Saturday, December 31, 2016

In the City: 2016

2016 in the city header

Not necessarily most important, most memorable or unforgettable, but a simple selection from each calendar month [partly] chosen for the illustrations.

• January: some January experiences

citrus group

• nothing like a gift of dozens of fresh juicy local citrus – orange, grapefruit, lemon – for all to enjoy.

• February: Around the City

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Logo
29% off on leap day

• Afternoon visit to CB&TL after 12 noon on Monday 29 February for a 29% discount on a large Hazelnut Ice Blended® with whole milk and topped with whipped cream, while I made reasonable inroads into my latest review book from Amazon Vine. The CB&TL Leap Day discount's effective from noon through closing at all locations.

• March: the living begins

AIGA-WeWork event

AIGA-WeWork event

AIGA-WeWork event

• I loved discovering my tribe and and finding life at the DTLA AIGA event on Thursday 03 March.

• April: Highlights

Route 66 sign

• So Route 66 is right here and right now? Well, yep, it ends a few miles down the road in Santa Monica. In fact, church on Santa Monica Blvd also is on historic Route 66.

• May: Happenings

music from the left coast CD

• Spontaneous invitation to a concert I hadn't known about. Excellent choir and orchestra, a couple of world premieres, it was in a beautifully designed contemporary style church, and I won a CD for answering a question during intermission!

• June: Highlights – Learnings, observations, experiences

LCM church bldg signs in July

• The end of June marked six whole entire months (and counting!) I've been teaching every Sunday morning—"Adult Sunday School."

• July: July on a Page

Corita Center Open House

• Corita Art Center Summer Open House – Holy. Holy. Holy—Holy!!!

• August: summer summary

Getty Center 11 August 2016
London Calling Exhibit Banner • Kitten and Girl by Lucian Freud (Sigmund's grandson)

• August Excursion to the Getty Center

• September - October Roundup (published in November)

cathedral bench Saint Teresa

• On September 04 the Roman branch of the church declared Teresa of Kolkata an official saint.

reformation banner

• For October, I was extremely excited to have the church I've been attending use and love my Reformation 2016 bulletin cover! This is one of the quite similar cover photos / timeline banners I made for my fb design page.

• Every day in October was a #Write31Days2016 opportunity, and though I'm close to neutral on the style and content of my writing, I love that in the end I illustrated every single post.

• November: Highlights

National Sandwich Day

• Annual National Sandwich Day USA...happened on Thursday 03 Nov; I got a 6-inch SOTD at Subway, and a second 6-inch of my choice to celebrate and donate to the company's program and cause to feed hungry humans.

• December: Three Word Wednesday / Highlights

lessons and carols 2016

• Musical and performance style of Lessons & Carols on Advent 2 at the church I've been attending was a "very good for my soul" event.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: December 2016 Highlights

December 2016 experiences

Kristin Hill Taylor's Three Word Wednesday features our Things from December, so here's a romp through the month that ends at midnight Saturday with the start of a new calendar year 2017. I've continued doing everything I can to brighten up the short December days! BTW, December still has time for memorable happenings, so I'll add those into the list if and when.

evergreen trees for sale Old Navy window dressing

• I enjoy any kind of retail therapy including the groc store, the mall, the swap meet, yard/garage/sidewalk sales; my camera captured some evergreen trees and Old Navy window dressing at The Plant shopping plaza (that used to be an actual GM assembly plant!) several weeks before Christmas.

budget storage bldg bowl of pho

• I finally made a trip to my storage unit and pulled out some Sandy Ego winter clothes and music scores! Yay, Susie, thanks for the help! Followed by latish repast and thought-filled conversation at Phở 999 #1.

fresh apple fresh salad fresh blackberries

• Been enjoying good eats including California grown Gala apples of New Zealand ethnic heritage, blackberries from Mexico... I tell myself Mexico's local, but who knows how far south they're from, what distance they've been trucked? Price has been perfect, succulence supreme! I don't have a picture, but along the way I had my very first ever Filipino-style Halo-Halo ice cream and fruit sundae-style concoction! Been savoring sandwiches several times each week from the very friendly Subway Shop with my salad bar selection of lettuce, spinach, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, onions, [green] bell pepper, [yellow] banana pepper that's always brightly super-fresh!

lessons and carols 2016

• Musical and performance style of Lessons & Carols on Advent 2 at the church I've been attending was a "very good for my soul" event.

