O come, O come, Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel.
That mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear .
shall come to thee, O Israel.
Emmanuel ~ God is with us. God comes for all of us, the sinners and the saints; the have’s and have not’s; the weary ones and the “what are we waiting for?” ones; all shades of us; all ages of us ~ God comes. This day. God comes. To meet us and to greet us. To embrace us and encourage us. To remind us always that love leads us.
For many of us there has been a mourning, an exile-place throughout this Advent season. Some of us have lost loved ones and we have journeyed through these Advent days with tender and grieving hearts. Some of us have had struggles with loss of jobs, or loss of health, or loss of focus. The writer of this carol somehow shared our tenderness of heart centuries ago. Yesterday and today meet in the reading of the words, in the singing of this song.
Faith is born this day ~ rejoice! Even if we’d heard this Bethlehem story our whole lives, we come to this day as if for the first time. This year’s journey is not the same as last year’s ~ the holding on and letting go’s of the past year have shifted our minds and spirits. And so we enter into today’s story in a new place and time.
Hope is born this day ~ rejoice! We have journeyed through these Advent days with words of encouragement and promise. From the First Sunday of Advent we have been told to stay awake, to pay attention. This one, precious life that we have been given is for a short time really. And we have this day. This rejoicing day. This day to breathe in all the beauty and wonder of what is around us. This day to look into the eyes of loved ones, and into the eyes of strangers and see the Promised One who has come.
Love is born this day ~ rejoice! Love is witnessed in so many parts of this Bethlehem story. Two parents-to-be journeying through the countryside until she could go now further, and love guided them. Shepherds watching their sheep, but seeing a once-in-a-lifetime star, choosing to follow it to the back of an inn and love guided them. Wise men journeying into a new country, following a sign of something remarkable about to happen, and love guided them. Angels singing their alleluias that filled the skies, and love guided them.
Rejoice! We are invited into this day to sing for joy and dance our alleluia’s! God’s promise to be with us ~ always ~ is born again this day. God’s love for each of us is born again this day. As Howard Thurman wrote years ago, “the work of Christmas begins” with us this day.
Wishing you health and wonder on this Christmas day and into 2015. God bless you and your household.
Breath prayer: “Rejoice” “rejoice”
Prayer (written by Howard Thurman):
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the people,
To make music in the heart.
Amen and amen.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Thanks to Susie Gentry for this picture
Since before I can remember …..
…..I have gone to church on Christmas Eve;
….. I have been held in love more than words can say;
…..I have been surrounded by singing and bells ~ Christmas carols for everyone!
…..there have been candles lit showing the faces of those I love;
…..this once-a-year night holds my heart and holds my faith.
This is the night we gather, this is the night we come together to hear the story we’ve heard our whole lives. There are many ways the story is told. And the truth is there are new tellings of the story each year.
Some of my favorite Christmas Eve’s have been
· When Claud, Bets and I sang at the 11:00 service in Mattoon and Mrs. VanVoorhis played the organ;
· Sam playing baby Jesus in 2001 (his birthday is mid-November, so he looked like baby Jesus to me);
· When John Brogan was 3 or 4 and although dressed like a shepherd, he acted like the church greeter ~ walking around saying hello and giggling with anyone who would look his way;
· The year 12-year-old Mary Rosa was the Virgin Mary and in the middle of the service reached under her red corduroy skirt and pulled out the stuffed baby (Jesus);
· That first year after Mom and Dad were both gone and I finally understood my grandmother’s tears.
Whether we hear the crunching on the snow under our feet, or the lapping of the waves on the coastline;
whether we bundle up in five layers or put on our “fancy shorts” and make our way to worship;
whether we stop for a moment to look for the brightest star, or get out our favorite umbrellas and imagine the stars in our mind’s eye ~ however it is we gather on this holy night ~ may we be surprised by joy.
Even here in Georgia, as I hear the melody of “Bleak Mid-Winter,” I know that when I hear it, I will cry. I’ve done that for about 100 years. But what is somewhat new to this old story of mine is that now Linda and I have two kind, tall young sons who will both be putting Kleenex in their pockets to hand to me during the service at just the right moment.
