Advent’s Inoculation

It’s Cyber-Monday and many of us feel the crunch to get busy with Christmas shopping. Some of us barely survived Black Friday or Rivalry Football games. This is a season of urgency and it should be a season of great pause! How do we handle the onslaught of the holidays? The answer to me is turning them back into what they are meant to be: Holy Days!

United Methodist Bishop, William Boyd Grove, former pastor of Bethel Park UMC just outside of Pittsburgh has suggested that there are certain words that deserve to interrupt all other words and conversation. Words like “The house is on fire!” or “The war is over!” or “Your hostage brother has been released!” These are, in his provocative words, “startling, interrupting proclamations that change everything. If the house is on fire, you run! If the war is over, you dance! If your hostage brother is released, you leave everything and go to meet him!” During Advent we prepare ourselves for another set of words that change everything: “Jesus Christ is born.”

 God whispers these words to us in every candle and carol, every card and crèche. Most of us are not very ready to hear these words that cause all others to cease. We are just too busy or overwhelmed by life. That is why Advent season precedes Christmas, to help us get prepared, to enable us to hear God’s voice of hope. This mystery of Advent, as poet Elizabeth Jennings puts it, is this: “… It is a mystery/How God took time and entered history.” It is a grand mystery that gives us hope, hope in a God that loves us so much that He came to be one of us.

 Oh, how we need hope. With loved ones absent from the Thanksgiving table last week and the terrible truth that their absences won’t be less gaping in four short weeks, but actually worse, and with worries on the battlefronts of the world: recession, unemployment, domestic violence, terror, poverty, debt, and ill health, we know all too well the need for a friendly God, a benevolent Jesus, a comforting Holy Spirit.

 You may be where a lot of people are right now after learning the truth that Thanksgiving celebrations are terribly efficient ways for families to spread germs and vermin across the miles.  Who knows whom passed the bug around first, but I know that there are plenty of people who caught something over the weekend. “What a horrible time to be sick!” is what many have been thinking. But truthfully there couldn’t be a better time. Nothing quite like illness makes us pause and reflect.

 Advent season isn’t an illness, but it can inoculate us with just the right soul-saving amount of reflection that may help us survive the holidays. I heard about one church that invited a guest preacher at the beginning of Advent. In the bulletin was this announcement: “The church is glad to have with us today as our guest minister the Reverend Shirley Green who has Mr. Green with her. After the service we request that all remain in the sanctuary for the Hanging of the Greens.”

 Many churches begin Advent season with a “Hanging of the Greens” service. Others are hard at work on special music or projects. Chrismon trees and poinsettias will grace sanctuaries all over Christendom, but more important than the preparation of our homes and houses of worship will be the preparation of our hearts. Therefore, here’s another but more appropriate Advent bulletin blooper: “The Word made flesh and swelling among us.” May the Word swell in your life this Advent season! Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!

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Defeating the Tyranny of the Urgent

Call it the “Tyranny of the Urgent” or whatever. The fact remains that we’re all too busy. It’s Thursday and I’m salivating over the fact that tomorrow is Friday. T.G.I.F.! Will my batteries get recharged this weekend or will life’s urgencies and emergencies consume my expectations of rest and replace peace with worry?

Worrying is like being in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. I have a long list of stuff that I need to do. I need to go to Charlotte and buy more clay for my Christmas Pottery. I need to go to the funeral of the father of a good friend. What is imperative is to figure out the difference between what I need to do and what I have to do. There’s the rub!

A salesman was driving through rural South Carolina when he noticed a man and his small daughter sitting beside a creek. The salesman stopped his car and went up to the two. “You have a lovely little girl,” he told the farmer. “What’s her name?” “Sybilistina,” the farmer replied. “That’s a pretty long name,” said the salesman. “Look, mister,” the farmer answered, “We’re not city folks. We’ve got time for long names around here!”

I don’t know many people today, whether in the city or in the country, who have much time. A Roper survey sometime ago found that 58% of the U.S. population has too much to do. Seventy percent of the people in the 30-44 age group described themselves as rushed and pressured for time. I hope they didn’t spend too much money on the survey because it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to know the obvious!

