Worship Words-Call to Worship

One-God calls us by name

All-And we wonder who is calling.

One-God calls us by name

All-And we run to others thinking they must have called us.

One-God calls us by name

All-And a wise one tells us it is God.

One-God calls us by name

All-And we respond, “Speak for your servants are listening.”


You may read the whole passage, 1 Samuel 3:1-20.

Book Review-Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

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Learning to Walk in the Dark Barbara Brown Taylor

New York: Harper One, 2014.

Emotional Response-4

Scholarly Response-3

Interestingly, I began reading this book in Advent. All around me I heard about the light shining in the darkness as I saw the days getting shorter. In this book, I was being called to embrace the darkness. This is a struggle for me. I am not afraid of the dark, but I do startle more easily at night and in the darkness. I find myself reaching for the light switch when I enter a room whether I need it or not. While reading this book, I tried to be in the darkness a bit more. I still prefer to the sunlight because most things are easier to do when one can see. I do think that a number of great points are presented about how we have demonized the darkness. I’m still learning to walk in the dark. Thanks to this book I’m more willing to keep learning.

I enjoyed journeying with Barbara Brown Taylor into the dark. I appreciated her attempt to reclaim language of darkness as important to our faith lives. I recommend this book for people who don’t always want to be in the light or sunshine, for people who find themselves awake in the dark, for people who dream and wonder about the many dream stories in the Bible, and for anyone wanting to explore and live into their faith more deeply. Step into the darkness. God is there waiting for you.

“We are all seeking company, meaning, solace, self-forgetfulness. Whether we ever found those things or not, it was the seeking that led us to find each other in the cloud even when we had nothing else in common. Sometimes I wondered if it even mattered whether our communion cups were filled with consecrated wine or draft beer, as long as we bent over them long enough to recognize each other as kin” (53).

“According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, sometimes called “the psychiatrist’s Bible,” patients grieving the death of a loved one are allowed two months for symptoms such as sadness, insomnia, and loss of appetite. If their grief goes on longer than that, they may be diagnosed with depression and treated with prescription drugs…emotions such as grief, fear, and despair have gained a reputation as “the dark emotions” not because they are noxious or abnormal but because Western culture keeps them shuttered in the dark” (77).

“Who would stick around to wrestle a dark angel all night long if there were any chance of escape? The only answer I can think of is this: someone in deep need of blessing; someone willing to limp forever for the blessing that follows the wound” (85).

“Resurrection is always announced with Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets, bright streaming light. But it did not happen that way. If it happened in a cave, it happened in complete silence, in absolute darkness, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air” (129).

Winter Spice

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This may be my favorite winter tea. When I open the envelope, it smells like a winter kitchen. Drinking it makes me feel warm and content. I highly recommend this tea for a cold winter day!

A Prayer for Epiphany

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Like the wise ones of old, help me to be open to your leading, Gracious God. Where might you be leading me? What new things should I be looking for around me? Open my eyes to the stars in the sky. Open my ears to the voices speaking to me and with me. Open my heart to those I too often overlook. As this new season and new year begins, remind me of your constant love, Holy One, while urging me forward to see where you will guide me. Amen.

Tea Party


On vacation this week, I was invited to a tea party. We dined on Sprite (my hostess does not like tea) and blueberries. We talked about important topics like how delicious the Sprite was and how much fun we were having. In the midst of our tea party, my eight-year old hostess said, “I take tea parties very seriously.”

As I was thinking about this tea party, it reminded me why I love tea. Whether I drink tea alone or with friends, drinking tea slows me down. It reminds me to sip, to enjoy, to savor. I hope you take the time to day to slow down and enjoy a cup of tea.

A Prayer for New Year’s Eve

Faithful God,
I am preparing to say good-bye to 2014 and hello to 2015. Before I shut the door on this year, I pause to remember…

Thank you, God, for the opportunities I had this year. I remember…

Loving God, thank you for being with me through the difficult days. It isn’t easy or fun, but I remember…

Thank you, God, for community…for people who loved and supported me and for those I loved and supported. Thank you for the people who walked with me, who challenged me, and who laughed with me. Thank you, God, for my loved ones…

Thank you, Holy One, for seasons of the year. Thank you for the winter days of waiting and resting. Thank you for the springtime days of new life and opportunity. Thank you for summer days of growth and change. Thank you for fall days of enjoying the fruits of our labor and pausing to give thanks. In the seasons of this year and the seasons of our lives, I give you thanks, O God.

And now after remembering, I turn 2014 to my memories and to You and open myself to all that You have for me in 2015. Be with me, Loving God, as you have always been. Amen.

Worship Words-Advent Candle Lighting – Christmas

Merry Christmas! Today is the day we have been preparing for throughout Advent. Jesus is born. Here is the story as recorded in Luke’s Gospel.

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria.  Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled.  Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.  He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.  While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby.  She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night.  The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.  Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.  This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child.  Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.  Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.”

Now, you can light the three purple candles, the pink candle, and the white candle.

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We have been waiting for this day, Loving God. We have prepared ourselves for this special day. On this Christmas Day, let us live as those who let hope, peace, joy, and love reign in our lives. As the candles burn brightly and light our path, let us live as those who have the Christ’s light burning inside us today and everyday. Amen.


Also published on liturgy link on November 11, 2014.

Worship Words- Advent Candle Lighting Week 4-Love

In this final week of Advent, our attention is on love. The following Scripture verses may be very familiar to you, so I’m asking you to read it twice. The first time is in the New Revised Standard Version (you may hear similar words at church). The second time you’ll be reading from the Message (a modern interpretation). Listen for the call to love in these words.

Matthew 22:36-40 says, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

”Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”


Light three purple candles and one pink candle.

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God, we have learned to love from being loved by you. And so today, let us enact that love. Let us live that love. We know that what the world needs now is more love. We need to remember how much you love each one of us and we must share that love with others. Amen.


Also published on liturgy link on November 11, 2014.

Cranberry Tea

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This is a drink that we would have regularly at Christmastime when I was young. I made a batch yesterday and loved how the house smelled. This would be great to serve if you are having a big get together. This recipe provides lots to drink and makes your house smell very welcoming.

When I made this yesterday, I was surprised by how sweet it is. When I reheated a cup this morning, I added a little water to dilute the sweetness. I’d suggest lessening the amount of sugar when you try this recipe.

I’m sharing the recipe as my Mom gave it to me. Give it a try!

Cranberry Tea
1 Qt.  Cranberry juice cocktail                                          1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh squeezed O J                                              1/2 cup red hots
1/4 cup lemon juice                                                           2 qts water
Heat cranberry juice, red hots and sugar over medium heat until sugar and red hots are dissolved.  Strain O J and lemon juice
and add to cranberry mixture.  Add 2 qts water.   Heat over low heat.  Serve hot.

Book Review-The Gift of Nothing

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The Gift of Nothing Patrick McDonnell

New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005.

In this season of more and more to do, I read this book often. You can probably find it in your local library and return it when you have enjoyed it.

Here’s the story-Mooch wants to give his friend, Earl, a gift. Earl has everything he needs, and Mooch doesn’t know what to give him. He decides to give him nothing but cannot find nothing anywhere he goes. Join Mooch in his search for the perfect gift.

I hope this book reminds you how much you have. I hope this book encourages you to find time to spend with someone you love. You might even spend some time doing nothing together.

And a great resource for linking children’s books with Scripture is Storypath from Union Presbyterian Seminary. Their post on The Gift of Nothing will make you want to read it again.