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This past week, the Methodist church voted to ban gay clergy and gay marriage.  This move reinforced their church policy that stated “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

I have friends who are now torn.  Stay with the church they grew up in?  Or stand with a gay grandchild?

This is a choice that saddens my heart. No, I’m not Methodist but I have family members who are – it is the church my father was raised in.  So I find myself asking – How is it that the leadership has failed, yet again, to truly hear Christ.  Christ, who ate with sinners.  Christ, who healed on the Sabbath.  Christ, who accepted water from the adulteress.

I understand why these people think homosexuality is incompatible with Christ’s teaching.  I don’t agree, but I do see the steps they took to reach this conclusion.

But I have to ask – why aren’t you picking on adulterers, thieves, liars and those who break the sabbath?  You could, with the Bible, make a case for this type of prosecution as well.

Or, even better, why not truly follow in Christ’s footsteps. Welcome those who are different from you.  Those who believe different things, were raised different ways and who are attracted to different people. It will take bravery but it will definitely cause much less damage to those you claim to serve.

Follow Christ.  Walk gently.  Be brave.  Make a space at your table.

–SueBE

 

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I’m not sure why, but when I saw it this quote reminded me of Lori’s “Inviting Christmas In.”  In her post, Lori wrote about how gift buying and gift wrapping can overpower our Christmas.

Is it just me or does the commercial onslaught seem to strike earlier and earlier every year?  Catalogues and Black Friday sales and Pre-Black Friday sales.  And all of the causes that want you to give – Nissan will give matching funds if you donate a small gift, only $300, right now.  And shouldn’t you add a security system to keep your family safe?  Don’t you care?

Okay, I’m going to admit it.  This time of year?  I don’t answer the door without looking first.  And I don’t bother with the peep-hole.  I look out my bedroom window.  Text me before you come over.  I find all the hard sells wearing so I just don’t engage.

Christ?  You saw the quote.  He comes uninvited too but he doesn’t ring the bell.  He comes when I sit quietly and sip my coffee next to the fireplace.  He joins me as I mix up a batch of candy for our cantata reception.  He’s beside me in the choir and as we hang our worries on the tree during out first Advent service.

Christ finds his way in.

–SueBE

This coming Sunday marks the beginning of Advent.  Advent, the season that prepares us for the coming of Christ.  A time of anticipation and preparation.

Last Sunday, we discussed Glory and what it means to each of us.  The author of our lesson discussed the way we use the word in our daily lives.  “Not me,” I told the group.  “I don’t tend to use it.  When I say glory, I think God.”

Across the table, one of our engineers nodded.  “Awe.  Wonder.  Splendor.  The vastness that is God. It is bigger than anything we can imagine.

And, in all honesty, I have to say that pretty much sums God up for me.  Bigger than anything I can imagine.  Relatable?  Not in the least.

Personally, I think that is why Christ came to Earth as a baby.  A baby you can cradle in your arms.  A baby you can see and love and at least begin to understand.  Vastness understandable through Love.

–SueBE

Seriously, there are times you would think that Lori, Ruth and I coordinate topics.  We’ve tried that.  What we write is so based on inspiration that scheduling something ahead of time can be tough.  But we do have these God moments – those times when God puts something into our hearts.

Think about all the people who could have, and probably did judge Ruth, because of her forgetfulness. If you haven’t read her post yet, click-through here.  It would have been easy to decide that she just didn’t take things as seriously as they did.  But if you know Ruth, you know that just isn’t the case.  I’m just happy that Ruth found so many people who were willing to join in her in a laugh and an understanding smile.  That’s something Ruth is amazingly good at creating – laughter and understanding.

And really we need more of that right now.  As election time nears again — yes, I mentioned it.  The stupid elections.

I’m already sick of it mainly because I’m sick of the way that people are talking to each other.  One of my friends has taken to posting pieces about Republican politicians.  She finds the haters.  Then she posts a news story about something they’ve said or done and she tags these stories.  “If you vote for this person, you are the problem.”

On the one hand, I understand her frustration.  Believe me.  I’m a liberal who was born in Texas and lives in Missouri.  I get the frustration.

But you aren’t engaging these people.  You aren’t asking them, why they voted for someone or what about the policies attracted them.

This isn’t doing good.  This is building a wall along political boundaries.

The saddest part is that Christ crossed boundaries.  He ate with tax collectors.  He came into contact with lepers.  He looked past problems and infirmities.  He looked into people’s eyes and saw the child of God within.

Be His hands.  Be His feet.  Go into the world and take down the walls.

–SueBE

Just a reminder – don’t ignore the problems in this world.  But don’t let them keep you from seeing the Son and spreading his light to all.