C’est la vie! is what the French would say, “That’s life!” for any age. Time is always at a premium. It takes time to write notes, pick up children, grocery shop, visit doctors’ offices, cook meals, and on and on it goes. Can we ever lie down and sleep with our daily list of want-to-do’s done? Doubtful!

Maybe it would be more important for our nightly rest if we were at least at peace with God, that we have done what we could on any given day to use our time and talents to the best of our ability for the glory of God. Isaiah 26:3 declares: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” Keeping our minds steadfastly on God is a Spirit-given gift only accomplished by God’s grace. On our part we call it “trust.”

Bob Garfield wrote a piece for the “Washington Post” that speaks of this kind of trust and peace as he wrote of a business trip to Korea. After eating a meal of unnamable entrees he retired to his hotel room utterly sick. As he put it, “I was stricken with crushing chest pains, radiating down my arm and into my back. Obviously, I was having a heart attack. Or a gas attack. How are you supposed to tell? I thought of calling for help but then I considered the problems of communication, and the chaos, and the potential for embarrassment, to say noting of the uncertainties of Korean cardiac care. I imagined the emergency-room physician saying, ‘Yes, Mr. Garfield, you are having a serious myocardial infarction. I will now place seven tiny needles in your eyelid.’”

Garfield continued, “So I decided to take my chances. I managed, through the pain, to write a brief, tender note to my survivors, and lay down at PEACE with myself. I loved my family. They loved me. I had accomplished some interesting things in my career. No felony convictions. Sufficiently insured. Go to sleep now, Bob. Maybe you will wake up. To the best of my knowledge, I did. And I was joyous – not that I had lived through the night, but that I had not been afraid to die. I was at PEACE with myself, a priceless revelation.”

Can I peacefully pray the children’s prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…?” God desires to give us such peace that no matter what our circumstances or situations, He will keep us in perfect peace as our fretful thoughts are surrendered to Him.

Christmas Is Coming!

I’ve got pottery to make for Christmas and my forearms hurt from 6 hours of doing it yesterday. So far I’ve made my stuff for the Killingsworth Auction to help one of our women’s shelters. One of my ministers is getting married and her vase is made. I’ve done another 51 bowls and vases for the staff in the United Methodist Center. What I have left are 20 pieces for the Cabinet, 20 pieces for the family, and 100 Christmas ornaments for all of the Columbia District clergy, active and retired. Plus everything has to be bisque-fired and then glazed and fired again. It’s a daunting task. I love doing it. I’m just tired.

I never keep anything for myself and relish giving it away. I don’t grow vegetables to offer people, but pottery I can do! My problem is that I’m not finished with Charge Conferences and today is November 2! Christmas parties and the Big Day itself are right around the corner. Can it be done? I’ve got glazes to mix and there’s little fun in putting your hands in wet glaze and sieving it through a mesh on a cold day. That my pottery studio isn’t heated doesn’t help. What will be my motivation to finish the task?

Psychologists, for years, have said that one of the best ways to get out of the doldrums is to make yourself do something for somebody else. They’re right! If we give in to the pits we’re never going to get out. Commitment is the ability to push through the pain, the angst, the pessimistic cynical mindset in which we find ourselves and keep at the projects that we’re supposed to complete. George Miller gave an interesting analogy, “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.” What he’s saying about Italian food is true for me. It sticks with me for a long time. To paraphrase John Wesley, “Doing all the good we can sticks with us, too!” We have to keep at the things that matter!

So, when we’re a little down, we shouldn’t give in to it. We should stick to the things that we know that we’re supposed to do. Sure, I know very well that sometimes I don’t feel like going out to my pottery studio, but I also know the endorphins that are released when I throw clay will make me feel better. Visiting someone, doing my devotions, or presiding over Charge Conferences isn’t always appealing, but spiritual energy is released every time!  Missionary and martyr Jim Elliott said something that inspires me to be committed no matter the task: “Wherever you are, be all there.” Unfortunately, there are lots of us looking forward to the weekend too much. Many of us easily avoid the things we should be doing right now. Jerome K. Jerome, who lived from 1859-1927, said it for all sad-sacks and procrastinators, “I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

So maybe we shouldn’t vegetate and let our burdens build up. Doing something good and worthwhile is a better answer. It’s all about commitment. Lewis Smedes puts the matter quite plainly, “I want to say to you that if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God… When a person makes a promise, she reaches out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable: she will be there even when being there costs her more than she wants to pay. When a person makes a promise, he stretches himself out into circumstances that no one can control and control at least one thing: he will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be. With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty.” Today I will think of others and let nothing dissuade me from doing everything that I can for somebody else!

