Thursday, December 18, 2014 advent journey of sorts

"Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. ...whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting - that is, of hopefully doing without - will  never experience the full blessings of fulfillment."  Dietrich Bonhoeffer  

Abnormal...the words hit me like a ton of could something that was designed (and used) to provide nurture be abnormal?

  1. deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying.

For a month I tried my best not to worry, between various mammograms, ultra sounds (of course they couldn't do a biopsy the 'normal way'), and finally the big day - the stereotypic imaging truck came to town (you really don't want to know).

A biopsy is not something to blow off.  It is a big deal.  A big hairy deal.  Especially when your mind has time to think of the 'what ifs.'

Fortunately, for me, the results were another interesting word: benign.  

  1. 2
    (of a disease) not harmful in effect: in particular, (of a tumor) not malignant.
    synonyms:harmless, nonmalignant, noncancerous; 
    "a benign tumor"

'What a relief' my son texted when I finally, after a days delay, had the results.  'THANK Heavens' and 'YAY' and 'that is spectacular news' from my other children.  

  1. 1
    beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching way.

Not all women are as fortunate.  

And yes, I kept it silent.  And I probably could have shared with others...but ABNORMAL sounds so broken and plain messed up.

After living with the relief of my diagnosis for a week, I realized that my silence continues to add to the stigma of: pastors as 'other' and breast cancer as something we talk about in hushed voices, because you can't really say the word 'breast' out loud in polite company.

  1. 1
    either of the two soft, protruding organs on the upper front of a woman's body that secrete milk after pregnancy.

My right breast now has a little piece of titanium in it, as a marker for the radiologist.  Next fall, when I have my mammogram I will see it on the screen.

Get your mammograms, gals.  Know your family history.  And if you get called in for more pictures, don't go on-line and try to look up the what ifs...but DO tell a friend.  Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is invite others for the journey.  I am grateful for my children for being a non-anxious presence during this season.

It is fitting that this journey happened during Advent, a season of anxious anticipation.  I continue to wait with hope.

peace, love in Christ,

Saturday, December 6, 2014

An Advent reflection

Somewhere between Silent Night and Joy to the World a baby rests and new mother and a father wonder what just happened. As the mother of four children I can relate to the fragile perfection of a new born baby but before you know it they grow up! As sweet as it is, Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus can't stay forever paused in the tableau that is reflected in Hallmark cards or the manger scene on our living room table.

We may hate to admit it, but truth is Jesus was a normal baby, toddler, child, teenager even - in every way. It would be nice to think that he was perfect, never had a temper tantrum, never climbed a tree too high and of course never refused to eat his broccoli, but that is what makes Jesus so amazing - his humanity is not unlike our own. His experiences are our experiences.

The Message Bible sums it up like this: "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood." (John 1:14)

This is the hope and promise of the Christmas season. What was started in Bethlehem is still going on today as the Word of God, Jesus, the love of God made flesh at Christmas continues to speak to us through word, songs, and our compassion for our neighbors.

It’s interesting to think about, but until the present age most of the stories of Jesus had been taught by mothers and grandmothers. In my conversations with young mothers most of them feel unprepared to instruct their children about God. Does our current life style allow moms, and dads for that matter, time to share their faith with their children? Or asked another way: have we embodied the stories of God’s love at Christmas, let alone in our lives, enough so that we are comfortable sharing our faith with our kids?

That’s the beauty and importance of being part of a faith community. In a church parents have an
opportunity to learn more about God so that they may become light bearers and story tellers for their children, very much like the shepherds who raced to see this marvelous thing that the angels spoke about – a child – the Messiah – born right there in the neighborhood!

“As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed." (Luke 2:15-18)

May I be so bold as to invite you to consider sharing this Advent and Christmas season with one of your neighborhood churches? You don’t have to dress up to come to church, you can even sit in the back row or in the balcony if you like. When you come to church you’ll find imperfect folks seeking to know more about this God who was willing to become more like you and me. How cool is that!?

It is my prayer that you find joy this Christmas season. That you experience love beyond your wildest dreams, that you are able to tell your children the stories of the first Christmas with wonder and hope – knowing that God is with us now and will always be with us. This is the good news that we so desperately need to hear and share!

Hark the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!

Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled"

Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies

With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"

Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
(Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Charles Wesley)