Monday, December 27, 2010

Year in Review 2010

1. Was this a good year for you? Yes, I had a pretty amazing year filled with some high points. But, there were some rough spots. However, I've learned so much about myself through it all.

2. What did you do this year that you'd never done before? Lead communion, baptized a baby, performed a wedding, moved into a house, became a pastor...a year of many firsts!

3. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I vowed to be happy in 2010 & for the most part, I was. For 2011, I want to fully live my life as a fabulous 30 year old woman!

4. What was your favorite moment of the year? My ordination in February

5. What was your least favorite moment of the year? My examination on the floor of Presbytery - especially when screaming & fighting erupted on the floor while I was out of the room. Disappointing to hear it all.

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year? More confidence in my abilities as a pastor

7. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why? February 5th - my ordination as a Minister of Word & Sacrament in the PC(USA)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? surviving the first year as a pastor:)

9. What was your biggest failure? Stressing out way too much!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Yes. In April, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease after being hospitalized for a bad reaction to an iron infusion. I had severe iron deficency anemia as well. In September, I fell in the shower & suffered a mild concussion.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jane DeFord, the fabulous moderator of my Presbytery who stood beside me through this first year. She is the best mentor a girl could ask for!

12. Did you breakup with anyone this year? nope

13. Did you make any new friends this year? I did. Lots of great people in my Presbytery.

14. Did you travel outside of the U.S. this year? Not this year. Hopefully...

15. How many different states did you travel to this year? Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Maryland, Washington DC.

16. Did you lose anybody close to you this year? No, thanks be to God.

17. Did you miss anybody in the past year? My dear friends from seminary, Alper

18. What was your favorite movie you saw this year? The sad thing is that I can't think of one, but I am sure there was one...

19. What was your favorite song? Blackberry Time by Luka Bloom

20. What was your favorite album? The Canadian Tenors

21. Favorite TV show? The Daily Show

22. What was the best book you read? American Freak Show - Willie Geist

23. How many concerts did you see this year? none:(

24. What was the funniest moment of this year? having my neighbor's cat Damian learn that he could come into my house. He's too much.

25. What did you want and get? I wanted to lose weight & it happened. I feel healthier than ever before.

26. What's one thing you wish had happened this year? I wish I had more of a social life

27. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year? Perhaps, but why focus on the negative?

28. How much money did you spend this year? see next question...

29. Where did most of your money go? Well, I bought a new car & new computer, along with new bedroom furniture & a bunch of stuff for my house

30. What was the best thing you bought? My fabulous car - 2010 Ford Focus

31. What was your most embarrassing moment of the year? Falling in my shower & suffering a concussion.

32. If you could go back in time to any moment of this year, what would it be? The moment when I officially became a Minister of Word & Sacrament. It was an amazing feeling.

33. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to the National Cathedral in DC to hear David Axelrod speak.

34. What song will always remind you of this year? Blackberry Time

35. Compared to this time last year, are you
-happier or sadder? Happier
-thinner or fatter? Thiner
-richer or poorer? Richer in more ways than one

36. What do you wish you'd done more of? Spent more time exploring the area beyond Lancaster & West Chester

37. What do you wish you'd done less of? Worrying & stressing out

38. How did you be spend Christmas? I was in my house, drinking cups of coffee & watching movies. The week after Christmas, I spent with family & friends in Savannah

39. Did you fall in love this year? yes.

40. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned the big 3-0 this year. I celebrated with family in Ohio. On my actual birthday, I was flying home to PA

41. What one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Having a partner in life to share all of this with

42. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year? Moving from student mode into professional mode. Lots of pearls!

43. What kept you sane? God, family, friends, red wine, days off

44. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Rachel Maddow. She is amazing. Also, Mika Brezenski. Got to meet her this year. Pretty amazing.

45. Who was the best new person you met? My friend Tim Dooner.

46. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year: Stay true to who you are. Don't try to be who others want you to be.

47. What are your plans for the next year? Go to New York City, two weeks in Montreat this coming summer, remain happy

48. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Everything is possible in God's time
But nothing is for sure
All our hurts to wade through
And we still find
Blackberry time

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sermon for Christmas Eve 2010

This is my first time preaching on Christmas Eve. I am so looking forward to celebrating with my church folk tomorrow night. Merry Christmas!

God’s Gracious Gift
Preached at First Presbyterian, Parkesburg
December 24, 2010 – Christmas Eve
Text: Luke 2.1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

As a lover of stories, this might be my favorite one. This story has been told for generations upon generations - in different spots across the globe; in various languages; in church sanctuaries, open fields, in rooms filled with loads of people or rooms with just a few souls; told from memory, read from Bibles with pages worn & tattered, or those with shiny, glimmering gold edges; from pulpits to pastures, it is the well-known, beloved birth story of the Christ child.

Many of you who have attended Christmas Eve services for years might even be able to recite this story by heart. Or, when you begin to hear the words, “In those days, a decree went out from Emperor Augustus…” you automatically know which story it is. And, it is stories such as this one that warm our hearts & make us feel the peace & comfort of this night, despite the chill.

And, we really do need this story. We live in a world that is fast-paced, instantaneous, and where the real & the not-so-real blend together in such a way, that is becoming increasingly more difficult to distinguish between the two. And, so we crave reality. We crave it deep in our hearts – we long for something as pure and as real as the birth of Christ, the incarnation of God.

Christmas has become a commericialized, jazzed-up production. I am reminded of one of my favorite movies of this season – A Charlie Brown Christmas. In the film, Charlie Brown has become pretty disgusted with the way the world is celebrating Christmas – from lighting contests, to overblown Christmas play productions, to his sister Sally’s long list to Santa Claus. When Charlie is charged, along with Linus, to pick out the tree for the play, he returns with the saddest little tree. After receiving much criticism, Charlie Brown wails, “Does anyone know the real meaning of Christmas?” Then, come Linus’ monologue about the true meaning of Christmas – the story of these lowly shepherds in the fields and the angel appears to them to say: “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

As Linus so eloquently points out, the real meaning of Christmas is God’s gracious gift unto us: Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. It is not about big, fancy Christmas trees. It is not about big piles of gifts. It is not about picture perfect scenes. It is about Christ. The real story of Christmas. It is about this night, this holy night, where we pause in joy and in wonder, for the gift that God has given to us. And, upon hearing the story, yet again, our hearts no longer yearn, but are filled.

And we are able to exclaim from on high: Alleluia! For unto us this night, a son is born, Emmanuel, God with us. Thanks be to God. Amen.