Posts Tagged ‘Tradition’

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

 

The Cone!

May 19, 2014

Image

He was limping around before we had gone out for dinner with friends last Friday evening. He had done it before, we think the way he runs on the rocks around the perimeter of the house in the backyard he had bruised a pad on his foot. The last time it happened after a few days he was fine. I thought it was the same thing so really did not give him much sympathy.

We returned home from dinner and “Hop-a-long” was still limping around, but then I noticed the hole. My first thought was that someone had somehow shot him through our back fence. Moz had a hole in his front leg. I went to him and knelt down and gently picked up his leg in my hand to take a look only to discover blood all over my hand. I got him to lay down and discovered a large deep gash under his leg into his side, in his “leg pit” if you will.

We took him to the pet ER where they put him under and stitched him up and placed the dreaded “cone of shame” around his neck. He was going to be fine, but he was pretty pitiful looking with the large cone around his head, they had to use a large one because of his big neck.

Moz really struggled with the cone. He could not see and as a result would run into things and that was only if he held his head high enough so the cone did not get it stuck on the floor. He would just sit and stare dejectedly off into some kind of nothingness. When we put him to bed he would not lay down he just sat with his head down and sang a sad, sad song all night long. The cone is supposed to be for his own good so he will not lick at or pull his stitches out, but it is a sad affair.

Saturday morning I took him out in the yard to do his duty. He just sat in the grass and stared at the fence. Finally I unhooked his collar and pulled the cone off. He immediately stood up, walked over and did his “jobs” and walked back to the door to the house. We went inside and he laid down on the living room floor and went to sleep. He was free at last. A friend suggested rather than the cone we roll a towel and wrap it around his neck. It was a wonderful idea. It still protected his wounds but gave him more comfort and freedom to move around.

Life and faith can feel like that at times. We can get so caught up and bogged down in the way we have always thought, believed, the way we have always done things it can be like a cone around our heads. Our vision is limited; life and faith can become a burdensome yoke of dogma, doctrine, laws, rules, and restrictions that choke the joy of the unconditional love of God in Christ out of our lives, our faith, out of the church.

College Hill UMC has a long tradition of rethinking, reconsidering; striking out on new paths to discover here the Spirit might be doing a new thing. I believe we are as a religion and as a denomination right in the middle of such things today. There are those who find comfort in the old laws and restrictions and there are others who feel some of those tired laws and restrictions are burdensome and vision limiting. There is something to be said about beliefs that bind us together; there is also something to be said about finding new ways and expressions that enhance to freedom of the faith rather than continuing to restrict the Spirit.

I continue to wrestle in the tension of things of tradition that may be valuable and the things of tradition that are a “cone” around the neck, blinding, awkward, unhelpful, and burdensome. But I, and I pray we, continue to journey, continue to wrestle with and seek to know where the Spirit of Love will lead and what God may be doing new in our midst. May we stay awake to the freshness of grace and the newness of the Kindom that is still becoming in our midst. May we throw off those burdensome restrictions and embrace fully the freedom Love gives.

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

Image