Saturday, December 20, 2014

advent 4: rorate coeli

Advent 4 – Rorate Coeli

advent 4 candles

Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness!
Let the earth open,
let them bring forth salvation–
And let righteousness
spring up together.
Isaiah 45:8a

Saturday, December 13, 2014

advent 3: gaudete

Advent 3 – Gaudete

Advent 3

Rejoice in the Lord always–
again I will say, Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
The Lord is at hand!
Philippians 4:4-5

Canticle of the Turning

by Rory Cooney

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.

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 ev'ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev'ry mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn.

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,
'Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.

Magnificat – Luke 1:46-55 – Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Hannah's Song – 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Hannah prayed and said,
"My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.

"There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

"He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed."

Friday, December 12, 2014

december random 5

another random Friday 5 on RGBP central

This random 5 from Karla officially is Tinsel Toe Edition.

1. What song are you grooving to these days?

A lot of Advent and Christmas; for a sampler, my YT Nativity playlist includes: Canticle of the Turning; Comfort Ye/Every Valley from the Messiah; Amy Grant's O Little Town; Shake it Out; Celebrate Me Home; Do You Hear What I Hear...

2. If YOU were a room in your home, what would it be, and why?

Currently I'm in housing transition, but like many people, I fantasize about that almost ideal playroom-workspace. I'll have my iMac and some books there, and also add a super-comfy sofa for sitting, lounging, visiting, and cats. Walls painted 4 different light colours, lots of random posters and other fun stuff splashed across the walls. There's gotta be a big window for the sun to shine on on sunny days, for enjoying the clouds and rain on days like this one.

3. What ever happened to LipSmackers? Does anyone remember that lip balm from the 70’s? Do you have a recommendation for a really awesome lip balm?

color and flavorI still use Bonne Bell LipSmackers, in all their awesome hues and scents and flavors! A couple in my purse, and a couple at strategic spots around the house. Officially you still can get them at Tar-Jay, Wally World, etc. or online at the Color and Flavor Shop. A few years ago I started finding them at the 99.999¢ only store, sometimes even 2-packs or 3 packs, so I have a constant stash.

4. Tell us about a tiny (or HUGE) grace moment from this week.

After yet another strong signal I need to leave this geographical area since it clearly amounts to being in remote rural nowhere in terms of the opps I need, someone local actually emailed me and asked for a poster and bulletin cover design for an upcoming Blue Christmas!

5. If you could just have any treat/snack in the world right now, what it would be and with whom would you share it?

How about some succulent, multi-ingredient, savory, spicy, stacked to the ceiling nachos? Sharing with the world, of course!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Advent 2: populus zion

Advent 2 – Populus Zion

Advent 2

Say to the daughter of Zion, "Behold, your salvation comes."
The Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard,
and you shall have gladness of heart.
Isaiah 62:11b; 30:30, 29

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent 1: ad te levavi

advent 1 2014

Advent 1 – Ad Te Levavi

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame.
Let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.
Psalm 25:1-3a

Friday, November 21, 2014

living thanks

living thanks Deuteronomy 8

Deuteronomy 8:7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper.

10You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you. 11Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. 12When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, 13and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, 14then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, 16and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. 17Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” 18But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Barbara Mahany: Slowing Time

Barbara Mahany, Slowing Time: Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door on Amazon

Slowing Time book coverIn this juncture of my own journey in faith, I don't need another creed, another confession, another article of faith, but I do need techniques and suggestions to bring those convictions into my every days. Like almost everyone, I need to learn to slow time, or at very least, to savor, appreciate, and fully live into every moment, rather than looking backwards or forewords―as important as those perspectives are.

Barbara Mahany's Slowing Time is a lovely, love-filled journal of seasonal nature and spirituality; she emphasizes how the church's liturgical year of grace and the Jewish festivals both have deep roots in earth and sky. Reflecting upon astronomical and meteorological seasons, she opens each new seasonal section with a lilting description of the literal nature of sun, shadows, light and dark at each solstice or equinox. Subtitle, "Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door" hints at Mahany's emphasis on perceiving with all your senses, not solely with the one of our five senses most engaged in a particular activity. A special recipe for each season, as well! I'm not majorly a meat-eater, but I'd love to try Beef Stew with Pomegranate Seeds Nestled beside Aromatic Rice; I've made something similar to Christmas Eve Elves' French Toast in the oven, and when I live with a working oven again, it will be time to bake that specialty again. Need I even mention summertime Blueberry Slump?! You know I'm a pushover for berries and for serving any dessert with vanilla ice cream! I like Rolled Cut-Out Cookies' ingredients, but definitely prefer chewy, soft, bar-type cookies to crispy ones.

