My Favorite Tea Shop

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McNulty’s is an experience. It is a small shop filled with rows of glass containers each containing a different kind of tea. You’ll want to lift many lids and enjoy the smells of the teas. If you have questions, they will be happy to answer them. And when you’ve find made your selections, your teas will be poured into their white bags for you to take home and drink.

My favorite tea from McNulty’s is Flowery White Pekoe. It is full of flavor. It almost tastes like flowers (but in a good way).

If your life or travels don’t take you to Manhattan, you can order McNulty’s online. It will arrive quickly for you to enjoy.

Book Review- Waiting for Christmas by Kathleen Long Bostrom

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For the season of Advent, one of the book reviews each week will be for a children’s book. I think Advent and Christmas have inspired some of the most lovely children’s books. I suggest you go to your local library and check your bookshelves and find a children’s book to read this time of year. If you have a child to read with, please do. If not, it is perfectly okay for adults to read children’s books!

Waiting for Christmas: A Story about the Advent Calendar Kathleen Long Bostrom

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zonderkidz, 2006.

This book tells us that the season of Advent is our time to prepare and wait for the season of Christmas. As Christmas seems to begin earlier and earlier each year, this book may be good way to remind us of the important of waiting. Having an Advent calendar is a great way to visualize how long we must wait for Christmas.

The book includes many options for counting down to Christmas. The only problem I have with this book is that Advent is not always 24 days. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. People like to start counting down to Christmas on December 1. This year Advent begins on November 30, so there are 25 days in Advent in 2014. Nevertheless, this is a good read for all ages about the season of Advent as we all wait for the birth of Jesus.

Worship Words-Advent Candle Lighting Week 1-Hope

Advent is the season of the church year that prepares us for Christmas. Advent is four weeks leading up to Christmas. One way that Advent is celebrated is through candle lighting. To participate in this candle lighting ritual, you’ll need three purple candles, one pink candle, and one white candle. You could make a fancy Advent wreath (see pintrest for many ideas) or you can purchase 5 votive candles and light them. Any way that you decide to do this is fine. I just hope you’ll participate in the season of Advent as we prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus on Christmas.

The first week of Advent is all about hope.

Think about hope as you read Lamentations 3: 21-24,

“But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

God’s mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in the Lord.”


Light one purple candle

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Gracious God, As the Advent season begins, we cry out to you. We come to you looking for hope. When everything else we rely on fails us, our only hope is in you. When we do not understand what has happened, we hope in you. We can hope for better days because we trust you. We know you and we know you are here with us no matter what we are facing. Some of us see only darkness this time of year. Some of us find life overwhelming. Some of us are filled with Advent joy. Wherever we find ourselves today, Loving God, remind us that our hope is in you. Be with us on this journey. Amen.

Also published in liturgy link on November 11, 2014.

Book Review-Some Assembly Required

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Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son Anne Lamott with Sam Lamott

New York: Riverhead Books, 2012

Emotional Response-3

Scholarly Response-2

I enjoy reading Anne Lamott’s books. I enjoyed this one even though it wasn’t my favorite. She chronicles her grandson’s first year in great detail. It is readable and relatable. It is an amazing gift to her whole family. I prefer Traveling Mercies, Plan B, and Grace Eventually. I recommend this book if  you enjoy Anne Lamott’s writing. If you have never read Anne Lamott before, I’d encourage you to start with one of the three books I mentioned earlier.

One thing that keeps me returning to Anne Lamott is her honesty. In the midst of ordinary situations, she reminds us to look for God not because she always remembers but because she tries. She encourages us to keep trying as she keeps trying. She has surrounded herself with people who remind her to look for God. Are you surrounded by people who place you back on the right path if you fall off? Am I? Do others help me look for the good and God in those I meet? Anne Lamott’s books don’t make her look like a saint. They share her story as she strives to follow Jesus and her humanity is why I find her inspirational and fun to read.

