What Is It That Fills Me with Awe? – An Advent Offering from Nancy Jagmin

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from far away.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is so high that I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139: 1-2, 6)

 

It is said that Advent is a season of wonder.  What is it that fills me with awe?  Today (truth be told), I have one foot in the exuberant joy that is just around the corner. I struggle to avoid “skipping ahead” to lose myself in the beloved story.  But still, I know that it isn’t just contemplating God coming to earth that fills me with awe.  I drag myself back from anticipating the Incarnation to ponder the reality of God being fully present in me, not just on earth.  Now, that truly is too wonderful.

 

(c) 2017 Nancy Jagmin

A Slower Path for Advent – An Offering from Cathy Irby

The walk to pick up a grandchild from school takes only ten quick adult minutes. But if I am accompanied by his younger brother the walk takes thirty minutes, because little Luke finds wonders all along the sidewalk. We investigate ant trails, bees gathering pollen in weeds, pecans spilled from overhead branches, rocks that surely contain fossils. My efficient adult walk completes a task. My languid little boy walk nourishes our relationship and opens my senses to God’s creation alive in the suburbs.
My Advent can pass quickly as I check off tasks and hurry through the whirlwind of activities to arrive at Christmas Day. Or my Advent can take a slower path where I look and listen and feel God’s presence in my world. I still arrive at Christmas Day, but the wonders are spread all along the way.

(c) 2017 Cathy Irby

My Soul Waits: An Offering from Lil Smith

Psalm 62:5 For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from God.
 
Perhaps the single most important part of silence is the space to stop and listen.  
To listen for the deepest desire of my heart.
For God alone my soul waits in silence.
Silence is not just a place of no words.
Silence is also a place of stillness.
For God alone my soul waits in stillness.
If I am still, I can more easily experience the presence of God.
If I am silent, I can more easily hear God’s desire in my heart.
For God alone my should waits with the fullness of my being.
As the labor pains begin, I do not yet know the new miracle that is about to be born.
Yet, I am already in love.
For my hope is from God.
Holy God, in our silence and in our stillness, help us to listen more fully and more deeply to you than we could ever imagine.  In this space may we see the peace you desire for us.  In this space may we sing your praises for hope in the world.  Speak your Holy Love into the silence.  AMEN
(c) 2017 Rev. Lil Smith
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

What Did They Know: An Offering from Joan Curtis

We hope to approach Advent with a sense of reverence, but sometimes it seems we live in a cacophonous circle of noise. We leave our houses with televisions blaring, get in our cars with songs or podcasts talking, go into stores with background music invading our thoughts, and eat out at restaurants or sports bars in buildings built for no sound absorption. This noise can compete with our sense of reverence Are we missing the opportunity to hear God talking to us? Are the angels around us drowned out?

 

This advent season our thoughts and our prayers center around the people who lived the Christmas story—Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the shepherds, the wise men. What did they know? How did they feel? What prompted them to listen?

 

Ann Weems has long been one of my favorite writers as her poetry – language of the soul – speaks to me, asks me questions, leads me to God Who calms my fears. Her poem Mary, Nazareth Girl speaks to Mary and asks this same question.

 

Mary,

Nazareth girl:

God-chosen girl:         

Could it be that you had been ready

     waiting

             listening

                 for the footsteps

             of an angel?

 

On these days of Advent, let’s make our hearts ready.

Be still and know the waiting.

Be still and know the wonder.

Be still and listen.

(c) 2017 Joan Curtis

Comfort, O Comfort My People: An Offering from Lil Smith

Reflecting on Isaiah 40:1-11

I wonder who will speak tenderly in the crowd when the tear gas is launched.

I wonder who will cry with the mother of the gunman when the penalty is paid.

I wonder whose voice cries out, “Prepare the way of the Lord”!

I wonder who will have the courage to create the first tracks in the desert.

I wonder what captive message will find freedom from within me to cry out.

I wonder how I will be able to make the journey to the high mountain to see God.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Come, Lord.

Come.

(c) 2017 Rev. Lil Smith

Spiritual Director and Supervisor

 

 

An Offering from Nancy J: Hear me, Lord.

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,

For I am poor and needy.

Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;

Save your servant who trusts in you.

Psalm 86:1-2

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(c) Bonnie Oden

The first few days after Christmas can be a bit of a letdown. Some of us are exhausted from shopping, cooking, wrapping, and entertaining.  Some of us poured our hearts into decorating our churches or carefully preparing the worship or music.  The impact on our moods is predictable.  It’s all over.

In our heads, we know the story never ends, but we might struggle with it in our hearts.  We continue to remind ourselves throughout the church year that Jesus came, taught us, loved us, and died for us.  The story is the same.  It’s just the time of the year that changes.

This may be a good time to remind ourselves of the miracle of everyday living.  There are days of wonder, but some days are colorless.  Somedays we feel close to God; on other days, the awareness of God’s presence eludes us.  Most days we just are called to be faithful and trusting, and that is enough.
Nancy Jagmin

Spiritual Director

SMI Board of Directors

An Offering from Donnie: Peace I leave you

Peace I leave you; My Peace I give to you. John 14:27

The gift of Peace was given to us by Jesus as He was preparing His followers to face life on earth without His physical body being present.  It was a gift given to all of us who are His followers.

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(c) Bonnie Oden

Peace in the scriptural sense is an English word translated from the Hebrew word Shalom.  Shalom was a common greeting during Jesus’ time.

Christ entered the world as the Prince of Peace.  During Advent, as I strive to become the person God intended me to be, Peace is one of the avenues I will follow.  I will endeavor to share the gift of Peace with all whom I encounter.  Shalom!

As I journey down this Advent road,

grant me the courage to make Peace.

Peace in my heart.

Peace in my home.

Peace in my community.

 

Donnie Hawley

An Offering from Nancy J: In gratitude, we find peace.

. . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Any the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

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(c) Bonnie Oden

Everyone in our bustling modern world seems to be looking for peace.  Perhaps the idea of “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil 4:7) appeals to many because they can’t even imagine a feeling of peace, much less the reality of a true peace.  We long for a peace that our fallen world can’t even comprehend.

An unattributed quote made popular on the internet suggests that “peace is seeing a sunset and knowing who to thank.”  That quote may have broad appeal because it implicitly addresses human longings which are so fundamental.  God is knowable.  God gives us good gifts.  God is approachable enough that we can thank him for showing us his love.

This is a good time of year to remind ourselves that God made himself known to us… so we know who to thank.  In that gratitude, we find peace.

An Offering from Bonni: Peace be with you

Peace be with you.
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How many times have we shared these calming words with those around us in our faith communities each week?
I know that Mary is struggling with a health matter to be resolved, John recently was laid off from his long time job, Doris lost her husband this year, and Michael is caring for his ailing mother. Jennifer is worried that her daughter isn’t going to be accepted at her desired university.  Jack is concerned that he won’t be able to be at his son’s Christmas program due to work restraints.
What a gift we might give each other by reaching out in real time to offer our presence to listen, really listen to just one person not normally in our inner circle of family and friends. A gift of our time can be the most treasured gift of all.  And it can help to bring a peace within us as well.
May the Peace of our Lord be with us in this Advent season and stay in our hearts and minds.
Amen.
Bonni Brophy King