#AdventWord #Trust

Today’s Advent word is: Trust. 

2017 has been a rather challenging year for Best Dude and me.Needless to say, this past year started with much uncertainty.

Trust was key in an uncertain year.

Health-wise , I was struggling. the pinched nerve in my neck had gone from bad to much worse, and I was losing function in my right  {dominant} hand and arm. What had started with some intense nerve pain { which one surgeon in town refused to treat— his reasoning was that I am ” too young” for spinal surgery} was now becoming a loss of function. It scared me.

The more I thought about having yet another serious spinal surgery { at he age of 12 I underwent TWO major spinal surgeries to correct severe scoliosis}the more freaked out I became. Yet I knew that I could not continue as I was– with severe pain coupled with lost function of my upper right extremity.

Physical therapy did nothing to relieve the pain nor regain lost function, so my wonderful general practitioner sent me to another neurosurgeon. He agreed that I needed surgery, so on June 29th I but all my trust in God and the skills of the medical team and went through with the neck surgery. The surgeon removed the herniated disk, fused C4 and C5  neck bones together with a piece of cadaver bone   and decompressed the pinched spinal nerve.

In the process of gaining access to my cervical spine, the surgeon had to move a lot of the soft tissue  including vocal cords} out-of-the-way. I had to trust in his skill to not cut my vocal cords while assessing my spine. As a singer, I work hard to keep my vocal cords healthy.

However, I did trust the anesthesiologist who worked with the surgeon. He came to chat with me while I was in pre-op and assured me that he’s been doing his work for 30 years and can tell  {based on my body mass index and vital signs} that I will be an easy case.

The first memory  I can recall is the nurse in the recovery ward gently calling my name. My eyes popped open and I asked the nurse” I’m not dead”? She replied that I was, in fact very much alive and had come through the surgery well.

Surgery really can help put some things into perspective. For three months during which we were selling our house and looking for another house} I had to trust that Brian would do the physical tasks that I simply could not do. My recovery mandated that I refrain from lifting anything over 10 pounds. I had to trust that Best Dude would carry out all the boxes that I’d packed and place them safely in the POD.

These past six months have been an exercise in trusting God.  Surgery followed by moving, and all that moving entails has not been easy. But a life following Christ was never meant to be easy.

This week I was reminded of the words of Psalm 103–of God’s steadfast love. Are we so blessed to trust that God will be with us, forgive us, and wait with us.

Pax Christos,

Amen

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#Adventword #Voice

 

Advent word: Voice. 

Again, this is apropos for this day. Last night’s results for the special election in Alabama have Doug Jones as the net US Senator from the state that neighbors my city. The vote was close, but Alabamians had their say and { for once} erred on the correct side of history.

Now I do not know of Roy Moore conceded the win or not, but regardless, the Republican party did concede.

Thank you, Alabama.

I know many good people who live in that state– and I know tat some of them are Republicans. In today’s totally partisan political climate I know it must be hard to vote against someone who represents your politics. As I’ve stated before, my objection to Moore has little to do with his political platform and everything to do with the sort of human he has proven himself to be. 

Roy Moore lost because enough people in Alabama woke up and realized that party loyalty might come at the cost of putting a dangerous male person in a powerful position.

Men such as Roy Moore silence the voices of sexual assault victims everywhere. In making statements defending his disgusting allegations of lewd behavior with underage girls; Moore’s people dared to evoke the Blessed Mother in their twisted logic.

“… was only fourteen years old when she gave birth to Jesus.”

Just. Stop. Right. There.

Clearly Moore’s camp has not read the Bible with a critical eye. No one who supports him has taken into account that culture, life expectancy of people, and general women’s’ health was entirely different from modern society.

Moore in the Senate would have told girls and women everywhere that their voices, their #MeToo stories, and their dreams for a safer America would remain unheard. If Doug Jones does nothing else in the Senate; he’s already done so much to ensure that voices of women and girls who’ve suffered abuse and assault at the hands of powerful men are heard.