General Malaise

Maybe it’s the clouds and drizzle that we’ve had for three days, but I’ve literally sensed a pall over things. I don’t know what it is, but IT is usually something. Charge conferences are going well although there have been a few rough patches. There have been the usual nay-saying phone calls that are the soup de jour for a district superintendent. I have been non-reactive and tried very faithfully to be calmer as things get more tense. So far so good, but I have a wierd sense of dread-like unease waiting for the other proverbial shoe to fall. I am not a worrier, but there’s that nagging question of “What’s going on?” running through my subconscious and breaking into my conscious thinking. Have you ever been like this?

I am sleeping well, eating well, been around good positive people. My devotional life is great. Heck, even the stock market has been pretty much up for the last week. The biggest downers that I can point to are Steve Spurrier, the USC Football Coach, acting juvenile with a newspaper reporter that gets his goat, and 5th year senior quarterback Stephen Garcia’s final dismissal from the team. As a long-suffering Gamecock fan I know not to get too worked up or stressed out about the fortunes of our football team. I know this feeling I’m having isn’t about the ALCS or NLCS baseball games or a delay in the NBA season. Sports is a wonderful distraction from life, but I’m not one of those who lives and breathes for the next game or the stat line. Sure, it’s important and I want my team to win but there are bigger fish to fry in the game of life.

So what is it? What is it for you? Is there a general malaise that’s befallen society, the church, me, you? Christmas is coming and I have pottery to make but the thought of doing it is daunting rather than its usual exhilaration. Has the worry-bug got me? You? Maybe. Most of us in church work know the truth of the misconstrued sign, “Don’t let worry kill you. Let the Church help!” Yep, for us churchy types, lay or clergy, the church is often our source of anxiety, not the cure. Worship and spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture reading, serving others, being in a small group, and giving always improve my depleted emotional resources. Going to Mt. Mitchell is my oasis but that won’t happen again until sometime in November or next spring. Too cold and wet right now. Now into a three-day funk it wouldn’t much matter what I do or where I go. As someone said it, “If you want to get away from it all, don’t take it all with you.” Yeah! Duh, but what if there’s no escape?

Caleb has been to visit friends in Washington State for a few weeks. Maybe it’s him on my mind. Narcie will be soon due for another MRI in the midst of what I call our “prolonged anxiety” about the brain tumor, but I’ve been following Cindy’s sage advice: “Turn your worries into prayers.” Maybe the breakthrough is just around the corner. I pray so for her and everyone who is out of work, who is facing the unknown with a terrible or unknowable prognosis, or anyone who  is sensing a cloud of nebulous bewilderment. These are stressful times!

So I’m going to turn back to the One who is ever ready to come to our aid: God! Jesus! Helmut Thielicke, in his book Life Can Begin Again, offers a great word for me and all of you who are tired or just plain weary: “We should not artificially turn away from our worries by constantly listening to the radio, for example, or running to the movies, or some other kind of busywork, but rather direct our cares to him who wills to bear and share all our sin and all our suffering and therefore all our cares. No diversion, but directing our cares. This is what to do. Jesus did not say: Look at the ostrich, how it buries its head in the desert sand and so tries to escape the fear of danger. No, he said: Look at the birds of the air, keep your eyes open, stand up straight and look to the heights where God makes known his grace and care.” Matthew 11:28 works, too. Straight from Jesus: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” 1 Peter 5:6 is also a help: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may lift you up in due time.” Isn’t it due-time yet? That’s not my task. My task is to humble myself and wait. God does the lifting. Check out 2 Chronicles 20:1-23 and start warming up the choir!

