Tik Tok, A Pandemic and Transformation

When 2020 began, I was packing up boxes and moving in with my sister. I was standing in the midst of liminal space, wondering what was to come next.(http://prayingontheprairie.net/giving-birth-to-transformation/) I had placed all my trust in God. And before I knew it, new beginnings were happening. I began a new call around the first of March.

Little did I know that the beginning would slowly be put to a halt as the pandemic really took off in the US. I attended church the first two weeks in my new community. The third week I traveled with Pr Sherri to two other communities. That week was the beginning of the end as worship moved to online after that week.

The first weeks and months were difficult as I made new friends and met new parishioners through Zoom. Pr Sherri’s departure to Oslo, Norway was delayed for several months. Yet there was gift in those moments too. I learned so much from my colleague. I found new ways to be creative like making Tik Tok videos.

This was not the year any of us expected, but as I look back over this year and my one word, I can truly say I was transformed. 2018 was full of so much loss and grief. But that year prepared me in so many ways for this year that was to be. God healed my pain and helped me to become whole; not without the cracks and repairs though. Our cracks remind us of where we came from and where we are going!

I was reminded of how much joy the kitchen brings me. There is something holy about creating with my hands. I love when I’m able to share that with others. Tonight, I made a NYE beautiful spread for my sister and I. I even sent cookies to dear friends.

Tik Tok brought me joy, but most of all it introduced me to some of the most amazing friends. I am so incredibly thankful for each friend I’ve made there. They remind me of how loved, unique, and special I am. In a lot of ways, their friendship has made me find my beauty and worth again.

2020 has been a year of so much loss and grief and it is a year that we won’t soon forget. Masks, racial injustice, a highly contested presidential election are only a few of the things we will remember. This year had taught us a lot and reminded us what’s important. It’s been a year of transformation but transformation in the ways we didn’t expect.

 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”-Romans 12:2

Tracing Back to the Manger

“This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.”-Luke 2:2

Yesterday December 23rd was the second anniversary of my grandfather’s death. His death was the ninth death in 2018. 2018 was the year of great loss and grief and it constantly felt that I was on the Lenten weary road of grief. I was a Road Weary Traveler. Little did I know how much that year would prepare me for the year of 2020.

This year has been filled with so much loss and grief. At times, God has seemed distant and silent. Yet it’s no surprise in the midst of such great loss. Chairs at holiday tables are empty because loved one have been lost to Covid 19. Families are not together because they are quarantining or simply trying to keep their neighbors safe. As a result, we might need a little help preparing our hearts to receive this infant king.

I, for one, need God to help me prepare my heart to receive Emmanuel “God with us.” My heart is so heavy with the grief of this year. I look at my Christmas tree and am reminded of dear Marvel who gifted me with my tree skirt. Marvel caught Covid 19 and passed away. She was one of the kindest and healthiest women that I know. Her husband and family are not far from my mind this holiday season. And their story is only one in a million stories from the year of our Lord; 2020.

I grieve that the beginning of my call started right as the pandemic took flight here in the United States. I’ve taught Bible study over Zoom. I’ve edited countless worship services. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve questioned if we are doing enough to protect those we serve. After months of waiting to travel to Norway, my colleague finally left to start her new call in Oslo. In the midst of the grief, I’m thankful for the time we shared and all she taught me. But I once again find myself on the weary road and I’m tired!

To be honest, this has been the longest Lenten weary road ever, leading us straight into Advent and to the manger. At the manger, we are reminded that Christ comes as the light in the midst of the darkness. But sometimes, like this year, we need to sit in the dark and be reminded that only God has the power to overcome death and the grave.

Because God overcomes death and the grave, I need to hear the words that the angel says to Mary, to Joseph and to all of us “Do not be afraid.” I need to faithfully hear and share the story because “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Most especially, in the year of our Lord 2020, Jesus meets us in the hopes and fears of this very year.