Our job as feminists is not done. Jones’ victory against Moore is a big step– but it is only one step. Last November’s Presidential election taught me that Americans still have a long way to go to ensure that all voices are heard in the public forum. Rights of people of color refugees { from all nations} GLBTQ persons, and persons with disabilities need to be protected.

Thank you again, Alabama. Y’all have proven me wrong– there is a heartbeat for justice in your state. But as a nation, we’ve much work yet to do.

Pax Christos.

#Adventword #Watch

Today’s Advent word is: WATCH. 

I am watching, along with every other conscientious citizen , this election.

Apropos for this day in history as Alabama is voting in a special election for US Senate. Republican Roy Moore has the advantage in a deeply ” red state”. However, Moore has a less-than-savory career– he was removed from the judge’s bench more than once for various judicial infractions.  There are also the serious allegations of pedophilia against him. But Roy Moore is a Republican in a state that is one of the most Republican states in the Union.

Okay, before anyone gripes at me for my partisanship, please know that I am aware that Doug Jones is also a mere human. I am sure he has done things in order to get ahead — he is , after all– a politician. But there are no allegations against Jones like we see against Moore.

Normally I avoid advocating for or fighting against a candidate — it is not my place nor my passion . However, this election scares me. The fact that, if Moore wins this senate seat– it will tell women and girls that they do not matter–that those who assault or abuse someone can get off scot-free.

A Moore victory will send the mindset of white, straight, rich , America back decades. People of color, GLBTQ persons and other marginalized persons are watching this election today. My involvement with some community groups here in my city give me the chance to hear the stories of those who do not benefit from white privilege.

Yes, those of us born white have privilege. I will admit that this fact was tough for me to realize, and I am grateful to my friends and colleagues of Stronger Together: NWFL and  Indivisible, NWFL for the tough love.

A Moore victory will send a message to marginalized groups that , once again, their voices do not matter.

Apparently the #MeToo campaign, in which I participated, fell on deaf ears.

But the survivors of sexual assault in the workplace will be watching tonight. I shall, because I know how it feels to be victimized by a man with power over me. I am an aunt to a sweet little girl, and it is for her sake that I speak my truth. As women, we have a responsibility to the girls growing up now to seek justice and teach them tha tno one has a right to touch them in any way. Girls, especially, need to grow up knowing that they are NOT anyone’s property. My niece is only two years old, and I am already working hard for her future.

Girls, along with their parents or guardians, will be watching tonight.

My heart aches for the women and girls who are assaulted daily by people with power over them . 

Alabama, I am watching you. I hope and pray you do what is right for everyone.

Pax Christos.

 

#Adventword #Message

Today’s Advent word is : Message. 

I collect angels. As a matter of fact, I am sure that somewhere in my parents’ house, are all the angel figurines I’ve collected over my lifetime.

The word ” angel” comes from the Greek word ” angulus”, which means ” messenger”.  I do believe that God sends such messengers to God’s people. Now they { most-likely} are not heavenly beings with six breasts and three eyes. Often in my life, and especially recently, I ‘ve encountered angels who are as human as me.

Since Best Dude and I have moved to City Of Five Flags, we’ve been attending both our smaller Beach Parish across the bay from our city as well as City Parish that is located five minutes from our home. At first we wanted to stay members of Beach Parish. After all, our wedding was there and those good people loved us back to spiritual health after a horrendous exit from a toxic situation. Beach Parish helped both Best Dude and me regenerate our faith in Church.

We love these people, but the truth is we do not get across the bridge very often. The fact is: Pensacola is home now.

Since I live in town and do not drive: I’ve started attending a Bible Study and Mass at City Parish on Wednesdays. The mid-week study and healing has helped me to move past the ” needing care” stage of my Christian walk  and into the stage of the ” care-giver”.

City Parish offers more opportunities for me to get involved in ” boots-on-the-ground-Christianity” — that is what I am called to do. So, Best Dude and I agree that we will transfer our membership to the parish in our city.