Above the Din

Sunset from Campsite #2 on Mt. Mitchell

I watched some of the families and survivors of 9/11 this morning before I went to church. It was very meaningful, in fact, maybe more so ten years later than it was at the time. I was a very distracted person ten years ago. I’m no less busy now, but maybe I’m more reflective. Perhaps it was 9/11 that had something to do with that. Maybe it was the need for time away in the cacophony that comes from the tyranny of the urgent. Anyway, listening to the recorded phone messages from those who perished on 9/11, and hearing their families experiences of reassurance was powerful. I heard a theme of God’s presence and it gave comfort.

For the past ten years, truly since I was a little boy, I have found that kind of reassurance on top of Mt. Mitchell. Solitude and reflection are easy to come by up there. I went there as a teenager to sense God’s call. All alone. Me and God. I went back during college a number of times. I have been going there multiple times a year ever since just to be, to listen, to soak up God’s presence. It’s such a beautiful and awe-inspiring place. It’s the highest mountain east of the Rockies. It’s always 30 degrees cooler than South Carolina. There are balsam and spruce and it smells like Christmas year round. It snows every month of the year. It’s a Canadian climate zone. There are no showers, but they have a restroom and two hand pumps for water. There are only 9 campsites so you’re never really overwhelmed by noise. The photo is from just a few weeks ago when I went with a fellow clergy friend to scout things out for our district retreat. He’s spending the night with us tonight and in the morning 15 of the Columbia District clergy are heading up for our yearly retreat. I wish more were going, but we do have some newbies. I hope they will find it as wonderful as I think it is.

We all need a place to hush our runaway minds. Perhaps you have read one of the many versions of the story that I will call “The Overflowing Tea.” The setting changes, but the cast of characters remains the same. There’s always a wise monk or hermit living in a remote place, and an earnest student who has made a pilgrimage to see him, traveling a long distance to find the teacher who will give him all the answers that he needs about life. The student arrives with all kinds of questions and the teacher just sits there saying nothing. The student asks for his questions to be answered. The teacher finally says, “Pour me a cup of tea and I will tell you when to stop.” The student pours away and keeps pouring as the tea overflows the cup. Exasperated the student speaks up, “Can’t you see the cup is full? It can hold no more!” “And so it is with you,” the wise teacher replies. “Your mind full of too many things. Only when you are empty will there be room for more knowledge to come in.”

I am headed to Mt. Mitchell to open my mind to God and others, or maybe it’s better said that I’m going to open my mind to God THROUGH others. We will hike together, laugh together, eat and fellowship together – know God together. Distractions will be few because cell service is non-existent up there. We will have a wonderful fire and hopefully it will warm our souls with God’s comforting presence. It’s the day after 9/11 for a lot of people. Listen to God’s voice above the din of sirens and tears. Aren’t we all ready for that extraordinary sense of God? Yep!

Bethlehem to Bedlam

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It was planned as a worship scene, a living tableau of Bethlehem’s manger complete with live animals. Unfortunately, it was too real. There weren’t any problems with the cow and the lambs. They played their roles well. Never mind that a camel couldn’t be found. After all, we reasoned that the Wise Men would have parked them out back anyway.
The goats were a different story. Hindsight is always 20-20. No wonder goats aren’t usually found in crèches. Jesus told the truth when he said that on Judgement Day the sheep ought to be divided from the goats. Together, they can wreck a nativity scene.
We often turn our experience of Christ’s birth into a zoo. We mix our metaphors for Christ’s incarnation, blend the sacred and the secular, and end up with the goats and sheep butting heads. Our symbols and celebrations have become a hodgepodge of the commercial and sentimental. Santa and tinsel have overshadowed Jesus. We have lost Jesus and replaced Him with a Coca-Cola image of jolly old St. Nick.
With Christmas customs and live nativities, Bethlehem can easily degenerate into bedlam. What began as an earnest attempt to make the Nativity of our Lord more realistic turned into a somewhat humorous disaster. But that’s nothing new. “Bedlam” often describes how we celebrate Christmas today.
The word goes back to the 1400s when a London hospital named St. Mary of Bethlehem opened its doors to the insane. According to historians, it was a very noisy and unkempt place. People started dropping St. Mary from the name. Then they eventually contracted and corrupted the last part. Bethlehem became Bethlem and finally bedlam, a place of noise and confusion. A name that was first associated with the mother of the Prince of Peace became synonymous with disruption and despair.
Sounds like our hectic schedule of Christmas parties and commitments, doesn’t it? But, it doesn’t have to be this way. The celebration of Christmas need not become bedlam. Worship ought not cause confusion but peace, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (I Corinthians 14:33). This season is best enjoyed in stillness and reflection. Let the hush of this holy season toss out the bedlam of overactivity!

