Messiah: Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Zechariah 9:9-10.

Happy New Year! This Sunday we hit the ground running in the Church/Liturgical Calendar  by celebrating Epiphany – the arrival of the Magi from the East to present gifts to the Christ Child.

Many folks take time before the New Year to set resolutions. I have not had much success with resolutions – I resolved to learn how to operate a curling iron a few years ago and that still has not happened. However, in the spirit of running into the church/liturgical calendar, I set 17 goals that I would like to hit the ground running with and accomplish in 2017:

  1. Begin each day with intentional prayer and devotional time with God.
  2. Complete 2017 sun salutations – that is six each day.
  3. Ride 2017 miles on my bike.
  4. Take (a minimum) of three yoga classes each week.
  5. Read 2017 pages for pleasure and 2017 pages for professional development.
  6. Cook 17 new recipes with Andrew.
  7. Drink 64oz of water daily.
  8. Live simply so that I can give more.
  9. Keep my weekly commitments to self-care, Sabbath, and date days.
  10. Put my phone away one hour before going to sleep.
  11. Keep a daily gratitude journal, recording three actions/experiences/learnings for which I am grateful each day.
  12. Make the first move in connecting with family and friends.
  13. Be bold in asking for help.
  14. Talk less; listen more.
  15. Stay current with the news.
  16. Make my donation cut to Beautiful Lengths.
  17. In all things – situations, people, responsibilities – seek hope.

Three hundred and sixty five days sounds like an abundance of time…but lived…it seems to fly. I look forward to the joy I will experience and the lessons I will learn about myself and others as I pursue these goals in 2017. The pursuit and the accomplishing of these goals will be and is complete gift – a gift from God to me to be my best self to the glory of God on earth.

I am excited to worship with the Tuskawilla Family to begin 2017 on New Year’s Day. We will gather for Morningsong at 8:30am and our regular 11am service will again be at 10am this week. As you prepare for worship and the coming new year, perhaps consider any resolutions or goals that you would like to make. Together let’s hit the ground running and run the race that God has placed before us. Let us run with purpose and with excellence.

Prayer: “Creative God, you make all things new in heaven and on earth. We come to you in a new year with new desires and old fears, new decisions and old controversies, new dreams and old weaknesses. Because you are a God of hope, we know that you create all the possibilities of the future. Because you are a God of love, we know that you accept all the mistakes of the past. Because you are the God of our faith, we enter your gates with thanksgiving and praise, we come into your presence with gladness and a joyful noise, and we serve and bless you. Amen.”*

*”Prayer for New Year’s Eve or Day,” The United Methodist Book of Worship 294.

 

Messiah: For Unto Us A Child Is Born

This Weekend’s Scripture ~ Luke 2:1-20.

Today – December 23 – Andrew and I celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, the 12 year celebration of our engagement, and 15 1/2 years of togetherness.

My heart is so warm.

People often ask why our anniversary is so close to Christmas. Andrew proposed under the Japanese archway in Epcot on December 23, 2004 and said he wanted that day to be our anniversary – and so it is!

It is a bit overwhelming at times for a clergy couple to celebrate our anniversary so close to our leading celebrations of Christ’s Incarnation, but we would not trade it. In celebrating our anniversary we remember that the church brought us together – our first kiss as a couple and as spouses was at an altar!…a story for another time – and the church was brought together by and because of Christ.

I give thanks for the Child that is born unto us. I give thanks for my husband and for the opportunity to share the life we have together in service of this Child. I give thanks for the Merry Christmas and Happy New Year that awaits us all.

Join us for Christmas Eve Worship at 6pm on Saturday featuring Carols, Communion and Candlelight.

Join us Christmas Day for Morningsong at 8:30 featuring Prayers and Communion and at 10am for Carols and Blessing of the Toys.

Prayer: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room. And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing!”*

*”Joy to the World,” The United Methodist Hymnal 246.

Messiah: O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Isaiah 40:9 and 60:1.

The older I become, the more of an early riser God invites me to be. I used to fight it, but now I am in the acceptance phase.

I used to think if I woke up early, I could go back to sleep – eek out a few more minutes – and then I would wake fully rested.

Wrong.

That method actually makes me (makes everyone?) more groggy. So no more fighting – and no more alarm clock setting. I wake up – I get up. No matter the time – no hitting the snooze.

I arise.

I spend intentional time in the morning greeting God for the day ahead. This usually involves scrolling through headlines and checking messages received overnight. Then I turn to my calendar to see where – and in who – I will meet God that day. Some days are planned to the minute while others are wide open and ready to surprise. And in the quiet of the morning – knowing a little or a lot of what has happened over night or what will happen in the hours before me – I am thankful. For God. For my relationship with God. For God’s good news that I have received. And for the opportunity to share God’s good news in the new day.

Each time I have heard Rev. Adam Hamilton speak he shares (reminds) his listeners that he begins each day praying a version of John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer that reads

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 by thee.
Exalted for thee or brought low for 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.*

In the early hours of each day Hamilton once again offers his life to God in response to God offering that day to him. What a gift! And it is the same gift that God gives to each of us.

I have heard it said, Each day is a gift- that is why we call it the present. So then, what will you do with the gift of today? Tomorrow and the next?

How do you greet each day – are you eager to meet it or begrudgingly asking for five more minutes?

When do you acknowledge God in your day? What do you say? How do you act?

Consider these questions as you consider what offering you will make when you arise the remainder of this week.

With each new day God draws us further into his light and promise of salvation. What a gift! Arise each day – receive its gifting anew – and share it once more.

Prayer: Spend a few moments in silence and then offer Wesley’s Covenant Prayer.

*”A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition,” The United Methodist Hymnal 607.