This was not an easy decision . Both Best Dude and I love both congregations . Yet for many reasons, we feel that God is nudging us to become full members of City Parish. It is hard, because the people of Beach Parish have loved us through some hard times. But, as one of my sweet ” messengers” reminded me on the phone not long ago everything has a season.

God sends us messages. It is up to us to take heed and listen.  God might be calling us towards a new venture and/or a new season in our Christian walk  I am learning this Advent that in order to follow God, we must often leave our familiar  and beloved comfort zones.

It is time to move on. Advent: this time of watchful anticipation, is a good time to transition. It is our hope and prayer that people at Beach Parish understand that we love them, and will always love them. Their story is intertwined with ours. They, like John the Baptizer, have ” prepared ye the way” for us. Our hearts are grateful. We feel sad, yet excited at all the new possibilities God has in store for us.

In the Name of the Triune God.

Amen.

 

 

#Adventword #Prepare

Today ‘s Advent word is: prepare

Today’s Gospel lesson was all about John The Baptizer ” preparing the way” for the One Who will redeem humanity.  John, older cousin of Jesus, came not to fulfil the Promise, but to pave the way for Him.  As he did when both himself and Jesus were in their mothers’ wombs; John recognized Jesus as Emmanuel.

John knew that his mission was to come before his younger cousin. He, no matter what some people might have thought back then was not the Messiah.

Look at what Scripture says:

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel” { NIV}

John knew that Jesus would be the One who would baptize people with fire. he, not John, was God-as-Human.

John the Baptizer’s Earthly ministry was one of preparation. John was confident in his role as the precursor to the Messiah– the Redeemer of Israel and the world.

John knew when to let go. 

John’s letting go, after preparing the way for Jesus is a life and faith lesson for me.

I do NOT ” let go” easily— especially to people and places that I love.

But today’s Gospel lesson, coupled with some wisdom from dear friends and then hearing a sermon today about the act of letting go to make more room for what God will do in the future.

Trusting God involves letting go of what is familiar; of what is safe, and of others’ expectations of me.  Letting go is a transition; and anyone who knows me knows how poorly I transition.

It is hard enough to let go of a situation or a person { or group of people who are  toxic . To be honest , it is much more heart-wrenching to let go of people and places with whom one has built good relationships. 

It is much easier to say to someone” I’m leaving you because you are a lousy friend; and this relationship is not healthy for me” Saying : ” I love you and will always love you, but I am at a place in my life where God is calling me elsewhere. It is not you– it is me.”

Growth requires letting go. Maturing Christians know that we need to let go in order to follow God into the next chapter of our Earthly walk.

Some stops on this journey around the sun are for a season. It is here where we are loved into wholeness; often after being ” broken” in a physical emotional or spiritual way. Like John the Baptizer, stops in this walk with God are meant to prepare the way for whatever God has next for us.

No one said it would be easy.  God, I am certain, knows that letting go is not easy. Letting go in order to let God show us what is next is part of a faith-filled life.

I hate it.  My letting go is not done well. There will be tears. Yet I trust that God will show me joy as well.

Pa Christos.

Amen.

 

 

 

#Adventword #Mend

Today, December 8, 2017 ‘s Advent Word is : Mend.

God does in fact, have a sense of irony.

Today the President will visit my city for a rally in support of Alabama judge and Senate hopeful Roy Moore.

Anyone who knows me, or who reads my writings is fully aware of my opinion on both of these people.

But in the spirit of Advent, I will not use any fighting words. Instead, I will ask that all of us remember that Emmanuel came to Earth as a tiny, vulnerable human baby in order to redeem everyone.

Christ did not come only for the Republicans. Nor did He come just to save the Democrats. He did not come just for those who choose ” no party affiliation”.

This baby boy, on Whose coming we await this season, came to redeem ALL.

