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

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

December 2nd to Christmas Day

 

I walk
I crawl
I stumble
I sprint

To the hope
To the joy
To the faith
To the peace

Of the birth
Of the explosion
Of the struggle
Of the love

Nestled
Radiating
Churning
Burning

Within God
Mewling
Cooing
Sobbing
Wailing
As an infant

To inspire me

To walk
To crawl
To stumble
To sprint

To hope
To joy
To faith
To PEACE.

Shared by Susan Phillips

Mouths of Babes

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

My three and a half year old granddaughter Lucia, not only came to me, but spoke up:   “Lita, I don’t like it when you are here because you don’t cuddle!”

At the time, we were in bed and I was reading to her.   I felt a little pin prick at my heart and I know that I turned a bit red in embarrassment.   Truly though, I felt hurt.  At first I did not realize Lucia was telling me what she wanted.  And now I know, I needed to take notice.   She felt that an important part of our relationship should be cuddling while I read to her.

Sometimes from the mouths of babes, a message comes from God and we need to stand at attention and take notice.

Recently, I told Lucia that I’m taking cuddling classes and even ask her from time to time, how am I doing?  Lucia will tell me the truth for sure.

People tell us every day what they want and need from us. Do we listen?

Jesus tells us in those moments of prayer when silence enfolds us what he wants and needs from us —  listen to His message of love and blessings and step forward with grace knowing that He will always give us what we need.

Enjoy the Advent season and let’s all listen together to the spiritual nourishment that this season provides for us all.

Shared by Carmen Matias

Hope

Fall is here and winter is on its way. This is my time for reflection and renewal. The anticipation of Christ’s coming brings me comfort with feelings of Hope for the coming year. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” is my mantra of anticipation.

However, there’s actually more encouragement in this verse. Paul wrote these words while facing some of the worst trials of his life. Despite the threat of pain and death, he realized that God gives us strength in ways that go beyond the good times and the not so good moments. The strength of Christ reaches right down into our turmoil and pain. And it’s there that we can truly do “all things.”

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Psalm 33:20-22
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Shared by Brenda Walker

cropped-img_3382.jpg

Finding Salvation in the Midst of Advent

I stumbled on this hymn, which was not previously known to me.  The lyrics tell not just of Advent but the story of salvation.

THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE
by EMILY S. ELLIOT music by Ira David Sankey

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
When thou camest to earth for me
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For thy holy nativity:

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee;
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus, come,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth cam’st Thou, Lord, on earth,
And in great humility:

The foxes found rest, and the birds had their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch the sod, O Thou Son of God
In the deserts of Galilee:

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary:

Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
Thy cross is my only plea;
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus, come,
Thy cross is my only plea.

When heaven’s arches shall ring, and her choirs shall sing
At thy coming to victory,
Let thy voice call me up, “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee!”

And my heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus!
When Thou comest and callest for me;
And my heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus!
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Shared by Annemarie Edwards

7860518592_748a1974

Grace

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2: 8-10

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
Anne Lamott

“Grace, then, is grace,–that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.”
Alexander Whyte

“Grace is available for each of us every day – our spiritual daily bread – but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.”
Sarah Ban Breathnech

Shared by Agatha Pratt

7858338928_748a1986