Glendale Courtyard Gift christmas trees in school windows synod complex courtyard character

• Another Green Faith Team meeting at judicatory offices, and as always I photographed the school windows, this time decorated Christmas trees, though it was Thursday of advent 3. I've already mentioned synod, church, and school share the spacious spaces.

mini trees on lot snowman, reindeer, trailer

evergreen trees on lot

• A vendor set up shop to sell evergreen trees of different sizes at the same commercial district location as October Halloween Pumpkin Patch. Same vendor, best guess.

Christmas City, Reindeer, Soldiers

• On the Thursday before Christmas, an amazing Christmas Concert featuring some of the talent under the aegis of a publicist friend from church. Vocalists and pianist performed from a platform; this city listened from the sidelines with the rest of the audience.

Feliz Navidad on window lighted angel on wall

• Most neighbors in this part of Current City that defines urban and styles itself "The Heart of the San Fernando Valley" decorated for Christmas; Feliz Navidad on window, angel on door are downstairs in the building where I'm staying.

Christmas Eve bulletin cover picture may contain Crèche, angel, wise men nativity scene

• Although again this year I made no attempt to create designs for Advent-Nativity to offer the world, my Grunge Advent-Nativity Group each featured a verse from the 1st lectionary reading that was 1st Isaiah all the way for Matthew's RCL year A. Interim pastor shared each them on the church fb page and she decided to use the Christmas piece Christmas Eve worship bulletin cover! Minister of Music told me it was sad we didn't use each of my Advent First Isaiah expressions, too, despite color photocopying being expensive. I agree. The support felt fabulous.

collage of Glendale kids Christmas Trees

• The liturgical season of Christmas doesn't end until the feast of the Epiphany on January 06, so I'll conclude this December account with my collage of the Glendale kids' trees.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Grace Has Appeared

grace has appeared

Martin Luther loved the pseudonymous epistle to Titus! Every Christmas Eve we read and [hopefully] hear Titus 2:11-14 that opens with "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all..." and ends with "...purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds."

Luke the gentile physician wrote a gospel account and a second volume called Acts of the Apostles that sounds like enterprising people "zealous for good deeds," and indeed it is a fast-moving account of Jesus' followers full of the Pentecostal Spirit of Life traveling all over the map of the world that was known at that time, people zealous for good works – for teaching and preaching and healing – and performing them everywhere they went. You may recall that in Acts 11:26 we learned "in Antioch the disciples first were called 'Christians.'" Earlier in verse 26 of that same paragraph because it happened around the same time, we hear how Barnabas went to Antioch where he "saw the grace of God and rejoiced."

It wasn't economic justice, educational opportunities, or relative occupational parity attained to the hilt and then some that impressed Barnabas. Not liturgy consummately enacted with careful attention to gesture and nuance, sign and symbol, home-baked bread and local artisanal wine. Not knock-your-socks-off proclamation of the gospel that would have left every other presenter at Festival of Homies in the dust. No, none of those possibilities. With his own eyes, Barnabas saw the grace of God, just as the letter to Titus tells us in Jesus grace appeared, became apparent, so we could observe it with our own eyes and our other four senses. Where does that leave the world's needs for justice and equity? Where does it leave our at least weekly celebrations of the eschatological feast of the Eucharist? Where does it leave our need for clear, compelling, world-engaging, life changing teaching and preaching?

We talk about the gospel of grace, the means of grace, the church's year of grace. Grace is central to Christianity and to the entire witness of scripture! But the grace of God Barnabas saw could be you. It could be me. It could be our neighbor, a stranger, or someone we consider an enemy right there before us, embodying and incarnating the grace of God. The New Barnabas could be a stranger, a coworker, someone we consider an enemy—or any one of us, needing to meet Jesus again for the 2nd or 7th, or maybe for the 12th time. Open your eyes! Open your hearts! Open your arms!

Grace has appeared. Grace is appearing! Grace will appear again.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Nativity • Puer Natus

Isaiah 9:2-7

2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. 3You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 4For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: Happy Birthday Jesus!

Two more days till Christmas Eve; three more until Nativity Day. On this week's Three Word Wednesday, Kristin Hill Taylor celebrates Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Happy Birthday Jesus

Western churches celebrate Happy Birthday, Jesus! on December 25, with a few holdouts waiting to give gifts until Epiphany – Three Kings Day – on January 06.

