Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Sunday Morning Coffee

May 21, 2017

On Sunday morning my accustomed spot at this time is usually either sitting at my desk still tweaking my morning sermon or pacing the halls of the church in preparation for worship. It is my Sunday morning ritual of sorts, the quiet and dark of the building lends itself well to meditation and reflection. There is always a little time to light a candle, reflect on the coming celebration, nervous butterflies fluttering deep within, and that awe-filled thought that somehow, someway, I might find a word to speak to inspire, move, challenge, disturb, and resonate with those who hear.

This morning though is a different morning. This is the last day of mostly a staycation. I spent this week working on renewing, rejuvenation, reflecting, and trying to fill my cup. I made significant progress on a rocking Labrador dog for my middle granddaughter, I visited my retreat site where I was able to spend time in meditation and centering as well as a little fishing. I spent a day in a boat on a lake with my good friend where we worked on solving the troubles of the world. I filled my cup with connection and conversation with my best friend, partner, and lover. And for the past day and a half I have been surrounded by family.

So, early this Sunday morning I am not sitting at my desk or wandering the halls of our church in preparation for speaking or preaching. This morning I am sitting on a couch, with my coffee, listening to the songbirds outside the window, a woodpecker doing its thing against the house, I am watching the sunbeams stream through the windows with dancing shadow leaves on the walls and floor and furniture.

On this early Sunday morning, while my trusty writing instrument is still before me, I am not surrounded by papers, pencils, and my books. As the bird sings her early morning song I am surrounded by things like, toy helicopters, an infant capatrolr seat, Paw Patrol, sippy cup, Mickey Mouse, burp rag, a crocodile, a Cat in the Hat hat, and puzzles. I have been immersed in the giggles, hugs, and energy of a two and a half year old, the quiet coos and snuggles of one and a half month old, and the smiles and wiggles of a one year old and at noon, we will gather as a family and celebrate this our middle granddaughter’s first birthday.

I confess, while this week was much needed along my journey, it has been filled with much reflection and some struggle. The state of our world, our country, our state, and our church weighs heavy on my heart and soul. What can often seem like a tsunami of injustice, arrogance, theological malpractice, racism, bigotry, and refusal to acknowledge the corruption of society and culture by the power and prowess of empire, both secular and religious, is draining and disheartening to say the least. And yet…and yet…

It is here, on this bright Sunday morning, I am reminded, in the midst of burp rags, helicopters, Mickey Mouse, Paw Patrol, those who love me and whom I love… here is the reason for my passion. Here is why I do what I do. Here is why refusing to give in or give up is so very crucial, to leave this world a little better than I found it. That those who live in fear of violence and oppression will see the light of justice and compassion. The arc is still bending, but one day, I still believe, because of acts great and small by you and by me, my three granddaughters might live in a world where love, compassion, justice, kindness, humility, and are the rule rather than the exception.

So, here on this early Sunday morning, I am moved with a tear or two, because I am so fortunate and grateful to be a part of this family; to be immersed in the love of little ones and big ones, here in this place, on this day. I Love You! And because of these and so many others, my coffee cup is raised and here’s to renewed commitment to justice. Rise up. Speak truth to power. Fear and intimidation will not win the day. On this day, remind ourselves what the Divine Spirit calls us to be about …justice, kindness, and humility. Remind ourselves what the One we follower calls us to be about, caring for the least, the forgotten, and those pushed to the margins of society and the church. It is my calling… it is our calling. Rise. Speak. Act. Until justice perseveres and love prevails for all…for ALL.

May it be so.

Now it’s time for more coffee and preparation for a birthday party and cake!

Peace and Light for Our Journey!

Kent

 

Simple Pleasures

May 15, 2017

The story I am about to relate is true, though it is filled with assumption and speculation about facts which may or may not be accurate, let alone any of my business. But I tell the story because the vision I saw moved me and made me smile.

