Mary’s Blessing for Her Little Boy

Little One I hold in my arms, may you
as a child be pulled by a puddle 
to come out in your bare feet
make a riot of water
stand in rain turning grasses to greener
you, too, are turning – a rainbow 
inside you, around you, child of promise
now fully alive in your body
blessed in its miraculous senses to see
at eye-level, hear with the ear of your heart					
taste the wet moving stream	 
of rain on your tongue			
breathe its perfume into you 
alive in your sixth sense of wonder					
bare feet planted in earth 
you are hard-wired for beauty 
come forth from waiting 
born of hope in all of its blessings
all is love, naught is duty in your being
without guile who you are, belov’d child.
  	

By Margie Dimoplon

Advent Calendars

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.  The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. Romans 14:5-6

In late October, I received several boxes unexpectedly from friends.  All contained very different Advent Calendars, as they knew I needed something to remind me of my favorite season of the year, Advent.  October had been a challenging month, but my friends reminded me in the best way possible that Advent was coming.

You see, last December 19th, in the week before Christmas and in the middle of the Advent Blog, my home was seriously damaged by a fire. The fire started next door and I had to rush out of my home to safety.  I have been displaced for the past year and little restoration work has been completed due to the insurance companies. I will be out for another year at least.  Everything about my life this past year was unsettling and continues to be a challenge.  But I am here this Advent. So how can I find blessings in all the mess? 

These five Advent Calendars will help me find a daily moment of gratitude in a difficult season, as “gratitude is the memory of the heart,” according to Jean Baptist Massieu.  I will honor each day of this season by opening a door of each Advent Calendar, each helping me to focus on the coming of Jesus, just like Romans 14:5-6.

While the origins of the Advent Calendar hail from 19th Century Germany, the year 2021 may be the year they moved mainstream and even a little commercial for my taste.  Did you know there are hundreds of different kinds of Advent Calendars at all price points and for all ages? Some of these include a jam and honey, a tea sachet, a fragrance a day, and even a Star Wars Advent Calendar. 

So do you have a favorite Advent Calendar?  Or do you need to purchase or download one for free online this year? 

As I open each door of the Advent Calendars my friends sent me this year, I will take a moment to remind myself of how blessed I am to celebrate Advent this year. And maybe in 2022, I can open the doors of the Advent Calendars in my newly rebuilt home. 

Marcie Doll

The Bonne Maman 2021 Advent Calendar

Amaryllis Bulbs are a Metaphor for Hope

Hope is God’s promise when it is a dark time for us, when we cannot see signs of change or the possibility of growth.

One has to wait and be patient…hope is not a quick fix!  The hope which God gives us provides a place to stand that is positive and life giving.  Without hope, we turn dark, disappointed and we give up on our dreams.  Hope gives us courage to move forward, to step out into the darkness.  Hope helps us to take risks where there is not certainty of outcomes.

The foundation of our faith is built upon hope as written in Hebrews 11: 1-3.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.  By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

The amaryllis begins as a large bulb, its earthy darkness hiding the beauty within.  As it is planted, watered and receives the light it shoots up into a tall stem with large bud.  Suddenly a brilliantly colored bloom bursts forth from the bud with 4 large blossoms.

Beautiful!  A picture of how God surprises us with overflowing grace.

Pastor Joy Kulvicki

A Note about the Blog this Year….This post shared a few years ago was the inspiration for our Advent Blog this year, where we will together share stories of how hope can come out of darkness. We hope you enjoy the blog this year.

Advent Starts…Tomorrow

Welcome to the 2021 Marble Women’s Ministry Advent Blog.  Start lighting the candles, tomorrow is the start of the Advent Season.  

In our eighth Advent Season with an online blog, the Marble Women’s Ministry focuses on God’s promise of hope. 

The Amaryllis, a flower which blooms in December, is a metaphor for hope. One must wait and be patient as hope is something worth waiting for, just as Advent asks us to wait for the birth of Christ or as we wait for the Amaryllis to bloom.

As a simple routine for the Advent Season, wake up each morning to an inspiring story of hope with each Advent blog post. It may just provide us all the courage to move forward and step out into the darkness of our world as kinder, more inspirational Christians.

While the Marble Women’s Ministry sponsors the Advent blog, the inspiration is geared for all who need to start the day with hope. (Sign-up for daily motivation delivered to your inbox by clicking “Follow.”)

When you wake up on Christmas morning this year, how will you be different? 

Advent is a season of transformation, but only if you let the spirit of Advent in your life. 

Marcie Doll, Elder, Marble Collegiate Church and Curator of the Marble Women’s Ministry Blog

Grow

Garden of Your Mind

What are you growing
in the garden of your mind –
what do you water
nourish, feed?
Do you plant seeds of forgiveness,
of love,
or do you fertilize weeds of anger
resentment, fear?
What are you growing
in the garden of your heart?
Do you allow sunshine to reach dark pain
in the corners of your heart –
Do you allow tears to wash it clean
and nourish it –
Or do you put up fences
to keep out the feelings?
Get on your knees
grow your own food
decide what it is you want in your soil.
Know what you are cultivating
what you are growing –
a lot can grow in the garden of your body
if you let it seed
nourish it
allow it
watch it grow.

By Whitney Hess, based on a poem by William Wordsworth

Today is the last blog post for the Lenten season, but your growth and transformation do not have to end with the season. Print this poem out and make it a part of moving forward in 2021. Working on our emotional health this year is paramount as we move from pandemic closures to a more open world. What will you grow in the garden of your mind for the rest of 2021?

Thank you to all who joined our blog this year for the Lenten Journey. We hope that you were blessed by all of the voices who shared stories, pictures, journeys, prayers, songs, art, and practices from their hearts.

We will see you back here at Advent.

