An Offering from Nancy D: Cultivating Joy

December 11, 2016
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Reflection on a collage…

The topic was about “cultivating joy,” something I hadn’t considered. What would cultivating this wondrous gift be like? I felt I could make more progress starting with pictures that might lead me to words, and this was the resulting collage. What did I notice?

EPSON MFP image
(c) Nancy Dunkerley

My eye was drawn to the mortar and pestle, so large and central to the assemblage. Then the dancers– Girl in soft pink costume or delicate tulle, satin shoes…seems pensive. The woman in sexy red dress, dramatic flair.. seems assertive. Then the paints and brushes overlapping with a journaling hand. Then the wine glasses—fruit of the vine and work of human hands… the liturgy says “Let it become for us spiritual drink.” Then the totem pole—symbol of spirit mystery in nature and in us. Then a group gathered… If we are ever to cultivate joy, we seldom do it alone.

The medley of images—Joy, a mix of body and spirit.

Nancy Dunkerley

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An Offering from Elaine: The Greatest Gift

December 9, 2016
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Luke 2:6-7

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.  She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

BVM and Jesus

Wow!  Two sentences in scripture tell of the birth of one small child who came to save the world.  God’s greatest gift of love – his son, Jesus the Christ.

Two sentences.  They leave a lot to the imagination.  As I’ve contemplated the story, I see that my friend, Mary, also gave the greatest gift of love to the world that she could possibly have given.  Her “yes,” her cooperation with God, her gift of life, were a testament to her faith and love for God.

Where does your imagination on those two sentences take you?  As one of my pastors often says, “think about it.”

Elaine Weber
Spiritual Director
SMI Technology & Communications Chair

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An Offering from Lil: Love is coming

December 8, 2016
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Psalm 89:1

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. 
Untitled
(c) Bonnie Oden
 
When I arise in the morning, I take a deep breath and choose love.  
When my feet hit the cold floor, I remember my neighbor who has no floor.
When I put on my glasses, I remember my neighbor who is blind.
When I brew my tea, I remember that we are all connected, steeped in God’s love. 
When I pause at the end of day to give thanks to the One who first loved us and created us, I wonder what the world will be like
when we all choose love.
Love is coming.
 
(c) 2015 Rev. Lil Smith
SMI Seminary Liaison
Spiritual Director and Supervisor
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An Offering from Nancy D: Love Does That

December 7, 2016
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This poem from Meister Eckhart causes me to acknowledge some people in my life who have been a kind monk to me.

2009-Rocky-Top-of-Mountain

Love Does That

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
burros.

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.

Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,

he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears

and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,

because love does
that.
Love frees.
– Meister Eckhart

Nancy Dunkerley
Spiritual Ministries Institute

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An Offering from Eunice: Real Love

December 6, 2016
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“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  John 15:12

advent-love-candle

Jesus said a lot about love: about the Father’s and his love for us and about our loving others.  So if Christianity is about our learning to love as Jesus loved, then Advent must be about love.  Real love – not just the sentimentality that we feel when we see Nativity scenes or Santa holding baby Jesus.  Real love – the kind that is willing to say nothing in the face of undeserved criticism; the kind that says something kind when others are piling on; the kind that will hold within the tension of what is and what should be without getting impatient and exhibiting anger.  Perhaps this is what Silesius, the German mystic of the 17th century meant when he said: “Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that birth will be of no avail to us unless he is born into our hearts.” 

Eunice Cheshire
Spiritual Director
HeartPaths DFW

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An Offering from Nancy J: I wonder…

December 4, 2016
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Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness to the skies.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:5,7)

2003-7-Flathead-Lake
(c) Bonnie Oden

I wonder why I resist God’s love.

The Old and New Testament scriptures are full of stories of God’s abiding love for us, despite our many failings and transgressions.  The Incarnation was the glorious embodiment of God’s love, freely and abundantly given to us all.  Surrendering to the will of a loving God seems both right and liberating.  Yet, in a culture that prizes individual achievement above all, the practice of “letting go and letting God” often doesn’t seem natural or even “right”.  Is that why I cling to the notion that my worthiness is determined by what I accomplish? Or do I just prefer to believe that I am in control?

If I lived today with the full awareness that my life and my every breath depend on God’s love and mercy, how would I be different?

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An offering from Nancy J:Something worth hoping for

November 30, 2016
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Our readings for Advent include images of being swept away or left standing in a field (Mathew 24:37-44).  During this first week of Advent, in which we are called to hopefear might be our first reaction! We are taught that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), but we may doubt our capacity for perfect love.  That’s where the hope comes in.

2012-8-Eagle3
(c) Bonnie Oden

How can we hope to love the way God loves?  If we approach Advent as a time of preparation of our hearts (not just our houses), how can we open ourselves to God’s grace?  During this hectic time, nothing seems harder to come by than stillness.  Yet, if we don’t intentionally seek quiet moments, how can we ever hear the still, small voice?  That voice might remind us that God came to earth to put perfect love within reach.  Even for us.  Now that’s something worth hoping for.

Nancy Jagmin
SMI Networking Chair

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