Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Do I think it's silly? Yes.
Do I think they should still be called Christmas trees, rather than holiday trees? Yes.
Mainly because that is what they are. We don't call them Autumn costumes, we call then Halloween costumes because that is what they are.
This year more than ever I find myself not just craving a boundary between the sacred and the profane, but taking the next step and using the energy it takes to make one. I just stopped myself short from correcting someone today when they asked my son what he wanted for Christmas. Two weeks ago when a store clerk told him to go ahead and ask for big candy for Christmas because Christmas was coming soon, I responded reflexively, "No, it's not."
It was easier to make my case because he still had Halloween candy at home. Also, I conceded to her that she was staring at mega-Christmas displays all day long so I understood.
If my 4 and a half year old starts getting wound up for Christmas a month or more away from the event how could it possibly live up to that kind of expectation and build-up? I don't want Christmas season to start because Walmart says it did.
There are many different holidays and events going on right now - the ones that impact my life boil down to two:
1) The culture's winter festival that goes by the name of Christmas and involves family visits, food, the exchanging of presents, greeting cards and winter festival specific decorations.
2) The traditions and rituals of my faith that mark the birth of the Messiah; an annual reminder of the world being turned upside down and the eternal light that makes sure that the darkness doesn't stand a chance.
I am for both of these. The stores help #1. They seriously get in the way of #2.
So all the better that in their greetings to me they use language that separates them from the Holy.
Happy Holidays! I will decorate my home, look forward to exchanging presents, welcome family and friends with open arms and bake some fun things and as best as I can I will do those things on my schedule and at my pace.
Merry Christmas! I will light the Advent candles and read the Advent devotional and lead worship through the end of November, December and into January declaring the Good news of the One who was and is and is to come!
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward (all).
Friday, November 20, 2009
Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.
--Ginger Andrews (from Hurricane Sisters)
So this Friday before Thanksgiving, think about Aunt Bert and how she'll celebrate Thanksgiving! And how about YOU?
1. What is your cure for the "mulleygrubs"?
Coffee and couch. Or little boy hugs.
2. Where will you be for Thanksgiving?
My brother-in-law's parents' house about 3 hours away.
3. What foods will be served? Which are traditional for your family?
We were there a couple of years ago and it was pretty traditional fare. The two traditions in our family that are different from some are creamed onions and red cabbage.
4. How do you feel about Thanksgiving as a holiday?
I think that any day that offers a significant opportunity to take pause and give thanks is an increasingly important one.
5. In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for?
That my father has been able to meet and be with both of his grandsons.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I taught a Living Simply: Advent & Christmas Sunday school class over 3 weeks at the end of October and into November and now I am trying to practice what I taught. My family is hoping I never teach a class on why Jesus didn't like beer or ice cream (for the record, I would never teach that class).
Leaving my family out of it, what I tend to do is run out of time to be creative and so I spend a lot of money by default on Christmas presents that are usually fun but not always practical (Guitar Hero for the couple about to welcome a newborn? Duh). I also have realized that the most precious commodity for me is time - it's the one thing we can't get back - and since it is our year to have my sister, brother-in-law, and their munchkin with us for a week during the holidays I would rather spend time with them and with my Mom and my son than just about any other gift you could get me (unless you were going to get me a pick-up truck, but that is a post for another day).
And then there is this....
There is something to this.
$450 billion spent on Christmas, an estimated $10 billion to improve everyone's water supply?
I'm pretty sure I am not the only one who would rather be a part of the $10 billion solution, rather than the $450 billion problem.
In previous years I have made something for the deacons and the elders. More than once this meant baking until the very early hours.
In the last couple of years I bought ornaments at Ten Thousand Villages for everyone. It cut down on the hours I was putting into the baking and the feeling I always had that probably up to half of my efforts were thrown out because I know I cannot keep up with all of the food goodies that are brought to me during the holidays.
Now I have a bigger board of Deacons and a Session 3x the size so I'm going to buy an animal through Heifer International in their names and give them a gift card letting them know.
It's not $10 billion in fresh water, but it's something.
As for my family I am trying to be creative and not in a 'look I made you a sock puppet' way but more of a 'I really put a lot of thought into this' way.
The good news is I have a plan and it is starting to come together. But I think one or two of them may read this blog so the unveiling will have to wait.
What are some creative ways you have of not getting caught in the trappings of Christmas?
Friday, November 13, 2009
There were 30 minutes of the presenter and a lot of what he said was helpful and stuff I maybe even knew but hadn't been applying. I mean how many times have I seen or heard the example of how when you fill the jar with little stones then there is no longer room for the big rocks. Start with the big rocks.
It was a good reminder though because for instance, worship planning is a big rock and if you keep answering emails and fielding phone calls and doing this little thing and that little things suddenly you no longer have time for worship planning. So it gets pushed to the next day, rinse, repeat.
Another thing I realized is that I am on target in that I schedule my days BUT I schedule them on Sunday night. Every night I need to take a look at the next day and tweak it to reflect what was left undone or another big rock that may have come my way. Also, I need to leave more flex time in the schedule and be a little more gentle with myself. If everything is timed down to the minute and there is no buffer built in between tasks, of course I'm going to get behind. Life in ministry is not a well-oiled machine.
And if I have a 2 hour meeting, then don't schedule sit-down work after it. I can't concentrate and I will just sit there losing my mind and getting frustrated at myself. Put something else (a visit?) in that time slot.
I realize this is not riveting, revolutionary stuff but a few of you asked me to share and so I did.
Also, I have some pretty amazing colleagues in ministry.
That is all. :)
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I now know why so many in the generation before me (okay, mostly men) lost themselves in their 60+ hour church work week leaving their spouses (okay, mostly women) and children to fend for themselves. Didn't Paul AND Jesus warn us about trying to have families in the midst of this ministry thing?
I want to be ahead so that our church musician and associates have plenty of time to prepare their pieces in worship and liturgy can become more creative, rather than typed into the bulletin straight from a book due to time constraints.
I want to pick my head up from the demands of the urgent in order to see the visions and dreams of the future.
I want to visit with folks in the congregation when they're not in the hospital so that I will be a person of trust when crisis comes.
I want to meet consistently with my staff members corporately and individually so that we have a foundation of trust to work together in good times and in bad.
I want to start rebuilding pieces of the foundation of this church's ministry that are missing so that we can make bolder leaps into who it is God is calling us to be.
I want to understand the Treasurer's report. (I get pages 1-4, but 5-6 continue to befuddle me. And I think the Treasurer likes it that way :)
I also want to get to the gym.
I want to continue the process of transforming this new house into a home.
I want to get back in touch with my long, lost friends by phone rather than facebook and twitter and an occassional text.
And most importantly I want to raise and love my son.
i don't want much, really. ::shakes head knowingly::
I realize my wants are right on target with all of us living our lives and our vocations as faithfully as possible. As I've begun the conversation with the leadership of the congregation about the difference between what is important (just about everything) and what are our priorities, I've realized that this is an exercise that could help me in my own mission - personal and professional. I should sit down and figure out what those priorities are.
If only I had the time.