A Place

I was sitting on my porch step in the pre-dawn hour this morning, wrapped in a blanket, just emjoying the peace and quiet of the world. I often start the mornings this way.

This morning, in the deepest part of the silence, I felt my heart deeply yearning to be at my grandparent’s house on Fillmore Street in Phillipsburg. Not yearning…aching. I loved my grandparents and I loved their home. Warm memories flooded my heart. Today was no special date – just a cold morning in January, yet my heart and mind journeyed back in time for a few fleeting moments, a time and place that was wonderful.

Where is the place your heart might journey to today? I hope it brings you the warmth of a good memory.

St. Thomas UCC, Bethlehem worship audio 1/22 –

audio1851870445.m4a

Huddle up!

Now, more than ever, our community needs your help. The number of families struggling to put good food on their tables continues to grow.

The Souper Bowl of Caring is a national movement across the nation working together to fight hunger and poverty in their communities around the time of the Super Bowl, which this year, is Febirary 12th.

At St. Thomas UCC, Bethlehem, we are raising funds to help families at New Bethany Ministries, Bethlehem. We are selling quarts of chili for $9 per quart. To order, call the church at 610-868-9167 or email stthomasunited.churchofchrist@rcn.com

Deadline to order is February 5th. Pick up your chili on Saturday, February 11 from 9-noon at the church, 902 East Macada Road.

In this moment

I have really been remiss in not writing in this new year. Admittedly, it has been difficult for me to get into a good rhythm. I find myself working longer days and not enough time for much else. For lots of reasons and unexpected circumstances and situations, I suppose. Both work-related and personal. Isn’t that how life sometimes unfolds? Just reflecting, in this moment.

I am closing in on 6 years since my vision diagnosis of non-anterior ischemic optic neuropathy. That moment definitely led me down an uncharted and unexpected path: lots of fear and uncertainty, lots of adjusting to new ways “to see” and “to learn” and “to live” and “to be”. But at the close of day, I knew I was still one of God’s Beloved. Knowing that, makes the worse moments of this vision loss more palpable, even more of a blessing. Just reflecting, in this moment.

St. Thomas is very excited about kicking off her 175th Anniversary year with a celebratory worship service at 2pm on Sunday, January 15th. Join us in lifting up this milestone!

St. Thomas UCC, Bethlehem worship Jan. 8th:

Priceless

Stidents in the Sunday School class were creating Christmas cards for members of the congregation, including those members and friends and neighbors in the community. When I was addressing the cards, loving every moment of reading them and ‘ooohing and aahing’ over all the creativity, there was one card that stoo out. A drawing of a Christmas Tree on the front and words that were handwritten by this child read, “Mary Christmas. I love you. God loves you.” Priceless.

St. Thomas UCC, Bethlehem worship audio 12/18 –

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xMJOee1xRiwce4dkSaUVas6-4Hgrs7-3/view?usp=sharing

A little bit of snow

On this third Sunday of Advent when tradiitonally we light the candle of joy on the Advent wreath, we are blessed with a little bit of snow. I like to see a little snow this time of year. Some may agree with me; some may not. A little snow is just right for most of us. Not enough to build a snowman or to go sledding, but enough to fill your heart with joy!

St. Thomas UCC, Bethlehem worship audio 12.11 –

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kPxmt7ObMZKdBlpI0YjzFk_keQrdxXZx/view?usp=sharing

Missing

Earlier in the week, as I was preparing our worship space for today, something unexpected happened. I gently arranged all the pieces of the Nativity in their traditionally places – except one: Baby Jesus.

I looked everywhere – in the box it was stored in, in the closet where the box was stored, on the floor. I went to all our storage areas and pulled out every Nativity set the church ever possessed. The search was futile. Every set had its own Baby Jesus – except the one in the sanctuary.

I made the congregation aware of this, and after worship, many people offered to bring a Baby Jesus from home to complete the scene in church. Some thought I was kidding and that was the children’s message for the day. Some thought I was simply making a joke.

No joke. Baby Jesus is missing in the stable in our sanctuary. But I do hope, Jesus is not missing from our hearts!

St. Thomas UCC, Bethlehem worship audio 12/4 –

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TKjneHAyLss7xpWoggCX2DOfEQIZaCfJ/view?usp=sharing

Advent

The reading of the gospel of Matthew 24 today…Jesus speaks of that day and hour no one knows…

It is more than being asked the question, “Where were you on Sept. 11th ?”

The day and the hour, my grandmother told me she had cancer.

The day and the hour I stood by the grace of our baby girl.

The day and the hour hands were laid upon me and I was ordained as a pastor in the United Church of Christ.

The day and the hour when I was told I was legally blind.

Advent, friends….New day, new beginnings, new opportunities, new possibilities…May our hearts and minds be open to these things.

St. Thomas UCC, Bethlehem, worship audio 11/27 –

https://drive.google.com/file/d/10wqwkc-odUoXs2Th_nI6YDbVeO6Q-XC5/view?usp=sharing

Cows and a Moon Equal Peace

Life is confusing, hectic, chaotic. Long lists of ‘to do’s’ a mile long. Now that the clocks have been turned back, it means shorter days. Work, traffic, schedules – trying to keep up. Trying to figure out how to get along with others, how to stand in line with others, how to live with, work with, shop with, drive our roads with…challenges most days that exhaust us.

On a recent walk one late afternoon, where the backroad seemed to turn into a race track (in other words, more traffic than I expected), I came across this scene. It was a picture of peace. A sense of calm washed over me. If you look hard enough, you will be able to see the moon rising. The cattle don’t seem to have a care in the world, oblivious to the busy world around them. Peace.

St. Thomas UCC, Bethlehem worship audio 11/6 –

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PLqkzjc9GkxqYhjLuCyoNhmMHDmJZrFz/view?usp=sharing