Weekly Note from the Preacher Woman, 1/18/18

January 18, 2018

Beloved:

I have always been a lover of words. New words. Old words. Colorful words. Words that pop and sizzle. Words that calm and comfort. Words that uplift and inspire. Words that sparkle and glisten. Onomatopoeia to metaphor to figures of speech. Words have power. Words matter.

Words can change the world. Fifty years ago, the world shifted.  Martin Luther King, Jr. stood at the Washington Monument and spoke these words:

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!”

I am thankful for his words this week. Lately, it seems like we are being bombarded by words—spoken, written, tweeted. They are words that are changing the world as we know it. Scary words. Violent words. Demeaning words. Incendiary words. And it is difficult to imagine that I have any power to change the tide that seems to be rolling over the top of us. But I have to believe, as did Dr. King, that what we say, what we do, who we walk with, will make all the difference.

Listen to your words today. Listen to the words of other. Create a conversation. Speak words of power to those in power. Live into the dream that Dr. King spoke of, and the one to which God is leading us. I have a dream, too. And we will walk there together.

Blessings, Pastor Nancy

1/4/18 Weekly Note From the Preacher Woman

January 4, 2018

Back in the olden days, when my body was much younger and more forgiving than it is now, I used to cross-country ski, all by myself, in the Big Horn mountains. I wouldn’t like to do that now, since getting up once I have fallen has become a bit more of a challenge. But, at the time, there was nothing I loved more than getting the boys off to school, and then heading up the mountain for a morning of swooshing along trails and meadows. Now, those who know me, know that I have never been much of an athletic person. But cross-country skiing felt much more like taking an invigorating walk, and the exercise kept me from feeling the cold.

During the week was the perfect time to go—everyone else was busy in town doing their everyday activities, and I had the trails to myself. My preference was for “flat” surface. Flat is good. But, if I was going to use the beautifully groomed trails, I would have to learn how to do a few hills as well. Going up—fine. I would herringbone up sideways (which always made me feel accomplished). Skiing down, however, was always a bit scary. I don’t like going fast, and my heart would leap into my throat, threatening to fly out of my mouth. I knew there were ways that you can slow down, but my favorite go-to for those moments of panic was to simply “sit down.” It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

I kept trying to get a bit better, and not let my fear take over. Sometimes there were hills I just couldn’t avoid skiing down. I would bend my knees and draw the tips of my skis together, and try to concentrate. The real problem became the tree that always seemed to be at the bottom of the trail, right where I needed to turn.

I would look at the tree. The tree (I swear!) would look at me. I would breathe deeply, adjust the angle of my skis and take off down the hill (real skiers would likely not have considered these to be more than a slight decline). My enemy the tree would inevitably jump right in front of me, and I would end up in a heap at its trunk.

It wasn’t obvious at the time, but eventually, I came to understand those trees as great life teachers. The more I concentrated on the tree at the bottom of the slope, the more likely it was that I was going to succeed in hitting it.

Because…are you ready for this? “You will only hit what you aim at.”

This week, we are reflecting on the Light. It is Epiphany—the day we look to the story of the Wise Men who came from the East following the star. “The Light came into the world, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) I invite us to consider—where are we aiming? Are we engulfed in the darkness, our worries, our fears, our insecurities? Or are we ready to lean into the Light? Let’s aim for where we want to go.  See you Sunday. Blessings, Pastor Nancy

December 28, 2017

December 28, 2017

You know it is almost New Year’s when: the ads on your Facebook page change from “Last minute gift ideas” to ads for gyms, diets, exercise plans, and books on self-improvement. On the news, the stories all look back to the year-that-was. Parents begin to look forward to school starting up again. And pastors look to see how many Sundays we have before the next big push that leads from Ash Wednesday to Easter (we also pray that it isn’t early this year, which never works—it is, when it is.)

It makes me sad that a culture that spends so much time looking forward to the event called Christmas, we so easily put it back into the box. Christmas, after all, actually only begins on Christmas Day. It ends with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. But by then, most of us will have our trees down, the decorations put away, and our thoughts have moved backward—to the year we may be glad to put in the past, and forward—to what may come in the New Year.

I’m hoping that this week, you will join me in staying in Christmas-mode for just a bit longer.  One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Howard Thurman, scholar, wise mentor, and man of great faith:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Let’s not turn the page too soon. Let’s look together at what the gift of Christmas is and can be—as we stay in this present moment—in the post-rush, post-chaos, post-guest moment when perhaps for the first time we can examine what this work of Christmas is truly calling for in each one of us.

I am looking forward to seeing you Sunday. Pastor Nancy

P.S.—don’t’ forget that our services are available on Youtube—Madras United Methodist Church Madras, Oregon.