It’s happening already, a good ten days before Thanksgiving: People are putting up their Christmas trees. When I see the posts online, I comment, “So soon?” or “Already?” or “Thanksgiving? Advent?” I guess I’m just getting curmudgeonly in my new status as a 50 year old.
Five years ago this week, Disney Pixar released the film “Inside Out.” For those you who haven’t seen it, the plot takes place in the mind of an adolescent girl named Riley. We get to see the control room of her memories as the characters, the emotions Joy, Sadness, Anger and others try to direct how Riley feels things and remembers. The memories of her life get saved in colored glass orbs that can then later be replayed for Riley to re-experience that event and the emotions with them.
I’ve not posted much on Facebook or Twitter since early December. And frankly, I haven’t missed it much.
Yes—to answer the inevitable question—I haven’t seen some updates from family and friends. I don’t know the latest on the lives of those I’m not in regular contact with otherwise—but most of those were food posts or pictures from vacations or their thoughts on the political climate (I’ve definitely not missed these).
I decided on the way to the Albuquerque airport to stop and do my laundry so I wouldn’t have to do it in Vancouver. I left Christ in the Desert Monastery a couple of hours before I had initially planned and stopped in Santa Fe. When I could access the internet, I looked up local laundromats and stopped at the closest one—well rated on Yelp, by the way. (I didn’t know such things were rated.)
I like going to the laundromat, frankly. I like getting all the week’s laundry done in a short time during the summer when I hit the one nearby our cottage on the Cape early in the morning before the crowds descend. This time I went on Memorial Day at about 10am. Still early, but the machines were chugging and tumbling.
My allergies have been kicking up at the monastery after having a fairly easy spring back in Boston. I brought enough Claritin to last my first two weeks, but I found that the incense used during some of the services really set me off. I needed stronger backup to my daily med.
But the closest pharmacy is an hour plus away. Rather than be miserable my last day and a half, I decided to drive out to get something.
[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]Phil LaBelle, 2017.[/featured-image]
While at the store—and back on the grid—I called to check in with Melissa and the kids, and my phone also automatically downloaded email. Since I had to make so many reservations for my sabbatical, I needed to have an email address ready, so I pulled out one I hadn’t used very much in recent years. Back when I was setting up St. Mark’s weekly email when I first arrived, I used this esoteric address as a test. But I forgot to unsubscribe it before I left. While quickly scrolling through a few emails, I saw one about a funeral.
During my sermon on Sunday I mentioned I’d put together online and app resources for praying. Here’s the list of things I’ve found (and some I’ve personally used) to make the most of your time and technology.
Pray As You Go — A daily audio prayer with scripture site. Recommended for those beginning with prayer.
Common Prayer App— Put out by the New Monastic movement, a wonderful, rich and easy to use resource
Daily Office App — An app to purchase, but finally a great resource for the BCP Daily Office.
Meditation Time App— Different sounds and calming images to help you not worry about the time when you pray or spend time in silence meditating on scripture or God.
Prune— A meditative game that allows you to “Cultivate what matters. Cut away the rest.”
I wrote this essay a number of years ago when I had traveled to South Africa for a Habitat Blitz Build. I’ve been thinking about how we relate to others this week in response to all the news about violence to our neighbors. I’m so glad I met Nana; even though she lives halfway around the world, she’s my neighbot.
We stood near the front door to dedicate the Habitat house we had worked on over the past week. Nana, our homeowner who had worked with us, shed tears as the reality of the situation hit her. This building was now her home. A place to share meals with friends and to raise her child. We all shared our well wishes for Nana.
[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]Nana cleaning the windows of her new home. (c) Phil LaBelle[/featured-image]
Tears flowed freely, and our throats caught. The pain I felt from the week’s work didn’t seem to matter anymore. My eyes wandered to the other nearby houses built during that week. Dedications were happening there, too. One hundred gatherings happening at that moment asking God to bless the homes and those living in them.
I began my seminary studies on September 4, 2001. One week later the World Trade Center Towers fell.
Since I attended classes in New Haven, CT many of my more experienced colleagues went down to serve as chaplains. Melissa taught classes at a high school at a nearby town not many people had heard of at that time—Sandy Hook, CT—and many students had relatives or family members that had been in New York that day.
I remember a general sense of gathering together and facing this together as a nation at that time. Gatherings for prayer took place frequently. Signs of support appeared in yards. And then one day, I drove behind an SUV which had a duct-tape message on the back window.
Thoughts on recent world events and what it means to followers of Christ. Jumping off from John 18:33-37.
Over the course of the past couple of weeks, events in Paris—and, as many of us discovered afterward, also in Beirut—have grabbed ahold of our minds and hearts. This week we add to it Mali, a country I’d suspect most of us couldn’t place on a map unless we have visited West Africa. Additionally, we have the Syrian refugee crisis and our own hyper-politicized run-up to a presidential election next November adding to the frenzy. Fear and bombastic rhetoric and calls from varying positions on how to respond have flooded the airwaves and the web. The noise is overwhelming, and the issues are reduced to snappy soundbites.
What’s a faithful Christian to do? How do we follow Jesus and think about these complex issues in a way that reflects Christ’s kingdom?
Today we celebrate the Last Sunday after Pentecost, also known as Christ the King Sunday or simply The Reign of Christ. We’ve reached the very end of our Church year and next Sunday we’ll be flipping the calendar to begin again with the First Sunday of Advent. On this Sunday we focus on the future hope that we have when Jesus reigns forever, and how we can embody that kingdom in the here and now. We’ll be reminded in the weeks ahead about what Jesus’ first coming looked like as we welcome him again.
I need your help.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve really been active on this blog except for posting the occasional sermon.
I’m taking stock about this endeavor as I consider where to go next. That’s where I could use your input: I’m asking you to fill out a short ten question survey. The survey will give me an idea of what’s helpful and what could be improved upon. You can reach that survey by clicking here.
I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out. And if you have any other thoughts or comments, please scroll down and let me know.