Tuesday, November 30, 2021

November and Autumn summary

Lake Balboa, Mount Olive gallery, Malibu Lagoon, Advent 1
• Lake Balboa • Gallery at Mount Olive, Santa Monica
• Malibu Lagoon State Beach Entrance Sign • Advent 1 + Thanksgiving at Central

September 2021 Overview

October 2021 blog

Lectionary project for November

• After the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox both became "also rans" in the 2021 World Series, I adopted the Atlanta Braves and what fabulous winners they were—they still are! I really surprised myself by watching every post-season game. Particularly with COVID infections continuing worldwide, I loved the diversion and – of course – the opportunity to remind myself what an outstanding model for real life the slow drama, devastating defeats and last second wins of baseball can be.

Sunday Afternoon at Lake Balboa Los Angeles
• On a Sunday afternoon excursion to Lake Balboa I got at least a dozen good pictures; these are the best of quite similar scenes.

Malibu Lagoon
• Check out the footer image for more Thanksgiving in Santa Monica! We began with interfaith worship and continued with traditional dinner served and enjoyed al fresco. I loved seeing several friends from West LA.

• After 11am dinner, my current hosts and I drove along the very long Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Lagoon. I always love capturing creation's textures and colors.

• Back to real life worship for the first Sunday of Advent. Despite a smallish group, the atmosphere was electric! My header pic includes hopeful Advent blues and seasonal thanksgiving brights.

• Atlanta Braves logo • LA Food Bank Truck
• Program cover for Interfaith T-day Service
• Communion Table dressed with flowers and Reign of Christ frontal

Living Local 2021
• I've been Living soooo Local, google maps told me I didn't leave the LA city limits at all during September and October!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Five Minute Friday :: Nourish

Nourish Club Sandwich
Five Minute Friday :: Nourish Linkup

My thinking nurture and nutrition/nutritious were related was correct; an online etymology page added "nurse," which makes meaningful sense.

Anyone who's ever known me knows I'd instantly associate a term like nourish with literal bodily feeding–ideally in ways that dissipate hunger, impact all five senses, and respond to human need for community. Oh, I've long had this "thing" about food, about flavor, about inviting or not inviting me to join you. Eating in solitude always feels like banishment versus noshing a snack or a feast in some kind of gathering, even when it's only two of us who "form a multitude" because together we are complete in ways none of us ever can be if we fly solo.

Nourish and nurture an individual or a family to become the best version of themselves. Provide nutritious food. Make it freshly picked, recently prepared. It must be colorful, flavor filled, memorable, and easy to duplicate or triplicate for those soon to be next times. Prepare it together whenever, but always enjoy it together because that's the best most nourishing plan.

There's more! Surround them with gentle not smothering love. Encourage everyone's participation in almost everything—that's called nourishing their gifts. Be a real friend. Don't be condescending. Whether or not they know it, anyone you're with already has a savior, and you ain't it. But you still can be Jesus to them!

• Header image: Far more often than not I'm able to illustrate my blogs with my own photographs and drawings, but I haven't captured many sandwiches or meals worthy of display, so this sandwich is stock.

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Friday, November 19, 2021

Five Minute Friday :: Hide

five minute friday sunflower June 2021

Five Minute Friday :: Hide Linkup

We plead with God to hide us from danger, shield us from fear. We beg God not to hide from us. Possibilities of Golden Calf Worship so freaked out the Reformers they emptied church buildings of visual representations of God and pictures of people who'd been created in the Divine Image—those humans already were the only icon anyone needed, and living, breathing ones, at that?! Prohibiting artistic renderings of Divinity led to music becoming the protestant art form. When he insisted human brains are idol factories, John Calvin was correct, though for most of us contemporary people of God, visual and other ideas of God our senses can appreciate aren't major problems and usually help us in our devotions and studies. The real danger is the way we deify powerless attractions like money, fame, drugs, and celebrities.

