To love another person

John and I went to the Leitersburg Theatre yesterday where we watch Les Misérables. We had attempted to view the movie last week; however, due to the popularity of the film, we couldn’t get in to attend. The film was well worth the wait; I recommend that you watch this movie or rent an earlier version of Les Mis.

As we watched the movie, I was appalled at the similarities between life in France for the everyday people in the 1800s and with the similarity to life in 21st century USA. The poor in France were oppressed by the king, the law, and the wealthy business owners who were determined to keep the poor in an impoverished state, filled with fear of the militia so that they wouldn’t rise up against an oppressive power structure. Today, we have the 99% who are calling attention to oppressive living conditions in our country and to the power structures that seek to keep division between our citizens.

My heart broke as I listened to Fontaine sing about having to sell her possessions (her hair, teeth, and body) so that she could support her daughter. I was filled with compassion as John Valjean stole bread in order so his starving nephew could eat, only to spend 19 years in prison for his crime.

Throughout the movie, I witnessed sacrificial love; the sacrifice of oneself so that another may live. I believe God’s Holy Spirit was working through Victor Hugo as he wrote Les Mis. Hugo’s portrayal of sacrificial love was a metaphor of God’s sacrifice as God emptied God’s self to come into the world as God’s son; God’s son that would offer himself as sacrifice to the Roman Empire so that the wrath of the Empire wouldn’t befall Jerusalem.

At the end of the movie was a flashback to the beginning where a Priest showed God’s love to Jean Valjean in keeping Jean from being arrested for stealing. It was this act of kindness, this act of being God’s loving servant, that allowed Jean Valjean to grow into a man who cared for Fontaine’s daughter and to sacrifice himself so that his adopted daughter could be with the man she loved. The movie ended by saying that

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

As we look around us and see the inequities, the injustices, and the oppression that are apparent in our country and in many others, what is that we are called to sacrifice so that others may live with their basic needs met? What do we need to do so that we see God in the people that we meet?

With much love and many blessings,

Colleen

Happy New Year!

Whew! I hope everyone was able to spend time with loved ones and friends as we celebrated the birth of Jesus and Christmas! Wasn’t it was wonderful to enjoy our Christmas Cantata, our Christmas Eve and Christmas morning service. Thanks to Drew and the choir and for Rev. Sherry who brought us the Word and the gift of music for Christmas.

Today, we can begin to look forward to a New Year, a year of: promise, joy, and love. A New Year in which we resolve to work off all the cookies and candy we ate in December (after all, what’s Christmas without extra sweets and goodies)? A New Year in which we can resolve to become the person that God would like us to be.

And, as we read in our scripture today (Colossians 3:12-17), we can begin to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. We can take steps to forgive one another for any hurtful or wrong doings we have received from someone.

Now is the time when we need to have Christ in our hearts, wrapping ourselves in Christ’s love so that we can follow the Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. We can give thanks to God for the gift of Jesus the Christ as we live our lives, seeking to do God’s will in the world.

May you all enjoy celebrating the New Year tomorrow evening, while being careful and safe on your way home from any parties or celebrations. I pray that the New Year will bring you many opportunities to see and feel God’s presence in your life, filling your life with grace and blessings, gifts that you will want to share with others.

With much love and many blessings,

Deacon Colleen

Happy Holidays!

I would like to share some personal thoughts with you.  With just 2 more days until Christmas Day, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things.  There has been so much commotion about what we use as a greeting this time of year.  Some people demand we use “Merry Christmas,” but how does that make our friends who celebrate Chanukah feel?  What about our friends who celebrate Kwanza?  Don’t forget our Muslim friends!  With one greeting, we can include everyone from all faiths this season.  There are so many different celebrations going on according to different faiths.  We also have the New Year to think about.  I’m not saying we should and must replace our traditional “Merry Christmas” but I am saying we need to be more inclusive when possible.  If it’s someone we’re not sure of their background why not wish them “Happy Holidays.”  If it’s someone we know by all means use “Merry Christmas.”   I think it’s WONDERFUL that we are so excited about Christmas, because it’s the meaning of the Christian Season.  It’s also good to be excited about Chanukah because it’s the meaning of the festival of Lights!  So Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, and Happy Chanukah!

Deacon Drew

Joy

Good Morning! About now the picture of my Rocky Road Cheesecake caught your attention and your eyes have drifted over here to see what the message is.

Too often we are discouraged from experiencing JOY or bringing JOY into the life of another person, especially when we live in a world where the cynic is often present to deflate our JOY with comments such as, “NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED.”