The world is troubled today– just like it was troubled back when Jesus was walking the Earth. His parents were refugees in a hostile, occupied territory. They were travelling back to the city in order to be ” counted” in the Roman census. the Blessed Mother was a poor, Jewish woman engaged to an older man. There was, according to the keeper f the inn, no room for them to seek shelter.

Our ” God-With-Us” did not come into this world as a rich person. His Earthly parents were not people of financial means.  God chose to come to Earth as human in this way, and at that time in order to show us how to BE more Godly. This tiny baby, Whose birth we will observe at the end of this month, changed the world for the better. God-as-Human came to  serve, rather than to be served . 

He came to mend a broken world.

Over 2000 years later, we need to remember this fact. No matter what the advertisements say: Christ came to save all humanity.

In the Name of the Triune God.

Amen.

Advent word , Dec 4 #Journey

Today’s Advent word is : Journey .

As I was doing my morning prayer walk with the dog this morning I looked down at my feet. Since this morning’s temps were a bit cooler than usual for Florida, I wore my hiking boots. As I looked at my feet I call to mind  that I am a product of the generations that come before me. I carry them with me in my cells.

I also carry them with me on a silver chain. This weekend I found a pretty Tree Of Life pendant that I will wear along with my other identifying neckwear.

lineage.

Apparently that thought was not deep enough for me, because I started to contemplate the plights of both my Irish-American kin and my Eastern European Jewish-American kin.

There is no doubt in my mind that my ancestors on both my matrilineal and patrilineal lines were as resilient { most who know me would use the adjective ” hard-headed” and they are totally correct} as am I.  Life was not easy for both the Irish people  thanks to the British who wanted total control of their island. Guess what: most of it is still Irish}} nor the European Jews{{ everyone knows what Hitler did— and if anyone I know dares deny that the Jewish Holocaust existed– I’m done with you for real!}

When my ancestors came over to America, they were not wanted by mainstream WASP American society. I learned not long ago that the Irish who came here to escape famine were not considered ” white”. Seriously: have you seen some photos of my ancestors and my modern-day kin? We look like snow people.

Anyway, one of the big reasons why I am such an advocate for social justice done in the name of Jesus is that I come from a lineage of people who were ” the others” at one time in history.

Now I understand that I cannot feel what it is like to be a person-of-color, because people look at me and correctly guess that I am Caucasian. I do recognize that I do possess white privilege. Yet understanding more of my ancestors’ stories leads me into doing what Jesus would do, work so that everyone has an equal place at the Table of Humanity.

We are all on this crazy, beautiful planet together. It is journeying around the sun.

In the name of the Triune God and in gratitude for my ancestors,

 

Amen.

Beginning Again

Tomorrow is Advent 1

The colors of the altar linens of the church in town that Best Dude and I attend are now sarum blue.

stchrissarumblue

Sarum Blue is the color associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary— the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Like The Blessed Mother– I am experiencing ” birthing pains” of sorts.

Advent marks the beginning of the new liturgical year—a time of ” new beginnings” . As we wait for Christ– Emmanuel, ” God-With-Us, it is appropriate to take a step back and look at what feeds our spiritual lives.

For me, the new church season ushers in a time of changes that I need to make in order to step back and actively listen to what God is wanting from me in my second half of Earthly life. In order to be able to listen, I need to ” declutter” my spiritual life. I need more space for the Holy Spirit to let me now what is expected from me.  I need to stretch my soul a bit and tap into what God is already working within me.

I need room to figure out what God expects of me, and to do that I must let some things go. After tomorrow: Advent 1 2017 I will take a step away from serving at the altar.

All clergy involved with an whose congregations are affected by me need for time, space and freedom are 100 percent behind my choices. While some lay persons I know are upset with my need to step away from some beloved ministries; most have been supportive.

This choice did NOT come easy– it was only after much prayer, meditation , and counsel with some dear friends was I able to take an objective look at my altar serving. While I will miss being at the altar almost every Sunday, my heat is joyful at the opportunities for service that will open up for me.

Always we begin again”” Benedictine motto

In the Name of the Triune God

Amen.

