I blinked and the holiday season invaded, this whole world whooshing by. I catch my mind in an ugly state of panic. The new years’ first months, which hold decision deadlines and commitments for which I must prepare, are only three children’s-gift-shopping, two Christmas-parties and a partridge-in-a-pear-tree away.
Each December, my mom pulled a worn cardboard box from the closet. She fingered through the contents, through the layers of creased gift wrap and crumpled tissue paper and last year’s holiday greeting cards. Until she found what she was seeking—a glittery Advent calendar with thumbnail sized doors opening to mini images.
I carry a bulletin in my childhood Bible. I was twelve years old when a Father’s Day bulletin was handed out at my church. It was the same year my dad discovered his love for alcohol that didn’t end for 35 years. But that love affair with alcohol was replaced with the love and grace of Jesus.
I will always feel grateful for the Thanksgiving none of my adult children could come home. That happened two years ago and changed my perspective on a holiday that focuses on being with family. Not that I didn’t want my family with me. But distance separated us and, for the first time ever, none of my three children would be in Minnesota. I could choose to feel sad and alone. Or I could choose to do something that would make others happy. Something that would fit the spirit of giving and of gratitude.
This devotional spoke of God’s care and concern so powerfully to me, I could barely speak! That the God of the Universe would care for me when at times I feel diminished by the enormity of life! I imagine my response is just one of many who experience something similar upon viewing a worship bulletin.
Worship is powerful, but sometimes we need a catalyst to help us get into the right frame of heart and mind for worship, something to help us turn our thoughts toward God. Worship Bulletins help us do just that. They beckon us to seek the Lord. They invite us to meditate on His Word. They remind us of the price God paid for us through Jesus.
I was the wife of a pastor for 17 years until he recently changed vocations. We then found ourselves as regular attendees at a new church. Even though we already knew some people at the church, it still took some time to find our way. The ironic thing is, we know church. We know how it functions, how people get connected, why church exists, and we even know some of the more esoteric language of church.
Welcoming these differing abilities and trying to connect with each student brought its challenges for me as a teacher. I tried right at the beginning of each year to find out what individual students liked and what they thought they were good at. It helped me to know the students better and to plan for learning.
As a child, storms terrified me. Memories of a tornado that killed nine, injured 125 and devastated a small community near my Minnesota hometown lingered into adulthood. Then more storms hit decades later, this time damaging the farm place where I grew up and partially peeling the roof from my childhood church.