Thank You and Upcoming Events!

Thank you for joining us this Advent Season on the Marble Women’s Ministry Advent Blog.  We were blessed this season to have so many contributors and participants.  As the holiday season winds down, we are actively preparing for several events in January and our annual Marble Women’s Ministry Retreat in March.

If you are local, please join us for an Open House on Sunday, January 13th directly following our 11:00 a.m. Sunday Worship.

And we are pleased to share our 2019 Spa Day for the Soul.  This year’s theme:  Grit, Grace and God:  Stepping out into Faith. Together.  Save the date:  Saturday, January 26th.

You must register by going to:  Marble Women’s Ministry Page

We have a playlist to share to get you started:
Grit, Grace and God Playlist on Spotify

Please join us!

The Dance

Isn’t it all poetry?
What we see
What we sense
What sounds reach
What penetrates our depths

What can poetry convey?
What roads traversed
What hills climbed
What tears shed
What stories told

With acceptance and understanding
of each other’s journey:
Hands may entwine
Differences can vanish
Hearts might link
Friendships can begin
The dance of life
Will flourish

By Lynn Doll

©Copyright 2018

Merry Christmas!

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

 
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among people, and God will dwell with them. They will be God’s people, and God will be with them and be their God.”  Revelation 21:3

 
New Testament scholar, Barbara Rossing, considers the two texts cited here as exemplifying what the “rapture” of God is truly about.  These texts stand in sharp contrast to end-times predictors who portray the rapture as God abiding “somewhere up there” and taking the faithful from earth up into heaven.  These texts portray God’s rapture not as God removing the divine self from the earth, from humanity, or giving human beings the goal of aspiring to be “raptured up to heaven” at the end of life.

Rather, these verses depict the rapture as God choosing to be incarnate on this earth, to live among ordinary people like you and me.  The incarnation of God in Jesus is that choosing…that desire for God to come close to us, be right next to us, living, moving and breathing “among us.”

The incarnation of God in Jesus in the form of an infant born among stable animals shows the radical, countercultural way God acts in the world, not apart from but among people.

If you are a person who has generally thought of God as being “up there” or “out there,” how about reflecting deeply this Christmas Day on these texts from John and Revelation?  What difference would it make in your life, and your sense of the presence of God in your life, if you thought of God as being right next to you, as near as your own breath, taking up residence in your home and heart?

God has chosen to be raptured down to earth, to take up residence in your life.  On this Christmas Day, will you let him in?  And if you are not sure of the answer to that question, consider that God comes anyway, whether we are ready or not, whether we accept him or not, whether we fully believe in all of this, or not.

That is the Good News of the Gospel.  A blessed Christmastide to you all!

Reverend Dr. Elise Brown, Executive Minister, Marble Collegiate Church

Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

On this Christmas Eve, I wanted to share with you a favorite hymn of mine, an African American Spiritual called “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow (the star of Bethlehem).”  Do you know it?

Like the more known, “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” the song was passed down orally by slaves and sung at services on a plantation before emancipation. It is a Christmas Hymn that focuses more on devotion and discipleship. Most Christmas Hymns are about awe and wonder.

In the typical African American Spiritual style, known as the call and response format in which the leader sings and the choir responds.   

What did it mean for the slaves who wrote this spiritual to follow the star in Bethlehem?

According to Luke 2:8-20, the Shepherds dropped everything and left their flocks at night to go to Bethlehem.

What does it mean for us today to rise up and follow the star? I do not have a flock to leave behind, but I oftentimes think about the work I do and how I can pass along this song of hope to others.  In a way, this blog is part of my commitment to help people focus on their faith journey and give hope during the busiest times of the year.

What does this song mean to you?

Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

There’s a star in the East on Christmas morn,
Rise up, shepherd and follow!
It’ll take you to the place where the Savior’s born,
Rise up, shepherd and follow!
If you’ve taken good notice to the angels’ words,
You’ll leave your flocks and leave your herds,
And rise up, shepherd, and follow!
Leave your sheep,
And leave your lamb,
Leave your ewe,
And leave your ram,
And rise up, shepherd, and follow!

Refrain:

Follow, follow, follow, follow,
Rise, O sinner, rise and follow,
Follow the Savior of Bethlehem.

The King’s Singers version of “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow”

“I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to give you this Christmas.  I’d really like to give you something that just fits your own wishes and needs the way these shoes just fit me.  I suppose the thing I’d like most to be able to give you is hope.  Hope that through your own doing and your own living with others, you’ll be able to find what fits for you in this life.”

Mr. Rogers, 1977

Shared by Marcie Doll

Waiting and Working

This past June, I retired from a position I had held for 35 years; I was over 70 and the time seemed right. In the lead up to this transition moment, multiple people asked “What are you going to do?” “Are you going to travel?” Are you going to write a book?” “You should write a book!” etc., etc., and so forth.

I found myself responding with a lot of “Maybe’s” and “Not sure yet’s.” I didn’t seem to have the big answer or big idea that everyone seemed to be expecting. It’s almost as though people expect you to replace that one major structure/focus that had dominated your life for so many years called work, with another similar one called retirement.

My experience over these past months has been to take small steps and to watch for the signs of where God might be leading me. It feels advent-like. I need to be preparing, which means taking small steps in the directions that seem promising. I do what I have to do right now and the next step will be presented.

Mary might have been terrified after the Angel’s visit, but she knew the right thing was to go to her cousin Elizabeth. She had no way to know that this visit would strengthen her and would transform her understanding of her new situation.