Matthew 25:31-4 Reflections on Someone Else’s Sermon

Today I heard a ” convicting ” sermon by the rector of one of the churches that Best Dude and I attend. I am not even gonna try to elaborate on her words of wisdom. Instead, I will throw forth the question that she asked e in the congregation to ponder and reflect on what this passage means for me. 

The priest asked us: ” Am I  { or are we collectively} sheep or goats? 

Honestly, lately I feel like I am a goat.

I am such a freakin’ GOAT!

Many changes have taken place in my life during these past few months, and lately I fill like I am being pulled in a hundred different directions. I feel the need to step back and spend some time in serious discernment about what God wants me to do in the second half of my earthly life.

Lately I feel as though I am in a ” rut” in my spiritual/prayer life and I need to make some changes.  Yet I know that my need to step back and listen to what God is trying to tell me will leave people in a bind and that makes me a ” goat”. It is imperative that I get myself out of this rut, so that my spiritual life will not suffer.

Yet in order to listen to God, I need a sabbatical from some of my parish responsibilities. Last night I emailed the people who need to know a requested the sabbatical from altar-serving. Best Dude totally supports me, and I am hoping that those involved in scheduling altar servers will also see the need for me to step away from altar serving responsibilities. I know people are gonna be upset with me, and I do care. I care because I am { usually} a very conscientious person.

But I need to let these fields lay fallow for awhile.

I am learning to be ” fully alive human” , and part of being a fully alive and mature human is knowing when to step back and re-direct. In order to be a servant of Christ, I must know what Christ wants from me. And right now, my job is to listen.  Right now I feel like God is calling me to ministries that are more in the Diocese, and in order to do what I am think I am called to do, I need some freedom on Sunday mornings.

I wish people would understand.

Christ is our King, and our lives should be about serving Him. But first , it is our responsibility to figure out what Christ wants from me.

 

I need time and space.

 

Chrsit The King Sunday

2017

Wholeness: No Regrets, only “Learnings”

Yesterday’s ” word of the day from the Brothers of the Society of St John The Evangelist really *** spoke *** to this part of my walk with Christ.

The word was WHOLENESS

This was the meditation that went along with the word:

“We need to appropriate our past, which is the experience of the makings for wisdom– and we need a vision of our place in God’s Future.– which is the seedbed for hope. We live– we need to live where those two realities cross in our present time.” 

Our pasts, both individual and collective, are part of our identities. Many of us, myself included , often wish we could erase some parts of our pasts. { you know, some of those drunken occurrences in college with friends that we must not ever, EVER speak of again?}

I am  moving further along into middle age, I am realizing that my pats is neither ” good” nor ” bad” It is simply a part of what makes me, Sarah Beth, a beloved child of God.  Jesus , although He knew all about her past, welcomed the woman at the well into His loving community. Just like her, none of us can hide our pasts from God. The good news is– we need not worry about His  judgement. He loves us anyway.

I tell people the first thirty years of my life were a ” first draft” . While I’ve not committed any crimes; the first three decades of my life on Earth are full of stupid choices. { especially during my first attempt at college} Yet I regret nothing— my stupid choices contributed to the person I am becoming right now  and for that I am grateful.  In hindsight, had I not made many stupid choices in my life; I would not have gleaned the little wisdom that comes with maturing . As I’ve matured in years, so has my relationship with God.  Oddly enough, as I grow in Christ I start to appreciate my past much more.

The journey around the sun has been full of mishaps and ” wrong turns” . Thankfully, I managed to keep the Son in front of me; and He shows me that I am Beloved.  Because I know I am Beloved, I am slowly learning to share pieces of my story with my faith family. Humans are meant to live ” fully alive” , and in order to do so we must accept all of our messiness.

Like the woman at the well, we cannot hide from God. Yet also like this woman in Scripture, God loves us in spite of ourselves. That my friends, is something for which we must be thankful.

In the Name of the Triune God.

 

Amen.