What did you do with your snow day this past Monday? Maybe you had the day off from school or work. Maybe you could work from home instead of driving in the snow and wind. Maybe you baked or made chili or did something just for fun. Or maybe it was business as usual for you.
When I was in high school and we had a snow day home from school, it was seldom long before we found our way to the perfect sledding hills several miles south of town. With sleds, saucers, toboggans, and inner tubes, sometimes we would number two dozen … all of us taking turns sliding down, then walking all the way back to the top, just to do it all over again. And again. And again.
Sometimes we would be out there for a couple of hours before we realized we were cold or wet enough to bring our sledding to a close. Then, almost always, my group of friends would make our way to Mosier’s house for a bowl of soup, or at least a mug of hot chocolate, before we each headed home.
Those days were the good ol’ days, I guess. These days, when it snows, I would rather stay inside where it is warm and cozy.
And that is what I did this past Monday when it snowed and the wind blowed all day. I stayed inside where it was warm and dry. Where I matched a medical bill for radiation treatments to the Medicare report of medical claims processed in December. Where I compiled data to be entered into the year-end statistical tables for our churches. Where I savored a bowl of venison stew and homemade bread. And at least one mug of hot chocolate.
Loving God, may we find beauty, joy, and blessing in every season. May we find in you shelter from the storm. Amen.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
I've been savoring over the past couple of weeks the prayers of Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth is a collection of his prayers written and offered over more than forty years of teaching seminary students.
Editor Edwin Searcy writes: The first thing a student in Walter Brueggemann's class notices are the prayers. Each class, each day begins with evocative prayer, crafted for the moment and offered with daring humility. This is not a rote exercise to be dispensed with lightly. In this disciplined practice, teacher becomes pastor, speaking for a classroom become congregation. In these prayers Brueggemann risks naming the truth about us, about the world, and about the God who is at once listening and speaking.
Your command is garbled
We imagine you coming into the barracks with your insistent demand.
We imagine you addressing
the sun to "move out,"
the sky -- "let there be light,"
the sea -- "stand back."
We imagine you addressing Israel, "be my people,"
and the church "follow me."
We even imagine you addressing us, each of us and all of us with your order of the day.
We imagine ... but the din of other commands,
of old loyalties and unfinished business and tired dreams
cause us not to hear well, not to listen, not to notice, and your command is garbled.
So come again with your mandate, with the clarity of your imperative.
We listen, because we know in deep ways that your yoke is easy and your burden is light.
Come among us, because we are yours, and ours is a listening mood.
Give us ears and then hands and hearts and feet for your good news.
Happy New Year! Actually, it seems a bit odd to be sharing a Happy New Year greeting when the month of January is nearly half over. On the other hand, it was just a couple of days ago that I was able to catch up on emails that had come in the week before Christmas. And if I stop and think about it, much of December seemed a blur, nearly spinning out of control.
That’s why Mr. Pat and I decided to disappear for a while once he finished his radiation treatments. We left on Saturday, December 30 and flew back on Saturday, January 6. We celebrated New Year’s Eve and the rest of that week in Ocean Park, Washington, on the Long Beach Peninsula.
It was good to get away. To do something different. Reconnect. De-stress. Have fun. Experience and enjoy life. What, from this excursion, will we remember?
Walks along the beach. The resort’s resident bald eagle. Hiking in Cape Disappointment State Park. The lighthouse. Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center … that we didn’t get to explore. Fort Columbia that we explored instead. Clam chowder. Oysters. Build-your-own pizza that surpassed Godfather’s original. And cranberry lemonade.
Now that we’re home, and Epiphany has come and gone, we’ve been taking down the Christmas decorations and putting them back in storage. I guess we are ready to put 2017 behind us and start this new year after all!
If Jesus’ baptism signaled the beginning of his public ministry, might the reaffirming of our baptism signal something new in our own lives and ministries? What might the new things be that God is doing?
Loving God, thank you for naming and claiming us as your own beloved children. And thank you that we are not alone as we step into this new year. Bless our ministries as we discern the new things you have imagined us doing. Amen.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
While the prayer below is traditionally used at Watch Night services or at the start of a new year, I didn't become familiar with the prayer until about 15 years ago ... during a period of discernment. Since then, it has become a significant prayer in my life ... an annual measurement of commitment and growth in discipleship.
A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition, #607 UMH
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low by thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
To thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Pastor Pat Norris
Something to Ponder is by Pastor Pat and is printed on the back of the bulletin each week.