“Finally I thought to pray–it had completely escaped me that I believe in divine mind and comfort. I’d forgotten that if I said the Great Prayer–Help–I would experience that God was with me” (20).

“Maybe what we say to each other is not so important after all, but just that we are alive together, and present for each other as best we can be” (62-63).

“It would be great if God were up there shoving ever-resistant people like me through the maze, toward presence and serenity. But noooooo. It’s Free Will 101” (64).

“My pastor Veronica says that peace is joy at rest, and joy is peace on its feet” (212).

“Despite our great love and art, we are a violent species. Cain is still killing Abel, and that was meaningful for people like me, who can write to bear witness, remind others of this in the hopes of preventing such madness in the future” (265).

Worship Words-A Prayer of Thanksgiving


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I hope you’ll spend the day with people you love doing something you enjoy. I’m sharing this prayer a day early in the hopes you might disconnect from electronics for a little bit tomorrow. Also, I hope you find time tomorrow to say a prayer of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us. You are welcome to use this prayer if you are not yet comfortable praying in your own words. Happy Thanksgiving!

On this Thanksgiving Day, let us not forget to start by saying thank you to the Creator and Source of all for which we have to be thankful. Loving God, we thank you for those with whom we spend this day. Thank you for family, friends, and strangers. We thank you for the food we share and remember those who do not have enough to eat. May today’s feast inspire us to share what you have given us with others. As we enjoy a day of relaxation and rest, we ask your blessing on those working today–the people working to keep us safe and healthy, the people working so others can eat, and the people working because they desperately need the money. We pray for families and friend who wish they could be together today. We pray for people who struggle to feel thankful this day. God, we ask that you give us thankful hearts, not just today when it is easy to be thankful, but everyday. Amen.

This prayer was published by liturgy link on November 19, 2014.

Book Review-Worship Come to Its Senses

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Worship Come to Its Senses Don E. Saliers

Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.



Although this book about worship is nearing 20 years old, its ideas are still relevant today. Instead of arguing over the style of worship, we are encouraged to bring awe, delight, truth, and hope to worship. Like all good things we do, worship requires preparation-not just from those leading worship but from all participating. How can you prepare? Come to worship ready for the experience, ready to encounter the other and the Other, and open to the ways God will speak to us. When we are prepared to meet God, we might just find that God is here already.

One theme that flowed through all these aspects of worship is that this happens best in a community where people are known. You might have moments of awe or delight on a retreat by yourself or with stranger. In order to keep these four aspects of worship alive and well, we need to situate ourselves within a community where we plan to listen for God and listen with each other. It is not a short-term process. Crafting worship requires much time and energy and many people sharing their gifts. Likewise, participating in worship requires our openness to what God is saying to us and those around us speaking truth and hope.

What I found so refreshing in this book is that problems with worship were described and solutions were offered. Too often books about worship say that each church is so unique that a solution cannot be offered. This book does the opposite. It shares concrete examples of what can be done to bring awe, delight, truth, and hope back to our worship. Now, don’t be overwhelmed thinking each worship service must inspire each of these things in every worshiper. That is not the point. Our worship planning and our worship preparation must include these ideas so over the course of our time together people have the opportunity to experience these things and know that they are all part of our faith journey.

I recommend this book to pastors, church people with worship responsibilities, and anyone who deeply love worship and wants to think more about it. [Read more…]

Book Review-Night Visions

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Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas Jan L. Richardson

Cleveland, Ohio: United Church Press, 1998.

Emotional Response-4

Scholarly Response-2

Sometimes I wonder if I like the idea of the season of Advent more than I like the season of Advent. A time to prepare sounds good. I’d love a time to prepare. A time to wait sounds important. I’d love to be able to be a person who waits patiently. I don’t do well with the waiting or preparing. What I do hold on to each year is the candle lighting. I love the light shining in the darkness of this time of year and this Advent season. Each Monday in Advent, I’ll share with you some Scripture to read and a prayer for your candle lighting. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Advent in this way.