Alleluia. Can you hear the angels singing? They’re as close as your sister and brother on either side of you.
Breath Prayer: “Listening” “for your story”
God of Our Story, we give thanks for this holy night. Here we stop and stay at the manager, listening again for the angel’s song. Here we stop and look up at the stars and breathe deeply. Here on this night we worship you, as we hear again as if for the first time your story of faith, hope and love. Amen.
I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David:‘I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.’”
Thanks to Beth Locker for this amazing picture
The Eve of Christmas was the holiest of nights for more than a decade of my life. It was the one night each year that I truly believed that if I listened with an open heart, I would hear the angels singing. It was for me the night when time stood perfectly still and when strangers somehow let go of suspiciousness and fearfulness, and leaned in a little bit toward one another. For 10 years or more, this service on the Eve of Christmas Eve was the closest I’ve come to living into a Silent Night.
It began 30+ years ago with a handful of folks in Cartersville, GA. Each year they gathered in an old carriage house. Bales of hay were brought in and placed around for sitting. Lanterns and candles were brought in for seeing. Folding chairs were brought and on really cold nights, somebody brought big heaters (even then we could still see one another’s breath, especially when we sang). The big doors at one end of the barn didn’t quite close, so there was always cold, cold, cold air rushing in.
We came from all over. Word of mouth brought us. We would gather, young ones and older ones. Wealthy and wanting ones. Light skinned and darker skinned ones. Most of us strangers to one another, but somehow when we entered into the space we would nod, and offer to share part of a blanket. Maybe because of the cold we sat closer to one another than we would at church. Maybe because of the darkness, the light of candles seemed that much brighter. Maybe because of the smell of hay and sound of the wind outside, the carols never sounded better. Maybe because we were never the same group two years in a row, our hearts recognized that we were standing/sitting on holy ground.
There was a fire in the carriage house several years ago and we no longer gather on the Eve of Christmas Eve. Or do we? I wonder.
Once a year, year after year we would come one by one and two by two to meet in a barn and sing carols by candlelight. We would enter as strangers and as we listened again for the Bethlehem story and the singing of the ageless melodies. Each year the love of the space seemed to break our hearts wide-open. The psalmist speaks of the steadfastness of God. On one night each year, many of us lived into that living, loving steadfastness of God. And if you listened closely, you could hear the angels singing. I believe many of us, if not all still gather. Maybe not shoulder-to-shoulder, but certainly heart-to-heart. Gloria, in excelsis Deo…
Breath Prayer: “listening” “for angels”
Faithful God, we are listening for angels. As we hear again the words of the Bethlehem story, as we sing from the inside-out Silent Night, we give thanks for your steadfast love, for us ~ each one. Amen.
From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
ev'ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread,
ev'ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!
~ Canticle of the Turning
We sang the most beautifully powerful and hopeful song yesterday in worship. The chorus continues to sing inside me: The world is about to turn. And I feel it. I’m not a dancer, and even with my bum knee I felt like dancing as we sang the chorus together: The world is about to turn.
These past days have held unspeakable violence against children and their families in Pakistan…and the world is about to turn. In so many ways our country is going through deep pain with neighbors striking out against neighbors…and the world is about to turn. In our city there are children and families walking the streets and going to bed hungry…
We are nearing the end of this Advent season. It feels to me like Christmas is all of a sudden arriving. It’s not that I didn’t wait and watch ~ I did. But all of a sudden Christmas is coming this week.
And I’ll confess, I fell into the hustle and bustle of consumerism and have more presents than I have energy to wrap them (always a bad sign). And I feel the need to confess that I’m weary as Christmas comes.
Our pastor, David Lewicki asked in his sermon, “Do you believe in the coming of the Dawn?” And as he preached I nodded my head because I do believe in the Dawn that has been promised, the Dawn that is soon to come. I long for the Light that will shine with the birth that is now just a few days away. I believe in God’s saving grace and in the gift of the newborn Son. For me, the Dawn unfolds as the story of Bethlehem is told: Two weary travelers finding no beds but desperately needing to stop and rest. Angels singing songs of Alleluia, because something is soon to happen that will turn everything on its head. Shepherds and wise men stand shoulder to shoulder to be in the presence of Hope being born. And a baby’s cry on a dark night changes the world.