A couple weeks ago I asked my adult SS class their favorite Christmas songs. Julie loved "White Christmas," Pastor Peg "O Little Town of Bethlehem." "Do You Hear What I Hear?" is one of my extra-specials. The following week included "Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen. Where the snow lay around about, deep and crisp and even." You've likely heard reasons we celebrate Jesus' Nativity a few days after winter solstice, John the Baptist six months later on 25 June. Remember John saying about his cousin Jesus, "He must increase and I must decrease"? So again we have the presence of the divine and the presence of light. For the most part, scholars believe Jesus' actual birth was around the spring equinox, which would place Luke's shepherds watching their flocks during lambing season. Although the geography of Jesus' homeland isn't too much different from southern California, people love Christmas cards and Christmas carols with white glistening snow, stars shining brightly through a chilly night sky. My choice of "Do you hear what I hear" says nothing about snow, but when I hear it, play it, or sing it, I picture the little shepherd boy with the little lamb surrounded by snow. We received most of our Christmas traditions that include evergreen trees, festive oven-baked foods, yule logs, songs with texts in meters that make them especially suitable for group (congregational) singing, from western and northern Europe that receives its own share of snow in season. German immigrant The Moravian church brought us Candlelight Christmas Eve Services (and also Easter Sunrise).

Nativity TreeOn Advent 1 the church began a new year of grace and the Revised Common Lectionary started Matthew's year A again, so we have Jesus as a political refugee going to Egypt to escape Herod's decree to kill all the newborn baby boys, which also fits nicely with Matthew's presentation of Jesus as the New Moses, new liberator, who helps enact the New Exodus.

This is Matthew's lectionary year, although every year we read and hear Luke's account in church on Christmas. Luke places the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem in a colonial political taxpayer context:
Luke 2

1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.
I'm writing this partly to prepare for my adult SS mostly lectionary-based class that's taking two weeks off, so we'll make a precipitous leap from Advent 4 to Baptism of Jesus on January 08. Most everyone will have attended worship or a kids' pageant and heard Luke's Christmas narrative; even if they don't get to worship Christmas Eve or Day 2016, they already know the story well. I need to make a path from the Bethlehem stable to Bap-J, include Name of Jesus, at least mention some of the significance and meaning behind a visit from foreign religious-political muckety-mucks...
Matthew 2

1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him...
Herod's threat, Joseph(!) having another dream, a clandestine escape to geographical Egypt...
Matthew 3

13Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."
and I need at least to mention the January 06 feast of the epiphany as a festival of light at the darkest time of year and especially as revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ for all the world, not only a chosen few. Luke makes a huge deal of outcasts, foreigners, women, Matthew not nearly as much, but magi from the east and the flight into Egypt both are unique to Matthew's gospel account.

Despite Luke's concern with history, politics (outcasts, foreigners, marginalized, prayer and the HS), in some ways the gospel account we have from the community of Matthew the Jew is more spiritual, less earthbound, and at the same time immediately opens up God's birth on earth as a tiny vulnerable human infant as the catalyst to subverting empire, threatening and destabilizing the political status quo...

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Snowy trees and bokeh lights overlay in my header image come from "MEGA_PHOTO_COLLECTION_3_by_The_Jungle_Photo/Photos for you ;]" on Creative Market.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Top Posts of 2016

top posts of 2016 linkup

This week Five Minute Friday host Kate Motaung has an end of calendar year special Top Blog Posts of 2016 linkup; I love her special cranberry-colored button! Top Posts can refer to those with most hits or most comments, but this year my top posts are some I liked best, whether because I expressed and explained myself well, the topic resonated with my heart, or the graphics and photos were some of my faves. I'm also giving this list some structure by choosing one post from each calendar month, two from October when I completed #Write31Days because I love a Baker's Dozen. Regarding #Write31Days, I don't have a strong opinion on the quality of my free writes, but I more than enjoyed finding, designing, or redesigning a graphic to accompany each reflection. This list intentionally includes my posts for World Water Day, Earth Day, and World Oceans Day, three worldwide events I blog about every year.

• January: Star Word for 2016: Daring!

• February: Five Minute Friday: Morning This FMF includes a poem I wrote at the end of the last century.

• March: World Water Day 2016: Water and Jobs

• April: Earth Day 2016: Trees 4 Earth

• May: Three Word Wednesday: Choosing Joy!

• June: World Oceans Day 2016

• July: Three Word Wednesday: Surviving Summer Showers

• August: Season of Creation 4C: Cosmos Sunday Background features Sagittarius.

• September: Autumn 2016 Currents First ever post in a lifestyle currents series I expect to update every 3 or 4 months.

