My friend, Jan L. Richardson, is a singularly talented clergywoman. An amazing artist and writer*, Jan captures the heart of the gospel in a way no one else does. She offers online studies during Advent and Lent. Her new study, Illuminated: An Online Journey into the Heart of Christmas begins November 30, 2014. Registration is open now at ILLUMINATED 2014. A wonderful multi-media experience, Jan’s online studies appeal to everyone but perhaps most particularly to all those who have too much to do and too little time do it. I know I appreciate the opportunity to delve into her studies to the level comfortable for me. Give it a try for your Advent devotion this year. You’ll be glad you did.
*See Jan’s many books here.
Last year about this time, I posted a commentary about Halloween. Take a moment to read it so what follows makes sense.
I stayed home on Halloween night last year, not only to give out candy but also to meet more of my neighbors. It was great seeing all the little ones’ costumes and chatting with their parents. When one little boy stopped by we started talking immediately as I leaned over to put the candy in his bag. In a pause, his mom said, “Is your name Kim?” I stood up to find one of the women who were baristas at my local Starbucks! We laughed at the fact that we both had lived there for years and only now knew we were neighbors. Suddenly, I knew not only my neighbor, but a woman who used to be a simply a nice barista was now a friend. I invited her to an event at church, we exchanged cards and cookies at Christmas and chatted about kids and school and work. We regularly saw each other around the neighborhood. I met her mom and dad and she met some of my kids. And, now that I live elsewhere, I miss seeing she and her son. And when I first went to the Starbucks that I now frequent, it was sad not to see her there. I still stop by to say, “Hi!” when I’m back in Valrico and we catch up on family and such.
All this from staying home to hand out candy, meet my neighbors and share a bit of hospitality with them. Jesus taught us a bit about hospitality. He welcomed us after all. And, in case you are wondering, I’ll be home this year, too. I still haven’t met all my neighbors and I can’t wait to open my door to strangers and when they leave close it behind them as newfound friends.
Go to this link to see what United Methodists are helping make happen in Africa:
This is so very exciting to me given my visit to Zimbabwe in 2003. Ever since, all of Africa has been close to my heart. The people there have such a yearning for the Word of God and pastors can hardly be trained quickly enough. I remember how expensive the books for seminary were and how heavy, too! Now, you can make books and bibles available to pastors training in Africa by your donation through the link in the article. And, whether or not you give, please pray for the pastors and the people of Africa.
Perception is reality. In college, this mantra laid the foundation for the coursework in my Communication Studies degree. We each perceive experiences differently. Two people may sit next to each other in class yet one may say class was awful while the other sings the professor’s praises. Law enforcement often must discern truth from vastly different accounts of a particular crime or accident, all because of the differing perceptions, and therefore realities, of the witnesses. Taking a different perspective can mean a distinct shift in our perception of any situation. So, the post below interested me not only because it’s about pastors but also because it proves the point that with a different perspective, your perception, and thus your reality, changes. The post, though written from a male point of view, says what I think most pastors, male or female, would say. It’s all simply a matter of a different perspective.
Mount Dora FUMC
I know you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted in quite some time. My time at The Well has ended and First United Methodist Church of Brandon, my sponsoring church, invited the folks involved invited to join them. I miss the people of The Well and pray God’s blessings for them as they begin their new places of worship and service.
I started a new adventure July 1, 2014 as my husband Greg and I moved to Mount Dora, Florida, appointed as the senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church there. A beautiful community, Mount Dora has been a favorite of mine for many years. We are very pleased to be here among the wonderful people of First Mount Dora. In this vibrant church, the people are shining examples of warmth and hospitality. We’re enjoying getting to know both the people of the church and the community.
As I begin blogging again, I’ll also be updating the other parts of the blog. I have changed the address for the blog, so if you know someone looking for it, it is now http://www.revuch.com. No grand plan to be called Rev Uch (rhymes with pooch) but rather that Pastor Kim was already taken by another pastor. I like to write about lots of topics but sometimes I simply get stuck for inspiration. So, if there’s something you want me to write about, let me know in a comment to this post and I’ll do my best to oblige.
December 1st marked the beginning of the Advent season. Celebrated the four Sundays prior to Christmas, that first Sunday is the beginning of the Christian Year. Similar to Lent, it is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child on Christmas Day. Therefore, those who celebrate Advent often observe it with special prayers, devotions, or service to others. The Advent wreath used in many churches reminds us of our spiritual preparation for Christ. Watch this video from Chuck Knows Church to learn more about the wreath:
At my house, we have an Advent Wreath. I use special Advent prayers and Scriptures for my personal prayer time. Along with many others, I will be helping at Gift of Hope, which provides everything for a special Christmas meal and toys for children to those who cannot provide these for themselves. And, on Christmas Day, the people of The Well will be serving Christmas dinner at our sponsoring church, First United Methodist of Brandon. Let me know how you are observing Advent this year.
An incredible tree grows at the edge of the lake near the chapel at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park. At first glance, it’s simply another tree like the hundreds of others on the property. On further inspection, a story unfolds. At one time, the multi-trunked tree was indeed large. Something, maybe lightening, brought part of it to the ground. That part remained attached to the main tree and something amazing happened. The fallen tree’s now unearthed roots found their way to the base of the tree left standing and grew into the base of the main tree. Layer after layer of interconnectedness between these two trees kept the fallen part alive and growing, even though the trunk lay on the ground. Despite the damage to the fallen tree, the trees remained part of one another, each giving life to the other.
A picture of healthy community, this incredible tree shows the importance of deep roots nurtured by rich and varied relationships with the community. Without deep roots, , the fallen part of the tree might have died. Those truly embedded in a community cannot suffer without the community noticing. When one of their number has difficulties or suddenly stops showing up, the community responds with care. Without deep roots in the community, our suffering may go unnoticed or even if noticed, no response results. Each of us, in the communities of which we are a part, have responsibility to engage, whether it’s our local town, our Chamber of Commerce, our Rotary Club or our community of faith. Sure, it takes time, time well worth the effort. For when we fall, as most of us will at some time or another, that community to which we have given ourselves freely will give back in ways we could never imagine. The community will only feel able to respond to the degree that we opened ourselves to the risk of relationship, an act far less risky than the risk of going it alone. Jesus pictured us in such community in the church when he taught us not to stay angry but confront issues (Matthew 18:15), when he told us he would be with us whenever two or more gather in his name (Matthew 18:19) and when he instructed us to care for the ones who have need help or have fallen such as the widows, orphans, strangers and prisoners (Matthew 25:31-46). Perhaps it’s time to take him at his word and discover the joy of community for ourselves.