Just a little more, we wait. We hold fast to the promise and story. We lean in so that we don’t miss one moment of it. The busyness of the world falls away now, for you and me. We have come this far, and there’s just a little bit further to go… Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn!
The Dawn is soon coming. Stay awake. Lean in. Emmanuel, God with us.
Breath prayer: “every mouth” “be fed”
God of the Coming Dawn, we pray for those who are afraid. We pray for the hungry and those without homes. We pray for the sick and the dying. We pray for those who have lost loved ones and who grieve this day. We pray for those who are in prison. We pray for countries where there are battles being fought this day. Bring your Light and turn us, turn us all toward your Coming Dawn. Amen.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1: 26-38
Me and Gay
Today is believed to be the Winter Solstice. The Almanac says, “The word solstice comes from the Latin words for "sun" and "to stand still. In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day; the high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day. At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position… Winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year.”
The Winter Solstice was my friend, Gay’s favorite day of the year. Every year she would gather her friends together on the Winter Solstice night and light all the candles she could find. Her son had died years before and she told me many times, “parents should never outlive their children.” Her loss was deep and always present with her. The Solstice marked the shortest day of year, but more importantly, she would say, “This is the day we remember that more light is coming. Tomorrow’s light will be just a little bit more and the next day and the next. Every year this day lives out hope for me. More light is coming.”
Today’s scripture message echoes the hope of my friend. Today’s story has angels and miracles, it has words that get inside our hearts and stay there our whole lives: “The Lord is with you.” “Do not be afraid.” “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Sometimes I wonder what our lives would have been like if we were given only one page from the Bible to serve as our guide. If the only page we were given was this one, our lives would have had a very strong compass. In this one story, in just these words we would know God to send angels when messages needed to be sent; we would have heard that God speaks to women and uses us for healing in the world; we would have witnessed that it’s OK to not understand, and that when there is misunderstanding we will be reminded of the presence of the Holy Spirit; and we will have heard powerful words of faith and hope – “nothing is impossible with God.”
On this shortest day of the year, on this day when more light is coming we are reminded to have faith in the Promises of God. Angels come and bring messages that will lead us through and lead us on. More light is coming, we will see. Be not afraid.
Breath prayers: “Nothing is impossible” “with God”
On this Winter Solstice day we are more aware of time. Our days are always changing. Light is coming. Holy One, you have created and are creating still. May we pay attention and not miss the messengers that come and bring us closer to you. May we listen for your words to guide us and bring us closer to you. May our lives be transformed this day and throughout our years. Amen.
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
I wonder if I’m alone or if this is true for you, too … the singing of the Christmas carols connects me deeply to the Christmas season. These are tunes that I’ve somehow known my whole life. These are words that always seem to have held my heart. I remember caroling down the streets of Mattoon on snowy nights with the promise of hot chocolate at our last stop. I remember caroling on Christmas Eve in Florida in my shorts. I remember candlelit services at midnight. I remember…
There is nothing that can get me crying faster than singing those old carols. Even now as I’m typing these words I am holding tender memories of singing in the pews with my grandparents and in the church choirs with my parents and sisters. And when Linda and the boys are singing next to me on this upcoming Christmas Eve, sam will be the first to tell you that tears will fall through most of the service.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight… These words from O Little Town of Bethlehem echo tenderly in my heart this year. They seem true every year, but this year, this year they feel tender and powerful ~ both.
These words from this carol hold the season for me this year. This is what the spirit of Christmas is all about.
We bring our fears this year. Individually and collectively, we bring the echo of the gunshots around the world – in Missouri and in Pakistan, in the streets of Atlanta and the streets of Gaza. All around the world, there will be Christians listening for one another as they sing this song this Christmas.
What do the hopes and fears of all the years mean to you this year? How do these words resonate in your heart? How are they alive for you?
For me this year Hope and Fear meet in Bethlehem. When we sing these words together it's as though we're all gathered together and held by the One who loves us. These carols take us our whole lives to learn. It turns out from our first singing, these songs have been our life prayers.
