As a child I recall singing “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder” in Sunday School. It was a story that I remember reading in my own Bible, trying to imagine how someone could sleep while their head rested on a rock – no wonder they had wild dreams!
In listening to the reading of Genesis 28:10-19a this morning at Eucharist, I was struck by the importance of place in which Jacob encountered God. And this wasn’t going to be the last place God interrupted Jacob’s sleep (in the coming weeks we’ll hear more about Jacob, including his wrestling with an angel during another fitful night without sleep). Jacob has many miles to go before he can truly sleep (taking liberties with Robert Frost).
But what about place? In the stories of Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah, each time they have an encounter with God, they mark each place with an altar of stones. Jacob does this same action, using his stone pillow as base for the altar. In all of the travels of God’s people in our Hebrew Scriptures, so many “mark the place” where they encounter God. Perhaps as a way to acknowledge the encounter with something tangible besides a memory, or perhaps as a landmark for whomever may come that way to know that something special happened there. So special that someone needed to “mark” it. Continue reading Jacob’s Ladder
As we approach the birth of Christ, this article by Carol Howard Merritt really struck me. It reminded me of the experience of serving as a minister of communion 30+ years ago on Christmas Eve when I was 8-months pregnant. I was not robed in my alb (it no longer fit) and I had to lean to reach those at the altar rail as I administered the chalice. My soon-to-be-born daughter was active that evening, and I remember her moving and pushing against my ribs as I proclaimed, “The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.” I invite you to read this article by Carol:
“As I lifted the chalice, the baby began to play soccer under my ribs……
Source: Bearing God in Advent | The Christian Century
This post first appeared as the weekly reflection for St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, Connecticut for the second week of Advent 2016.
Advent to me has always meant preparation. As a child, my brother and I each had an Advent calendar that we would tape to the outside of our bedroom doors, opening a door each morning to discover a little phrase or image on the glittered cardstock. They were typically scenes of Bethlehem or a cityscape full of windows with mysteries behind them. We also had a family advent wreath, made from greens we had gathered from the pine trees in the woods behind our house. My mom would decorate the mantle with candles, greens, and family objects handed down through the generations. And we would set up the crèche, placing the kings and camels far from the little stable, with the shepherds and the sheep usually placed on a high shelf nearby, while Mary and Joseph waited over an empty manger. The Christmas tree was put up on Christmas Eve; my dad put on the lights, and I was lifted high to place the angel atop. Stockings were hung, cookies and milk put out, and we were put to bed to awaken to magic in the wee hours of the morning. Continue reading Advent Traditions
In response to recent events in the United States, educators, parents, and clergy are again seeking resources for talking with children and engaging adults in meaningful action. In searching through past posts here, I realized that just six months ago I posted Are Prayers Enough? with the image created by Roger Hutchison from Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace following the mass shootings in San Bernardino. Within that post I listed numerous resources that churches and individuals could use to move the conversation forward – from prayer to action – regarding gun violence.
But not much has changed. It would seem to have even gotten worse. The hostile rhetoric from some like Donald Trump only amps things up, instilling fear and hatred toward “the other” – anyone who doesn’t look like us, speak like us, worship like us, or live like us. Who is the “us”? Sounds bites from social media featuring reactionary statements and speculative comments about individuals we do not know only fuel the fire. Continue reading Violence, Racism, and Hostile Rhetoric