Real Joy

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The Robin in this snow photo from earlier this year reminds me to rise above the din of consumerism and enjoy the heavenly heights as peaceful as a snow-muffled day. That’s joy to me! The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is an Old English word for “joy” that comes from the Latin, gaudium, which also means, “joy.” Our focus this week, therefore, is upon the joy that Christ’s coming brings. The essence of Christmas is joy!
Wow! What a revelation! Here I am with Christmas about to kill me, and it’s about joy? My trip to the mall just about did me in. I found out the truth about Santa. He comes to us under many names: Kris Kringle, Saint Nicholas, and MasterCard.
The Jackson family went to the mall to shop for Christmas presents for one another. Before they all split up to shop on their own, the father said, “We’ll meet at the car at 6 o’clock, so we need to synchronize our watches.” As they adjusted their watches, mother nudged father, then stretched out her hand and said, “While we’re at it, let’s synchronize our wallets, too!
Christmas joy is doled out in monetary amounts by well-meaning people, but where is the joy? Payments and bills are inevitable, and what’s to show for all the expense of time or energy?
You can’t fake the wonder of a child’s face at hearing and understanding the message of Christmas for the first time. The joy of Christmas can’t be bought and sold, it’s a climate of the heart.
Some time ago I read one of those handyman columns in the newspaper. It went: “Dear sir, Where can I buy aluminum Christmas-tree needles to spread on the carpet under my aluminum Christmas tree? I want it to look natural, as if they’d fallen off the tree in the old fashioned way.” Of course it was signed, “Sentimental.”
The answer was better than the question: “Dear Sentimental: They aren’t available right now, but a satisfactory substitute is to buy a few boughs of natural evergreen, allow the needles to dry and fall off, and then spray paint them with aluminum paint. They look just like the real thing!”
I want real joy, not store-bought spirits and fake needles. There is no satisfactory substitute for real Christmas joy. Maybe that’s why we keep being suckered into malls every year when real joy is found at the altar? Read Isaiah 55:1-3 and compare it with Matthew 11:28-30! Here is the source of true joy!

Friday Night At The Movies

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It’s weekend on the first leg of my July-August journey; I’m at Emory now teaching UM Discipline and Polity, then it’s back in Columbia for District Set-up Meeting, Cabinet Retreat and through the end of August in Africa. Cindy’s coming down tonight and hopefully we’ll eat well and check out some movies. I eat okay when I’m by myself, but when she’s around my vegetable count goes way up. She’s great and keeps me straight.

We will be married 35 years this December 20 and yesterday I booked our anniversary excursion. She wants to go to New York City at Christmas, see the sights and shows. So, anyway, we’re booked for a midtown hotel, and will see “In the Heights,” “The Rockettes’ Christmas Show,” and, hopefully, “The Nutcracker,” but those tickets don’t go on sale until September. It will be fun. I’m looking forward to window-shopping and the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas Tree. It will all be gravy after that – 3 nights in the Big Apple with the Apple of My Eye.

We learned a long time ago that we had to go on dates at least once a week, nothing too fancy, just quality time without the kiddo’s, just the two of us. To all of you folks out there – keep the home fires burning by stoking the fire. It takes work and prioritizing, but there aren’t any shortcuts to lasting love. I’m no specialist in things of the heart, and I’ve made a lot of stupid mistakes, but I’ve tried to learn from them. So, I’m not sure where we will go tonight. I’ve got some options, movie times and restaurant list nearby – Athens Pizza will suit us both, go see “Salt” or “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” or something between action, comedy, and love story. Well, that’s the plan. We’ll see. Hope you and yours have a great weekend.

