Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Skimming over the grief to a place of peace

Since the news last week of the shooting in CT, I've been skimming over the grief. A good friend of mine stated, that it wasn't possible for her to look at the photo of the 20 children and 6 adults that lost their lives. I can't either, as least I can't if I stay in this space of skimming.  

The extent of this loss and violence makes me feel as if I might drown in it.
I don't want to really see it.
I'm fearful that it will pierce my heart in an inconsolable way.
And then I'm only looking at this loss from arms length. 
I did not know any of these people personally, however this kind of loss cuts all of us to the quick.
Children and adults that were full of life, hope and promise; were taken away.
This kind of tragedy just shouldn't happen. 

My dear friend Becky send me this Psalm this week to be a help to me. She gave it to me as a reminder of how God in the way that only God can - work in the midst of tragedy, call others to help the hurting and ultimately hold on to hope. 

Earlier today, I was able to (with the help of my church's knitting ministry) give 4 prayer shawls to a friend who works in the area of Disaster Services. Her agency is collecting prayer shawls to be given to the families and first responders who assisted those impacted by the tragedy in Newton, CT. first hand.

Bit by bit, I begin to see how small steps like reading the following text from Isaiah 35 and getting prayer shawls to the people who need them are ways of working past skimming over grief into walking through it  - to a place of help and hope.

May these words give you hope for whatever wild times you are living in and my the God of perfect peace give you strength.

Grace and Peace,

Isaiah 35

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,

And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;

It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice,
Even with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
The excellence of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
The excellency of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb sing.
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert.
The parched ground shall become a pool,
And the thirsty land springs of water;
In the habitation of jackals, where each lay,
There shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it,
But it shall be for others.
Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
Shall not go astray.
No lion shall be there,
Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it;
It shall not be found there.
But the redeemed shall walk there,
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pictures of hope: always we begin again


Photos have an amazing way of bringing back old memories don’t they? No matter if you collect them in Albums, Scrapbooks, Facebook or Instagram – photo sharing is an important way of telling your families stories in a concrete way. You can point to and talk about who is in the picture, what they were doing and why that moment in time is still important to you today. Photos tell us not only what we were doing then, but what group or community was important as well. When my family was young, each summer we would take a photo at the photo booth at Midway Park. Over the years, we collected these strips of photos, and my husband created a collage. This collage (above) is one of my most cherished possessions. It reminds me of those early days, reminds me of how small my own children once were and continues to give me hope for the future. Pictures that we take at church have to same power to help us remember who we are and carry hope into the future days to come.

The Advent season was a time for many pictures of hope at First Lutheran Church. From Blanket Builds, Christmas Parades, Community Christmas Party, Bell ringing with SLYM youth and parents, visitation at Lutheran, 42 boxes filled and sent overseas with Operation Christmas Child ,Advent Supper, Families reading weekly Advent prayers, Lucia Festival’s 60th Anniversary, Choir and Sacred Fire sharing music each week in worship, Children’s Advocacy Training with 18 caring adults working to promote greater safety for children in our community, and Sunday School Staff, parents, guardians, teens and children working together as a team of 50 people shared this year’s “Sheep Tweets and Camel Tales” Sunday School program. All these moments were times where the hope of God’s message was shared richly.

What is the message that God is sharing in and through First Lutheran Church? I believe the message God is sending is: “I know you, I love you.” I know you and I love you, means that God know our weaknesses and strengths, our needs and dreams, and gave Jesus, “Not to condemn the world but to save the world through him,” (John 3:17)
It is almost a new year, a time where we all begin again. As we think of the year just past, let’s hold on to hope of Jesus; and take a step into many new opportunities to share God’s message. From youth to families, college and career, mid-life and seniors – God sends his message and asks us to share it with hope in our hearts.
 “I know you and I love you”

Now, let’s begin again.                        

Peace and Grace,