No Birthday Cake

We won’t have a birthday cake.  Nor will we hand out gifts.  And yet.  [Don’t you love…and know…as in these blogs no less in life there’s always an and yet?]  Tomorrow is a very special day…for the church the first day in the New Year.  Yep.  Tomorrow is the First Sunday of Advent.

I love this time in the church year.  I favor purple and that’s the color of Advent [and Lent].  Although these days for some churches, clergy and the cloth of the communion table, blue is used.  The First Sunday of Advent is the birth day of the church, to herald and celebrate when it started.

Now.  I realize there are many places where God reaches us and where we reach out to God.  Preached a sermon once on “Meeting God at the Top of Chairlift Nine.”  God graces my life so often.  Probably with every breath but at times I’m too busy to realize that.  The list of Gott mit uns [God with us] is inexhaustible: being with Diane, walking with Faith [I like the reality “Faith” is both a spiritual truth and our English Cocker Spaniel], drifting down a stream with guide buddies—and other dear friends, especially those who help pull me into the boat after I’ve stumbled on the river rocks, writing unto itself, being with family—which is a veritable challenge for us with venues not nearby…make that Afghanistan [where our daughter-in-law Jennifer’s on a six-month deployment], San Marcos and Manchaca, Texas [where Jason and Teela and Aiden, Jackson and Noah and Diane’s twin sister, Cheryl, and her family live], Winnetka, Illinois [where Matthew, Sheila and Laura live] and Ruston, Louisiana [where Andrew and Dylan and Taylor live—thank God Jennifer’s parents, Dennis and Kathy are there also to help].

For sure…so many places and times where God connects, where God is, and when God cares.

I had the thought this morning…have actually become pretty literate in finding things: if I want to make sure to find and spell correctly a good word, I go to www.dictionary.com; if I want to find someone’s address, usually it’s retrievable on www.switchboard.com; if I want to find updated news it’s www.yahoo.com and www.huffingtonpost.com, if I…well the list is extensive.

I make the case, though.  If I never wish to be lost…if I want to seize the day with energy, or if I’m exhausted and need to be re-energized, if I’m forlorn and have to reach up to touch bottom..and hopefully that’s never a wish I hold on to although at times, often not of our willing or doing, we are not in good shape…the best place to be is in worship.  Because in that time, those moments, it’s a powerful source of strength…of faith…of hope…of being worthy and valued and of essence.  With the support of music, the beauty of a sanctuary [I was always emboldened at Broadmoor Church in Colorado Springs…one wall of the sanctuary is windows, through which Cheyenne Mountain and the church’s Meditation Glen were seen…a beautiful part of God’s creation.], but most of all, being in worship with those who also journey with hopes that faith trumps doubt, love conquers fear and the German pastor and prophet Dietrich Bonhoeffer has it right, “Being together is being with God.”

I’m no virtuoso in children’s sermons.  But, the one that best affirms the value of church—my thanks to Dee Eisenhauer for the idea—is to hand one of the children a pencil…and ask them to break it in two.  This they can do.  Then hand the child a bundle of pencils, held together by a large rubber band…then ask the child to break it.  They cannot do that.

Affirmation that being together is for strength.  Being together is for life.  Being together is for hope.  And.  Being together is a gift of God.  A gift God gives us every day.  Tomorrow, the First Sunday of Advent, celebrating a New Year.

Ah, the church: God’s gift that keeps on giving….

God is.

We are.

Yes.

In deed and in life.

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About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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