–SueBE

Wander long. Not wonder long. 

I have to admit that I’m more prone to the latter than the former.  I used to think of it as a writer thing. We have strong imaginations. But now I’m seeing it with people who are big into social media too.  Writers and social media lovers seem to have something in common – we are so good at imagining is the worst.  What if I was to hit a patch of ice while driving over this bridge?  Buy this tool to cut seat belts and smash windows. What if that noise is someone trying to get into the house?  Instant solution – cameras even in the door bell.

If you brain doesn’t play these games, you probably don’t get it.  And that’s cool.  Because those of us who have these tendencies need people who don’t have them to ground us.  That’s one of the many ways my husband is perfect for me.

Don’t you think–

No.

Don’t you worry —

No.

What if–

Let’s go for a walk.

Wandering is an ideal cure for wondering.  Is it the movement?  Is it the fact that when you get out of your head and off your screen and out among real people. I don’t think it is any coincidence that Christ spent so much time with the people.  To be known, you have to be seen.  To know, you have to see.

Definitely a lesson I need to relearn.  Time to go wandering.

–SueBE

 

Helping people can be tricky.  We see someone with a problem.  We know, just know, how to help them.  So we do.

The problem was theirs.The solution was ours.  And there are times that all is well and good.

But what if they had another solution in mind?  A better solution?  A solution that didn’t create an us with power and a them without?

When we help someone, we need to do it with love which is what makes helping people tricky. Love listens.  Love opens up to new ways of doing things.   Love doesn’t assume that there is only one way, our way.

Love, like Christ, moves among those in need, getting to know them, seeing them, speaking to them, sitting beside them.   Only then does love act.

–SueBE

 

“You cannot live for yourselves alone. You depend on the rest of the world and the rest of the world depends on you.”  That’s how Eleanor Roosevelt expressed it.  To me it seems like her take on “no man is an island.”

But I think this is something we tend to forget.  Some of us forget about those around us because we are focused on our health issues, earning enough to feed our children, or keep a roof over our heads.

Others forget because we are working toward a degree, a promotion or a bigger house.

Then there’s that time you lose yourself in social media.

Every now and again, stop what you’re doing and look around.  Check on those around you.  Look.  Listen.  Ask questions.

Recently, a friend of my niece contacted me to ask about getting a story published.  We messaged back and forth for several weeks.  She’s probably still processing all of the information I gave her.

Then she sent me a school fund-raiser.  I know the district is struggling for money but really?  I have my own kid, my own concerns.  And I really wasn’t certain my niece wasn’t also taking part in the fundraiser.  So I asked her.  She’s not but we got to talking about her friend.  Her friend who lives with an older sister because her mother just died.

It is so easy to cut ourselves off from others.  We can always come up with reasons not to help.  But sometimes, we need to do as Christ did, and look for a reason to help the Centurion who was bold enough to ask, the woman who pursued him through the crowd.

Every now and again, alter your focus.  See what you can see.

–SueBE

When I saw this quote, I immediately recalled one of the year-long Bible studies I did in our church’s women’s circle.  The topic for the 2016-2017 was Who Is Jesus? The cover image was a photomosaic.  This is a compilation of photos used as mosaic tiles.  In this case, photos of the natural world, combined to create an image of Christ.

Look on it too closely and you see only each animal or plant – the bear, the owl, the fern.  And while these things are fascinating in themselves, pull back and you see Christ.

You, me, that annoying dog barking next door?  We are all parts of the Creation.  Pull back, look at the whole, and see what you can see.

–SueBE

Yesterday we had a guest preacher who discussed the feeding of the 5000.  The interesting thing was that he discussed it without ever discussing the actual meal.  Instead he talked about what was going on in Christ’s life at the time.

John the Baptist had just been beheaded.  John was Christ’s cousin and fellow minister.  He was a friend and someone who truly understood who Christ was.  His death had to be the kind of blow that Jesus felt in his chest.  Christ tried to take off and regroup.  He needed some time to get his head back together.

But the people needed him just as badly.  Everywhere he went, there they were.  Asking for help.  Calling for his blessing.  Reaching, demanding, draining.

It would have been so easy for Christ to turn his back.  It would have been so simple to refuse to see what he could do.  Instead, he saw them.  He reacted to them.  He interacted with them and he cared.

Seeing people and caring.  Are these not the greatest acts of kindness?

The next time you check out at a store, look the clerk in the eye.  Speak to her.  Listen to her response.  You’ll still have plenty of time to go about your day.

We encounter so many people everyday who just need a little kindness.  Sure there will still be things that require a lot of hard work.  But pair this with kindness and see what happens.

I dare you.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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