We are TAUGHT that phrase. Some of us become so cynical, we LIVE that phrase along with, “EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF.”

Last Sunday afternoon, I called the CVS on Wilson Boulevard at 3:45pm to have a prescription filled for our cat Porter. It would be ready for pick-up in 15 to 30 minutes.

It takes 15 minutes to get there. I was ready to grab the car keys and wallet to run out the door, but I REALLY wanted to hang this display shelf on the wall in the living room. So I quickly marked the wall, made sure it was level, hung the shelf, and to my surprise FINISHED in 5 minutes. Plenty of time to head out to the CVS and be there by 4:00pm and get home to meet Paul after he was back from running errands.

But I felt this need to stay put and instead of running out the door at 3:45pm, I felt compelled to stay put and fill the shelf with his Collection of Nutcrackers. Paul walked in as I set the last Nutcracker in place. We hopped in the car and as we arrived at the CVS, we found 3 police cars surrounding the CVS.

My CVS had been robbed at gunpoint at 4:06 pm. I should have been walking through the front door while two men were holding a gun on the checker at the front desk.

This time for me, A GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED, in fact, I did something spontaneous. I found JOY in doing it. I later would find additional JOY; I was not placed in harm’s way during the robbery.

JOY. Where do you find the JOY each day in your life?

Peace, Love, and JOY,

Deacon Harry

We Can’t Do It Without Your Help

Well here we are at Advent again.  The time just flashes by faster and faster.  We’ve done some pretty amazing things in the last year here at New Light.  I know this may sound a little like bragging, but I think we have earned the right to brag a little.  We’ve helped our denomination with a number of projects that couldn’t have been done without our support.  We’ve fed so very many people, both with Food and Friends, and with our own Deacon’s pantry.  The little bit of money we raise each year goes so far because of Deacon Elaine.  She manages our food pantry and has been able to turn in many cases $10.00 into what seems like hundreds.  We have been able to purchase through a “clearing house” for food banks that enables our dollars to go farther than before.  We also have helped people in need countless times in the last year.  We get phone calls from people wanting or needing help almost daily.  We also get calls from social services, those are the ones we know have been screened and we are most times their place of last resort.  We have strict guidelines to follow and we all discuss and make the decision together, there are special circumstances where we can use our own judgment for up to a certain small amount.  We have a form on our web page if you know someone that needs help please feel free to print the form have them fill it out and bring it back to us.  If you are a member, or have been attending for a long time, please contact one of the Deacons directly, our members are our first priority.  At this time of the year, we all are being overwhelmed by people asking for help in one way or another.  We the Deacons ask, please don’t forget our Deacons Pantry we can’t do it without your help.

– Deacon Drew

Hope

December 1st is the date used throughout the world to remember all those who have died or are living with HIV/AIDS. The theme for this year is “Working Together for an AIDS Free Generation”. Our denomination stated how important it is that all members be tested for HIV which is the first and best defense we have – more than 20% of the people who have HIV don’t know they have the virus. If you have the virus, please take your medications; taking your medications reduces the risk of transmitting the disease by 96%.

We held a World AIDS Day Remembrance service at New Light MCC on Dec. 1st. UNAIDS reports that in 2010 there are more than 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world; 3.4 million affected by the disease are children (up to age 14).

We have a Remembrance Tree in our vestibule. You are invited to write the name of a loved one that you want to remember who has either died or are suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, or any other illness on a red ribbon. Tie the ribbon onto the tree after our communion service.

Also, today is the beginning of Advent. We light the candle of HOPE. This is a time when we anticipate the incarnation, the coming of the Christ; the Christ who will bring us salvation. I encourage you to read a daily Advent devotional (found online or in a bookstore). As we get caught up in all the shopping, the Christmas baking, the parties, and all the demands upon our time, please remember to keep Christ’s presence in your hearts. AMEN

With much love and blessings,

Deacon Colleen

Let’s Pause and Take a Breath

Let’s pause and take a breath. It’s been a busy week for so many of us.

Our Photos with Santa event was Nov. 19th. Melanie Anderson took over 150 photos of excited (or mostly excited) children. Santa Drew looked marvelous and received many hugs from the excited children. Many thanks go out to those who baked cookies and treats and donated candy for the children. Paul and Steve from THE GOURMET GOAT donated delicious hot chocolate and coffee! Thanks to the many volunteers who came out to help – it was fun to watch their expressions as the children interacted with Santa!