Christmas in July

 

Saturday, Saturday – It’s about the only day that ministers get to have Sabbath. Sunday is usually chock full of sermons, Sunday school, afternoon and evening meetings, the usual. The rest of the week is packed, too. I used to try to take Fridays off, but Friday became the day to get things done so Saturday was truly a Sabbath. Sometimes it actually worked.
I have high hopes this morning. We went to the Original Pancake House and indulged. We love it and haven’t been since Cindy got out of school for the summer. We both half-heartedly joked that the district parsonage has been like a motel where we just plop down for the night. Our lives have been in Rock Hill with Narcie, Mike, and the Kiddo’s, plus Josh & Karen; and thank God Caleb and I had our oasis together in Omaha.

Everybody needs an oasis: Like the picture I took of the robin in the snow-tipped pine tree. Christmas in July is having Sabbath in the midst of a hot grueling summer. Part of me longs to be on top of Mt. Mitchell in the solitude and crisp cool air with the clouds swirling in from every direction. It’s always 30 degrees cooler there than here in Columbia’s sauna. Call it “Recovery Time,” or whatever. We need it or we run out of gas and aren’t worth anything to anybody.

So today I’m shooting for a perch in a snow-tipped pine: read a little, sleep a little, catch up on DVR’ed TV shows that I missed during the week, play with the kids and not worry about a thing. I made a pit stop at a local bookstore the other day and stocked up on some novels. Oh, to find the time; or, better yet, MAKE the time to read them. Well, that’s my hope for today, to play with the kids, to read a good book, to be a robin in a tree with dreams of cooler weather.

To all my clergy buds, grab a Sabbath today or whenever you can. Like the little robin, chill out and feel the breeze. Come on, Nicodemus, you can’t see it, but you know it when you feel it. Today is the day. Enjoy.

Carolina Moon Over the Marsh

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It’s got to be a full moon! Just as sure as the full moon makes the tides grow larger, I think they also pull all of our brains a little too far from our brain stem – craziness happens. I resemble that remark. The last 3 days have been 12+ hour days, everything pretty good stuff with the occasional trap or two. The tyranny of the urgent has about robbed me of the best of the last month, but I’m fighting it! A month ago I spent a glorious week by myself on top of Mt. Mitchell, reading novels and papers, getting spiritually ready for teaching at Emory. Then it was two weeks at Emory sleeping in the same sleeping bag I used on Mitchell, except this time I was on a sofa (The mattresses in the dorm were worse). The students were super! I love teaching. If I could teach more I would do it. If I ever happened to be elected to the episcopacy, the teaching office of bishop would be huge for me.
 
Then I dashed to a week of Cabinet Retreat with our Bishop and my colleagues at Palm key in the marshes near Bluffton, SC. It was wonderful and we did good work listening to the Spirit and visioning for the work of the Annual Conference. We went kayaking to build up our sense of community and it was great. Next was our scheduled week at the beach. The grandkids were great!!! Enoch loved the ocean. All I had to do was say, “Beach,” and he started taking his clothes off. It was simply precious. The highlight was a huge rainbow over the ocean that my mind keeps remembering. In the midst of all the crud there’s God’s providence and promise!
 
It’s good to be back in our own bed, and last Sunday began my transition back into the life of a D.S. I preached and observed the Eucharist with a wonderful church at 10 am then held a charge conference to certify a young adult as a candidate for ordained ministry at 12:30; then it was 2:30 that we had a very productive Native American Committee meeting; then it was on the road to do a pottery-sermon on the stages of grace at another church at 6. I made it home after cleaning up at 10:30.
 
The next day didn’t start so good when I noticed our city-supplied trash can missing from the curb. A lady walking by said she saw several turned over on the otherside of the neighborhood. There it was with my clay as proof that it was ours turned over on someone’s lawn. I cleaned it all up and drove my little car with the flashers blinking with my arm out the window pulling the trash bin. It had to have been a sight. I disinfected and came to work. Meetings, Cabinet Retreat minutes, calendar for the Cabinet, and getting ready for our annual set-up meeting tomorrow night has been interpersed with talking to a lot of people, catching up on situations and getting home late. I just finished the Cabinet calendar and tomorrow I tackle the rest of the minutes. In the hectic day tomorrow I do get to meet with a young adult who wants to know how to start in the ministry process. Thank God for the oases of connecting with people. One joy was being with one of our clergy families as they welcomed their new daughter into the world!
 
New birth, new opportunities – keep me going. I may physically feel like the waxing moon in my picture over the marsh, but better days are ahead!