Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Toys And Resolutions

It is New Year's Eve and instead of the usual hustle and bustle in our household as we prepared for guests, some of them overnighting with us, and the New Year's Eve party that we traditionally held, we are having a quiet day.  I am playing with a new toy and trying to figure out how it far so good.  I have added my kobo app and my email app and now I am figuring out how to access my blog!  Finding it was easy and quite by accident I found the post challenge is to be able to access this page again!  So this new toy?....well it's an iPad mini...don't ask the model I've no clue.  It was my gift this year for Christmas.

So I have a new toy that can slip in my handbag for a multitude of tasks.  New toys are always fun to play with and Christmas certainly brings a variety of toys to all ages.  I like a certain practical aspect to my toys and this one will definitely be a winner.  Compact and multi purpose what more could I need...well a tutorial won't go astray!

As I quietly sit here playing, and hopefully learning, it is also a time to reflect of the past year and the hopes for the new year which is upon us.  We have let go of an old and cherished tradition of a house party and will be having dinner with friends.  We will watch fire works from the backyard and have a much quieter ringing in of the new year.    It is hard to let go of a cherished tradition but we will still be making memories and celebrating together.

New toys and resolutions sometimes mean that we move on and forget about what came before or what brought so much enjoyment.  However I think it is more important to regard it as an adding on to skills learned and memories made.  So while I have a new toy to make my life simpler the old ones are still valued and while we start 2016 in a new manner there are many treasured memories that we also carry with us.  New toys and resolutions remind us that we continue to grow and learn and look forward to what is on the horizon of a new year.  As you head into 2016 I hope you find yourself challenged with new toys, thoughts and growth while you continue to cherish the memories that you have made.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Falling Behind

An apt title for this post as I noticed my writing has been a little lax for the last few months.  So as I sit here  in my Christmas apron, listening to Christmas music I figured that it is time to write before Christmas Eve and day hit! A friend asked me on Saturday when my marathon of services would begin,  I replied that it would be the very next day when I had 3 services and so it would be for Christmas Eve as well.

However in the midst of what may well appear to be a marathon, this past Sunday  I traveled to St. Matthew's (my third congregation) where we concluded the services for 2015 with what has become a tradition in the congregation, the Service of Carols and Lessons.  It is undoubtedly one of my favourite places to have this service.  A tiny church (it holds about 50 people) situated on a prairie field in the country. Heated with a wood stove.  Candles burning. And then the service starts with the old familiar carols and the beautiful retelling of the Christmas story by a variety of parishioners and visitors. The crackling fire, candles glowing and everything pure and white with the snow  some how makes the service even more special.  It somehow sets the tone of the season that we are about to enter into.

While I felt like I had fallen behind because I had not done all of my usual preparations and baking I realized with this service at St. Matthew that I am right where I need to be at this time.  Not bogged down with all that has not been accomplished but remembering what is important in this season and that is being ready for the welcome of the Christ into our midst again.  My question became, not what do I have left to get done but, am I ready?  Did I use the four weeks of advent to prepare myself for what it is we are celebrating this season?  Hope, Peace, Joy, Love were the themes to help us prepare ourselves for the coming of the Messiah.  It is easy to fall behind in the daily tasks that we set for ourselves the important thing is that we have spent the time wisely on the things that are important and that our time has been well spent getting ready and preparing in the most important way ... preparing ourselves to receive the most important gift the gift of God's Love.  Have a wonderful Christmas season.

Once upon a Christmas far away in Bethlehem
Mary being great with child had no place to lie down
So Joseph found a stable in which Mary had her child
Once upon a Christmas was the birth of Jesus Christ

Once upon a Christmas in a manger far away
A King was born His palace was a manger filled with hay
His royal robe was swaddling cloth a halo was His crown
Once upon a Christmas away in Bethlehem
And all the world rejoiced because the King was born at last
A savior had been promised now it had come to pass
And the joyful news that He was born spread quickly far and wide
Once upon a Christmas was the birth of Jesus Christ

Once upon a Christmas from the Far East wise men came
With gold and myrrh and frankincense to praise the newborn King
And shepherds left their flocks and came to see and worship Him
Once upon a Christmas away in Bethlehem
And all the world rejoiced because the King was born at last
A savior had been promised now it had come to pass
And the joyful news that He was born spread quickly far and wide
Once upon a Christmas was the birth of Jesus Christ

Once upon a Christmas far away in Bethlehem

 Dolly Parton - Once Upon A Christmas Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Feeling the Blues?