Advent is almost here again. And I will admit that I struggle to keep up daily practices. Weekly practices have more flexibility and forgiveness built in, and so I find myself drawn to the weekly practice of candle lighting. I recognize that what works for me may be very different than what works for you, and so I recommend for those who love daily readings, Jan Richardson’s Night Visions. The art and words are beautiful, heart-breaking, and inspiring. This book will take you through Advent, Christmas, and into Epiphany. If a daily reading works for you, I invite you to be challenged and supported by this book. And, if a daily reading isn’t for you, I still encourage you to get this book and read it at a pace that works for you.

“This season beckons me to ask, what am I preparing for? What is the way that is being prepared within the wilderness of my life? What does it mean for my own life to become a path, a way of welcome for the Holy One? How do I give myself time to notice the ways that the path unfolds before me and within me? What are the acts of preparation that bring delight to my daily life? Whom do I ask or allow to help me prepare?” (39).

“As I cross the threshold into a new season and a new year, the bag prompts questions. What do I need for the journey ahead? What would I put in the bag to take with me? What objects, words, blessings, hopes, charms would I keep within its colors against my chest as I meet the coming days? How will my actions in the year ahead stretch my own thresholds, my own boundaries, and bring me closer to others–to the ones such as those who fashioned this very bag? Or do I need to leave it empty, to wait and see what will fill it this year?” (120).

Wild Orange Blossom and Youthberry


This week’s tea was a delicious gift from a dear friend. She knows how much I love tea, so she shared this fabulous blend with me. Of course, she also got herself some too because it is that good. I like this tea because of its beautiful color and taste. It isn’t too much orange, and it doesn’t taste too fruity. It has orange and berry and other flavors mixed in too.

I’d like to thank my friend for this tea and for our many tea dates when we’d sit together for hours drinking tea and catching up. Our drive times for tea dates has recently gotten much longer. Even though I don’t get to see you in person as much as I’d like, please know that I think of you when I drink a cup of tea.

Dear readers-find someone to join you for your next cup of tea. Have a conversation. Sit awhile. Catch up. Warm up on the inside and outside.

Book Review-In the Beginning

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In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis Karen Armstrong

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.

Emotional Response-4

Scholarly Response-4

I enjoy anything that helps me see Scripture with new eyes. As I was agreeing and disagreeing with Armstrong’s interpretation of Genesis, I was engaging the text. The stories were coming alive for me in new ways. I appreciate that she ends her book with book of Genesis. It was so helpful to reread the Scriptures again after reading her interpretation.

Overall, I enjoyed this book because it pushed me back into the world of Genesis. I would recommend this book for anyone wanting a fresh look at the first book of the Bible.

“Sin is thus shown to dissolve community; it is presented as the opposite of wholeness and integrity” (30).

Instead of sharing quotes as I have for other books, here are some ways that she interprets the stories and people of Genesis. They made me think and ponder.

Noah’s sin is scapegoating. He blames others for his behavior after he gets drunk because he cannot live with himself after the flood (48-50).

God puts Abraham on probation to see if he is worthy of a blessing (50).

Why are there no chapters on Hagar or Sarah? Their part in the stories are mentioned. I think an interpretation of Genesis should include their story a bit more prominently.

Her thought is that Joseph saying God put me here (in Egypt) does not allow the brothers to take responsibility for their actions (113). I think that there is room for both. The brothers sinned by selling their brother and lying about what they had done. God worked in Joseph’s life to redeem the situation and find a way for Joseph’s gifts to be used in Egypt.

Worship Words-Charge and Benediction

Each week as worship ends, a blessing is offered for the congregation. We need reminders of God’s love and blessings everyday. I hope these words will bring you courage and comfort today.

Charge and Benediction

Jesus has told us who needs us to care. As you go out into God’s world, keep your eyes open for those who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or imprisoned. See Christ in them and help them.

And remember you are God’s beloved. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Christ’s compassion shines forth in what you do. Live as those who know and have experienced God’s goodness. Go now in peace.


This was published by liturgy link on November 19, 2014.