But hide is the prompt this time! Scripture reveals(!) a God who promises to be forever with the people, yet a God whose presence is free, elusive, and hidden. Moses asked God, "show me your face!!!" and God replied "Oh, no! You can know I've been there only after I've left, so my face you cannot see." Despite our knowing God tends to conceal Godself, we sometimes refer to "God sightings." We recognize God indeed was active in that situation, conversation, decision, or event only afterwards as we look backwards because we can't see God's face; we only realize God has been there after the fact.

Banning visual artistic expressions of Divinity led to music as the protestant art form. Who cannot celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach's music that gloriously creates heaven on earth? Wasn't there a novel about a Pope who wanted to canonize JSB to sainthood, but Sebastian being protestant made that fictional pope's wish impossible? Happily, visual liturgical art has returned to churches of all traditions and denominations. Its scripture-inspired imagery reveal God's attributes and God-with-us in ways we otherwise might not know.

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FMF host Kate's sunflowers inspired me to search the dozens of sunflowers I've captured in drawings, paintings, and photos. From June 2021, my header sunflower is from the most recent group.
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Friday, November 12, 2021

Five Minute Friday :: Wander

desert scene with starss
"Desert Scene with Stars" from my suntreeriver design identity

Five Minute Friday Wander Linkup

J.R.R. Tolkien's meme-worthy, "all who wander are not lost" never stops making internet rounds. That's not my reference today, yet ties in well with what I want to say for this week's one-word free write.

The classic scriptural place – locus classicus – of "wander" remains the trek through the exodus desert testified to in the pentateuch and reenacted at passover and in the eucharist. We sometimes refer to that wandering as identity-forming, though Israel's liberation from imperial slavery was the true watershed without which a future couldn't be, but then again there was God's grace-filled gift of the Ten Words at Sinai that covenanted together God and people and land—and without which no community could long survive. So what's up with all of us today as COVID-19 trends away from the center of our news reports and the inconveniences of our lives?

Sometimes we view deserts as lifeless, but it doesn't take a geographer or geologist to realize how incredibly lively and life-giving the desert biome is underneath the apparently still surface. Doesn't that make a desert a close to perfect place to wander and grow? To trust God's surprising next thing? Because just as the desert carries only an appearance of lifeless, God's people assume only an appearance of lostness.

In words from late Ragamuffin gospeler Brennan Manning, "In the desert Yahweh and Israel rendezvoused with each other." We continue to wander through normalcy-deserted pandemic toward what never will become anyone's new normal; God continues to challenge us to trust divine provision, to acknowledge the sufficiency and "enoughness" of his daily supply, to focus on that essential what's really important with each other as we wander on to places God has prepared.
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Saturday, November 06, 2021

All Saints 2021

Psalm 24:1

"The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof;
the world and those that dwell therein." Psalm 24:1

Friday, November 05, 2021

Five Minute Friday :: Prayer

My God in his steadfast love will meet me. Psalm 59:10

FMF Prayer Linkup

Prayer! That activity of heart, mind, and body that helps connect us to God. Prayer—it comes in varieties of praise, thanksgiving, petition, lament, celebration, solicitation, questioning why. When we pray and imagine we're alone, we're not really. As the apostle Paul points out, God's Spirit of Life within us shapes our prayer because as a supposedly solitary individual we don't know what to say. Then there are times we pray as we gather in the assembly of saints: prayers of the people bring the world's concerns before God's throne of grace; eucharistic prayer reconnects us to God's people and God's actions in every place and time and even carries us together into God's future.

But if I could continue a short five minutes about prayer, it would start with the Psalter. The Psalms were the Prayer Book of the Synagogue. The Psalms were the Hymn Book of John Calvin's Geneva Reform. Every single denominational and free church hymnal today includes dozens of hymns based on psalms. The psalms themselves express every possible human emotion, which makes them perfect examples of prayer. Psalms were composed to be sung in corporate worship and to be used in the prayer that's never private because the Holy Spirit always abides with us and within us.

Do you have a favorite psalm?
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