Message from Pastor Liz

Thoughts for Our Nelson UMC
Friends and Community
 
I Have Thoughts . . .

In everything, give thanks.

Ordinary time.  That’s what the church calls the stretches of time between the two feast seasons of Christmas and Easter.  As glorious and majestic as both High Seasons are, there is genius and there is gift in the liturgical calendar calling us to celebrate the ordinary as well as the extraordinary in our faith.  And in these so-very-out-of-the-ordinary times, we do well to remember to celebrate the ordinary when we can find it.

Ordinary Time comes the few weeks between Epiphany and Lent and then again for the longer span of from Pentecost to Thanksgiving.  This second season is l-o-n-g:  I joke and say its 150 weeks of liturgical green and I have more green stoles than any other color.  But Ordinary Time [the second part] arrives in those long summer days that seem to stretch out  slowly and surely into the habits and traditions of summer:  ballgames and swimming, trips to the beach and to Grandma’s, picnics and parades and parties.  The temperatures and tempo urge us to slow down or even come to a full stop;  to find some shade and an icy glass of lemonade or sweet tea;  to watch the sun go down and the lightning bugs fire up.  It is a simple celebration of the wonderfully ordinary stuff of life. One of my sweetest memories of childhood is those summer evenings, all the neighborhood kids running chasing unsuspecting lightning bugs in our pajamas and then the call for everybody to load up the car for a trip to Eddie & Carol’s, a small mom-and-pop diner close-by, where everybody got an ice cream cone.  And we even usually managed to eat some before they melted all over us.  You couldn’t exactly do this these days, between the running out and about in pajamas, loading up a carload of kids with no seatbelts, and a sweaty, dirty, barefooted army of rugrats invading a restaurant – and that’s not counting Covid concerns!

This Sunday after the Backyard Church service we had a socially-distant potluck. After everyone was gone and most of the stuff was put away, I went out the back door to put up the microphone and PA equipment that I still can’t make work.  As I walked across the patio, a small voice let out a “YAY!!” as he tore across the yard from the playground.  Sort of recognizing this ball of energy as one of the local kids who comes and plays on the playground on occasion, I looked up and waved.  His older sister, clearly in charge of this little bundle of joy, came up slowly behind him.  He ran toward me like I was the Ice Cream truck [do they still have those?].  He wanted to see everything that was here, why was all this stuff out?, why do I have a tent in my backyard?, and could he have one of those bottles of water in the ice?  An hour later Jaden and I and his sister had co-opted my red handtruck/dolly into a go-cart racer, had inventoried all the potluck leftovers and selected a small not-going-to-ruin-your-dinner snack, and had knocked the cobwebs off all the dragons, noisemakers, and the Wishing Wand.  He promises me he’ll be back, and he’s bringing his mom with him so she can make a wish on the Wishing Wand.  Just ordinary stuff but through the eyes and wonder of a child it was all magic.

  The ‘extra’ of Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas is wonderful and I love it all, but the church folks who understood the need for a balance between the Extraordinary and the Ordinary served us well.  We can enjoy each because we have both.

It is in the ordinary stuff of life that the presence of God is often most easily known or recognized.  We may not immediately recognize it, but the joyful awe of a two-year-old discovering the mystery and marvel of a yard full of lightning bugs is a gift from the Creator of children and lightning bugs alike.  God’s grace and joy dance and breathe in the ordinary.

We may take these for granted, but the blessings of health and hearth, of being well and being safe, particularly in this season of Covid, are some of the most treasured possessions we humans have.  Job learned the hard way.  God’s providence and compassion dwell in the stuff of the ordinary.

We may not always exactly appreciate them, but the ordinary people with whom we share our ordinary lives – the spouses who convince us that we are Martha Stewart, Mother Theresa, and Madame Curie all rolled into one even though we burned the bread that we’re all making as if it were the cure for the virus, smacked the computer when we couldn’t make it work, and forgot to enter the last three checks to Wal-Mart;  the children our parents prophesied upon us in our exasperating youth who make us proud and humble and amazed and exhausted;  and the friends and other family members who not only knew us “back when” but remember it all! and keep it quiet for the most part;  these ordinary, salt-of-the-earth folks sanctify our lives because we are loved by them.  Their love is of God and is like [some] summer rains, gently nourishing our better selves, enabling us to take root, grow, and blossom.  God’s love and mercy find us and celebrate us and embrace us in the ordinary.

We are halfway through this season of Ordinary Time.  Soon the summer will give way to that Fall-in-the-morning and Summer-in-the-afternoon pattern and then surrender entirely to Fall.  In the remaining part of Ordinary Time in these anything-but-ordinary-times, the opportunity exists to celebrate our God who is in all times.  So, maybe find a comfortable porch swing or lawn chair, fix yourself a glass of icy-cold something, and spend some time with someone you love.  Celebrate the gifts of the ordinary.  Celebrate the blessings of God.

Grace and soap. 

~Pastor Liz

Phone: 434.222.3394   Email: pastor@nelsonumc.com   Website: www.nelsonumc.com

 

*Hymn  “Where Joy And Sorrow Meet”

There’s a place of quiet stillness

‘tween the light and shadows reach;

Where the hurting and the hopeless seek everlasting peace,

Words of men and songs of angels whisper comfort bittersweet,

Mending grief and life eternal

Where joy and sorrow meet.

 

CHORUS

There is a place where hope remains

In crowns of thorns & crimson stains

And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet,

Where joy and sorrow meet.

 

There’s a place the lost surrender

And the weary will retreat,

Full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief;

For the wounded there is healing strength is given to the weak

Broken hearts find love redeeming

Where joy and sorrow meet.

 

CHORUS

There is a place where hope remains

In crowns of thorns & crimson stains

And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet,

Where joy and sorrow meet.

 

There’s a place of thirst and hunger

Where the roots of faith grow deep,

And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep;

There is hope in desperation, there is vict’ry in defeat

At the cross of restoration

Where joy and sorrow meet.

 

CHORUS

There is a place where hope remains

In crowns of thorns & crimson stains

And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet,

Where joy and sorrow meet.

“While we are worshipping differently, we all recognize that the church must still meet our financial obligations.  So, first – and let me be plain and clear – take care of yourselves first.  Full stop;  end of sentence.  This is true whether or not we find ourselves in our own version of ‘plague of locust’ or not.  After that, if you can continue to support the church budget in these times, prayerfully consider such support and know we will gratefully receive any tithes or offerings by mail at Nelson UMC, 5239 Thomas Nelson Hwy., Arrington, VA   22922.”
 
Thanks.  Liz