Advent 2017 Week 4

The last Sunday of Advent was a bit different for me this year.

I was with the toddlers!! We played Hickety Pickety Bumble Bee (a name game), sang Christmas songs, looked at a picture of baby Jesus and then made a manger-scene sticker ornament. We had very special snack with the big kids – cookies and cuties – and watched a very rhyme-y movie.

My favorite part of the morning was watching them connect the craft to the picture we had just discussed. They recognized the HAY, and the STAR, and the BABY from the picture and from the song (Away in a manger). They were so excited!

I think perhaps they understand Advent better than any of the rest of us.

When I told them that our morning was going to be a little different than usual, I asked if they knew why, if they knew what was coming up. My expectations were too small. I thought they’d say, “Christmas!” of course, but the wildest one of all responded enthusiastically and seriously: “The baby Jesus is coming!”

Yes, indeed, little one.

He is… He has… and He always will.

P.S. Jeremy summed the sermon up as because God sees and engages with people, so too we see people and engage with them. He thought our local UGM brother spoke well! If you want to get caught up on that with me, listen here.

That’s a (Rest) wrap!

Last week wrapped up our series on Rest. If you missed a week, here are all of the posts in one place for your convenience.

How was this topic for you? Share with us what has been encouraging, challenging, etc.

School’s out; Snows in!

Ahh… Break…

Jeremy’s hardest quarter to date is complete, and we are ready for unscheduled time – and perhaps some choice scheduled time too! As there is rest within a day or a week, so too comes quarter rest. Days where the biggest thing we have to accomplish is… nothing! One thing we sometimes do on days off is play The Farmer’s Game.

The Farming Game It’s a bit like monopoly, but all about seasons of planting and harvesting. I’ve been reflecting on the idea of seasons a bit after attending a women’s event this week where we talked about John 15 and the Father as the Farmer. Something specific that stood out to me from our time together was that producing fruit from the branches is the Father’s responsibility, not ours.

Winter Sun

Sometimes, we feel discouraged because we don’t SEE the fruit, but our job is to drink in nutrients, trusting the Father to tend to our needs as He sees best. As a friend of mine recently reminded me, the Father really does know us so He knows what we need, even if it is different than we think or if it looks like it will never produce fruit.

Suddenly, seasons of rest are okay, and even profitable, because they are part of the process. After a tough year, we are ready for winter – a season that is stiller, quieter and where it sometimes feels like nothing is happening, but that always leads to spring, renewed hope and budding beauty.

Advent 2017 Week 3

This week’s sermon was a classic story that packed a punch.

The Son of God spent time with those who didn’t have a great reputation in the eyes of the religious. Those were the masses that you’d find crowded around Him. He also often had the self-righteous watching Him, and He had words for both groups of people.

To the outrightly rebellious, obstinate and ungrateful, Love runs toward, embraces, and bestows honor:

Let’s celebrate because you are here with me; yes, you; you are mine.

To the outwardly obedient, but inwardly unloving, Love still goes to meet and entreats:

Come celebrate with us at the party too because you are ALL my beloved children. Everything I have is yours, but I want ALL my children with me. Loving me means loving your brother.

I didn’t even get to the punch yet.

Which brother do you relate with so far?

I’ve been both at different times!

Here’s the punch.

THERE ISN’T A THIRD OPTION.

I know, it would be so much easier if we could just point a finger at one brother and say “well, at least I’m not like him,” but the hard fact is neither brother in this story is a model son.

Likewise, the church today is full of SO MANY SONS AND DAUGHTERS and sadly, we often spend more time pointing out our differences than we do reminding each other the Father loves us. Because remembering the Father loves even us motivates us to love one another – to actually want to spend time with each other –  celebrating together the good news that we don’t have to fear our standing with the Father and we don’t have to compete with each other. We are all invited in to the party!

-from Luke 15, full sermon available here

 

 

Spirit-led Sabbath (Ch. 7)

You’ve heard the phrase “Love God, Love people”? This final chapter of the book Rest reminded me of that concept. It’s entitled “Prayer,” and I interpreted the big picture idea as “let the Spirit superintend Sabbath.” After all, anything we do without Him can’t be about Him.

In what ways is God calling you to connect regularly with Himself?

Where is He reminding you that you are part of a people?

Sabbath is an opportunity to let go of whatever our cares are – work, movement, noise, others, self – and to remember that God is in charge of all of it. Makes sense that to be led about anything spiritual, we first seek the Spirit. Pray to the Lord of the Sabbath about how He wants you to use each and every day He gives, and then praying about how He wants you to use the Sabbath will be a natural overflow.