Probably because it's mid-November, I love how Slowing Time begins with Winter as a "Season of Deepening" and ends with Winter as "Season of Stillness." Note: Amazon Vine sent me an uncorrected Advance Reader's Copy, and I'm going by the index, rather than by the actual section titles, both of which list Winter as "Deepening."

I've enjoyed peaking into the author's days and seasons along with her anecdotal reports. She gives us a "Count Your Blessings Calendar" for each season, and I've already started trying to blog blessings each week with my "week of grace" posts. Although I intend to keep Slowing Time the book, to reread it, and possibly loan it out (and hope to get it back), for me it's best as a model for journaling or blogging. As computer-intensive as my days have become, and despite my aversion to journaling in anything but a basic 70-page lined spiral bound notebook, in order to Slow Time I easily can imagine writing and drawing in one of those lovely journal books, maybe even making "field notes" along the the bottom of each page like a stream of news ticker, just as Barbara has done. Although the author lives in Wilmette, Illinois, I find it fascinating that reading Slowing Time gives little indication of a rural, urban, or suburban setting. In other words, these activities and observations can happen anywhere, so go chronicle your own experiences Slowing Time! Please? I'm going to do just that!

my amazon review: living into each moment

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mercy & Melons: Lisa Nichols Hickman

Mercy & Melons coverMercy & Melons by Lisa Nichols Hickman on Amazon.

Mercy & Melons: "Thanking God for All Good Gifts from A to Z" presents a memorable and rememberable way to "pray always" and to perceive God's hiddenness in the smallest, most mundane objects and events. Lisa Nichols Hickman Prays the Alphabet by pairing a clearly theological or scriptural concept with one not obviously immediately so. "Mercy & Melons" in the title, Grasshoppers and Glory for letter G, Yellow and Yahweh Y. The Hebrew bible book of Lamentations and several psalms model an acrostic approach to devotion, so this book and our practice in response to reading Mercy & Melons has scriptural precedent.

You could practice Praying the Alphabet in your head or in a notebook. You could visually (drawings, sketches, photographs, paintings) or poetically illustrate your own pairs of Praises & Pavements – Berries & Baptism – Rivers & Rhubarb. You could create a month of blog posts, either minus Sundays or simply allowing for any occasional skipped day or alternate topic. You could give Mercy & Melon to a seasoned, mature, highly theological Christian, to someone newly baptized, or to that person who's not quite sure about Christianity or religion, but who nonetheless savors every bit of life.

Cover Art and an illuminated letter for each chapter by Celia Marie Baker of The Bookwood help immensely to make Mercy & Melons an appealingly attractive handbook. Dark green type inside perfectly harmonizes with yellows and greens on the cover, but given that the cover also includes black lettering, for readability I'd prefer setting the book in black type.

my amazon review: "pray always" by praying the alphabet

Friday, November 14, 2014

Advent of Advent 5

It's mid-November, and MaryBeth hosts an Advent of Advent Friday 5.

I invite you to sit quietly ... and consider five things about Advent. They might be images, practices, hymns, anything you like. Just let the thoughts wash over you. Be peaceful with them. Be blessed with them.

1. I'm excited as we begin a New Year of Grace we'll again be in Mark's lectionary year and start out loud, clear, brazen, and pleading with one of my favourites, Isaiah 64:1-9—"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence!"

2. I love Michael Spyres' glorious interpretation of "Comfort, ye." As one of the commenters insisted, "It is supposed to ring above the hills like a clarion," as this performance does. Truly.

3. Angelo Musicante by Melozzo da ForlThe annual Lessons & Carols: A Festival in Word & Song to Prepare for Christmas at University of San Diego on Friday, 05 December 7:30 and Sunday, 07 December 2 pm. Two years ago I attended both days, because I had to hear Daniel Pinkham's (auto-corrected to "Pumpkin," but I caught it. Too bad?!) Christmas Cantata twice. The site hasn't yet listed this year's music.

4. A short list of fave Advent hymns includes "Prepare the Way, O Zion, "Lift up your heads, ye might gates," "Wake, Awake" (along with the many fabulous organ settings of «Wachet auf»), "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending." All those are super-fun to lead from the organ, too.

5. Shorter days, longer nights as we anticipate Winter Solstice and get to light more candles, wear lighter, brighter – sometimes funner – clothes... Why do some people think autumn and winter signal a time to begin wearing dark somber colours?

