• The Church Year

    What’s in a Name? Only Everything {an Advent Post}

    There can be no manner of doubt a name is more easily remembered when its meaning is understood.  –A.J. Macself, from the Foreword, “Plant Names Simplified” I forgot to plant my amaryllis bulb the week of All Hallow’s Eve. I wrote about the practice in my Christmas season book, how planting a crinkly, brown bulb with antenna-like roots can be a lesson in patience and waiting during the Advent and Christmas season. But I was too busy to remember. Goodness. So, I potted the inglorious bulb the other day after soaking the accompanying ground-up coconut shreds in warm water, watching them miraculously expand and nearly overtake my 32-ounce glass measuring…

  • The Church Year

    5 Favorite Things About Fall

    There are so many reasons I love this time of year–it’s hard to choose, but here are my top five: Pumpkins Who knew there were white pumpkins and bumpy pumpkins and sorta-blue pumpkins and well, all manner of heirloom squash family members?? God’s creativity abounds in the gourd department, no? The displays at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere are a delight for the eyes. (But no Pumpkin Spice anything. Sorry Starbucks. And sorry, Hostess. Pumpkin Spice Twinkies? Um, no.) 2. Half-a-pie moons in the night sky, crisp, clear mornings. Dew on the leaves in the garden. Purple asters, full, ripe raspberries, colors beginning to creep up the foliage in the Japanese…

  • The Church Year

    Worry & Wonder–Holy Week

    “Only in those moments of vivid experience that made her come alive was she at home in her own country.”    –Marianne in Green Dolphin Country, Elizabeth Goudge, Hodder & Stoughton, 1944 Friend T and I were chatting on Instagram the other day about my favorite author (see above). There’s no writer I can recall whose stories have deepened my vision of the Gospel and my appreciation for the beauty of language quite like Elizabeth Goudge. But my heart is also quieted today, a heaviness at the back of my bones, weighted down by worry for the world and the myriad of ways we are messing it up. I’m afraid…

  • The Church Year

    Merry Christmas, Dear Readers

    It seems very fitting that Christmas Eve should be on a Sunday, when we gather for worship, wherever that is. A morning to set our hearts right in a posture of worship and thankfulness is a good way to ease into the gift giving and receiving activities before us, whether we gather tonight or tomorrow with family and friends. As I prepared my head and my heart this morning for church I found Handel’s Messiah on Youtube and through the miracle of livestreaming from my tablet, was able to listen on my Bluetooth speaker while I put on makeup in the bathroom. Yay, technology. There are 4 sections in the…

  • The Church Year

    Christmas: Mystery, Miracle or Magic?

    “Did not a great grey servant Of all my sires and me, Build this pavilion of the pines, And herd the fowls and fill the vines, And labour and pass and leave no signs Save mercy and mystery?”                                                 –G.K. Chesterton, from the Ballad of the White Horse, Book IV The holiday weeks are often heralded as the most wonderful time of the year; God knows we also W O R K to make it the most wonderful time of the year.  Unspoken pressures and unrealistic expectations—whether from others outside or inside ourselves—can back us into a corner and leave us, if not defeated, a little discouraged. We want magic…

  • The Church Year

    God With Us, Always

    I realize it’s still a few days before Halloween, but unless you’ve been under a rock (or in North Dakota somewhere) you know the Christmas parade has started in stores all across the land. (My apologies to anyone in either of the Dakotas). Yes, the holidays are fast on the heels of All Hallow’s Eve and we’ll be reminded once again – I hope! – that God is with us. I guess we can blame capitalism and commercialism, but Christmas seems to come sooner every year, doesn’t it? No doubt due to Seattle’s drizzly weather (and the Costco displays), I started humming this Christmas song* the other day and realized that…

  • The Church Year

    Christian Bookstore, Holy Week

    Jesus and I are on an outing the week before Easter.  We pull up to a strip mall; He unbuckles his seatbelt and I turn off the ignition.  As we climb out of the car and walk towards an open door He remarks, “Oh, a Christian bookstore; let’s see what they’re selling.” We step inside and nearly run into a banner displaying ‘Resurrection Eggs.” The tabletop displays cardboard cartons with plastic egg-shaped containers inside.  A sample shows Scripture verses tucked inside. “How are these used?” He ponders, puzzling as he holds one in His hand. “They’re eggs. Are they for farm children?  And why are they called ‘Resurrection Eggs’?  I…

  • The Church Year

    How Can I Get into ‘The Christmas Spirit?’

    “So take up what we’ve been given/ Welcome the edge of our days Hemmed in by sunrise and sunset/ By our youth and by our age Thank God for our dependence/ Here’s to our chasm of need And how it binds us together/ In faith and vulnerability This cup, this cup, I wanna drink it up To be right here in the middle of it Right here, right here, This challenging reality Is better than fear or fantasy” “This Cup”, Sara Groves I wish you could have seen our children’s ‘not-Christmas’ performance at church the other morning. “Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart….” they…