This is the season where darkness and light meet. This is the season where hope and fear meet. This is the season when we are aware of the broken places, and we wait for angels. This is the season where are our humanness is held by holiness. This is the season…
Oh come to us abide with us our Lord, Emmanuel. Perhaps we have never sung a truer prayer.
Breath Prayer: “fears” “and hopes”
O Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell. O come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
Going out and coming in. Going and coming. Tears and laughter. There is a balance here in this movement, in this living. There is a time set aside for holding on and letting go.
We have been waiting for the coming of the Promised One in these Advent days. So what do these words bring to us?
Is it possible to believe in a life that would reflect the words of this psalm? Is it possible to hold onto that kind of faith that knows laughter and tears, one following the other and back again? Is it possible to believe that what is sown in sorrow will be harvested in joy? Is it possible?
Advent is the season of paying attention. It is the time for watching for what brings life and light. As we have been preparing and waiting in these last days, there have been times of practicing the spiritual act of leaning in. In these past weeks there have been times when the darkness seemed so great, and I found that the only thing I knew to do was pray…Prayers holding singing and prayers of only silence.
I met yesterday with a woman who is turning 93 soon. She and I sipped tea and ate cookies while she told me how her life had been in these past months since her husband’s death. “I keep learning about myself,” she said. “I keep surprising myself.
“For the first time in my life I’ve put the menorah in the window at night. I don’t know why I’ve never done it before, but I haven’t. Always before we had it over there on the counter. This year I wanted to put it in the window, and I did. I think because I miss Abe so much. It’s my first Hanukah without him in 70 years. I don’t know why, but this year it’s important that I light the candles for more than just me. I want more light to shine for everybody. We could all use a miracle now. I want the light to shine brighter than ever before. I feel like I need it this year,” she said, “and from all the pain that is in the world, I think we all need it.”
We were like those who dream…I saw it shining so brightly in her eyes as we sipped tea. And I felt both tears and laughter – hers and mine - both.
Breath prayer: “sowing” “reaping”
Holy One, you hold us all in the fullness of life. You bring us balance and when our hearts are open to experiencing it, we are all so much better for it. Teach us to embrace both our tears and laughter. Teach us to trust that you are present in it all. And remind us, Gracious God to light another candle. Amen.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
To be asked to pray in this season isn’t that difficult. Especially this month. So much violence around us that it’s hard to get our heads around it all. Despair in the faces of strangers we pass on the street and see in the stores. We’re traveling faster than our souls can go (as Carrie Newcomer, an Indiana folksinger would sing). For many of us, prayers are as close to us as our next breath. In this Advent season, many of us can find words for heartfelt prayers.
The words that go before and after “pray without ceasing” cause our hearts to pause…here this request is surrounded by “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances.” All circumstances? Truly? All? Doesn’t the writer know that there are people mourning around us this season? Doesn’t Paul (or whoever wrote these words) realize that there are people who are hungry and frightened? Can’t he see that there are sisters and brothers without work, wandering the streets of our town? Rejoicing?
These words were written to the early Thessalonian church. Many of her members had experienced persecution for their beliefs. They too knew of grief and mourning. They too knew of despair and hopelessness. Centuries ago theses words were written to a new faith community, and today these same words speak clearly for us to hear as well.
There is a blessing that accompanies these words, and our hearts would do well not to miss it: “May the God of peace sanctify you.” "Sanctify," to be made holy, to be set apart for a purpose. This blessing is to remind us that no one is ever alone on these cold, December days. This blessing is to light our path as the nights grow darker and we fear we may lose our way.
These words are to remind us that we are God’s precious children, you and I, called by name from our first breath until our last. Let us have faith and rejoice. Who knows what grace may be next?
Breath Prayer: “giving” “thanks”
Loving God, teach us to pray. Our December days feel so full. We feel rushed and at times lost in whirlwinds of our own creating. We see so much suffering near and far away from us. Teach us to pray so that we might draw closer to you in these whirl winding days. Restore our spirits, God of grace. May we pray with thankfulness and joy this day and always. Amen.
