#Saving

“Saving” was a word I had to think about all day yesterday before I settled on a photo. What exactly does “saving”look like when it comes to a photo challenge? What does it mean to save something or some situation or someone?

I thought about the word while I took my Hebrew final exam yesterday morning and encountered this word’s Hebrew equivalent.

I thought about it while I drove past banks.

I thought about it when I reached out twice yesterday afternoon and grabbed buckets of perler beads from the hands of children who were just about to drop them all over the floor.

I thought about it while I stood with the children around the big Nativity set in the fellowship hall last night.

I thought about it while 4 girls, poised over sheets of drawing paper with pencils in their hands, considered the stories in scripture about Jesus’ birth and drew their own interpretations of them. They asked each other (and me) questions about dress, customs, timeline, and particular elements of the story that are missing or not as prominent as most would assume. They asked questions they could answer for each other and questions that no one in the room could possibly answer. “Really?” they asked each other. “Is that true?” they asked. “I never thought about it that way before!” they exclaimed.

I thought about how stories are saved and kept. How having them written down is good, but knowing them through questioning and answering and drawing is better.

“Did you know that an angel told Mary she was going to have a baby before anyone else knew? And Mary was really confused, because she wasn’t even married! And she was probably upset at first, but it turned out to be good news…the goodest news!” A nine year-old boy explained me to yesterday afternoon as we worked on his homework together.

It’s news we still tell each other about, news we still keep, save, discuss, and draw.

 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’  Luke 1:26-33

#Welcome

This is Biscuit. She is a joy-bringer. She comes to see us almost every Monday at after school club to encourage the kids to exercise and be active. When the weather permits, kids can take turns holding her leash (and they all get “squirrel training,” because Biscuit loves to chase squirrels) and walking with her around the neighborhood, the riverfront, or the park across the street from the church.

One of the things Biscuit is good at is making kids feel welcomed and loved. And the kids in our program are always glad to do the same for her.

Biscuit belongs to Cindy, Riley, and Adam and today she was wearing this hat. We’re taking pictures of the kids for special parent gifts, and she didn’t want to miss out, so we got her posing by the tree, too.

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7

#MakeRoom

15327715_10153930583506993_409116086_nThis week, I made a decision that will impact several people.

I decided that the tall children’s Christmas tree will no longer reside on bare tile in the alcove of our gymnasium, but that I would move it to one of the classrooms–the one with the purple walls, because Advent. Doing this meant that I had to move a table and some other small furniture and items. It means that the elementary class that meets in that room will have a little less floor space. It means that the candy canes and ornaments will distract from any lessons to be done in that room–whether at after school club, in Sunday School, or during Children’s Church.

It also means that I can put the church’s expansive collection of children’s Christmas books under the tree for kids to read. I had the idea for that the other day and yesterday afternoon I was surprised and thrilled when I walked into the room to find three of our after school ministry kids gathered near the tree and quietly reading “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Night Before Christmas.”

I think over all, we are all going to be glad we made room for the tall tree in the children’s classroom.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John 1:10-18

Advent invites us to make room. Traditions and trappings of the season demand our attention. Retail and decorations, baking and parties seek our time. We are easily distracted, easily swept up into the commercial reasons for the season, and we easily forget to make room and wait for the one whose birth started all of this.

The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. He takes up space, he disrupts our plans, he causes us to rearrange the furniture. But if we are willing to make the room, we’ll be surprised and thrilled by the goodness he brings.

And, hey, if you happen to be in or around the Presbyterian Church in downtown Henderson, feel free to drop in and read a book by the children’s tree. It’s a good way to stop and make some room in your busy Advent schedule for rest and reflection.

Holy Hunger

IMG_3986Today is Maundy Thursday. In my congregation, we worship together on this night and read the passage from John 13 where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. We sing hymns and share the Lord’s Supper.

Tonight, I sat in the front row of the sanctuary because I was the liturgist for the worship service. A little girl who comes to our after school program and often shares meals and worships with us sat next to me.

There was something about sitting next to her in a communion service that may forever alter the way I take communion.

She walked into the sanctuary and was constantly aware that there was bread on the table. She gestured at it with exclamation when she sat down.

During the first hymn, she leaned forward and studied it.

While the pastor read from the Bible, she followed along with me in my Bible, pointing at the table as the table was mentioned in Scripture.

Throughout the service she would look at me pointedly and then indicate the bread on the table, with a questioning look on her face. I would show her where we currently were in the bulletin and then point to the word “communion.”