TruDee and I were eating at a local establishment recently and enjoying conversation and the atmosphere. I noticed a woman, perhaps about my age, wheeling an elderly gentleman in a wheel chair through the front doors. The host helped direct them to a table where another joined the two. My assumption was; an elderly man and his daughter, perhaps granddaughter, and his wife, or another daughter. It appeared in addition to his obvious different ability regarding the wheel chair, that he had perhaps had a stroke. His expressionless face held steady and his left arm bent in a right angle at his elbow with its hand clenched in a gentle fist as she navigated him up to the table.

I did not notice much after that and resumed my conversation with TruDee as we waited on our order. Our server brought our dinner and we began to eat. Out of the corner of my eye I caught movement once again of the three gathered at the table. The two women were conversing and laughing and the elderly gentleman for all intents and purposes appeared engaged in listening. And then he did, what I deemed to be, a curious thing.

beerWith his right hand, he reached to the table and picked up a glass, it was filled to the rim with beer. Very deliberately and gently he brought the glass to his lips, took a sip, and smiled. He continued the ritual, and with each deliberate and gentle action and sip of his beverage, he smiled. As we were leaving I took note once again, and just as I stood from our table he finished his beer, held the glass a few inches from his face, seemed to peer into its depths, and…smiled, as did I.
The vision this night moved me. This man, obviously in diminished ability, sat in the company of family, immersed in the moment, and savored the simple things of life. I sent my boys a text shortly after that and told them, “When I am old, in a wheel chair, perhaps unable to communicate or converse, please take me out and have a beer with me.” Let me relish in your company and enjoy a simple pleasure.

In this culture and environment, not only in society but even in the church, when things can seem to be so difficult, so opposed to justice, compassion, and grace, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Find a gathering of family, of community, of friends, and immerse yourself in the moment and savor the simple gifts of life and faith. Take time to immerse yourself in grace, in compassion, in soul food, in love. Jesus knew the importance of such self-care. That self-care is what fueled his passion and compassion for social justice of his day.

Give a son, a daughter, a brother or sister, a mom or dad, a friend a call this week and be together. It is one of the many ways we find the Way Forward in this journey of life and faith. Until next time, know you are loved, you are not alone, …ever.

Peace and Light for Our Journey,

Pastor Kent

Christmas Tradition

December 19, 2016

Tradition always comes to mind this time of year and I am sure each of us have some kind of tradition we remember and continue to practice. Some of those traditions are grand and involved and others are simple and quiet. To some degree these family and faith traditions are the glue that hold us together, remind us who we are, and who we hope to be.

Our family is no different, we have various traditions, especially around Christmas. Some are traditions we have carried forward with us and some we have created ourselves. Every year we put gold coins, often those gold foil covered chocolate ones, in our family stockings to remind us of the legend of Saint Nicholas; potato soup with the family, the long conversation about whether we can open gifts early or not, finding a way to try and help someone who might need a hand and a little extra love this time of year, and of course the gathering of family around a table laden with food, laughter, stories, memories, and love…mostly love.

I have a tradition I started many years ago involving primarily just myself. It is simple, brief, meaningful, and fills my soul a little more each year. Reading a book by Robert Fulgham, though I do not remember which one it was, he uses the imagery of Christmas music to speak of a cold, winter starry night. If you have been to many of our Christmas Eve Services you have heard me use those words as a form of encouragement. On Christmas Eve, after our Christmas Eve Service is over, either at the church or once I get home I always take just a few moments to… “Wander out on a midnight clear. Watch the Silent Stars go by. And listen…listen for the angels singing.”

My second tradition involves the communion elements. I asked a friend of mine while I was in seminary, who was a member of The Order of Saint Luke, what was proper in regards to left over bread and juice, or wine, after celebrating communion. He told me under no circumstances is one to just throw it away, pour the juice down the drain, or toss the bread in the trash. One should share the bread and juice with one who is hungry, consume it themselves, or “return them to the creation from which they came.” Each Christmas Eve I make sure our communion steward saves at least a portion of the remaining bread and juice for me to take home. Early on Christmas Morning I practice what I call my Saint Francis moment, and if you drive by our house early on Christmas Morn, you just might see an interesting fellow in his slippers standing in the yard, even in the snow, albeit it is usually in the backyard, pouring grape juice in the yard and scattering bits of broken bread on the ground for the creatures who dwell near our house. These two practices fill my heart and soul each Christmas.

