November 2009

A Taste of Grace

MomsDoughnuts

In my small Mennonite congregation, when the worship leader says, “Go in peace,” the children go directly to the snack counter. Sure it's almost lunch time, but we will eat something anyway—for the sake of Christian fellowship.

Some parents quietly request healthy snacks; but, nevertheless, cookies and brownies often appear on the magic snack table. I understand that parents want their children to eat healthy food. I understand that they want their children to eat lunch some time in the near future.

But you have to understand how absolutely adorable 2-year-old Sheila is when she looks up at me and says, “Cookie, please?”. I'm the child's pastor, for goodness sake. I want her to trust me. I want her to experience church as a good place to be. I want her to believe me when I read from the Bible, “Ask and ye shall receive.”

So I look around. No parents are watching. I sneak her a cookie.

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November 2009

Creativity in the Kitchen

There are many ways to be creative, and our Christ and Creativity column celebrates them all. We are about to enter a season that is one of the busiest for clergy, and sometimes the unspoken expectations are high--that in addition to our ministry duties, that we dive right in to the orgy of baking, crafts and Christmas cards that can sometimes seem over the top. At the same time, many of us enjoy those activities and find them life-giving--a moment of respite in a busy schedule. So what's a YCW to do?

We want to hear about the ways you make Advent and Christmas special. What are the recipes, the traditions, the crafts that make this season life-giving for you? Whether it's ordering pizza with the family after a busy day, or making your grandmother's treasured cookie recipe, share your thoughts with us--we'll put them together for our December column.

More details after the jump, as well as a yummy photo from Elsa Peters to inspire you.

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November 2009

Blessed Are the Kitties

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, Vicki reflects on her thankfulness for the feline beings that truly make her house a home and fill it with love and laughter.

Hussein and Yatou When I was little, I had an intense passion for doggies. I felt a burning desire like none I had ever felt before to have a little puppy of my own. My second grade teacher had edited a series of nearly twenty books about different breeds of dogs, and I basically learned to read by reading every single one of them. It gets worse. Yes…I had imaginary doggies. In the summer, I would make tables of my fleet of imaginary doggies, listing out their names, gender, breed, and age. One summer I counted more than 100 imaginary doggies. (I was an only child.) In third grade, after lunch every day, my best friend, Molly, and I would go to recess saying a prayer that our parents would get us dogs. Molly eventually got a beagle. I got a fish tank.

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November 2009

Forward, Back, Forward Again: A Sermon for Advent 1C

Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

How do we know when the big day is drawing near? We look for the signs. They are unmistakable. 15% off all holiday candles. Trees for sale. Red bows appear along fenceposts, polar bears drink Coca-cola, and Rudolph, Frosty, and Charlie Brown make their annual appearances. Thousands and thousands of lights fill the darkness with a soft white or merry multicolored glow. Inside we hear holiday music, outside we hear Salvation Army bells. 21 shopping days left….The signs are all there!

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November 2009

Church Women

Last Friday, I spent the morning drinking really bad coffee from a Styrofoam cup with fifty women who are older than me by at least 25 years. I’d been invited to present the Bible lesson to a meeting of Church Women United, an ecumenical group that has been gathering “church women” for fellowship, prayer, and advocacy since 1941.

I go to far more of these kind of events than most 32-year-olds I know. I’ve come to expect the bad coffee, the cinderblock walls and homemade felt banners of the church fellowship hall, the program that goes on a little too long.

I can usually see the invitation coming (“I’m in charge of the fall program and I wondered if…”), and I take a deep breath and try to remember my calling.

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November 2009

Mid-Life Crisis

When I told my Mom that I had bought myself a Mini Cooper for my birthday she joked that it was my “mid-life crisis”.  Excuse me?  Mid-life?  Crisis?!?!  I don’t know about you, but when I think of that phrase I picture a 55-year old man driving a red Ferrari with the top down, not a just-turned-37 year old woman driving a bright red Mini Cooper.  So no, Mom, I’m not having a mid-life crisis.

But, it got me thinking.  I looked it up online, and I’m told that the average American woman has a 79.10-years life expectancy.  So, if I double my age, that makes 74, which means I’m technically nearly at mid-life.  Okay, that’s interesting, and I’ll get back to it in a minute.

Now,  does my buying a Mini Cooper (for a whopping $21K) constitute a ‘crisis’?  Ah, no, I don’t think so.  If I had sold all my belongings, shaved my head, and run off to join the Hari Krishnas – maybe.  But buying a Mini Cooper does not a crisis make.  A few speeding tickets maybe, but that’s about it.

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November 2009

And the giveaways go to...

In October, the Fidelia's turned two! To celebrate, we had three giveaways. The giveaway winners were picked randomly, by assigning each comment or person a number, using random.org.

Below the fold, you'll see the giveaway recipients. A huge thanks goes out to Russ White at Chalice Press and Anna Gordy Montgomery at Gloria Vestments.

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November 2009

In Sickness and in Health...

Typically, ministers and military personnel have at least one thing in common: we know how to move, and we know that it is likely we will move several times during our careers.

In some ways, these moves are similar. Our families are uprooted (or they are forced to change our entry in the family address book), our houses are littered with boxes and packing paper and we must say “goodbye” or “until we meet again” to friends and co-workers. But, for some in the branch of service called "ministry", there is a very different component to such wanderings, especially when a move sends us to another state – in other words, we must search anew for health insurance.

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November 2009

A Concert as Worship Experience

Photo

My husband surprised me for our September birthdays with tickets to U2 at Soldier Field in Chicago, our new hometown and the first stop in the 2009 360 tour. On Sunday, September 13, we trekked into the stadium with thousands of other fans, expecting quite a show. I’ve heard others talk about their U2 concert experiences as “fun” or even “transcending the moment.” I’ve heard the reviews – but I didn’t know until I was there.  It was a moving experience to hear the music and lyrics performed. The connection between musicians and audience was stronger than I expected. Something new is born as people listen, connect with the music and performers, and sing and dance along.  

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