Dawn

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 1:26-38.

I am not really an early bird and I am definitely not a night owl. In fact, I recently learned that I wear a certain facial expression in the mornings when I am ready to interact with people! Before then, I am told my gaze is rather intense…

So not an early bird…and not a night owl…I am solidly a “progressively tired pigeon.” Yes. That is me to a T.

That being said, Joshua has encouraged my being a morning person. In our early months together he considered “sleeping in” to be 4:27am. Thankfully he is a much better sleeper these days; now I get up early in order to get work done when it is quiet and to organize myself for the day ahead.

Whether I am sitting on the couch or at our breakfast table I have the opportunity to watch light flood the landscape as dawn breaks.

I have watched dawn break in some remarkable places:

  • across the waters of Lake Griffin at the Warren Willis Camp
  • across the Atlantic at Cape Canavral Shores
  • across the Pacific in Wahiawa, Hawaii
  • across the Galilee in Tiberius, Israel
  • across the Himalayas in Pokhara, Nepal

In each context the pattern holds:

  • there is darkness
  • the color begins to shift and shadows begin to recede
  • rays reaching out from the sun extend to embrace me where I stand
  • the light makes visible what was once obscured or hidden
  • the light brings hope, reveals potential, and welcomes the promise of the new day

A couple years ago Bob and Debbie Spitzer gifted Andrew and me a beautiful Thomas Kinkade painting that captures dawn breaking in the mountains. They hoped it would remind us of our adventures in Nepal. It does. It also remind us of God’s promise found in Lamentations 3, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vv. 22-23).

Christ’s Dawn awaits us as we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve in the coming week. The gift of the incarnation is the greatest expression of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness we will ever know. May the light of Christ’s Dawn shine in your life, affirming God’s love for you and your place in God’s Kingdom.

I look forward to worshipping with you

Sunday, December 23 at 8:30am Morningsong or 11am Traditional Worship with Christmas Brass.

Christmas Eve Monday, December 24 at 6:30pm – Carols, Candlelight, and Communion

Prayer: “Send, O God, into the darkness of this troubled world, the light of your Son. Let the star of your hope touch the minds of all people with the bright beams of mercy and truth; and so direct our steps that we may ever walk in the way revealed to us, as the shepherds of Bethlehem walked with joy to the manger where he dwelled, who now and ever reigns in our hearts, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”*

*The United Methodist Book of Worship 278.

Advertisements

The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ The Cat In The Hat

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Revelation 21:1-5.

The Warren Willis Camp in Fruitland Park will always be a special and holy place for me. It is the place I first received my call; God said “Follow me,” and I am continually amazed by where following God leads me.

The Maggie Brown Dock overlooks Lake Griffin. It is a weathered and wise structure bearing up generations of campers’ hopes and dreams, worries and confessions. The dock is an incredible place to watch the sunrise. The way the colors dance across the sky is truly incredible.

My friend Malinda Rains is a talented artist across a number of mediums – including Taylor Swift dance moves! She snapped a photo one morning of the sunrise from the dock. It captured the colors in the sky as the backdrop to the camp cross that floats in the lake. Adjacent to the cross was a fishing boat and a fisherman attending to his work. Upon seeing her photo I commissioned this watercolor from Malinda.

IMG_2003

(Upon receiving the watercolor, I commissioned the frame from Andrew!)

When I think of New Creation, Malinda’s image – first painted by God’s own hand – comes to mind. The night has passed and the day lies open before me. Light breaks and embraces me. And I am called to serve – to attend to the responsibilities God places before me – keeping always near the cross.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people’” (Mt 4:19).

Today. Tomorrow.

Always.

What is your image of New Creation? How does it inspire you to attend to the responsibilities God places before you? Share your thoughts with a family member or friend. I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.

Prayer: “There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; there’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me. From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”* Amen.

*“Hymn of Promise,” The United Methodists Hymnal 707.

 

 

Thrive: Steward

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Ezekiel 47:13-14

Some years ago the Warren Willis United Methodist Summer Camp in Fruitland Park altered the way they serve daily meals. When I was a camper we would proceed through the food line cafeteria style. After a long day of running through the camp, skills, small groups, and free time, our eyes were usually bigger than our stomachs. Yes, we would eat, but we also wasted a considerable amount of food.

In efforts to be better stewards of the food that is purchased, prepared, and consumed, the camp switched to family style serving. Instead of waiting in a line – which took for-ev-er – the food was prepared and served on platters placed on each table. This decision is helping the camp achieve their goal of greater stewardship, cost savings, and less food waste.

During one meal at camp this summer I participated in a meal that was unlike the others. The counselor at the table serves the campers before him or herself. At all the other meals I served the campers and they immediately dove into their plates; some campers asked for seconds before I served their fellow campers or myself. Some took food and did not eat it; seeing food wasted always pains my heart.

But this meal was different. The campers waited patiently for their plates to be served. Each camper waited for everyone else at the table – even me – to have our plates prepared before they began to eat. We talked about our experiences that day as the plates were served. We all experienced the joy that was that glorious first bite of mac-n-cheese at the same time. We were grateful for what we received. We checked in to make sure everyone else was full before we proceeded to eat more than our prepared portion. We enjoyed the meal; we did not just consume it. There was no waste: no wasted food, no wasted time, no wasted opportunity to look into our neighbor’s eye, share an experience with them, and build community.

When I think about eternity I always picture a table. The table expands as it needs to so that there is room for everyone to sit together…and oh my goodness there is so much food. Everyone has enough. Everyone has the opportunity to share and connect. The people gathered around the table are patient and grateful. And since it is an experience that will last for eternity we enjoy it all; nothing is wasted.

In our Scripture text for this week Ezekiel is tasked with sharing or stewarding the plentiful blessings of the restored Promised Land to all God’s people. Everyone will have a portion. Everyone will share. Everyone will have enough. This is a vision of the Kingdom. This is a vision of true community. This is a vision I believe that God is leading us in fulfilling at Tuskawilla as we come around tables for meals, for leadership, for stewardship, and most especially for worship.

I am privileged to serve you. I am grateful to steward with you. And thanks be to God for being the source and guarantor for all our many blessings.

Prayer: “Father, we thank you, for you planted your holy name within our hearts. Knowledge and faith and life immortal Jesus your Son to us imparts. Lord, you have made all for your pleasure, and given us food for all our days, giving in Christ the bread eternal; yours is the power, be yours the praise. Watch o’er your church, O Lord, in mercy, save it from evil, guard it still; perfect it in your love, unite it, cleansed and comforted unto your will. As grain, once scattered on the hillsides, was in the broken bread made one, so from all lands your church be gathered into your kingdom by your Son.”* Amen.

*”Father, We Thank You,” The United Methodist Hymnal 563.