• October 1: Write 31 Days 12: Sky

• October 2: Write 31 Days 25: Sign

• November: Reformation-All Saints Approximation of the talk I gave at the judicatory Green Faith Team meeting.

• December: Life on Hold: Time Flies This fits both categories in my sporadic Life Stuff / Telling the Story series.

Background photograph to my header image is from 100-Hi-Res-Photos-Mega-Collection-3 on Creative Market.

top posts of 2016 linkup

winter 2016 solstice

"Due to the Circumstances of my Situation," as I overheard expressed at the NoHo metro transit station... winter solstice [this year on Wednesday 21 December @ 2:44 am Left Coast Time] is the moment I start yearning, pining, longing for starting around the autumnal equinox. But In the Meantime as Iyanla Vanzant titled one of her books... we can claim those in-between, interstitial, nows that still give us opportunities for lively enjoyment. But first, Slate Sky Ventura Highway:

slate sky

I wondered about the color name of the 10th December Saturday sky; easiest solution took a picture, took a 3-point sample in Photoshop and discovered it was cool blue. But slate's a mood at least as much as it's a hue. You remember that when you find yourself then and there when it's a rainy night in Georgia, it feels to you as if it's raining all over the world. Same with chilly mornings until noon, slate skies overhead, another unanswered email. From the same party! Whatever happened to common courtesy? But ya know what? Similar to when you edit a color in an Adobe app and tell it "global" update, in real life that update happens only in that one particular document and not all over the world. All my others remain as is, and so do all of yours.

To reference the most enduring song by the band America, there is no Ventura Highway, but Ventura Blvd intersects with Sepulveda on the way to life on the west side— #WestLA!

So we've had some slate skies in Van Nuys and elsewhere in the City of Los Angeles – "slate skies all over the world" – but ya know what else?

cucumber slices cucumber slices

Cucumbers are sweet again, and if that doesn't spell summer coming on strong, tell me what does? I haunt the local subway sandwich shop a lot, and I've finally learned how perfectly to make and create my 4 or 5 (5 or 6) times weekly sub into an artful trip to the salad bar. Lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, cucumbers, (green) bell peppers, (yellow) banana peppers.

blackberries box, blackberry blues typeface

People of Zion! Rejoice, Gaudete! Rejoice in the Lord always, rejoice in the Lord all ways. Because waters shall break forth in the wilderness, streams in the desert. In this urban wilderness, this coastal desert. That was Sunday 11 Dec Advent 3. That will be tomorrow and next year.

blackberries box, blackberry blues typeface

After repenting of my undergrad habit of excitedly buying my faves whenever the groc store stocked them because I didn't think through distance, price, quality (in terms of varieties and cultivars specifically for shelf life, packing, and hauling), I used to try to stay with a policy of only local fruits and veggies and berries. You go to the store and notice boxes with checkmarks for USA, Canada, Mexico and Other. Parts of Mexico, parts of Canada are a real far piece from this part of California, but whatever. But whatever? However, we've been getting blackberries from Mexico at excellent affordable prices! So I've reneged and been buying my fave berry blackberries though I don't know how far they've been hauled. Sometimes you simply need to live and celebrate.

Only a few days from today's solstice, we'll celebrate the first of our three great Trinitarian Festivals. Creation! Jesus of Nazareth's nativity, God's incarnation in our midst in a body made from stuff of the earth.

I started this reflection with a slate sky. You know about slate chalkboards? The blank slate concept? I did say slate's as much a mood as it is a hue. Since the end of May I've been in another temp housing situation, and would love to unpack my belongings and settle down soon. This part of town literally defines urban. Landlord's son told me this apt complex is infested with bugs of all kinds—but you don't need to convince me. Similar to every other year, since summer solstice 2016 I've felt days grow shorter, nights longer. It's meteorological winter. And my future is a somewhat blank slate. Current city of Los Angeles? Is Detroit my new future city? No idea. My only clues are my ongoing, relentless desire to find places and spaces I can do more of the ministry I prepared for.

"Due to the Circumstances of my Situation," much about and around me is unsettled to a pathological (no exaggeration) degree and in some ways I'm physically quite unwell. But you know what? I still can celebrate creation! We still can celebrate creation! Cucumbers are sweet again. Blackberries are juicy and abundant. On my blackberry photo I used a typeface called "Blackberry Blues." And that's a gift of human creativity! Church I've been attending picked up my 5th nativity illustration in my Advent-Nativity grunge series for the cover of the Christmas Eve worship bulletin. I can celebrate my own creativity, too!