Friday, November 29, 2013

musings ~ the day after Thanksgiving

Not that anyone asked, but...

I do not go shopping on Black Friday...I am still digesting my food and reflecting on the day of fellowship with family from Thanksgiving, plus I am an introvert and hate crowds.  Have fun, if shopping and bargain hunting is your idea of fun, but I am deeply disturbed by the accounts of violence at stores here and there.  No 'black Friday deal' is worth harming another over.

I am looking forward to going with Lauren and her family to cut down a Christmas tree (won't Zayden be excited?!!  I can't wait!) and perhaps Justin and I will start listening to some Christmas music... or not - we will see how we're feeling.

There is some pie left, that will go nicely with a cup of tea and I have knitting to do, like Hannah this is a knitting season.   Christina - if you read this - your first sock is almost done!

Today I am most curious to learn about the fate of Comet ISON. Astronomy has been a great Facebook page to follow the past few weeks.  Will it continue on its path and give us a good show in December or did our sun do a number on it?  The jury is still out!

Be curious, stand in awe of something greater than yourself - maybe even a baby born in a manger in the backwater town of Bethlehem!

On this day after Thanksgiving be about peace and goodwill, dear friends...this is the true meaning of the season.

in Christ, together,

Monday, November 4, 2013

for all the Saints...

All Saints Sunday morning I shared a story about my mom's pie is an excerpt of my sermon.  The text for this day is Luke 6:17-31 (click here for link)

This past year many of you purchased a home made pie for our Africa University missionaries.  While we appreciated your support of the team, you need to know that the pie crust recipe isn't a Coble family secret.  Not by a long shot!  
Elinor-Ann Lazarus Coble

The truth is my mother made horrible pies. They were legendary because of just how bad they were. Now sticky buns or cakes – she was the absolute best, but pies – no way. My entire childhood we never had a two crust pie – mom would make crumb top pies – and we wouldn’t eat the bottom crust – they were just a handy holder for the delicious fruit filling.

I was totally unsuccessful at making pies when I had my own kitchen. I chalked it up to a genetic deficiency – the Lazarus gene (my mom was a Lazarus, from NE Pennsylvania)… and so I bought Pillsbury - just thaw, unfold and away you go!

That is until I moved to Apple River, Illinois where I met Lola Brainard. Lola made the most amazing pies. During basketball season, at the home game cake raffles, it was Lola’s pie that was always selected first… always. When our mission team needed to raise money, fast, Lola suggested we take orders for pies and make her world famous pies. The first Easter pie baking we made and sold about 100 pies. The next Thanksgiving – around 150… by the next Easter we were over 200 pies!!

Somewhere in the midst of one of our pie baking days Lola asked me to help…I was terrified… I didn’t want to mess things up – I do, after all, have the Lazarus gene…I was sure it would be a flop… but instead – the pie turned out delicious… my genes were healed… the rest, you say is history – and I have now baked pies with folks in Spirit Lake, here at Trinity and at our family reunion this summer at my parents church.
My cousin, Susan, teaching my niece,
Grace, how to make lattice crust!

The recipe is being passed down to others – and they too are having success… it’s almost a miracle!

If I can be taught the recipe for making an apple pie from scratch…and go on to teach others how to bake a delicious apple pie - why can't we use the same idea to share our faith stories with others…as a way to live into this gift of God’s amazing love for us!

We desperately need to tell the stories of the saints – those whom we have loved who are no longer here – who have gone home to be with the Lord. At the same time we have to stop acting like our faith is private – and instead we have to be more vulnerable with one another…sharing our joys, our concerns, our prayers, our fears and our dreams with one another.
The Coble grandkids, surrounding
Grandma Coble (circa 1985)

Jesus, in his life, modeled the faith not only of his Father God, but also the faith of his earthly parents- Mary and Joseph. Their faith laid the ground work for us all.

In Jesus’ time – most faith stories were shared at meal time… just like for many of us Christmas and Thanksgiving and even Easter traditions go back multiple generations.  What we eat and why we eat it – is just as important as sharing grandma’s secret recipe for stuffing or 7 layer dip.

So….gather together for meals at the table. I know schedules are busy – but that time is precious! Even a quick sit down is better than nothing. And say a prayer while you're at it. My grandson, Zayden, looks at us like we are crazy when we sing the Johnny Appleseed Song, but this has been our prayer since I was a child. My sons in law both know it – and Z will one day soon.

Take note of the seasons of the year… in the Christian church we keep time with the colors of the paraments while today is a special day – and thus we have the white paraments out - right now we are in what is called ordinary time, green is the color of the season – has been since Pentecost.

But during advent the color is purple. What if your family used purple napkins during Advent?  Imagine the conversation that could come up around the table about the anticipation of the season of advent – both for the birthday of Jesus and the return of Christ the King?!

And during Lent – why not eat fish on Fridays like our Catholic brothers and sisters do – and talk about Jesus who walked along the shore of Galilee inviting ordinary folks – like fishermen - to follow him?!

These are just some simple ideas off the top of my head to help start the conversation…

You see, one of the most challenging and important things about learning is that we have to keep moving from being keepers of information, experiences, knowledge – to people who are vulnerable enough to share from our hearts –

In this morning’s gospel lesson Jesus is teaching those gathered around him how to live God breathed lives – they had forgotten – and needed reminding… just as we need reminding – this is why we gather to celebrate in worship – and why we have small groups, bible studies and yes – even worship – to learn more about the nature of our loving and amazing God.

This is why John Wesley the founder of the Methodist movement, gathered people in small groups called classes – to learn from one another and to model Gods love to one another – they did this by gathering a collection for the poor, by studying together, praying with and for one another, and caring for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those in their faith community. This is why they formed their lives in community with one another under a rule of life – do all the good you can, avoid evil, and love God by living into the means of grace….which includes, worship, prayer, studying the Bible, celebrating holy communion, and fasting.

What we do, how we live our lives has meaning… and implications for our children and our children’s children and so on and so forth.

This building, that we are investing in over the next several years will stand… the question is – who will be here to celebrate, learn and serve from this place…and what can we do about this? Who will tell the stories of the faithful who walked up from the old church to dedicate this beautiful worship space? Who will teach our children in Sunday school or sing in the choir when we are gone?

This is why the concept of learn-ing is so important – and why we must continue to learn until we catch our last breath – and even in our dying – we have the opportunity to teach our dear ones about our faith in God – and the hope that we have for new life in Christ Jesus.

This is the good stuff friends…. 
Alan, my stepson, on the day I married
his dad.  Alan died December, 2012
In worship yesterday we lit a candle
remembering his life.  He was 36.

On this day, this All Saints Day we remember. We remember those who have died and gone home to be with the Lord this year – and those from years past as well – but let us not forget to share their legacy, their stories with those who are here…let us give thanks to God for the gift of their life and love.

In the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.