ugliness as well? How do we remember to thank God for our many blessings when it’s also true that we each face any number of challenges just being human, as my father would say, “on this mortal coil?”
In closing, I ask on behalf of our hard-working Cabinet (the officers and lay leaders of our church) that you make your 2018 pledge by this Sunday, November 19. The stewardship campaign officially ends on this date, and the more members who pledge by then, the less work the Cabinet has over the holidays! As you know from the pledge mailing, our 2018 budget calls for an 8% increase in pledge income, both to maintain the quality of our programming and to address the increasing number of repairs needed by our historic building. We are very grateful for your prayerfully considered contribution. Every bit helps!
I call this Mary Oliver’s “Thanksgiving Prayer:”
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
May you enter the doorway with praise and thanksgiving,
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Cabinet Meeting, 11/19—The bi-monthly meeting of our lay leaders will take place after worship on Sunday. All are welcome.
Poetry Hour, 11/19— Join us Sunday evening from 4-5 pm in the church parlor and bring one or two poems on any theme to read (with 8 copies to share). Friends are welcome! Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winter Warmth Drive for Friendship Place, thru 11/26—We’re collecting gently used winter coats, gloves, scarves, socks, hats, and blankets (along with new long underwear, L-XXL sizes preferred) now thru next Sunday, 11/26.
Secret Santas for Shaw Community Center, thru 12/10—Gift request tags are now in the parlor. Please take a tag, sign the sheet (so Ashley knows whom to contact) and bring your wrapped gift (with request tag attached) to church by Sunday, 12/10. Questions? email@example.com.
Advent Retreat, 12/9—We’ll meet from 9:30 am to 1 pm for this annual respite from holiday madness. Join Pastor Ellen for a morning of poetry, prayer, silence and spiritual reflection. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org.