Sunday, December 31, 2023

Friday, December 15, 2023

Five Minute Friday :: Store

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Five Minute Friday :: Store Linkup

Here's an older one that already says what I'd like to say today:

Stored Value: from Lent 2005

Retail stores are places that hold a fair amount of stuff. These days they come in brick and mortar and virtual. Maybe your family practices food storage in case of need or disaster? That type of store always is wise, particularly in more remote rural areas.

Pantries store or hold canned, boxed, and other ingredients at the ready. Whether a place to shop, or a location to gather fixings for a meal, we fully expect all those stores to be depleted and later restocked. After all, even food that's dry needs to be fresh. When we consider non-food items, clothing, household d├ęcor, outdoor supplies, and other "stuff" rotates seasonally. Besides, clothes you bought for yourself a few years back may be seriously out of style, may not fit, and if it's your kids' apparel, they've plain outgrown it.

No stored physical provisions last forever. But we have stores of gifts in the Holy Spirit that are eternal and expansive. They don't need restocking or restoring. In fact, you may have noticed the more you gift others out of your store of love, mercy, compassion, and grace, the more your stores of those spiritual gifts expand and grow?

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Friday, December 08, 2023

Five Minute Friday :: Turn

Scott Ward Nary

Five Minute Friday :: Turn Linkup

I love to write about Advent! I love Advent music! I love Advent's promise of hope, of God among us is such a paradoxical way, God's promise of the end of the world as we've known it: the end of death, destruction, empire, violence, exploitation. The dawn of hope and possibility. Last week on FMF I wrote, "Hope for the death of death starts with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth."

In the wilderness alongside the Jordan River, John the Baptist preached a "baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins." Repent, turn around, the day of the Lord is at hand is classic prophecy. And "after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news [gospel] of God and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news [gospel].'" Mark 1:14-15

"Turn around and repent" is our daily action of turning toward the sunrise and trusting God through the new day. It may or not be factual, but have you heard how reformer Martin Luther reminded himself "I am baptized" as he washed his face every morning? Repent. Turn around. Umkehr. Metanoia. Live into your baptism!

During Advent, we hear Mary's Holy Spirit-inspired canticle called the Magnificat you can read in or sing from Luke 1:46-55. You may be aware of how well people memorized scripture – literally taking it to heart – two millennia ago; although we have the words Luke wrote, it's very likely Mary sang a very similar song because this passage is closely based upon Hannah's song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Mary would have been able to recite and make Hannah's words her own.

Paraphrasing Mary's Magnificat, Canticle of the Turning announces the world is about to turn! God turns toward us! God turns and comes even closer to earth! This is global change! As the world turns, the whole world changes!

Because so many YT videos aren't there forever, I no longer link to any, but you easily can find many wonderful solo and choral versions to enjoy. Maybe you've sung Canticle of the Turning in a choir or as a solo? Maybe your church musicians have sung it or you know it as a hymn?

Canticle of the Turning

1 My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
and my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant's plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
so from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn.

2 Though I am small, my God, my all,
you work great things in me,
and your mercy will last from the depths of the past
to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame,
and to those who would for you yearn,
you will show your might, put the strong to flight,
for the world is about to turn. Refrain

3 From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
every tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
there are tables spread, every mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn. Refrain

4 Though the nations rage from age to age,
we remember who holds us fast:
God's mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror's crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard
is the promise which holds us bound,
till the spear and rod can be crushed by God,
who is turning the world around. Refrain

Gary Daigle, Rory Cooney, and Theresa Donohoo
© 1990, GIA Publications, Inc.

Mary Icon by Scott Ward
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Saturday, December 02, 2023

Five Minute Friday :: Left

five minute friday left empty plates
Five Minute Friday :: Left Linkup


Much more often than not I illustrate my blogs with my own photographs and art, but sometimes I don't have the right stuff, so I search the interwebs to find something that fits. I believe Kate usually sources from Unsplash for FMF, and how excited I was to see this week's was one of my faves I've used here at least twice: with the caption "absence" that only a scant three months ago illustrated my FMF on September 1st; five years ago, it headed my August and Summer highlights that I captioned full futures… empty plates.


The word "left" has quite a few connotations. Many people seem to view my political stance as pretty far left, but I consider myself only a little left of center, or "left-leaning." Historically left has related to the latin word for left that's "sinister." But a keyboard score that includes instructions to play a passage with MS – or mano sinister feels not only benign but helpful. Yet keyboard instructions to play a section with your right hand or mano derecha uses language of just and righteous, though in the piano case it's simply a location on the opposite side of left and doesn't assume any particular value.

After a loss, we often consider "how much is left now?" What remains? Enough to work with, to grow a future from? Sufficient leftovers, too. Many culinary leftovers are much tastier than the original meal or dish they derived from, though some seem scant and feel like a last resort "this is all we have left for lunch." At least in some of those situations of [almost] empty plates, can we find or invite another ingredient or another person to augment or even complete the meal?

After a loss, we often consider "how much is left now?" What remains? Enough to work with, to grow a future from? What have you lost? Your dreams? A friend? A family member? Your way in the world or around this neighborhood? How does something or someone being absent relate to whatever's left, whether it's a person, a home, an opportunity, garden produce, or a meal ingredient? But is anything left? A memory to inspire and motivate you? A still reasonable career plan? A nicely-done center portion inside the meal you singed on the outside?

As the church opens wide a new year of grace with the season of Advent, we know, we acknowledge, we announce, we sing, "hope is left." Hope for a new creation, hope for new ways of being that subvert the old. Hope for the death of death starts with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Run, come, see! Little baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem. Run, come, see! The stone rolled away. Is anything left? God's presence, God's love and mercy is left. In the promise of resurrection, God's future is left. And did you know we don't need to see it in order to believe it? Amen? Amen!

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