When I lived in North Carolina, before I was a Pastor, I was fortunate enough to go on a women’s retreat with women of all ages. I was 22 at the time, and we had women in every generation, stretching up to some women in their 80’s. It was on that retreat that I got to know Elizabeth Storey. Elizabeth was an amazingly wise woman, who had been through a lot in her lifetime, having grown up in South Africa and had been a part of tearing down apartheid there and helping the nation start over. And now, living in a new place away from friends, Elizabeth was still caring for others, and specifically, for her mother-in-law. She was sharing with me how isolated her mother-in-law felt, now that she wasn’t in her home that she recognized; was attended to by people she didn’t always recognize; and how isolated she felt. And then Elizabeth told me, that aside from doing her laundry, cleaning up her room, reading her letters from friends, what she felt was the most important thing when she visited her, was to bring a candle with her, to light it in her presence, and to share with her where she had recently seen God’s light. That room that she sits in, she told me, has filled up with her own worries and fears. I bring a symbol of God’s light so that maybe she’ll be able to see a tangible sign in her own life and experience a bit of the sacred presence that is with us. As I listened to Elizabeth talk about bringing God’s light into this place of darkness, I realized that it was Elizabeth’s own experience of the darkness of this life that made her think to bring light into her mother-in-law’s darkness.
In our Gospel this morning, as we continue the story that happens before the story of Jesus’ birth, we hear of another Elizabeth, who lived through her own isolating circumstances, her own darkness. She is the wife of Zechariah, a priest of Israel. She has not been able to carry a child up until this point in her life, what some had considered too late for her to conceive. And it is out of this loneliness, this quiet suffering, that Elizabeth finds her voice of courage as she too points to the tangible reminders of God’s love in her life and in the life of those around her. Read More
There are so many kinds of silence, aren’t there? There’s the silence as everyone holds their breath during a crucial football pass. There’s the silence before an orchestra concert begins when the conductor holds up his/her hands and everyone waits in anticipation. There’s the silence of having an empty house and not knowing what to do with it; or leaving a full house to go on a walk and clear one’s head.
In our Scripture this morning, there are all kinds of silences to deal with, and each one, in many ways, tells its own story. Read More
I have found, as a parent, that one of the attributes of pretty much all children, at least all of mine, is a large amount of persistence. Maybe you’ve experienced that even this past weekend. Time off from school seems to bring on even more persistence with asking for candy or treats or screen time or play dates… it can seem to go on and on and on until I think I’m going to go crazy. And if I’m tired and hungry, it usually ends with me telling them I’ve had enough. And if I catch that little gleam in their eye that reminds me how much I love them, sometimes I start laughing at myself and at their persistence, and I give in.
And it’s times like those that I remind myself that love indeed is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful. You might think that I’m referring to my own love for my kids and how I respond to their annoying persistence, but if I’m in a really good place, then I also remember that they are persistent in their asking precisely because of their love for me, and because of their assurance— their absolute confidence— that I love them. What an amazing thing, that even though I keep screwing up as a parent over and over and over again, they keep expecting me to be kind and good and generous. They expect love from me. Read More
“Red rover, red rover, we want Randy to come over!!”
Thinking about God’s breakthrough love brought to mind an image of a game we used to play when I was a child. As most of you likely know, “Red Rover” involves two teams of children divided and lined up opposite from one another. The two teams take turns yelling out the name of one of the opposing team members to run across the divide and try to break through the team’s chain formed by the linking of their hands.
Today’s world reminds me of that game – people lined up on opposite sides, linked hand in hand with those who share their side, daring those on the opposite team to cross the divide and try and break through their human chain.The problem is we are not playing games but creating a world where both children and adults feel increasingly unsafe and insecure. Read More