As the pastor preached, he talked about the Bread and the Cup and she made a fanfare gesture with her arms. It was my turn to look at her inquisitively. “I just want to make sure everyone knows what he’s talking about,” she assured me.

As the pastor moved to the table, she stood to her feet and all but took a starter’s position, ready to race to the table as soon as she got the go ahead. She shifted anxiously on her feet as Rich read and prayed and broke and elevated the elements.

When he invited people forward, she was standing toe to toe with him before he even finished the sentence, looking up at him, waiting for him to share the bread with her.

Some in the sanctuary tonight might think that my young friend does not have the proper regard or understanding of the Lord’s Supper.

I think she might understand it better than the rest of us do.

Photo-a-Day: #Endure

Well, I basically disappeared from Lent.

I mean, I haven’t been completely unfaithful to my practices, but I sure haven’t been posting my pictures. Part of it is because I have a new laptop and I can’t get my photostream to sync up right so if I want to take a pic with my phone and post it on my blog I either have to use a pretty fair-weather wordpress app that I don’t really like or I have to email the pic, download the pic, then post the pic. Does that make me sound lazy? I’m a little bit lazy about it.

But also, I’ve added seminary classes to my life this year and well…I have not done as great of a job this year creating and keeping time for photos and reflecting on photos and writing.

However, I’m determined to endure. Sure, I’m like 9 days behind, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share some of the pictures I’ve taken with the word of each day in mind.

I might feel a bit like this young lady who walked into the church gym for after school club last week and collapsed on the floor and stayed there (carrying on conversations and laughing at jokes) for about 15 minutes (“It’s so cool on this floor and I’m too tired to get up!).

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Photo-a-Day: #Celebrate

celebrate

The kids pictured here who attend elementary schools or pre-schools in Henderson County have been out of school all week this past week! Today, we celebrated getting out of the house and being together again at church this morning and at Pump-It-Up this afternoon. We made a huge mess in the art room and talked about Jesus and the season of Lent and some kids dug jack-o-lantern foam pieces out of the big box of foam pieces and stuck them on their crosses. Because: kids.

Back to school tomorrow–on a one hour delay!

 

Why You Should Take Your Daughter To Zumba…

Photo Credit: Nibby Priest (taken in Church Fellowship Hall)
Photo Credit: Nibby Priest (taken in Church Fellowship Hall)

(…or any group fitness class.)

You probably know that for the last one and a half years, I’ve been participating in Zumba classes that are held at Presbyterian Church in downtown Henderson KY. Three instructors teach in the gym at the church on Mondays (5:30 p.m.), Tuesdays (5:30 and 6:35 p.m.) and Saturdays (9:00 a.m.).

Almost all of the participants are women. Many are mothers. Some bring their children with them to Zumba. Sometimes the kids play in an attached classroom, but sometimes they watch or participate in the class. The instructors are very gracious, and I think it’s great when kids are there.

Yes, it’s great because they are exercising and kids exercising is a “win.” Yes, it’s great because they are learning some basis dance moves (cha cha, mambo, salsa, single single double). But it’s also great because they are seeing something they don’t get to see everywhere: women of all ages and body types, of all abilities and inabilities doing something fun and healthy.

We worry about daughters in our society. The media available to them is often full of air-brushed and plastic body parts. We worry that they’ll try to obtain something that’s impossible–the perfection that only comes with personal trainers, personal chefs, personal plastic surgeons and Photoshop.

In my Zumba classes on Tuesday night (I took 1.5 classes on Tuesday), there were several children present. At one point, there was a part of a song where we were all facing the north wall of the gym and shaking it. I mean, that’s the instruction: face that wall and shake it out. Bodies of all types, created by God and beautiful in each one’s own way, shook and moved. Young and old, short and tall, thin and curvy, full of energy and exhausted after a day at work or at home. Women, who got up that morning and themselves may have looked in the mirror and made a face because what they saw was not the impossible perfection they wished the were seeing, were smiling and shaking and laughing and encouraging each other.

When you take your daughter to Zumba, she gets a different message than the traditional media gives. She sees real bodies,none of them completely alike, being strong and healthy. She sees real women, some of whom she may look like when she grows up, doing something fun and energetic. She learns that “normal” isn’t airbrushed, and “perfect” isn’t impossible. She sees that “healthy” involves laughter, that “strong” can mean trying something new and that no body moves exactly the same way.

When you take your daughter to Zumba, she may just be learning to love her own body. And that’s truly a “win.”