Take some time this Christmas to nourish your soul, walk out this Christmas Eve on a midnight clear, watch the silent stars go by, and listen for the angels to sing. And as you gather together with friends and family on Christmas Day, find a way to remember even the least of the creatures of this good green earth we inhabit. And may the Light of this Season fill every nook and cranny of your being and burst forth onto and into the world around you so that the darkness will be held a little more at bay because of who you are.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. I am grateful to have so many family members, friends, and to be a part of this community and in some small way a part of your lives. I love you, God loves you, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,

Pastor Kent

 

Mother’s Day

May 2, 2016

I confess, for the most part, this writing is a rerun. I wrote this a few years ago, and as I considered the upcoming Sunday, I thought it appropriate to share once more. I have edited it a bit here and there with current thoughts and pondering, but the truth is still present and my appreciation and love of those who love still resides deeply in my heart.

I am pondering Mother’s Day today as it approaches this coming Sunday. Doing a little reading on the origins  of there day here is a bit of what I found; “The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. She then began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States. Although she was successful in 1914, she was already disappointed with its commercialization by the 1920s.” (Wikipedia) It is true we, especially in the United States, tend to commercialize anything that comes along in order to make a few bucks off of an originally innocent gesture toward someone or something.

That being said, today I am pondering Mother’s Day in my own context. My own mother is no longer with us she died at the age of 49 due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis and Cancer. I have to say, while embracing my own bias, she was perhaps the closest person I have ever known that really was near Sainthood; a woman whose life and faith were grounded in unconditional love and grace.

I am grateful for all the mothers I have had in my life. In each community we lived as I was growing up, I suspect partly to compensate for mom’s disease and inability to always be present, there always emerged a mom figure for me. I have often suspected though it was never revealed to me, that mom invited these other mothers to give her a hand in raising me; Medrith, Maxine, Gerry, Iverna, Vivian, and Phyllis just to name a few, and of course Gladys my mother-in-law but no less a mom to me. In retrospect I have had a long history of loving mom influence in my life and they all loved me in spite of me.

As my own journey of life and faith has evolved I have come to know mothering is not only about blood relation or who gave one birth. Some have not experienced a mother who was unconditional in their loving, there has been abandonment, neglect, abuse, and other atrocities done by mothers to their children and one must be sensitive to that reality especially this time of year. And I always take time to hope and pray for those in these situations they are able to find a mothering example to feed and nurture their soul and spirit.

I have also come to know mothering also transcends gender, mothering is an act of unconditional love and care which is practiced by both male and female, in families of opposite gender parents, same gender parents, couples and partners, as well as single parent families. Mothering is about acceptance, care, protection, justice, kindness, guidance, and most importantly love. This should be the foundation of all of our lives whatever role we have in our families and communities.

Join us this coming Sunday as we celebrate Mother’s Day and the feminine characteristics of God at College Hill United Methodist Church, Not Your Ordinary Church inviting you to, “Find Your Place at CHUM!

It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,
Pastor Kent

 

Mothering Day

May 5, 2014

On this day I am pondering Mother’s Day as it approaches this coming Sunday. Doing a little reading on the origins here is just a note of what I found; “The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. She then began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States. Although she was successful in 1914, she was already disappointed with its commercialization by the 1920s.” (Wikipedia)

It is true we, especially in the United States, tend to commercialize anything that comes along in order to make a few bucks off of an originally innocent gesture toward someone or something. I am pondering Mother’s Day in my own context. My own mother is no longer with us she died at the age of 49 due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis and Cancer. I have to say, though I own my own bias, she was perhaps the closest person I have ever known that really was near Sainthood; a woman whose life and faith were grounded in unconditional love and grace.

That being said, I am grateful for all the mothers I have had in my life. In each community we lived as I was growing up, I suspect partly to compensate for mom’s disease and inability to always be present, there always emerged a mom figure for me; Medrith, Maxine, Gerry, Iverna, Vivian, and Phyllis just to name a few, and of course Gladys mother-in-law but not less a mom to me. In retrospect I have had a long history of loving “mom” influence in my life and they all loved me in spite of me. Ha.