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Douglas Mann: Art of Helping Others

The Art of Helping Others: How Artists Can Serve God and Love the World

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Speakeasy with no requirement to write a positive review; the opinions in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255.

 art of helping others bookCreative Inciters in our midst! How interesting that The Speakeasy emailed me about this book months and months ago, but I finally decided I needed it after I noticed someone else's review, and for sure it is timely, apropos, and necessary for me at this time. Why? I sprung for this book because technically I'm an artist-designer and also a performing musician. I write some too, but I don't consider my writing a true aspect of my creativity. As happens to most people at one time or several, I've found myself too socially isolated for too long. I've almost entirely drained the stored value from prior life experiences and previous relationships. This is running on empty. Trying to crawl without essentials. Need refueling, refilling, and revitalizing! I'm dreaming of and trying to regenerate some creativity in my life and throughout my days.

In any case. please check out this short, useful, inspiring handbook because most likely you also need – or can use – Douglas C. Mann's exciting information and challenging ideas. I love the intriguing section and chapter titles, as well sub-sections with their own descriptive headings within each chapter. Each chapter concludes with two or three questions you can ask yourself, ask each other in almost any kind of group―formally creative or not, because everyone can become a creative inciter. Maybe discuss them with your therapist? Counselor? Life Coach? So many provocative, disturbing, life changing, world-impacting questions, ideas, and challenges. Sometimes church-impacting and changing, too.

Mann is a visual artist/painter and a songwriter; he previously has worked as a book publishing and as a music industry executive. The appealing temptation of Being Zen benefits self and others, but as Christians we need to be engaged and involved. In church? Sometimes. But most of the time in the world. "to... flourish requires others. To find contentment by being connected in relationships. God made us this way." (page 48)

[page 59] How about the earbud lifestyle? Always plugged into social media. Recently claiming a pair of really good (as in $100++) headphones via amazon vine excited me mightily, because that means I can do without those little earbuds in some times and some places. But "earbud" here is metaphor at least as much as earbud describes many folks' self-sheltered, selfie-documented, non-interactive, uncommunicative, isolated existences.

How will we live as creatives? How will I live as a creative? You know a reflective zen lifestyle could be tempting, but you also realize (page 88) "Life, like art, is a shared experience." (pages 92-93) And we need to follow Jesus' examples of occasional retreats into prayer-filled solitude. Discovering my own supplies manifesto page 126) will be my best and greatest challenge from this book. Douglas Mann creates through an intentionally Christian lens, but if you are not from or currently within a religious or spiritual tradition, please get this book. Important note: what a fabulous cover design!

Although the content of The Art of Helping Others rates five stars, I've removed a star because the writing could be a lot better and livelier. Too, too many passive voices that make too many sentences simply lie down and almost die. The book includes black and whites of some of Mann's paintings, so of course I wanted to view the full-colour versions. However, neither the author's self-titled website nor his Danko Art Studio site were live the times I tried to visit them, but I found Douglas Mann's Danko Art Studio page and his Art of Helping Others on fb.

my amazon review: inspiration for creative inciters

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Samuel Torvend: Daily Bread, Holy Meal

Daily Bread, Holy Meal: Opening the Gifts of Holy Communion

Daily Bread coverDaily Bread, Holy Meal is chronologically the earlier of Samuel Torvend's pair of books about the sacraments. In his short book about baptism, Flowing Water, Uncommon Birth, (among other details) Torvend describes the sober intentionality of preparation for baptism in some communities – particularly in those days of yore – and the expansive size of some baptismal fonts that helped emphasize its importance. In this second notebook, (also among other details) he gives us various meanings of The Meal: thanksgiving; inclusion; lives poured out; forgiveness, reconciliation... just as in his short book on baptism, the author draws upon the life of Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples, Pauline epistles, and passages from the Hebrew Bible. In fact, he brings us everything you've ever read, learned, heard, or experienced about HC—and then some: so very many possible images and realities related to the Holy Meal, not a single one exclusive of any of the others.

At the end of each chapter, Flowing Water and Daily Bread both include a few questions for the reader, and at the end of the book, a chapter-by-chapter bibliography. An excellent resource if you're a pastor, seminarian, deacon, preacher, theology geek, or liturgy aficionado. Useful and enlightening, too, for an occasional pew-sitter, or an outsider who wonders what on earth it's all about.

I love that Samuel Torvend includes his grandmother's recipe for Molasses Raisin Bread!

my amazon review: about the eucharist