Monday, December 17, 2018


Advent marks the four Sundays before Christmas.  Each Sunday we light a candle symbolizing our light, Jesus, coming into the world. Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy. The first, second and fourth candle on the Advent wreath is purple, a color of repentance and waiting. The third candle is pink, representing the joy we find even in the midst of trials and questions.
We recognize that the holiday season is not as joyful for everyone as we like to pretend. Grief, loss, difficult family dynamics, financial burdens all affect how joyful someone feels. But when we focus on God we realize that we have reason to be joyful no matter what our circumstances may be. We cannot always change the situation we are in. But we can change how we respond to it. If we choose to respond with openness, with humility, acceptance, and gratitude, we can find joy even in the most difficult situations. If we recognize that God is in control and believe that ultimately, God knows better than we do, we can find joy. 
Our youth bell choir played a beautiful arrangement of "Silent Night." Our band sang "Light of the World" by Lauren Daigle: "He is the song for the suffering. He is messiah. The Prince of Peace has come.
He has come, Emmanuel.
Glory to the light of the world.
For all who wait, for all who hunger, for all who've prayed, for all who wonder.
Behold your King. Behold Messiah. Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
Glory to the light of the world."
Music touches us in places that words alone cannot get to. It brings us joy. And it makes us want to move!
We also played the video "Joy" by For King and Country - and we danced! (Watch it here if you need some joy in your day: The pews were rockin'. Joy is contagious. Love is contagious. Hope is contagious.
Advent stands for all of those gifts: God wants to bring them to us. And when we are open to receive them, willing to let them interrupt the busyness or our lives and the negativity around us, when we truly let them reach our hearts we cannot help but pass them on. The world needs more joy. The world needs more God. The world needs us to spread it all around. 
Wishing everyone who reads this a joyful, peaceful and hopeful Christmas, filled with the love of God! 

Monday, December 10, 2018


This is an emotional time of year. Extremely busy for many, sad and lonely for some. And sentimental for most of us. The music, the smells, the decorations, foods, and traditions remind us of times long gone, and of people, we love that are no longer with us to share these memories. 
It's also a bit sentimental because, at Christmas, we tend to romanticize things. Christmas movies, images of the rosy-cheeked Christ child, the hope for peace and that all might be well... And then we realize how much is not well: War, famine, political dissent, gun violence, extremism and hate, destructive changes in the climate.
When you really think about it it's hard not to lose hope. Where is the good news in all of this?
The romanticizing of Christmas shows how much we long for a world at peace, a world without suffering. We want to escape reality for a bit and believe (or pretend) that all is well. 
Denial is never a solution though. It's better to face reality and deal with it. 
Jesus did. He came into our world because it isn't peaceful or perfect. That's why we need him! He came to bring us the peace this world can never give. He came to call us as peacemakers.  
So the good news is, there's still you. And if you long for peace, you can work towards peace. If you open yourself up for the kind of peace God wants to give you, you will receive it. If you choose to live at peace with yourself and with those around you, you can. 
It's not going to be easy. If it were we wouldn't need God. But it is possible. Peace is possible. 
Jesus said so: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

Monday, December 3, 2018


For many, this weekend was the kick-off to the Christmas season: Tree lightings, Christmas fairs, concerts and much more. 
My weekend was a little different. I attended an event about human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Even in this day and age, women and children are subject to unthinkable violence and abuse. Not only, but including sexual violence. Children are forced to do physical labor for 10 hours a day. Domestic workers here in the United States are exploited and basically held as prisoners. It's a business and a successful one. I couldn't wrap my mind around how human beings can inflict such pain on others, just to make a buck. 
If you are willing to expose yourself to this reality, watch the film "Not My Life" here:
Find out how you are supporting slavery in your daily shopping by taking the survey here:
What gives me hope is that there are things we can do: We can buy fairly traded items like coffee, tea, and chocolate in any grocery store. We can buy our clothing from companies that commit to supporting fair and safe working conditions. We can inform ourselves and inform others. I refuse to give up hope that we can make a difference.
In worship, we lit the first candle on our Advent wreath yesterday, the candle of hope. One small candle can give a lot of light and warmth, and it can light many other candles. This is a symbol of the hope we find in seemingly small and insignificant gestures. Even in ourselves. 
Yesterday afternoon, a group of kids and adults from Trinity went Christmas caroling in local nursing homes. To many of the residents, Christmas is an especially difficult time because it reminds them of what they have lost: family members, their home, their independence. To see a group of young people come in and sing for them was joyful and hopeful. I was deeply moved by the tears I saw in some of their faces, and the laughter. Some of them sang along and others danced! 
There is hope. As long as we still care, there is hope. As long as we believe in the good in people, there is hope. As long as we believe that God is with us, and God wants to build a better world with us, there is hope. Let's take that hope and light up the world with it.