7th Day of Christmas – The Gift of Memory

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

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The banners in church serve to remind me where I need to place my hope.

Presbygeeks – Joy and Thanksgiving

This post is for those other Presbygeeks who read my blog.

The last Presbytery meeting I attended before leaving Texas was a special called meeting to vote on what to do about the First Presbyterian Church of Longview. The session had voted to leave the denomination, although there was a significant portion of the membership who wanted to stay. At the urging of the remnant who wished to remain in the PC(USA), the Presbytery dissolved the session and took the congregation under care. (I mentioned this in passing on the blog I wrote as we were packing to be ready to leave Dallas.)

At the last Presbytery meeting, we voted to dismiss those who wished to leave to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (another reformed body). We also voted to give the property to the remaining members. (You can read all the details here.)

That was one of the hardest, most gut-wrenching meetings I have ever attended, and I have carried that church in my heart and prayers to this day.

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You can imagine my joy and thanksgiving when I saw the headline in Grace Presbytery’s newsletter,

First Presbyterian Church, Longview:
Thriving one-year later

Once more the Spirit moves, and I stand in awe!

Gratitude

The sermon this morning was about gratitude, and how we should view the world through the lens of thankfulness. Apparently the Holy Spirit kicked me in the tushie a week too early, because that was exactly the thought I came up with last week.

I was entranced with the website thxthxthx.com when the preacher showed some of the posts this morning.

Leah Dieterich’s mother always told her to write thank you notes. So she does. To everything. thxthxthx is her daily exercise in gratitude.

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Unfortunately, the following note is post on the top of this page (dated in late 2012).

If you miss thxthxthx

Make sure to like me on Facebook and follow me on twitter (links on the right side of this page). I’m still posting all kinds of thx notes there, but will not be updating this site regularly. thx you so much!

I wish I had known about this site when it was active, but I can still go back and read some of the lovely little notes she has written in the past. I hope you, gentle readers, enjoy her gratitude as much as I have.

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At the Aquarium in NOLA

This photo is part of the Lenten Photo-A-Day Challenge.

Without the SHADOW, how would we appreciate the light?

It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly. — Madeleine L’Engle

The lectionary passage that spoke especially to me today was from Romans 5:3-5

3 …we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

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Mark Yaconelli Workshop

This photo is part of the Lenten Photo-A-Day Challenge.

Those of you who know me, or have followed this blog for a while, know that the Holy SPIRIT is the person of the Godhead that I identify with most closely. Here are a couple of posts about Her appearance in my life. Spirit of the Living God and Jessica – A Fable

The lectionary passage that spoke especially to me today was from John 3:34b

34  for he gives the Spirit without measure.

Birding the Sanctuary

Pastor Sarah received lots (and lots and lots) of origami cranes from a colleague in Virginia Beach. That congregation folded them for Pentecost last year, after they received some from a congregation in Florida who folded them in response to September 11th. It’s sort of a chain-letter of peace cranes!

Last week several of us got together to put them in the sanctuary at Bethany Pres as decorations for the Season of Creation.

For the last couple of months we have had a rainbow across the congregation.

First we had to bring in the strings and strings of cranes.

and try to keep them from tangling.

Then we had to lower the rainbow (I know you were all wondering how on earth we got it up there in the first place. The secret is revealed)

…and we had to unattach it from the balcony railing…

After almost losing my religion trying to tie knots and swivels on 30+ feet of fishing line, and attaching the cranes to it, they took flight!

Then came a time of adjustment and rehanging after examination from all angles.

Some of the cranes just didn’t fit, so they were returned to storage, temporarily.

They’re fluttering and flying over the congregation bringing the Spirit of Peace to the church.

They’re swooping and flying over the cancel.

The Spirit hovers…

…and some find a rest near the cross…

 

Spirit of the Living God

I went to a workshop at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church today, led by Mark Yaconelli. He did a workshop here a couple of years ago and was such a hit we had him come back. His title was Living Without Anxiety in an Anxious World.

First we started out with learning about, and practicing Centering Prayer. He said there was really no way to “do it wrong,” just to let ourselves be open to God’s working in the silence. I learned about Centering Prayer a couple of years ago at a conference on Spiritual Practices, and have kind of adapted it to myself. I usually say the Holy Spirit takes a shower with me in the mornings. As I stand under the running water, I just let my mind go. Often during that time God speaks to me and gives me encouragement and often gives me tasks to do – later when I get out of the shower. After I get out, I usually just wrap up in a towel and sit on the edge of the bed looking out the window into our little patio. We have a wren who has been very busy building a nest and now feeding babies in our garage, so I get to watch her flitting back and forth with the choice bugs for her nestlings. I often take fifteen or twenty minutes just sitting there appreciating God.

After a break, Mark had us each get some Play-Doh, and just play with it, while asking our souls what they needed. I discovered my soul was a terrible punster, because it insisted I realize I needed to be needed while I kneaded the Play-Doh. After I squelched that giggling voice, I found myself shaping a cup and the song Spirit of the Living God began playing in my head. You remember that song, it goes,

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me,

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Then we split up into groups of three or four and talked about what we were feeling while we were playing with the clay, and I told my little group that I kept singing that song over and over to myself while I made my little soul-cup. We talked a little in the big group about what we were feeling, and then Mark had us bring our little soul sculptures and place them around the base of the cross.

Finally, we all joined hands in a circle around the cross and our sculptures, and Mark said, “To close, let’s sing Spirit of the Living God. Can someone start it for us?” Of course, I began singing right away, because after all, the Holy Spirit had been singing it in my ear for the past hour.

I just wish She would give me some warning when She’s going to show up like that. She makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when She does it!