Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Son of God, Son of Man... Sudden Insight.

Hello dear Water's Edge team!

First, a quick reminder that we will NOT be holding services at Water's Edge this Sunday, December 25, 2011. On that Christmas Sunday, please consider attending the 9:30am or 11 am service in the main sanctuary. We'll return to the Cove on New Year's Day, January 1, 2012, which is also a special day in church history: Epiphany.

We will be reading about Jesus' baptism, the moment when his parents realized the magnitude of his being. Jesus was not only their son, but the Son of God and the Son of Man. All the great joys related to "their" baby boy would be shared with the world. And they realized this.

For we mere mortals, this is often of time of recommitment, refreshment and a new start. You will have that opportunity as we will be sharing the history of, and reading, the UMC covenant prayer in a renewal service. Check it out on page #607 in your Methodist Hymnal.

I would also like to remind you that (the inmates are running the assylum) the Water's Edge team is leading the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 11pm. Chris and the band will play in the santuary, Rev. Molly will share the homily, and several of your W.E. faithful will deliver readings of scripture and Christmas-related poems.

One of the favorites this time of year, John Bell's "Cloth for the Cradle," is pasted below. (Click on the highlighted link to hear an audio version from a Mission Viejo church). We won't be reading it at 11pm on Christmas Eve, so I thought I'd share it with you here, for good measure, as it sets my heart at ease.
This is such a busy time of year, with shopping and shipping to be done, worries about finances, health, travel, family gatherings, crazy relatives... if there is one thing I'd like to close with, it's this: please take care of yourself. Take time to sit in silence, whether you listen to Christmas carols, watch the blinking Christmas lights, or just soak in the silence and the dark, take some time to listen for God. In this busy, exciting, expectant time of year, God leans in close to us, through the creche and baby Jesus. We have but to reach out and take his tiny hand to feel whole again.

See you on Christmas Eve!

Cloth for the Cradle- John Bell

When the world was dark
and the city was quiet,
you came.

You crept in beside us.
And no one knew.

Only the few who dared to believe
that God might do something different.

Will you do the same this Christmas, Lord?

Will you come into the darkness of tonight's world;
not the friendly darkness
as when sleep rescues us from tiredness,
but the fearful darkness, in which people have stopped believing
that war will end
or that food will come
or that a government will change
or that the Church cares?

Will you come into that darkness
and do something different
to save your people from death and despair?

Will you come into the quietness of this town,
not the friendly quietness
as when lovers hold hands,
but the fearful silence when the phone has not rung
the letter has not come,
the friendly voice no longer speaks,
the doctor's face says it all?

Will you come into that darkness,
and do something different,
not to distract, but to embrace your people?

And will you come into the dark corners
and the quiet places of our lives?

We ask this not because we are guilt-ridden
or want to be,
but because the fullness our lives long for
depends upon us being as open and vulnerable to you
as you were to us, when you came,
wearing no more than diapers,
and trusting human hands
to hold their maker.

Will you come into our lives,
if we open them to you
and do something different?

When the world was dark
and the city was quiet
you came.
You crept in beside us.

Do the same this Christmas, Lord.
Do the same this Christmas.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

4th Sunday in Advent: Love

Dear Ones!

I hope you are enjoying this Advent season at The Water's Edge as much as I am. Many thanks to all who have helped with our weekly lighting ceremony, and to everyone for participating in the "call and reponse" of our Advent readings.

This week's candle -- the fourth -- represents LOVE.
God sent love in the form of an angel to tell Mary about what was to happen. And Mary, I'm still amazed, answered with a loving, trusting heart.

'Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’

And then, she breaks into song! I don't know if I would have had the strength or the wisdom to do the same; to trust God so completely that you just do it. Even when I am considering my own call toward ministry, I come up with a handful of different scenarios and run them by God, as if He's going to pick and chose from a list of my possiblities/plans. (You wanna make God laugh? You know the punchline).

Mary's trusting nature fits in so well with our churchwide theme of "More than you asked for..." It's true. We've all experienced it to some extent and many of you have shared those experiences in our Sunday discussions. We ask for X; God delivers X, Y, and Z. And we could never have predicted how great it would be. How to remember and trust that... well, maybe, it would work if we remembered what the angel said to Mary.

When she asked "How can this be?"
The angel answered "... For nothing will be impossible with God."

If we could just remember that in our daily outreach -- whether dealing with a rude co-worker or a close friend stuck in an addictive cycle or a neighbor who's lost a job - when the situations we're in seem like they'll never change, we have but to remember that 'nothing will be impossible with God.'

Consider those words when we're praying this Sunday. We've gathered a list of "more than we asked for" for ourselves, for others, for our church, and now we will ask prayers for the world. Let 'er rip! Lose your mind! Ask for the biggest and the wildest thing you can imagine. World peace? An end to hunger? No more war? Economic stability? Ask! And remember what Mary knew: "nothing will be impossible with God."

I will miss this Sunday and Darin, who's returning from school, will be assisting Elbert, with help from Simon and Evan. Molly is in the sanctuary and I'm officiating a wedding in Berkeley. My dear friend, whom I've known since we were 3 years old (that's us in her parent's crazy 1970s flowered kitchen), is getting married and she asked me to perform the ceremony. I'm honored and excited. I hope and pray that officiating this sacred union is the beginning of something big... Why not? Nothing's impossible, right?

You're in my prayers and my heart, always!
See you on Christmas Eve (if not sooner).

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Advent 3: Joy!!!

Dear Ones!

The third Sunday in Advent is all about pink! The pink candle which reminds us of the Joy brought to Earth by the Christ Child's birth.

Truly, I can't think of a better color to represent JOY. My precious little niece, Grace Mae, is starting to out-grow her 'everything pink is perfection' phase and it's killin' me! I love that she loves pink. The joy she brings into my world is framed perfectly by her passion for pink! Her favorite book is (was) Pinkalicious, for Halloween she dressed as Super Girl (who wears pink) and last Christmas, she had a pink tree in her room, covered in pink ornaments. But, alas, she has discovered navy blue is fabulous too!

As we prepare to light the third candle in advent, JOY, we have an opportunity to shift our focus a bit. If you've been at Water's Edge the past couple weeks, or are following the advent lectionary on your own, you know that our scripture readings have been... well, let's just say the scriptures have not exactly painted a rosy (another word for pink) glow of Christmas tidings around the good news of Christ's birth. They have been a tad more somber than we're used to at advent.

Back in the day... advent season was much longer and the focus leaned more toward repentance and penitence... a time for reflecting, followed - eventually - by a time of joy and celebrating the birth. In our modern times, we tend to focus more on the birth and the great news of Jesus' coming. And because this week celebrates the lighting of the (pink) joy candle, we will shift gears, to celebration. Even the Isaiah scriptures follow suit, replacing ashes with garlands and mourning with gladness.

Our ongoing prayer list -- "More than you asked for..." -- continues as well. During our first week, we prayed for our own concerns; last week, for others; and this week, we will concentrate on praying for More for the church... Our fourth week will be devoted to prayers for the World.

Put on your thinking caps and prepare for a stimulating, thought-provoking and JOYOUS Sunday.

See you soon!

PS- aren't you glad I didn't write this blog blurb in pink?