Did you know that at one time there was a relationship between Halloween (All Hallows Eve) and All Saints Day? Of course the All Hallows Eve traditions had very little in common with the current Halloween practices of today. In fact, the only thing it had in common was that it was held the day before All Saints Day.
All Hallows Eve was originally a time for Christians to prepare themselves for reverent practices of All Saints Day through prayer and various other ways. How you prepared for All Saints Day entirely depended on the practices of where you lived. In England, parents would take their children from house to house to beg for a special pastry treat called “soul cakes” and to pray for all those who had died from each house they visited. There is a very interesting Catholic tradition where children are taught about saints on All Hallows Eve by dressing as saints and going house to house. This link will take on a fascinating ride through this creative style of faith education. How I would love for all of us to have this truly fun experience of honoring and remembering who the saints have been and are. Unfortunately today most of us do not continue the Christian celebration of All Hallows Eve. Secular living has popularized a secular fun filled day we know as Halloween instead.
Of course all of this is to lead us to All Saints Day. Unfortunately a widely unknown feast day in the lives of Christians everywhere. In the 4th Century AD, the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrated this day as a day to remember all Martyrs on the Sunday after Pentecost. However, Syrians celebrated the “Commemoratio Confessorum” on the Friday after Easter. Over history the day was celebrated at various times, sometime to honor Martyrs and others to honor all Saints. In the 9th century a Byzantine Emperor Leo VI (the Wise) , to honor his late but very devout wife, changed this day to remember all Saints rather than just the Martyrs. Likewise, Pope Gregory III established November 1 as the official All Saints Day.
Some people today argue that the final date of November 1 was chosen because of the Celtic pagan Samhain being held on that day. Personally, I don’t see the problem either way. Christianity has historically taken various pagan, wicked symbols and changed them to become holy symbols. There’s also that scripture, Isaiah 2:4 “He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Charles Wesley took many bar tunes and put Christian verses to them and these are beloved hymns of today. Knowing who the saints are and celebrating their significance is vital to the body of Christ yesterday, today and tomorrow. Whatever day we use, let us use it. November 1st it is.
Now, many of you might be thinking … well, ok so what IS or who IS a saint? While the Catholic Church has specific venerated saints. However, protestant churches recognize all people who believe in the Triune God (trinity) as saints. We are the communion of saints. We include both the living and those believers who have died. The United Methodist Church has a brief description of All Saints Day here. The practice of remembering, naming and celebrating the cloud of witnesses, the communion of saints in our lives in a collective way can go a long long way to encouraging us in the faith. Life is hard. In fact, it’s the hardest thing we will ever do. Let’s us stand together, hold one another up, encouraging and supporting our brothers and sisters to live in faithful ways by celebrating all the saints who have touched our lives. Celebrating all those saints who have guided us and those who continue to bless us grounds us especially during this time of uncertainty and stress.
Look for celebrations of All Saints Day in your local community this year. If you can’t find one locally than perhaps you can find one online.
Many of you know that I have high respect for Dr. Robert Enright, the founder of the Forgiveness Institute. Much of the forgiveness work that we do at Living Springs Counseling is guided by the the scientific research of Dr. Enright’s institute coupled with Christian teachings. Recently, the Institute has produced the following video that provides some helpful insights in light of COVID19 symptoms around the world. Dr. Enright and Sam Ness join together discussing and singing about the benefits of forgiveness.
Isaiah 55: 1-5
Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
Is there any text more appropriate for today? For us in the midst of a worldwide pandemic?
Here is an interpretation by Pam of this powerful life offering, mind altering, life changing text.
Ho! What's it going to take for God to get our attention? Yo!! Listen up ... Those of you with no money .... wow! While some have been incredibly fortunate to continue getting an income, the vast majority of us have lost a good portion to all of our income and we're terrified ... How to continue, food! housing! bills! health care costs! What do you think is controlling people's thoughts these days? What are you concerned about? Consider ... What if your concept of a healthy economy, during this pandemic, is costing people their lives? What if your beliefs about good stewardship is costing people their lives? It's hard and incredibly painful to truly consider these questions. But God asks us, in this time ... Why? Why do you focus on bread that does not feed, bread that does not fill, bread that does not satisfy? God asks us, would you rather line your pockets than fill to satisfy? Wake up! Ho! Listen! Listen now, listen to me, your God, the One Who Loved You Into Being NO! I said listen! Incline your ear toward me and hear You want to live? You want to leave a legacy? You want to make a difference? Even David, adulterous and sinful David, even David is my beloved I made him known, I made him a leader and commander of not just people, but of peoples. To these peoples I made him a witness for me. How much less will I make of you? Listen, incline your ear and even the nations who have no knowledge of you will hear Why? because I will make it so. Will you listen and hear (live) the truth of my Word? God beckons - come to my table and eat your fill.