May the love of Christ fill your life as you nourish your soul and grow the garden that is your mind.

Marcie Doll

Happy Easter! He is Risen! Rejoice!

As I knew I would be away this Easter, I packed items to make my very special Easter altar.

Lord, we lift our hearts to you.

As the dawn breaks, may we carry the unity we share into every moment knowing that we are one with the risen Christ.

Lord, we lift our eyes to you.

As the sunrises, may this moment stay with us, reminding us to look for the beautiful colors of promise in your word.

Lord, we lift our prayers to you.

As the dew air falls, may we breathe this morning in and know that like the earth, you sustain us, keep us and work within us always.

And so, we lift our voices to you.

We celebrate the greatest day in history, when Jesus rose from death, defeated darkness and bathed the world in stunning resurrection light.

May we ever live to praise you!

Amen.

— Author Unknown

The Dark Before the Dawn

Melancholy

The Art Institute of Chicago

Odilon Redon, 1876

The past year has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination.  And so, we arrive at yet another Holy Saturday from within our own tombs.  And for so many, we are even deeper in than last year.  Grief, illness, despair, conflict, loneliness, isolation, loss, instability, fear and anxiety have kept us all in their grip it seems endlessly.

But soon the sun shall rise; soon we will witness the stone rolled away; soon the joyful end will be and we will once again be safe and blessed in the purest joy of the Easter Truth.  

Dear Divine One, as Mary finally did that morning in the garden, may we too have eyes and hearts to recognize You even though we may be blinded with tears and downcast in countenance and soul. This long Lenten struggle is coming to a close and we are nearing its end.  Let us find stillness, solace and hope in these final moments and in the journey traveled, and bear patiently, trusting the Lord who is indeed on our side, and await patiently the light that is to come.   

“Be Still My Soul”, Melody Joy Cloud

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the veil of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Written by Catharina von Schlegel, 1752

Translated by Jane Laurie Borthwick, 1855

Music from Finlandia, Jean Sibelius

Shared by Karla Hendrick

Were you There?

On this Good Friday, I share very different versions of the song, “Were you There?” The African American Spiritual is attributed to a few different people, but it has been around much longer than when it was first published in 1899. Only God knows….

Shared by Marcie Doll

Maundy Thursday

© Susan Dorothea White

The First Supper, 1988

I was given John 13 to read at our service for Maundy Thursday.  “Oh, yup – that one, I got it.”

I set it aside.

Days later in a tough moment, I randomly opened my Bible for a quick word as I sometimes do, and as it opened, my eyes fell on John 13.  “Hmm, weird.”  I read it through once.

Now again, mere days later, what is today’s Bible passage pushed to me automatically via the Bible app on my phone?  John 13. 

Guess it’s time to really pay attention.

Much has been said about this great teaching of Jesus.  That we are to love one another and follow His example.  But as we gather around the table, each of us a Doubter, a Denier, a Betrayer, or another struggling soul who falls short, how do we love ourselves in order to do what He asks? 

Knowing what every disciple would go and do in a matter of a few short hours, Jesus washed the feet of each one.  This was indeed a powerful lesson in how to be a servant in the world, and how we must love; yet I also believe that in this ritual Jesus offered each man a tangible cleansing of forgiveness – what just might be the most powerful evidence of what love looks like ahead of Good Friday.  Jesus washed even Judas’ feet before he dismissed him to “do quickly what you are going to do”.  I often wonder what Judas must have felt as Jesus approached him with His basin and towel.  Jesus needed Judas to know just how deeply he was loved, even then.

Despite our doubt, anger, procrastination, unforgiveness, worry, discouragement, inaction, busyness, control, fear, judgement — name your poison — our loving and serving others starts with loving ourselves.  Our whole selves. 

So I’m learning this recipe for loving which I believe Jesus serves us in John 13.  Equal parts. . .

Rest                 Stop. Sit down. You cannot have your feet washed if you are constantly on them.

Receive           Allow the Lord to hold in His hands your most worn parts, bunions and all.

Release            Let the dirt and grime go; what’s under the toenails has been there a long time.

Repair             Trust that a miraculous work is moving up through you.

Renew             Know that you’re made clean and whole and deserve to feel refreshed and new.

Return             Go offer this loving kindness in whatever form you can to whomever you can.

By Karla Hendrick

Storms and Hope

Elephants before and after a storm.

During one of our game drives in the Maasai Mara Preserve in Kenya, the bright blue sky turned dark, and thunderous slate gray clouds gathered on the horizon while the wind howled through the grassy plains on either side of us. A storm was imminent.

Our Maasai guide asked if we would like to try to beat the storm and head back to camp or ride it out in the plains. We opted to ride it out as we were enamored with the elephants we had just spotted in the distance. Jacob (our guide) covered the open roof and windows with see-through plastic tarps and drove us toward the elephants. The rain soon came down in big heavy drops that sounded as if a thousand elves were tap dancing on the tarp above our heads. As the wind shook our Land Cruiser, a flash of lightening split the sky followed by a clap of thunder. Even as I enjoyed the spectacle of the storm, I silently wondered if we had made the right choice in riding out the storm.

As if reading my thoughts, Jacob quickly reassured us that the storm would soon be over, and we were safe. He was right. Soon, all was still and quiet and a patch of sunlight peeked through the blanket of dark clouds. The air which had been hot and stagnant before the storm now smelled so fresh and new. I closed my eyes and breathed in as deeply as I could over and over. How could I describe the sweetness of this air? These four words popped into my mind. “It smells like hope.” Yes, it smells like hope I repeated to myself with a smile. It took a storm to bring me the scent of hope.

As we head toward the hope that Easter represents, may we remember that with God, the storms of life can be the vehicles of hope.

Shared by Patricia Wu.

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