And as I hear this familiar story, I am beginning to see signs of hope swaddled in God’s love for all of us. The vaccine is starting to be distributed to essential workers. My mom’s nursing home called yesterday and asked if we wanted mom to get the vaccine in early 2021. Glimmers of hope in the midst of an extremely difficult year.

Signs of hope come in Emmanuel “God with us.” This one who promises to never leave us or forsake us. This one who comes into the world, in all his humanity, as the Word made flesh. “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:1-5).”

Tears are falling from my eyes as I remember again that Jesus is the one born “as the hopes and fears of all the years.” God’s love is met in thee tonight; met in an infant Son born for all the world to see and always traces us back to the manger, to the cross and to the empty tomb.

Unmute yourselves, my friends and proclaim loudly and triumphantly “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 11-12)

Looked with Favor

This morning, I received a phone call from my mom’s nursing home asking if we wanted her to get the Covid 19 vaccine. I know the call was coming. My sister and I had talked about so I was ready to give them an answer. Yes!

“For God looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”

“God looked with favor on those working on the frontlines” “

“God looked with favor on the nurses, the doctors.”

“God looked with favor on nursing home residents, the disabled, minorities and so many others”

May all these be able to stay safe and receive the vaccine that need it and want it.

”For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.”

A New Year

Sorry again friends that I’ve been MIA. Life has just been busy! The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “conclude.”

I think we can all agree on one thing…that we all are ready for 2020 to be over. It has been a pretty crummy year. Family and friends have suffered from COVID. One of my favorite people died from COVID. I began my new call right as this pandemic really took off in the states.

There has been a tad bit of good that came out of this year. Zoom has been a life saver as it’s allowed me to stay connected to more people than I imagined or expected. My colleagues departure to Norway and her new call was delayed. The months we served together I learned so much from her. My sister and I are only an hour apart.

Yet this year has been full of so much loss and grief. I’m more than ready for a new year and 2021 to arrive! As I write this, the first vaccines are starting to be given to essential workers. I’m beginning to see more glimmers of hope as this year concludes and a new year is soon upon us.

May 2021 be filled with so much joy!

A Covenant in the Midst of a Pandemic

I’m laying on my couch with only the lights of the Christmas tree and my tv on. My sister and I have been texting back and forth asking what we are going to do for Christmas. She’s currently quarantining as she was exposed to a positive case. I’m thankful that she doesn’t have any symptoms so far.

This year has been hard. I began a new call just as this pandemic started. I met a lot of my new parishioners on Zoom. The Zoom fatigue is real, but I’m so grateful that I’ve had Zoom to connect with others. In many ways, it’s been a life line.

My heart aches for the families that have suffered such great loss this year. I’m reminded of sweet Marvel who gifted me the beautiful tree skirt that currently is wrapped around the base or my Christmas tree. She passed away from complications from Covid pneumonia. She was one of the healthiest women that I know. And her story is only one of the thousands who have passed away this year.

The essential workers have continued to care for so many and yet they too have found themselves defeated and worn down by this virus. My mom’s nursing home called three weeks ago to inform me that mom tested positive for COVID. My heart sank into my chest. How do you explain to a 70 year old woman who lives with bipolar disorder and some early signs of dementia why she has to quarantine? She was so sad and I couldn’t give her a hug etc. Yet I’m so incredibly thankful that mom escaped with no symptoms.

I’m not sure what Christmas will look like next week, but what I do know is Jesus will be born. And as Emmanuel “God with us” we need him more than ever. This infant who comes for the lowly, the outcasts, those on the margins and every single person on earth.

Today I sing of God’s faithfulness as mom didn’t have any COVID symptoms when she tested positive. I sing of God’s faithfulness that sometimes we need to experience the darkness to come to the light. I sing of God’s love that God has never left us or forsaken us in the midst of this pandemic. I will sing and tell the story of God’s love that continually calls us to lament and leave our burdens at the foot of the cross and in the manger.

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing. Joy to the world! Joy to the world! The Savior reigns.”