As my own journey of life and faith has evolved I have come to know mothering is not only about blood relation or who gave one birth. Some have not experienced a mother who was unconditional in their loving, there has been abandonment, abuse, and other atrocities done by mothers to their children and one must be sensitive to that reality especially this time of year. And I always take time to hope and pray for those in these situations they are able to find a mothering example to feed and nurture their soul and spirit.

 
I have also come to know mothering can also transcend gender, mothering is an act of unconditional love and care which can be practiced by both male and female, in families of opposite gender parents, same gender parents, as well as single parent families. Mothering is about acceptance, care, protection, justice, kindness, guidance, and most importantly love. This should be the foundation of all of our lives whatever role we have in our families and communities.

Join us this coming Sunday as we celebrate “Mothering Day” at College Hill United Methodist Church, Not Your Ordinary Church inviting you to, “Find Your Place at CHUM!

It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,
Pastor Kent

The “Stuff” of Life

February 24, 2009

            I spent this past week with my son, sister, and step-sister going through my dad and step-mom’s house and shed. We have gone through a lot of stuff. Stuff was the operative word for the week and lots of questions as to “Why?” did they keep this? A common answer was, “Just add it to the list of questions.” When one is faced with such a task care needs to be taken that things are not discarded that hold value, be it material value or sentimental family value. In order to make sure that does not happen we had to wander our way through every box, drawer, book, pocket, hutch, etc.

            The task that lay before us last week and in the weeks to come did and does seem time consuming and at times overwhelming. Sorting, organizing, boxing, labeling, searching, sifting, cleaning as we went, the days seemed to drag on and at the same time we found ourselves at the end of the day and feeling less than accomplished.

            I think some of the things we went through and encountered along the way; clothes, crafty items, Christmas decorations, books, tools, etc., we found things that caused us to wonder, things that caused us to stop and ponder earlier days, things that caused us to laugh, and those things of memory and meaning that catch our breath away and bring a tear to the eye.

            I think of these things now some three days since being there in the house and ponder the deeper things of life and love and faith. Even though there were chuckles and queries as to why and what, the things we sorted through were the stuff of life … the stuff of the lives of two we were connected to, bound to in the cords of family and love.

            I sat on Saturday and visited with an aunt and uncle and we were talking about the task we were set on. My aunt spoke of cleaning out one of her family’s homes and said much of the same things we have pondered and then she said something that caused me pause. When asking the “why” question it was obvious at some point this/these things meant something to them. The items, be they simple material goods or sentimental to us had meant something to my dad and my step-mom at some point along their journey and so they kept it.

            Some of the things we handled that week we knew why they were still in the house. We knew the story behind them or at least a portion of the story and in that those things held meaning for us as well because we were part of the story they told. Some of the things we held and passed through our hands we had no idea what the story was or the why’s, how’s, when’s, or what’s of them, to us it was just stuff … or was it?

            As I muse over the past week , even in my questions, chuckles, laughter, wonderings, and tears … there was something sacred at the core of what we were about there in that house. There was something holy about the ground on which we stood. There was Presence in our midst as we sorted through the very lives of a dad and a mom, it was the stuff of life I believe, right down to the dust that filled our nostrils and coated our faces. We held in our hands the stories of our families, our own stories so to speak, part of who we are is contained in those clothes, books, Christmas decorations, and tools, part of why we are is contained in those things.

            As we passed this sacred stuff through our hands and washed it off at the sink we told the story to one another, we remembered, we shared, we told of new understandings, and old hurts, of laughter and of tears. The old house breathed of the stuff of life, of good times and struggles, of joys and heartaches, of life.

            These are the things that make up our lives. Our lives would be flat and bland if the days were only filled with sunshine and would be too much to bear if only filled with cloudy and stormy days.

            So today, these are the things I ponder about a week of sorting through the lives of my dad and step-mom. These are the things I ponder as I consider the stuff of life that passed through my hands that has had some effect, consciously or unconsciously, on who and why I am… in the midst of that … I am confident as I return to continue to task another day … maybe just for a few moments I will remove my shoes as I cross the threshold and stop and give thanks … for life, love, and faith … and family.