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Pastor Leigh Ann’s Monthly Blog

The HOPE of Advent

The HOPE of Advent
Pastor’s Ponderings – December 2018
Will you wait on me? I’m pretty tired and it took all of Thanksgiving week to sleep through the night. I kept waking up and thinking about you and the world and my family and the thoughts run around my head dumping over my neat organized piles of hopes and making a mess of it all.
What were you hopeful for in January that you’ve given up on this year? Did the list of things you hoped for this year get disorganized with the messiness of living? Advent is that season of remembering your hope. Advent is the time we remember waiting for God’s love to pour out all over everything and make sense of life again. Advent starts our relationship with Jesus all over again as we participate in the story of Mary’s expectancy. Mary was a young woman who grew plump with waiting for a baby and took us with her on that journey of waiting.
Can you wait a minute; I need a little more coffee to get started today. I still have some pumpkin spiced creamer from October. Yum. It’ll be a whole year before that comes back. That’s a lot of waiting, for a sweet little taste that goes in my coffee. You may not care, but I wait all year for pumpkin spice to return to the store shelves, but waiting on Jesus… how many good and faithful folks have given that up all together? How many robustly faithful people have given up waiting for Jesus because the meaning and message and experience of Jesus is lost or faded? The hope for anything joyous or life-giving got dumped over and fatigue has set in.
The prophet Isaiah says, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Waiting offers us a brilliant gift! Seriously, waiting for God brings renewal, strength and restoration. I could use a little restoration right about now. Paul wrote to the people of Roman and told them, “but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25) I can see and taste pumpkin-spiced creamer, but what does the Lord look like and taste like and feel like? Hope, and cultivate patience.
Remember that Advent follows the journey from darkness ‘to’ light, from conception ‘to’ birth, and from death ‘to’ life. I remind you that we are living the ‘to’ or the middle or during the time of waiting. That means we are living during the time of pale light and shadows. Seeing Jesus come may bring some discomfort for your eyes to adjust to the brightness of God. Feeling hope and being restored will work some atrophied faith muscles that may have been forgotten. This journey of Advent isn’t a Hallmark kind of story, but it is the story of coming back to the life we most long for and the love we most desire. It is not a love that is fake or untrustworthy, but this love that God brings is true and steadfast! That’s worth the wait!
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11-14)
It has been an exhausting year, but hope emerges when you least expect it. The laugh of a child, the song that sticks in your brain, the spirit of joy that is softly impatient return to us now. Get ready… shield your eyes… God is about to turn on the Light in the world again!
God bless you and keep you, always,
Pastor Leigh Ann

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More Than Calendaring

More Than Calendaring… Pastor’s Ponderings – November 2018
We shared time as a staff on October 23! A special thank you to Heidi Kendall and her family for the space to gather at a beach house in Carlsbad! And thank you to the Staff-Parish Relations Committee for providing snacks and lunch! We are deeply grateful for your support.
During our retreat time we worked with Kathy Cueve and Bob Bowen on modalities of health and wellness. We practiced taking care of ourselves, so that we can love and support our church family. After lunch, we reviewed the 2018-2019 calendar and went through every month. We brainstormed meetings, classes, concerts and events. We have more things we want to do than will fit on the calendar. We are excited but can’t do anything without you.
During 2018 our church affirmed a Ministry Action Plan (M.A.P.) which defines the passions of our church and looks for ways and events to do the work God has called us to. Justice, Faith and Hospitality are the trio of foci that our congregation has named in different ways. Of course these three issues are very broad in scope and some folks are concerned with one and not the others. The truth is that you don’t need to be concerned with all of them. I do hope there is something in the mix where you see yourself though. I hope you feel inspired by God to work in one or two areas of ministry and service.
Did you noticed that we changed the name of the Education committee to the Discipleship and Education team? That’s because education is general study, but discipleship is what Christians do to learn about Jesus. Everyone studies and gets educated, but Christians learning to follow Jesus is what disciples do. We are also trying to bring our leadership roster and budget into alignment with our Ministry Action Plan. This will take a little while to work out, and take many eyes and conversations to get it done. As we look to develop our budget for 2019, our finance committee believes our goals for ministry should drive the work.
There is a lot going on and our staff is so excited to look into the future. I hope you are excited too!
Don’t forget to get your flu shot and get plenty of rest! We are an excited community of faith on the move.
Pastor Leigh Ann

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When REST is counter-cultural

“When REST is Counter-Cultural”
Pastor’s Ponderings – Oct. 1, 2018
 
Where do you find the strength and energy to keep going when your to-do list is so long and everyone needs something from you? What is the Spark that keeps you lit up? When do you say, “Stop! I need to rest now.”? Is your body calling you to sit down, or stand up and do something else?
 
One of my favorite poets and philosophers, David Whyte, says the “antidote to exhaustion is not rest, but wholeheartedness.” What is wholeheartedness? How does a person in today’s world live wholeheartedly? The answer is courage. The root word of “courage” comes from the old French “corage,” which means “heart” or “innermost feeling.” Courage is wholehearted! Facing the exhaustion of living takes wholeheartedness, which is courageous!
 
Sabbath time, or rest, or meditation, or prayer with God, IS an act of resistance and rebellion against the status quo. Taking a “time out” to care for your spirit goes against the machinery of the world. It takes courage to leave a blank space on your calendar and not get defensive about it. When we run out of money or run short of money, it is obvious. There clearly isn’t enough to buy the new phone or the extra item or even pay off the necessary items. But running short of time gets treated like a personal failure, or a lack of personal planning. Many friends and colleagues of mine sacrifice Sabbath rest for the sake of time management, being on time, or getting the project finished, and finished adequately. But, Sabbath IS God’s priority for us to have a good life.
 
Rest, which includes vacation, napping and Sabbath, is judged as laziness, when in truth, rest is a direction from our God and of our faith. Sabbath is for re-orienting our spirit, our life and our bodies toward God, good health, and sound thinking. Taking Sabbath rest, to breathe, should not make you feel guilty or cause you to feel shame. Having time to eat dinner without shoving it down your throat is a reasonable choice and good for your health. It is even faithful. Taking time for you and your family takes courage, and is living a whole-hearted life!
 
Maybe finding restoration requires you to nap, but maybe it also calls you to change something to which you are committed. Maybe Sabbath time calls you to evaluate if you are living by the heart or by the calendar. The World challenges us to stick with the calendar and others expectations, but God calls us to living by heart, because living by heart, means living with the courage of faith and Sabbath. It is an entirely different focus of life. So, now is a good time to confess my fatigue. Life feels pretty hazy with moving and family commitments and church ministry. Sometimes it is going to be this way. But it shouldn’t be this way as a lifestyle. It shouldn’t be this way out of obligation to any person. It shouldn’t be this way out of a need to please others. Our fatigue shouldn’t be treated as a trophy or a martyr-ish brag. Our fatigue is a sign that things are out of balance and that is a call to reconnect with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, bring your healing breath to all who read this and are exhausted.
 
Please take care of yourself. Take time for wholehearted living and a nap. Find the restoration you need away from your calendar. Don’t give in to the shame or guilt that can come from saying “no.” Be fierce in faith and vigilant in hope! There is much on the horizon filled with joy!
 
God bless you today and everyday!
Pastor Leigh Ann

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