An Offering from Bonni: I’m listening…

It’s the most joyous time of the year…or so we are told by the oh so cheerful ads.  I want to feel that joy in the coming of the birth of Jesus. But life keeps interrupting my pitiful prayerful pleadings for peace: there is always something else calling for my attention. And then I think of sweet young Mary, full of grace and absorbing the unexpected joy of being called to be the Mother of God:
“…And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.” Luke 1:46-47
2012-8-Bird-in-Tree
(c) Bonnie Oden

Luke tells us in his Gospel that she is joyful and accepts this mission that God has given her.  But honestly, woman to woman, can we imagine what kind of prayers Mary was silently praying?  “God, help me explain this to Joseph, to our families…Guide me to peace of mind…Give me real advice on how this is all going to work.”  And then, I do believe, that Mary finally looked to heaven and said to God, “I’m listening, I’m ready, let’s do this.”

Maybe I need to learn to use my prayer moments as time to listen for God’s voice in all the busyness of Advent. It is there to be heard, if I will be quiet and listen.
…Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46
Bonni Brophy King
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An Offering from Elaine: Rejoice!

Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.  Isaiah 45:8

2004-6-Stormy-Sky1
(c) Bonnie Oden
This was one of the psalm responses we used this week in our liturgy.  I love the reference to our Savior coming forth from the earth, a human person.  We are all so familiar with the seasons, the cycle of life: new life, growth, and death or dormancy.  As winter settles in, I know it is only for a time, and new life will soon be seen again upon our earth.
As we reach this time in our Advent season, I pray that you will notice the world around you and how it is changing.  Notice the gifts God has provided and take joy in them, especially the gift of his Son as a little baby.  We hear that message in our carols, read it in our greeting cards, see it in the faces of those we love.  I hope and pray that the world will deeply know the Savior’s love this season, and REJOICE!
Elaine Weber
Spiritual Director
SMI Board Member

An Offering from Nancy J: Pure joy.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
            Let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
            Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes

(Psalm 96)

The road to joy is often littered with disappointments.

2013-12-Ice-on-Leaves
(c) Bonnie Oden

We seek the joy of Christmas in our preparation rituals:  hanging garlands, decorating cookies, wrapping presents to please.  We also have felt our spirits fall when people don’t notice how “special” you made it, just for them.  Even when they do notice, the moment passes so quickly.  We have learned the dangers of hanging all our happiness on the reactions we get from the people we love.

This Advent I am watchful for the glory.  It might come as a chorus of angels as I navigate a crowded shopping mall or supermarket.  It may be a whispered reminder as I address Christmas cards.

God with us.  Pure joy.

The moment may be just as fleeting, but the joy abides.

Nancy Jagmin
SMI Board of Directors

An Offering from Nancy D: Cultivating Joy

Reflection on a collage…

The topic was about “cultivating joy,” something I hadn’t considered. What would cultivating this wondrous gift be like? I felt I could make more progress starting with pictures that might lead me to words, and this was the resulting collage. What did I notice?

EPSON MFP image
(c) Nancy Dunkerley

My eye was drawn to the mortar and pestle, so large and central to the assemblage. Then the dancers– Girl in soft pink costume or delicate tulle, satin shoes…seems pensive. The woman in sexy red dress, dramatic flair.. seems assertive. Then the paints and brushes overlapping with a journaling hand. Then the wine glasses—fruit of the vine and work of human hands… the liturgy says “Let it become for us spiritual drink.” Then the totem pole—symbol of spirit mystery in nature and in us. Then a group gathered… If we are ever to cultivate joy, we seldom do it alone.

The medley of images—Joy, a mix of body and spirit.

Nancy Dunkerley

An Offering from Elaine: The Greatest Gift

Luke 2:6-7

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.  She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

BVM and Jesus

Wow!  Two sentences in scripture tell of the birth of one small child who came to save the world.  God’s greatest gift of love – his son, Jesus the Christ.

Two sentences.  They leave a lot to the imagination.  As I’ve contemplated the story, I see that my friend, Mary, also gave the greatest gift of love to the world that she could possibly have given.  Her “yes,” her cooperation with God, her gift of life, were a testament to her faith and love for God.

Where does your imagination on those two sentences take you?  As one of my pastors often says, “think about it.”

Elaine Weber
Spiritual Director
SMI Technology & Communications Chair

An Offering from Lil: Love is coming

Psalm 89:1

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. 
Untitled
(c) Bonnie Oden
 
When I arise in the morning, I take a deep breath and choose love.  
When my feet hit the cold floor, I remember my neighbor who has no floor.
When I put on my glasses, I remember my neighbor who is blind.
When I brew my tea, I remember that we are all connected, steeped in God’s love. 
When I pause at the end of day to give thanks to the One who first loved us and created us, I wonder what the world will be like
when we all choose love.
Love is coming.
 
(c) 2015 Rev. Lil Smith
SMI Seminary Liaison
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

An Offering from Nancy D: Love Does That

This poem from Meister Eckhart causes me to acknowledge some people in my life who have been a kind monk to me.

2009-Rocky-Top-of-Mountain

Love Does That

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
burros.

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.

Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,

he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears

and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,

because love does
that.
Love frees.
– Meister Eckhart

Nancy Dunkerley
Spiritual Ministries Institute