I challenge us to do that every day, and see if rest comes because I think one question practicing Sabbath asks us is:

Will we trust the one who is Rest to provide rest when we need it?

Will we trust Him enough to not do “whatever we could do” and to instead just be ourselves, however that looks for us?

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 7 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. If you enjoyed this series, you might also enjoy Keri’s book Breathe.

 

 

Decorating for Christmas

 

The day after Thanksgiving, we spontaneously decided to go purchase indoor, decorative Christmas lights. While we were there, Fred Meyer reminded us that it was Black Friday so many things were 50% off. We ended up with lights, a wreath, scented pinecones, cranberries and decorative candles.

We were excited to start decorating as soon as we got home! However, seeing as it was already mid-afternoon and we had friends coming over for dinner, speed decorating ensued. It was so fun!

We had re-arranged a bit that morning, as I had been waiting for some muscle to help me move some furniture. It’s amazing to me that we are still figuring out the flow of our home! After so many months, all of a sudden, I will suddenly “see” with clarity a new idea that helps with organization or practicality, or just looks better, in my opinion!

I found this crate at Ross this week and loved how it is the colors of our house with a Christmas tree on one side, but not on the other – so it can simply be turned around for the other seasons! How often do you find non-traditional red and green Christmas decor?!

The cylindrical now blanket holder that I had found at a yard sale this summer has been working great as storage elsewhere for my yoga mat & foam roller, but seeing as I use the orange 70’s style afghan passed down from my grandparents home every morning, I decided it was time to stop folding it. Voila! (Now I’d like to find a similar one for the exercise gear… eventually.)

P.S. We decided to buy a wreath instead of a tree this year!


Two Women on Ministry & Culture

Hey Ladies.

I wanted to share two resources with you today.

One, if you or someone you know leads a small team and would like to hear from everyone about their experience this past year this questionnaire from Beth Moore may be helpful.

 Use it, adapt it, share it.

Then read this:

Two, this is a great article from Ann Voskamp about standing strong as women in the midst of a comparative culture.

 

Advent 2017 Week 2

GUYS, our guest speaker knocked it out of the park on Sunday.

Snapshot #2 of Jesus on Mission is Him interacting with a well-educated, rule follower. A lawyer or a teacher, one well schooled in the idea: Love God, Love your neighbor. Jesus first tells the man he has asked a good question and knows the answer. Then as the man, motivated by a desire to justify himself, the text says, asks for clarity on who his neighbor is. To this second question, Jesus responds with a story.

We are all familiar with The Good Samaritan, but often hear it out of context. In essence, Jesus is telling the man that his second question is “not the right question.” The more important question is “Who are you?” How the man answers that question will determine his answer to “Who is my neighbor?”

Fitting this season especially as it is so easy to pick and choose how and where and to whom we want to give, serve, love. As He does, Jesus reminds us that as we seek God, or perhaps as we become more attuned to the fact that He is seeking us, we learn more of what it means to be the recipient of love. This Love motivates us to love those around us.

Who can you love this holiday season?

To hear the full sermon on Luke 10: 25-37, click here.

Rest can mean fun too! (Ch. 6)

What comes to mind when you hear the word “rest“?

I’ve noticed when I use the word “rest,” some people think I mean “be bored, do nothing.” One thing I love about this Rest book is that it shows a variety of aspects of what rest looks like. It might surprise to know this chapter is all about playing.

A key part of resting is recreating, and this can be good for your body and mind. Kent describes two Greek words for time which is interesting because we only have one! I found the distinction helpful as she asks what are those things you do that make you lose track of time. That idea is separate from recording what time has passed. Kind of like the difference between a historical timeline and an artist spending an afternoon on an unexpected project.

Another aspect of this book I appreciate is that it is practical. Kent encourages us to consider finances and seasons as we make decisions about Sabbath. What might “play” look like for you right now as we transition from fall to winter?

Which activities do you personally find enjoyable in a soul refreshing way?

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 6 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 7  !

Giving

There are so many opportunities to give this time of year.

How do you decide what and to whom to give?

I long to be generous, yet also a good steward.

2 Corinthians 9:7 says “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart”

There is beauty in that – we all care about different things.

There is challenge in that – none of us can rely on our hearts to be pure.

How can we help each other dialogue about giving? What are some organizations you’d like to invite others into? Perhaps some ways you can give that require more time or service than money? What are your favorite gifts to give? to receive?