I am learning to take steps that seem to be right and to open myself to the graces that are waiting on the other side.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God, and God will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3 5-6).

Wishing a fruitful, fulfilling and fun advent journey to all.

Shared by Karen Gourgey

Back to the Beginning

There is something about a newborn child that is awe-inspiring, and I think it is because we see a baby as a bundle of limitless potential. We see an innocence that is untouched by brokenness, a naiveté that is untainted by hardship, a peace that is unsullied by conflict. When we look at a precious infant, the slate is clean and the future is unlimited. I think this is why Christmas stirs such hope within us. It is a time when we return to the manger and glimpse the newborn Jesus.  And as we do, we are invited to return to the beginning, when everything is again possible.

Mary experienced this as she contemplated the possibility of giving birth to Jesus. Initially, the realities of life had left her with jaded expectations. In her mind there was no way she would be giving birth to a child any time soon, let alone to the one who would be called the Son of God. As she struggled with this, she received a divine word from above, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). By embracing this, her life would forever change, and so too would the world.

I know for many of us the realities of life have left us with jaded expectations. It is hard for us to envision that things can change… that we can change. My hope for us is that as we enter Advent, a season of expectation, it moves us back to the beginning, the place where hope is born.  And may we all embrace the divine word from above, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Dr. Michael Bos
Senior Minister, Marble Collegiate Church

This is the first Advent Season for Dr. Bos, as our Senior Minister at Marble Collegiate Church.  Joining a long line of distinguished Ministers at one of America’s oldest churches.  If you are looking to take a deeper dive after Advent into your spiritual journey, please head to our sermon archives found here:  Webcast Archives on Marble Collegiate Church.

Unexpected Moment of Grace in Advent

During the Advent Season, we oftentimes are in such a rush to get the next item on our list completed, we do not make time for the people who are helping us in the grocery store, the bank and other locations.

The other day I was chatting with a new teller at our bank.  We were just talking and I asked if she had finished her Christmas shopping.  She took a moment to answer.

She said she really doesn’t do much Christmas shopping because she wants to leave her heart and mind focused on and open for the coming birth of Jesus.  I looked her and said wow you got that so right. As I walked out I said prayer thanking God for that “God wink” and reminder as to what this beautiful Advent Season is really all about.

Has anyone else experienced this kind of moment of grace during the Advent Season this year?  It is the last weekend of the season and I am hoping that we all can say a few nice words to the helpers in our lives and maybe we might get a thoughtful response that can inspire for a long time….

Shared by Bonny Chopey

The Winter Solstice 2018

Good Evening Friends!

On this the shortest day of the year:

We all have winters in our lives;
Darkness fills our world,
Fear is present,
We have a longing for companionship,
Our struggles seem insurmountable,
We feel a sadness that abounds,
Some will forsake us,
Geography can make us feel isolated,
Apart from those we love,
And we will be separated on our journeys.

While you may not in the midst of winter value the “winter” moments, but they help us to look for something to endure and hope again. And appreciate the good times more. For me, I always turn to music with harmonies that defy.

Winter will end, hope will return and you will find a way…as Christ was born for us on a new day.

The King’s Singers version of “Born on a New Day”

Shared by Marcie Doll

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Winter Songs…

While I absolutely adore the traditional Christmas Music, I am always looking for a few more to add to the playlist and updated traditional carols with some new singers.

The Good Shepherd Band’s Gabriel’s Message

Winter Song from The Hound and the Fox

The Angel City Choir’s, Do You Hear What I Hear?

Someday at Christmas from Stevie Wonder and Andra Day

From the Motown Gospel Album, This Christmas

 

 

 

 

A Message….

CHRISTMAS is celebration; and celebration is instinct in the heart. With gift and feast, with scarlet ribbon and fresh green bough, with merriment and the sound of music, we commend the day—oasis in the long, long landscape of the commonplace. Through how many centuries, through how many threatening circumstances, has Christmas been celebrated, since that cry came ringing down the ages, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

Christmas is celebration, but the traditions that cluster sweetly around the day have significance only if they translate the heart’s intention—the yearning of the human spirit to compass and express faith and hope and love. Without this intention, the gift is bare, and the celebration a touch of tinsel, and the time without meaning. As these attributes, exemplifying the divine spark in mankind, informed the first Christmas and have survived the onslaughts of relentless time, so do they shine untarnished in this present year of our Lord.

Faith and hope and love, which cannot be bought or sold or bartered, but only given away are the wellsprings, firm and deep of Christmas celebration. These are the gifts without price, the ornaments incapable of imitation, discovered only within oneself and therefore unique. They are not always easy to come by, but they are in unlimited supply ever in the province of all.

THIS CHRISTMAS, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion, and replace it with trust. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Find the time. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand. Flout envy. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Appreciate. Be kind; be gentle. Laugh a little. Laugh a little more. Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude. Go to church. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it still once again.

These are but inklings of a vast category; a mere scratching of the surface. They are simple things; you have heard them all before; but their influence has never been measured.

Christmas is celebration, and there is no celebration that compares with the realization of its true meaning—with the sudden stirring of the heart that has extended itself toward the core of life. Then, only then, is it possible to grasp the significance of the first Christmas—to savor in the inward ear the wild, sweet music of the angel choir; to envision the star-struck sky, and glimpse, behind the eyelids the ray of light that fell athwart a darkened path and changed the world.

McCall’s Magazine, 1959

I thought I should share this message, while written in 1959, seems to resonate to me today.  Christmas is not just a day, it should be a movement.  I used an excerpt of this in my Christmas card this year to friends and family and I also share this with you.

Marcie Doll