Posted in God Loves Me!, Singing

Overcoming Objections for Joining the Church Choir: They’re watching me!

Yep, they sure are! And you can watch them right back…hehe!

One of the most common objections church members cite as why they don’t want to join the choir – after not being “good enough” – is that everyone is looking at them through the whole service. Naturally, this objection is only relevant for churches where the choir sits up front and center-ish.

I get it. I was thinking about that today during church, specifically during the special music when a dear friend and I sang a duet. Yep, we accepted a request that put us in even more of a spotlight than when we sing as part of the larger choir group.

But what I get as the trade-off to being watched is such an exquisite blessing. You who sit in the congregation and never venture to the chancel (front) and turn to face the congregation never get to experience this. You’re just facing the wrong direction entirely and can’t.

Here are some of my favorite things to see each week that you don’t get to:

  • the smile on a congregant’s face when communion is carried to him/her – usually someone sitting pretty far back in the pews – and since we don’t usually turn around, few get to see the gratitude, the inclusion
  • the children when they return to the sanctuary during the Offertory or Doxology, their faces eagerly searching for mom and dad, hands grasping or heads wearing their Children’s Church creations
  • the people who know and love a hymn so well that they put their book down, look up and into my eyes, and smile as we share the joy of that song, those words, God’s love
  • the usher who brings a walker up the aisle at the end of the service to make post-service fellowship that much easier and more comfortable and safer to enjoy

Our choir boasts singers with asthma, allergies, limited ranges, melody-only skills, and we love them all. They sing to the Glory of God, and are blessed to witness each week the unnamed kindnesses and brilliant joys of others because we can see the whole congregation right back!

You can find me singing in the choir most Sundays at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, SC.

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Posted in Everyday Musings, God Loves Me!, Love Life

Judging a Book by Its Cover: When a Woman Desires to Be “Just” a Wife and Mother

This is short, perhaps just the beginning of an idea, a discussion.

It’s partly about the word “just,” especially when it means “only” and carries the implication of a self- or externally-imposed limitation.

It’s about choice, even when others think your choice is beneath your potential.

It’s about judgment, and others’ failure to recognize that most of us have more or different dreams waiting behind the scenes to become the focus of our lives and choices.

A friend of many years recently revealed two things publicly that have been received with strong responses:

  1. her dream was/is to be a “classic American” wife and mother a la June Cleaver, and that this is her American dream
  2. she recently filed for divorce from her husband

Responses to the second all follow in the same vein: sympathy, compassion, prayers, offers of support.

But responses to the first revelation have raised eyebrows and generated various levels of judgment that her dream is wrong, undesirable, bad, as well as condemnation of examples of newer variations on the American dream as entitled, lazy, absurd, and more.

My first response was personal:

I congratulate your choice to want and to strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, and mother, though I am baffled at the idea that there is only one American dream, the one anyone refers to as “the” American dream. I would prefer that no one impose any dream on my life and choices, much less a uniform “American” one. I would also prefer that no one judge me for my choice of dream, but as God didn’t grant me control over others’ minds, alas, judgment happens. I love you, sister, and pray for you support, comfort, and peace as you make your best choices moving forward into a new life situation.

But my continuing ruminations led me to wonder what kind of man does God direct as a match for a Proverbs 31 woman. A simple Google search for led to mostly articles and commentary on a Proverbs 31 husband, but my favorite presentation referenced Ephesians 5 and really focuses on the man’s role in lifting up his wife the same way Proverbs 31 focuses on the woman’s actions and choices. Be sure to click on the “Ephesians 5 husbands” in the Searches related to “husband for proverbs 31 wife” at the bottom of the results.

25 gHusbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and hgave himself up for her,

26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by ithe washing of water jwith theword,

27 so kthat he might present the church to himself in splendor, lwithout spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.1

28 In the same way mhusbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,

30 because nwe are members of his body.

31 oTherefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and p the two shall become one flesh.

32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

33 However, q let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she r respects her husband.

I’m truly privileged to say that I can easily name 20 men in my regular circle of friends whom I believe and have witnessed who are Ephesians 5 husbands and women who are Proverbs 31 wives. I try hard to be a Proverbs 31 friend. And I dearly pray to God to send my friend her Ephesians 5 husband.

This is by no means the end of this discussion – whether in my own meditations with God or out loud with friends in person or online.  I welcome your thoughts and especially your prayers for my friend and for all people to find the passion and acceptance to pursue the dreams they choose.

Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon: Isaiah 11:1-10 – Jesse’s Root and Jesus’s Birth – Waiting

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10 with Romans 15:13

Props: cup/pot of soil and a Christmas tree seed (similar seeds for demo purposes only: pumpkin, cardamon pod, pepita/pine nut); slice of a Christmas tree trunk for counting the rings; photos of Charlie Brown Christmas tree, 6-8′ home tree (yours or online), and ask how tall the church Chrismon tree is

 

charlie-brown-pathetic-christmas-tree-3About 10 years ago when I moved back to Charleston, I didn’t know it but a squirrel or bird planted a Christmas tree in my front yard. The first year, it look pretty much like this [ask if anyone recognizes the tree; if not tell them it’s the Charlie Brown Christmas tree]. Yep, that’s what a 1-year-old Christmas tree looks like.

christmastreeNow, 10 years later, my front yard tree is about 5 feet tall. Can you believe that? It took TEN YEARS for my tree to grow only 5 feet tall. I mean, I’m still taller than my tree.

us_plants_homeThe tree you’ve got in your house – or will have – is usually about 6-8 feet tall, and that takes hmmmm 8 to 12 years to grow that tall.

Now take a look over at the Chrismon tree here in the church. I have it on good authority that’s a 12-foot tree. How long do you think it took for that tree to grow that big and tall? [take guesses]
chrismontreeringsWell, thanks to Mr. Jonathan who got us a slice of our tree, we can find out exactly how many years it took. [count the rings out loud] That’s right, FIFTEEN years. Are any of you fifteen years old? [no] Guess what that means? Our tree is older than you are!

In today’s lesson, the prophet Isaiah learns from God a really great description of who Jesus will be and what he will do for us. Now Isaiah lived 700 years before Jesus was even born. He says that Jesus will come from the root of Jesse and He will be wise and strong and so much more. And God’s people waited patiently and were faithful for 700 years before Jesus was finally born.

If you get a chance, ask your mom or dad to let you read the church’s newsletter. Both Pastor Mike and Ms. Crystal write about the word “advent,” which means waiting. And it takes two main qualities to wait: patience and faith. Sometimes we have to wait a while before a promise comes true, and when it takes an especially long time, it also takes faith to not give up hope that the promise-maker is really going to do what he or she promised.

Can you imagine waiting 700 years and still believing that God would make good on His promise? That’s some amazing patience and faith to wait and believe that whole time – 700 years – for God to keep His promise. We only have to wait 4 weeks every year – that’s how long the season of Advent lasts – where we prepare our hearts and lives for our first glimpse of the tiny seedling – the baby Jesus – who grew up to fulfill ALL of God’s promises as our Savior Jesus Christ.

Will you pray with me?

Dear God, Thank you for trees and especially Christmas and Chrismon trees to remind us just how long it takes to grow into what God has planned for me. Help me to be patient and faithful when I want things to happen faster than they are. Amen.

Delivered on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at Palmetto Presbyterian Church.