Monthly Archives: November 2017

Advent 2017


Advent begins this Sunday.  It’s a season of watchfulness, becoming like Mary, making space for Christ not only around us, but within us.  As a congregation we hear familiar texts and sing songs of the season that invite us deeper into the story.  Here are three things to know about Advent with CMC this year:

+ Worship Theme

For the last two months we’ve been contemplating what it means to be Sanctuary People.  Advent will build on this focus with the theme Inner Sanctuary.  We will look to Mary as the primary model of one who made her life a sanctuary, her body a place for God to dwell.  We’ve written a brief Sanctuary prayer that we’ll pray in English and Spanish to begin each service.  We’ve invited other congregations to pray this with us.  The adult choir and children are preparing music and performance for the weekend of December 16-17.  Because December 24th is a Sunday this year, our annual Christmas Eve evening service will be the only service that day.

+ Coloring = Prayer

The SALT Project has produced some lovely resources based on five coloring pages, designed specifically for Advent.  Each one features Mary in a different stage of pregnancy and expectation, surrounded by life and images from the biblical stories.  In large poster form, these will serve as the backdrop of our worship setting.  In coloring page form, they will be available in your church mailbox and in the foyer to take home and enjoy – children and adults.  Please take as many as you need.  We hope you can decorate your home with them.  We’re also asking you to bring some finished pages back to the church and place in a box in the foyer so they can add color to our Advent worship environment.  I’m attaching the first two coloring pages below in case you wish to print at home and get a head start.  For adults not already in a Sunday school class, feel free to join me during that hour in the fellowship hall December 3, 10, and 17 for coloring and conversation.  Finally, along with the posters and coloring pages, there are devotional booklets that include the images, poetry by Mary Oliver and Howard Thurman, a brief meditation, and suggestions for weekly practices throughout Advent.

+ Giving Projects

For the next couple weeks there will be two boxes in the foyer, side-by-side, each for gift cards.  One collection is for the YWCA Family Center which is requesting cards in $25 increments from Walmart, Target, Meijer, or Giant Eagle which they will give to families in the community.  The other collection is for Edith and the Espinal family who would most benefit from cards from Kroger, Aldi, and Walmart.  Gifts cards have the benefit of giving families the opportunity to select items they most need and prefer.  An added bonus is that these can be ordered through the Convention Cash form, which enables a percentage of the gift to support our Youth Group.  This form is also attached, with orders due to Mary Blosser this Sunday (see tomorrow’s email announcements for more details).  If you don’t make that deadline, you can still talk with Mary, or get the gift cards directly from the store.

This Advent, may this be our prayer:

God our Sanctuary, grant us and our neighbors, near and far, courage in our hearts, peace in our homes, and justice in our streets.  Amen

Dios nuestro Santuario, concédenos y a nuestros vecinos, cercana y lejana, coraje en nuestros corazones, paz en nuestros hogares, y justicia en nuestras calles. Amen.




The trees are mostly bare,

but there is excess in these late-autumn days;

of food,

of memory,

of longing.

Time, in its fullness, spills backward and forward,

and with it thoughts of all

we have ever loved or hoped to love.

Gathered into one,

it is a feast of too much.

In this is heartache:

that we are such small

and troubled containers

for what is offered.

In this is gladness:

that we would parse one flavor from the many,

one warm gesture, one word,

again and again.

Assured that even the left overs can feed a multitude.


22 November 2017

5 Things We Want Our Boys to Become

  1. To be able to enjoy girls and women without having to control or possess them.
  2. To have meaningful and vulnerable relationships with other males.
  3. To have a lively internal life of reflection, meditation, and imagination.
  4. To respect elders and to become an elder worthy of respect.
  5. To channel passion and energy toward creative betterment of one’s community.


Earlier this week I was included on a group email from CMCer Matthew Leahy.  His young son is currently undergoing chemo treatment.  Matthew was reflecting on his son’s gentleness.  His gentleness, even while facing this awful disease.  The gentleness of this boy, in contrast to the deluge of male sexually predatorial behavior now coming to light across the country.

He posed this question: “How do we keep our boys precious, loving what is good, loving beauty, feminist. And yes, loving women in the purest way possible.  Is it possible?”

Later in the day the deluge continued when I came across more disheartening news.  Two Mennonite pastors who I know personally were recently charged with and confessed to sexual misconduct.  These were separate incidences.

In his message, Matthew turned his question into an aspiration and challenge.  A campaign: “5 Things We Want Our Boys to Become.”  As parents, grandparents, mentors, uncles and aunts, and citizens, how do we answer this question?

The list above was my first crack at a response.

Of course these aspirations are not just for our boys, but for ourselves.  To hold our power in ways that uplift others rather than degrade.  To live as sexual beings within the commitments and boundaries that make for healthy relationships.  To be the kind of person we hope the beloved boys in our lives might become.

With Matthew’s permission I am passing along his challenge and campaign.  If any of you wish to send me your list of “5 Things We Want Our Boys to Become” I will add it to the end of this blog post on our website and include a link in a future blog for folks to view updates.  If you can’t come up with 5, send what you’ve got.



Small gestures


On Sunday, rather than lighting the peace candle, worship leader Becca Lachman invited us to place our hand over our heart and imagine the peace candle as a light within us.  It’s a prayerful gesture one can access any time.  Later in the service there were many candles burning as we came forward and named dear ones who have died, each flame a life whose love lives on in us.  I can still picture those candles, and still hear the affection in the voices speaking those names.

In looking at the worship calendar for November, it’s a month of small gestures pregnant with meaning.  This coming Sunday will include an opportunity to receive prayers and blessing for healing through anointing with oil.  The oil isn’t magic, but it is real, a felt presence that marks an expressed hope.  On the 19th we’ll take up a collection of canned goods, filling and surrounding our worship table with food for neighbors in need.  The final Sunday of November is also the final week of the liturgical year, known as Reign of Christ Sunday.  We’ll mark this by sharing in Communion.  Then we begin again with Advent.

Rituals and small gestures like these are one of the treasures of the church.  They are dense with meaning.  They can serve as anchors and light posts.

A candle is a life, remembered and still burning.  A touch of oil is a prayer, meeting us at our deepest longing.  A can of food is a meal and a call to open handed generosity.  Bread and cup proclaim that we, even we, are a part of the body of Christ, through whom the Divine makes small gestures to the world that love is lord of heaven and earth.