We come to today’s worship service after celebrating Thanksgiving Day. I hope you were able to enjoy time with your friends/family or family of choice. I hope you were able to enjoy a good meal. The dinner at our house on Thanksgiving was filled not only with turkey but also the celebration of two birthdays – can we say sugar overload? 🙂

Thanksgiving is a time when we can be thankful for all good things in our lives, even if there are days when we aren’t so thankful for what we have. I hope you took the time to look around you to notice the people who are important to you. I hope you are thankful for your church home and family, the food in your refrigerator/pantry, the fact that you have electricity and heat for the upcoming cold days and nights of winter.

And I pray that we remember those who don’t have the abundance that we have. Let us pray for people throughout the world who are living day by day, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Let us pray for those needing health care, medicines, a place to live.

We are preparing to enter into a time of Advent, where we will look forward to the incarnation. I pray that in the midst of shopping, cooking, parties, etc., you will keep Jesus in your hearts.
With much Love and Blessings,
Deacon Colleen

Happy Thanksgiving

While sitting in traffic, I tune into Channel OUT Q to Lance Bass’ talk show and each night their listeners call in with questions or share an idea or opinion.

Most of the time it’s not serious. Tonight was about Thanksgiving and how LGBT people were dealing with their families.  Some couples, it is no big deal, they go home, the whole family is accepting.  The next caller from California said how at age 40, his family from Tennessee had disowned him and has had no contact since he was 18.  Another woman, her family said they were fine with her being a Lesbian for 7 years, until last year at age 44, when she brought home her girlfriend, the family has now having little contact.  Mind you MOST of the stories were very uplifting.  But I never heard anyone mention their journey toward understanding or acceptance.

It doesn’t always happen fast.  About a year after coming out, a year of walking on egg shells, there was the disagreement about my soul and my mother called me a name I don’t repeat.  A few years later, my boyfriend & I were invited home for Thanksgiving with the rest of the family.  Due to an ice storm there were only 4 of us for Thanksgiving.  Mother chose not to look at my partner, including when passing the food.  We prayed for her neck “to heal” when we took communion that Sunday.  And this summer at the family reunion when we cleaning up after the meal, someone asked my mother if the homemade dill pickles were hers, Paul chirped in and said, “NO, those are not Violet’s pickles, I know her Sweet Ginger Pickles and those are not Violet’s.”  Mom said, “He’s right.” as she cracked a smile.

This year, we have the offer to be with our biological family for Thanksgiving. I cannot rush someone’s growth and understanding; I just give thanks for the effort, the dialogue we have shared and progress we have made over 22 years.  It is why I pray for peace and patience every day.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Harry

Equality and Hope in America

Equality and hope seemed to have been the deciding factors in Tuesday’s election. Despite all the mean political ads and money spent to strike down equality, the voters came out to overwhelmingly vote for equality and hope in America.

The good news: President Obama was reelected for a second term. Maryland voters made their voices heard by voting in John Delaney and ousting Roscoe Bartlett.

The Maryland people voted for Marriage Equality in Maryland! Maine voters overturned a referendum that had not allowed same gender marriage. Washington State’s tally won’t be official for a few more days; however, it appears Washington will join Maryland and Maine in approving same gender marriage. The people in Minnesota voted against an amendment that defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

An openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin, was elected in Wisconsin.

I certainly hope that the message of equality will sweep across our nation so that the election of 2016 will realize even more affirmations of equality for ALL people. Now that the election of 2012 is over, I hope that businesses will again begin hiring people and not just for the Christmas season. I hope that workers will be treated with respect and will receive living wages and necessary health care and benefits.

It was through the efforts of well-intentioned and hard-working people that President Obama was reelected and equality was realized in some areas of our country. We must not become complacent because equality was realized in Maryland – let’s stand up and encourage equality for the many people who are marginalized and oppressed in the rest of our country.

With much love and blessings,

Colleen

Reach Out a Helping Hand

This week’s hurricane/storm (Sandy) really reinforces the realization that we can’t control the weather!  What we can do is to take the necessary steps to be prepared for whatever may happen:  wind and water damage, loss of power, heat, and water.

I pray that you have all weathered the storm and are in the process of cleaning up any debris outside your homes and returning to your regular routines of life.  Let us keep those who are without power, heat, or water in our prayers.

What brings joy to my heart is hearing of the many ways that people and businesses are reaching out to those affected by this mighty storm, as they do in all natural disasters. Our area was lucky in that we didn’t sustain as much damage as other areas.  Please remember to reach out a helping hand to those who weren’t as fortunate as us.