Thursday, November 26, 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real} in a season of abundant celebrations, part 1

| a weekly capturing of contentment in everyday life | 

| pretty, happy, funny & real in words|
The past two weeks were full to overflowing with people to see and things to celebrate. There were the big moments: Brian's ordination and Natalie's confirmation, our 25th wedding anniversary.  There were also many small moments of little, unspoken dreams realized.  I told my daughters last weekend: "At times like this, I feel like God has seen me."  And, of course, God always sees me so I don't mean that word, exactly.  More like, He's heard my spoken and unspoken heart desires -- ones I didn't even know to express -- and tapped me on the shoulder with sweet gifts.  

Mixed into the peaceful moments and celebration moments, we grieved with the rest of the world new acts of terror.  I do not know why, but the specific issue of the Syrian refugee crisis has consumed my attention ever since our governor wrote a letter a couple weeks ago, demanding that President Obama halt the acceptance of any new Syrian refugees.  It's not a new concern for me, but the combination of what seemed a cold-hearted response with a lot of anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric used by self-identified Christians just about laid me flat.  

I'm grateful to find my writing voice to articulate a tiny portion of what I was thinking and feeling.  Throughout the weeks, I've teetered near and over the line, occasionally, of charity as I've interacted with my online community.  For that I am truly sorry and I humbly repent, and ask your forgiveness.  

I missed posting on Christ the King Sunday, which is one of my absolute favorite days on the liturgical calendar.  You can see what I've posted in the past here: Meditations for Christ the King Sunday. May I also recommend a sermon Brian preached on that day last year:  Embracing the Authority of Christ the King

I probably remembered somewhat unconsciously the prayers for Christ the King Sunday (for isn't that part of the deep magic of a formative liturgy?), but after a week of angst and anger and a sense of desperation that my friends who identify as in allegiance to Christ as King, I found myself rescued by the Scripture and prayers and songs of bowing to the authority of One who is for all peoples.  

Before photos, let me share a few bits of the Christ the King liturgy.

[from Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14]

"...behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."

[from Psalm 93]
"The LORD is King; he has put on splendid apparel;...He has made the whole world so sure that it cannot be moved; Ever since the world began, your throne has been established; you are from everlasting."

[from Revelation 1:4b-8]
"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wait on account of him. Even so. Amen. 'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.' "

[from John 18:33-37]
"Then Pilate said to him, 'So you are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world - to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who of the truth listens to my voice.' "

[the Collect for Christ the King Sunday]
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A few photos to practice contentment the past 2 weeks

| pretty, happy, funny & real in pictures|

(most of these photos were taken by my co-workers!)

VoLINteers at Community First! Village
It was kind of a dream come true to spend a morning volunteering with a couple dozen of my co-workers at this innovative and contagiously hopeful 27-acre master planned community to give the Austin's chronically homeless a place to call home.  I really can't describe the ingenious creative spirit infusing each component of the newly-built neighborhood: the garden, the fish pond, the micro-houses, the soap making and blacksmithing and olive tree orchard and more.  The work we did together was pretty minimal compared to the amount of time and energy already lavishly spent for this place.  Anyway, go to the website to learn more.  Hopefully this sort of work will spring up all over the country.  I'm just really glad for the chance to work with my office mates for such a worthy cause. 

| Ordination |


In some ways you could say that Brian's been looking forward to this day his whole life, only he didn't know it until about the last five years.  Either way, I don't remember being more happy with or for my husband than we felt during the service of his ordination into the Transitional Diaconate of the Anglican Church (transitioning for the next six months until his ordination into the Priesthood). There's so much more to say about this service and what it means for us.  Hopefully I'll do that soon, but in the meantime, here's a few of the prayers and words from the liturgy:

[The Bishop addresses the ordinands as follows]
My brothers and sisters, every Christian is called to follow Jesus Christ, serving God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit. God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood directly under your bishop. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely. 
As deacons in the Church, you are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them, and to model your life upon them. You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word and example, to those among whom you live, and work, and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. You are to assist the bishop and priests in public worship and in the ministration of God's Word and Sacraments, and you are to carry out other duties assigned to you from time to time. At all times your life and teaching are to show Christ's people that in serving the helpless, they are serving Christ himself. 
I can not think of a better hymn to close the service: 

Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service 
w: Albert F. Bayly, 1901
m: Nettleton, 1813 (tune of "Come, Thou Fount")

Lord, whose love through humble service bore the weight of human need
Who upon the cross, forsaken, offered mercy's perfect deed 
we, Your servants, bring the worship not of voice alone, 
but heart consecrating to Your purpose every gift that you impart

Still Your children wander homeless, still the hungry cry for bread
Still the captives long for freedom, still in grief we mourn our dead
As O Lord, Your deep compassion, healed the sick and freed the soul 
by Your Spirit send Your power to our world to make it whole.

As we worship, grant us vision, till Your love's revealing light 
in its height and depth and greatness dawns upon our quickened sight
making known the needs and burdens, Your compassion bids us bear 
sitting us to ardent service, Your abundant life to share

Called by worship to Your service, forth in your dear name we go
to the child, the youth, the aged, love in living deeds to show
hope and health, good will and comfort, counsel, aid, and peace we give 
that Your servants, Lord, in freedom may Your mercy know and live.

| Confirmation |


Natalie's Confirmation
What a joy to celebrate Brian's ordination and Natalie's confirmation in the same weekend.  A few years ago, when Brian, Kendra and I were confirmed, I wrote this post: Becoming Anglican.  Natalie was blessed to be part of the first Catachesis class at Christ Church (led beautifully by the dear Sarah Smith).  What a gift to have our community join us in training Natalie in the truths of Scripture and the traditions of the Church. 

[The Prayer for Confirmation]
Defend, O Lord, this your servant Natalie with your heavenly grace, that she may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more until she comes into the fullness of your everlasting kingdom. Amen. 
Strengthen, O Lord, your servant Natalie with your Holy Spirit; empower her for your service; and sustain her all the days of her life. Amen. 

| 25th Wedding Anniversary |

Anniversary Celebration
We're still celebrating this, actually, as our kids are throwing us a little party on Saturday.  In the meantime, here's a couple photos from the day.  We spent a lovely get away in Fredricksburg, TX.  A sweet woman gave us a wine gift card for Brian's graduation in May.  We saved it for just the right time, to purchase a better wine than we've ever been able to purchase. Guess what? Good wine is even better than cheap wine!  We also tracked down some red velvet cakes to make up for missing out the deliciousness served at our actual wedding 25 years ago.

And I've wanted to write something profound here on the blog about being married and staying married.  Hopefully, I still will.  In the meantime -- all disclaimers aside about real reasons for not staying married - might I just say the best advice I can give you is to just keep going?  Learn well, seek healing, give forgiveness, be in community, let the Gospel save you, yes.  All of those things, but really just stay together.  You'll be so glad you did.  

I'm realizing that there are some simply good things I never could have learned any other way than just staying married day in and day out for a long time.  Not profound, not usually easy, but so worth it.  I imagine I'll be saying the same thing after another 25 years.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving feasts today, friends.  We have even more celebrating ahead - Thanksgiving, a wedding shower, more anniversary feasting, Alex's birthday and the beginning of Advent -- all before Monday!  More pics and stories to come.

May you know well today every good and perfect gift that comes down from the Father of lights.  Peace, friends.

Have YOU captured any contentment this week? 
 I'd love to hear about it!

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