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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blue Christmas Antedotes

Some of us are having a 'blue' Christmas ... and may feel more than a tad like Charlie Brown: a loser, ruining anything they touch. Christ had trials, fears, bouts of loneliness. He faced them. By the grace of God and our faithfulness, it CAN get better for us as well.

Try a few exercises: For those with SAD, invest in a panel of 'daylight' array bulbs, they may really help! We've turned the corner on winter and the amount of daylight will increase ever so gradually each day now.

If the inside of your home has become chaotic, cluttered, unmanageable, take a morning or an afternoon and clean ONE ROOM as completely as you can. That may mean you could get distracted when you transport the screen insert to the basement, but stay focused and head on back to the room you have chosen. Afterward you will can stand in the finished, clean room and take some pride in the fact that you have accomplished something that you long avoided.

As an act of faith, step outside the door. Exercise - take a walk, however brief, and challenge yourself to go a bit farther.

Take advantage of weekend phone rates and make a brief call to someone you haven't contacted in a while. Consciously make connections.

If the idea of attending an extended open house is overwhelming for you, choose to pay a visit in the beginning or end of the affair for a shorter period of time when fewer people are likely to be present.

Make some small token of thanks for your hosts and present it to them. That will get you outside of your head and show them you appreciate their kindness in including you.

Eat a small meal ahead of time so that you will be less likely to stuff yourself there in order to dull your feelings.

Engage in conversation: ask people questions of others and pay attention to their answers. This will enrich your listening skills and help you to be less self conscious.

And go to church ... Church is community and for those of us dealing with depression at this time of year, knowing deep down that we are part of something bigger than ourselves is vital.

Well, those are just a few suggestions. Remember you are loved - God so loved the world that He sent His own Son. That child was 'at risk' from his conception onward, but Jesus kept on keeping on. Others helped Him along the way and others will help you as well. Believe that.

In the end, even the nay-saying gang Charlie Brown hangs with came to support him. Check out this clip and let the corners of your mouth turn upward. Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Oldie and Still Goodie ....

From the 1960s onward this has had a sweet spot in my heart. Hope this brings a heartfelt lump to your throat as well. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Reflection from Grace Church Newsletter

Here's some food for the soul and for the mind this Christmas:

" There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look! Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts. Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home. And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away."

-Fra Giovanni Giocando (A Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia degli Aldobrandeschi, Written Christmas Eve Anno Domini 1513)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Origins of the Service of Lessons and Carols

I have been to dozens of "Lessons and Carols" services, but never knew where the tradition started. This past weekend, the fine (but sadly brief) program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, televised through PBS, had several interviews on the history of this time-honored tradition.

In case you missed the program - or would like to delve more deeply into the topic - click on the links below ... and enjoy!

For a video of the entire segment, use:;

For the extended interview of William Edwards:;

For the extended interview of the Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent IV prayer

May God who sent us the light of the world
and who has given us the light of this day,
grant that we may come to know the lightness of being
which allowed Mary to say,

A morning prayer from Mary's Hours: Daily Prayer with the Mother of God by Penelope Duckworth (Church Publishing).

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