Writing a Letter-A Spiritual Practice

Writing a Letter-A Spiritual Practice
When I have too many thoughts running through my head, I write a letter. Other people may write in a journal or go for a run or write a song or find another way of clearing their heads. As someone who enjoys letter writing anyway, writing a letter as a spiritual practice makes sense. Sometimes the letter is to a person about whom I’ve been thinking. Sometimes the questions I’ve been pondering are answered as I write the letter. I don’t have to send the letters I write or then again I might. The letter can be to myself, to whom it may concern, to God, or to someone I know. The letter I’m sharing is to my best friend, Kristi. I needed some help working through something and I knew she’d know what to do. I commend to you the spiritual practice of letter writing as a way to soothe your soul and quiet your mind.
A Letter to My Friend
Hi you!
Is the nearing of my 39th birthday the reason you are on my mind so often lately? When I think of 39, I think of you. You’ll always be 39. You’ll never have to admit you are 40 because you are always 39. How can I have caught up with you? You were always 5 years older and soon I’ll be the age you were when you died. And that makes me realize that it has been (almost) 5 years since you died. So lately, I’ve been thinking of you.
This birthday feels different. I’m not afraid of getting older. You know that. I’m grateful for every year. I guess I just want you to say it is okay for me to be the same age as you and then get older than you. Of course, you’d tell me it is okay. You never held me back. You were always pushing me outside my comfort zone to new places, new experiences, and new people. So I’m going. I will turn 39. I will celebrate being 39. Thank you buddy for living all of your 39 years with reckless abandon. As I blow out my 39 candles (hopefully just a 3 and 9 candle because we don’t need the fire department involved or do we?), I will be grateful for the years I have lived and the people who have walked with me, and I will look forward with anticipation and excitement to my next adventures.
You know I have ninety-two billion other things to tell you, and so for now, all I will say is thank you for helping me prepare for 39. Thank you for helping me clear my head and my heart.

God’s Promise of a Blessing

God’s Promise of a Blessing

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Questions to Ponder-

What does it mean to be blessed by God? We use the word blessing and blessed often without thinking about them. Does God bless some of us and curse others? Does a blessing from God for me mean that you are in need? How does the way we use blessing differ from how it is used in this passage from Matthew?
Where is the blessing in the words from Paul? How would you define righteousness? How would you define sanctification? How would you define redemption?
Orthodox Icon from World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo credit to Rev. Kristi Foster. I, too, was on the trip, but Kristi took better photographs.

Flowery White Pekoe

This tea has a brief mention in the former post, My Favorite Tea Shop. I think this tea needs its own blog post because it is so good. For much of the Fall my husband has been drinking this tea after we ran out of his favorite tea. While my love of teas is wide and far ranging, he has a much narrower group of teas that he loves. He enjoys certain green teas and a few white teas. This tea makes his list of favorites. When I asked him what he liked about it, he said, “It tastes good.”

Flowery White Pekoe brews up almost clear. It smells of just the right amount of flowers. It doesn’t overwhelm you with the smell or the taste. The taste is comfortable and clean. Despite being a flowery white tea, this tea can be enjoyed in all seasons. It doesn’t taste like a summer tea. When you visit McNulty’s, purchase some Flowery White Pekoe. It will not disappoint!

God’s Promise of Light

God’s Promise of Light

Psalm 27: 1, 4-9

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!

“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek.

Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!

Questions and Wise Words to Ponder-

We don’t think about light much today because it is available whenever we need it. In fact, yesterday when I was working it was so bright in this room that I didn’t turn on the light. Today we are expecting storms and although it is daytime, I am going to have to turn on the light. A simple flip of the switch and I can see. How different was it when this psalm was written? Light wasn’t easy to come by. To say that God is the light of our salvation really meant something. What language might we use today to share how important God is to us?


When I visited San Diego a few years ago, I spent some time on the Martin Luther King, Jr Promenade. The words from the labyrinth there go well with this psalm.

Shedding the cloak of oppression and Donning the cloak of recognition.

Shedding the cloak of fear and Donning the cloak of trust.

Shedding the cloak of prejudice and Donning the cloak of respect.

Shedding the cloak of malice and Donning the cloak of compassion.

Shedding the cloak of bitterness and Donning the cloak of forgiveness.

Shedding the cloak of despair and Donning the cloak of hope.

Shedding the cloak of weariness and Donning the cloak of courage.

Shedding the cloak of ignorance and Donning the cloak of wisdom.

Shedding the cloak of darkness and Donning the cloak of light.

Voila! Black Tea

My favorite black teas are forgiving. They are the teas that don’t have to be steeped exactly 3 minutes. If by chance you get distracted and leave your tea bag in your mug a bit too long, the forgiving black teas will still be delicious. Voila! Black Tea is a smooth, easy to drink, forgiving tea. The caramel, bergamot, currant, and cranberry blend together well. This tea smells as good as it tastes. I highly recommend it for a cold, rainy winter day. 

God’s Promise of Faithfulness

God’s Promise of Faithfulness.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Questions to Ponder-

What if you were asked to write a letter to the people you love in the style of Paul? What if you were asked to write a letter to your congregation in the style of Paul? What would you say? How would focus on God’s faithfulness? What other promises from God would you include in your letter?

Here’s my letter to you, dear readers.

Susannah, called to be a disciple of Jesus, to the readers of Tea and Theology scattered far and near, to those who know they are God’s beloved. Grace to you and peace from God who is always faithful and Jesus the Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have grown and learned and developed your faith by the grace of God-just as the good news is living among and in you- so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as we wait for the return of Jesus Christ. Good news my friends, you will be strengthened now and every day so that you may be ready. God is faithful. God has called you into fellowship with Jesus and all whom God loves. For God’s faithfulness and for your faithfulness, I am eternally grateful. -Susannah
Photo credit-Rev. Kristi Foster. Taken at Taize.

Sitting by the Christmas Tree

Sitting by the Christmas Tree

In our home, we celebrate the season of Christmas by leaving our tree up until at least Epiphany. I love the practice of celebrating the liturgical season of Christmas (December 25-January 5). I feel like I have more time to sit by the Christmas tree after everyone else is done celebrating Christmas. The presents have all been unwrapped and the must do list is done. I’m sitting in the living room with all the lights off except the Christmas tree writing this now. It is a silent night with time to think about hopes for this new year and time to give thanks for those I love. It is a holy night feeling God’s love in the midst of this sacred time. It is a time to remember Christmases past and ways I have celebrated throughout my life. Merry Christmas!

What traditions of this season make it meaningful for you?

How do you celebrate in unique ways?

God’s Promise of New Life in the Waters of Baptism

God’s Promise of New Life in the Waters of Baptism

Matthew 3:13-17 (baptism of Jesus)

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Questions to Ponder

How do we respond to God’s promise of new life? How do we share our faith/witness? And while preaching how can we share the good news with others? How would we share God’s promises with our congregation?

In our baptisms, we are reminded that we are God’s beloved. We are called by our names and we are known by the Creator of all. There is power in your name and power in reminding yourself you are God’s beloved. Remember your baptism and remember you are God’s beloved created in the image of God. Amen.