Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dr. Seuss


I've never kept a plant alive longer than a year. They wilt, lose leaves, and even the succulents develop strange growths or seem to cave in. I'd all but given up hope of keeping anything alive: a plant, a pet, a child. The only thing I am capable of nurturing is mold in the shower, but I'm too much of a neat freak to let that happen.

I married my opposite in many ways and, fortunately, he happens to be a green thumb. He adopted all the plants I was failing in Arizona and now they happily thrive. Even this China Doll plant my roommates and I neglected and left for dead is perky and reaching for the sky. We call him Dr. Seuss because he's gawky and scraggly, growing in one direction and then changing his mind.

Most of our plants are funny looking because they have died and been resurrected, veering from their original size and shape to become something new and strange in a second life. With the weather turning colder, all the plants have found their way in from the porch. They sit in sunny corners of our small house, peaking toward windows and bringing a bit of summer to our winter igloo.

I'm grateful for these funny looking plants because they are daily reminders of second chances and new life. As we wait this Advent, a new beginning, may you stretch and peak into the sunlight wide awake in anticipation. God is about to send new life into the winter cold and the cozy corners of our homes, exceeding all expectations.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lil' Techie

Today our new, updated church website went live!

It's been a fun project this fall. Taking pictures, writing content, and helping the webist design the layout was a great way to gage what I'm learning about my new congregation - our people, our community, and God's mission for us.

There are a few more things to do before it's complete and all the links work, but it's up and running with lots of information.

Check it out! www.stjohnsmpls.org

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rest, huh?

On Mondays I rest and celebrate being only sometimes useful to God. I step away from my professional role and trust that life and church continue without me for 24 hours. It feels good.

I do a variety of uninteresting things with my day. This morning I went to the gym and did my no-nonsense-thirty-minute-lift workout. Later I stopped by my parents' house and picked up my dad for a few hours of fun. He's cooped up recovering from knee surgery and likes to get out and about when there's a willing driver and some time to spare.

He spent last Monday asking me if I had anywhere else to be, concerned that my day would be more hectic or less efficient because of him. I would just smile and try to explain that Mondays have nothing to do with stress or efficiency.

Normally, I relish Mondays and the relief they bring. I wander and nap, graze and enjoy the quiet of a day alone. But today is the first time I'm having difficulty separating myself from the tasks of Pastor and Church. This holiday week brings much to do and few days for work. Being new and excited about everything on the horizon makes it even harder to tune out for a day!

So I publicly confess to you that tonight I will be making Advent Calendars for my Sunday school kids, but I'll be crafting in front of very trashy reality television. I will draft a stewardship letter, but I will do so in sweatpants while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate while my husband studies in the next room.

While these things should and can wait for tomorrow, I will thank God for gifting me a vocation and sending me to a congregation I adore. I will be grateful for work that challenges and puzzles me. And I will listen to God convict me with his laughter as I try to justify my antsy, Type A, sabbath passion to myself and to you. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nooks


When I'm in the right mood. When I have my eyes opened to the details of familiar places. When I'm defeated. When I need my faith bolstered by another. In these moments I notice the nooks in life that bring great hope and happiness to my day.

Earlier this fall, I noticed this bench along the parkway. Unlike others overlooking the river, this one has been adorned with sweet signs of fall and it draws people in. Whether I'm driving or running by, I watch people gravitate towards it's beauty and the view it offers. They sit and take a break from the plan, the route, the day. A pumpkin, fall berries, and a stalk of corn created unsuspected beauty for all to share.

Those blessed to stumble by this nook approach the bench as though the experience itself contains great value. What a simple thing! As the holiday season approaches, I wish for little nooks that bring true and simple joy. Malls will fill and decorations will surround, but my prayer is that we can note the nooks that bring clarity amid the rush. And may we remember to create these places for others along the way as well.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rise Up, O Saints of God

Two years ago, I woke up in Arizona to find the sky filled with hot air balloons. It was All Saints Sunday, but a local balloon festival was preaching resurrection well before I arrived at church. That image is hard to forget, colors rising and people slowing to stare at the heavens in awe.

This morning we awoke with an extra hour of sleep to sunny skies and fall colors that refuse to fade into winter just yet. I slipped under a chasuble for the first time, blanketed in white and prepared to read the names of those we have lost this year. There was much to do before the service and, for the first time since arriving at St. John's, I didn't think to wish for filled pews and new faces.

I couldn't stop smiling during worship because the kids poured up front for the children's sermon and the choir boasted a few more voices than usual. There were a lot of people here! Was it the extra sleep or the warm weather that brought these saints? Or was it the Spirit, visiting us in our dreams and blowing through autumn?

The crowd was a dear reminder that, regardless of the number in the pews each week, our voices join with all the saints across space and time. Sometimes we feel small, but we are part of something vast and dynamic in the world. Made whole in the Body of Christ, our prayers rise like desert balloons, colored brightly and dancing together.