In the midst of all of the preparations that are taking place and the rushing around that people will do as well as the normal daily events and work it is sometimes difficult to realize that not everyone is into the festivities and that the song Blue Christmas rings closer to the truth than Jingle Bell Rock.  What is it about the Christmas season in particular that increases the blues and depression for countless numbers of people?  Some will say that the shorter days and longer nights, colder weather have an impact.  Others feel the loss of loved ones keenly.  Many are intensely lonely and that somehow magnifies at Christmas when friends are eagerly looking forward to going home for the season or conversely looking forward to family members coming to spend it with them.  It is a tough season filled with very mixed emotions. 

We know that it is impossible to get far in life without being hurt and feeling pain.  The wounds that life gives us can run deep.  In order to safeguard and protect ourselves we build walls and resistance to love, become less trusting and isolate ourselves.  Then we wonder why we feel sad? Add to that a season of merriment, celebration and gatherings of friends and countless parties and the loneliness and sadness that is felt is magnified –after all everyone else is so happy!  That in turn increases the loneliness that we might feel.  We are reminded though by our very inclusion in events that it is through friends, faith we can start to feel better and whole once more and with their help we learn to open ourselves up again.  We learn to become compassionate and willing to let people be a part of our lives once more.  We heal!  It does not mean that we have forgotten what has wounded and saddened us it simply means that we are moving forward, making new memories to build on the old ones.  In means that new joy can be found in the midst of the sadness that has become a part of our very essence.

The “spirit of this season” brings with it mixed emotions for many people.  I would encourage each and every one of us not to not gloss over the pain, loss or loneliness as it is a part of us and makes us uniquely who we are.   However, I would encourage each of us to be willing to be open to the new experiences, new memories that can be built and grown and to be open to those who invite us to be a part of and share in the festivities so that a new spirit can begin to grow in us.  

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Asking the right questions

As I listened to the meditation talk on Monday entitled Jesus the Teacher Lawrence Freeman emphasized that the answers are not as important as the questions.  He emphasized that a good teacher knows that the important thing is to have their students ask questions.   When we consider that the emphasis is usually on whether one has or knows the answer it forces you to re-evaluate how you look at things.  The question was raised what is the good of knowing the answer if you do not truly understand the question.   Answers in and of themselves are sometimes not  enough.  The example that was offered was that of a student that struggled with math.  The student and his friends discovered that the teacher’s book contained the answers in the back and they further determined that there must be more than one of these books in existence.  After some searching they were able to turn up another teacher manual which contained the answers to the questions and they bought it.  Suddenly the math marks were greatly improved, until they got different questions.  Having the answers was no good when the formula was not understood and the question as obscure as ever.
It is important to grapple with questions and it is fine to sometimes not have the answer.  Questions lead us on a peculiar journey and force us to look at ourselves as well as struggle with the answer or the outcome.  The answer is not always the same (unless it is math) as the question will be understood differently by each person and will have a different meaning for each person.  Monday’s talk, Jesus as teacher, said that he was generally referred to as teacher, rabbi by many who encountered him and who still encounter him.  Now consider his question to the disciples “Who do YOU say that I am?”  Since it is not the answer that is important but the question I hear a different emphasis on the “You.”  It becomes a personal question and not merely a question tossed out to the disciples on that particular day and in that particular conversation.  It is a question to be struggled with and the answer – well it could be Peter’s, or what some of the general public were expressing.  The question though is still one for personal reflection.  After thinking about what others say then ask how would I answer? 

This was also a timely question as this week’s confirmation class talked about “Who is Jesus” and the answers of the young people were statements of fact about, birth, baptism, ministry, death and resurrection.  After much discussion I asked them to write in a few lines “Who is Jesus for you.”  I am always pleasantly surprised by their answers and the deep thought that they are giving to our discussions.  The answers were not text book perfect, nor were they the proclamation of Peter but they continue to grapple with the importance of this question and reflect on how it will impact on them as they continue to grow and be at their best.

The answers, as important as they are to us, are not as important as the questions.  In this season of Advent as we prepare the way for the kingdom of God it is a timely question for us to ask of ourselves “Who do YOU say that I am?”  …and the answer…well the answer is yours!