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Perhaps these words from Isaiah will be our words for leaning in as our Advent days continue. These are words that remind us that even though we are experiencing hard times, there are sisters and brothers – not far from us – whose lives are much, much harder. The prisoners and those who are oppressed are held closely in Isaiah’s words, held now in God’s light. The brokenhearted are seen in lovingkindness and promise; their pain now to be bound-up.
In the days of Isaiah every 50 years was declared the year of Jubilee. During the year of Jubilee debts were cancelled and land was redistributed so that balance returned to communities and to each family. For the “have’s” this was a year when some of their holdings were lost, for the “have not’s” this was a time of restoration and healing. The year of the Lord’s favor…balance…restoration.
For those of us who mourn, we are especially included in today’s reading: a garland instead of ashes, oil of gladness, a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. We are to be comforted the words say. Perhaps the comfort is to be an outer balm for our inner pain. Perhaps we are seen by the Holy One as if for the first time. Perhaps the pain of those who mourn is experienced, and here we are given a vision of great strength. We, who mourn are to someday be called oaks of righteousness. Once bent over living in and through our deep despair, here we are promised to be called strong, rooted living testaments to our living faith.
These are leaning in words. They acknowledge the brokenness of many of our days. They bear witness to the ones who for years have been on the outside looking in. Here, Isaiah remembers God’s promise and covenant. Here, as we lean in we are drawn closer to the One who proclaims the good news, drawn closer to the One builds up what has fallen down. Here our spirits will lean in to the Spirit who calls us all to remember our blessings.
Breath Prayer: “Leaning” “in”
Holy God, as you anointed Jesus with Spirit to comfort mourners, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim release to prisoners, and bring good news to the oppressed. So anoint us, as Christ’s living body, we pray to go and do likewise. Amen. (Prayer form North Decatur Presbyterian church worship 12/14/14)
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
O come, Desire of nations bind
all peoples in one heart and mind.
From dust thou brought us forth to life;
deliver us from earthly strife.
These are tender days. Tender days when we think about our country’s unrest. Families grieving for sons who have died. Police officers “on guard” and wary of what might happen next. Marching in the streets from coast to coast to coast. In countries around the world there are families grieving their sons and daughters who have died. Bullets and bombs, landmines and IED’s made by human hands to maim and kill. From Missouri to Syria, from NYC to Gaza, from Islamabad, Pakistan to Newtown, Connecticut …we are killing one another more efficiently than ever before in human history. And still we are weeping.
O come, Desire of nations bind
all peoples in one heart and mind.
In the summer of 2007 I was privileged to go on a pilgrimage to Israel. I’ve described the trip as being 18 clergy and 3 adults. We spent a week in northern Israel and a week in Jerusalem. Of all the memorable sights (wading in the Sea of Galilee and floating in the Dead Sea; kneeling in churches all around the country; seeing the Palestinian Wall), it is what I saw in the courtyard of the Basilica of the Annunciation that holds my heart.
We were told that the Catholic Church of Nazareth was in great disrepair and in 1969 the Pope called on the world to save her. Every country that gave money was also asked to contribute a mosaic of their vision of the Mother Mary.
I would go back today just to walk around that courtyard again. All around the courtyard are mosaics of Mary ~ you can see Kenya's mosaic next to Poland's, you can see Argentina's next to Ireland's. We could all learn something from what this artwork is trying to teach. Yes, our lenses are different. Yes, our skin-color, hair-color and eye-color are different…but one great truth is that we are children of God. Each country. Each son. Each daughter.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel ~ you who created and are creating still, bind us, we pray. Heal us, we pray. Save us, we pray.
Breath Prayer: “learning again” “from Nazareth”
O Come, O Come to your daughters and sons, we pray. Teach us to study war no more. Teach us to see one another through your lens of compassion and love. Teach us to remember that we are bound together nation-by-nation, daughter-by-daughter and son-by-son. Amen.
believes in beginnings and beginning again, in holding on and letting go, in God's presence as close as our next breath. Lesley works as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator in Atlanta. She is an ordained minister in the UCC and has just completed her second book, "Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days" (to be released early in 2015).