Sorry for the delay but … well, I borrowed the following … it’ll explain my tardiness. 🙂
I DIDN’T WRITE THIS BUT WHOEVER DID IS HILARIOUS!!!!!!Dear Diary 2020 Edition,In January, Australia caught on fire. I don’t even know if that fire was put out, because we straight up almost went to war with Iran . We might actually still be almost at war with them . I don’t know, because Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt spoke to one another at an awards show and everyone flipped the crap out , but then there was this thing happening in China, then Prince Harry and Megan peaced out of the Royal family, and there was the whole impeachment trial , and then corona virus showed up in the US “officially,” but then Kobe died and UK peaced out of the European Union.In February, Iowa crapped itself with the caucus results and the president was acquitted and the Speaker of the House took ten. Whole. years. to rip up a speech , but then TheWHO decided to give this virus a name COVID-19, which confused some really important people in charge of, like, our lives, into thinking there were 18 other versions before it, but then Harvey Weinstein was found guilty, and Americans started asking if Corona beer was safe to drink, and everyone on Facebook became a doctor who just knew the flu like killed way more people than COVID 1 through 18.In March, stuff hit the fan. Warren dropped out of the presidential race and Sanders was like Bernie or bust , but then Italy shut its whole country down , and then COVID Not 1 through 18 officially become what everyone already realized, a pandemic and then a nationwide state of emergency was declared in US , but it didn’t really change anything, so everyone was confused or thought it was still just a flu , but then COVID Not 18 was like ya’ll not taking me seriously? I’m gonna infect the one celebrity everyone loves and totally infected Tom Hanks, get y’all to close all of the schools so y’all can appreciate teachers for once (because you can’t teach them anything other than how to use a touch screen ) close down all of salons so you can’t get your hair or your nails done , everyone had to work from home and attend Zoom meetings in their underwear. The DOW took a crap on itself, and most of us still don’t understand why the stock market is so important or even a thing (I still don’t), We were then all introduced to Tiger King and the ONE thing we can all agree on this year , Carol totally killed her husband ….. whacked him! And then Netflix was like you’re welcome, and we all realized there was no way we were washing our hands enough in the first place because all of our hands are now dry and gross and were all searching for lotion now.In April, Bernie finally busted himself out of the presidential race , but then NYC became the set of The Walking Dead and we learned that no one has face masks , ventilators, or toilet paper, or THE FREAKING SWIFFER WET JET LIQUID , and by now our outgrowth is showing, so there’s a shortage on box hair dye and all of our hair dressers are like , NO DONT DO IT!!! But, then Kim Jong-Un died, but then he came back to life … or did he? Who knows, because then the Pentagon released videos of UFOs and nobody cared, and we were like man, it’s only April….In May, the biblical end times kicked off , historical locust swarms, we learned of murder hornets and realized that 2020 was the start of the Hunger Games however people forgot to let us know. people legit started to protest lockdown measures with AR-15s, sports events were cancelled everywhere. But then people all over America finally reached a breaking point with race issues and violence. There were protests in every city ,which was confusing to some of us because people were definitely gathering in crowds of more than 10 and for sure closer than 6 foot away from each other . Those people must have forgotten about the pandemic called COVID Not One Through 18. Media struggled with how to focus on two important things at once, people in general struggle to focus on more than one important thing. A dead whale was found in the middle of the Amazon rain forest after monkeys stole COVID 1 Through 19 from a lab and ran off with them, and either in May or April (no one is keeping track of time now) that a giant asteroid narrowly missed the Earth.In June, common sense just got thrown straight out the window and somehow wearing masks became a political thing, but then everyone sort of remembered there was a pandemic, then scientists announced they found a mysterious undiscovered mass at the center of the earth, and everyone was like DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH IT, but then everyone took a pause to realize that people actually believed Gone With The Wind was like non-fiction, but then it was also announced that there is a strange radio signal coming from somewhere in the universe that repeats itself every so many days , and everyone was like DON’T YOU DARE ATTEMPT TO COMMUNICATE WITH IT but then America reopened from the shut down that actually wasn’t even a shut down, and so far, things have gone spectacularly …. not that great . All of the Karen’s came out at once, and people started tearing down statues. Everyone is on Facebook arguing about masks , but then Florida was like hold my beer and let me show you how we’re number one in all things, including new Not Corona Beer Coronavirus. Then we learned there was a massive dust cloud coming straight at us from the Sahara Desert , which is totally normal, but this is 2020, so the ghost mummy thing is most likely in that dust cloud. We then learned of meth-gators , and I’m like that is so not on my flipping 2020 Bingo card can we use it as the free space?? Then we learned that the Congo’s worst ever Ebola outbreak is over , and we were all like, there was an Ebola outbreak that was the worse ever? ……. and don’t forget we just discovered FLYING SNAKES! , seriously! FLYING SNAKES!!!!So here comes July…. at this point we are over it , just tell us what’s next …. Aliens? Zeus? Asteroids? Artificial Intelligence becomes self aware? Can it just be something cool or fun for once? Maybe even a good laugh , like hahaha April Fools! We all actually wouldn’t mind that joke at this point.Also, why didn’t I know about the whale in the Amazon? Or a few other things because I just can’t keep up anymore!But I’m sharing it because as long as we make it through 2020, I really want this to pop back up in the memories a few years from now. Copy and share to your page!!!!! LOL
Do you even remember life on March 1, 2020? It was ‘normal’. We were just beginning to hear about this thing called “Corona Virus”. Many even joked about the like named beer. It was in China. The OTHER side of the earth. Then came March 15 and suddenly 90% of the world was out of work having no idea when or if we would go back. We received our last paycheck and the bills came marching in, one by one. And the bills continued to come marching in. Our commissioners made the very wise decision to do whatever it took to protect Monroe County residents including closing off US1. We began wearing masks to do our banking, we began to worship through facebook or zoom, we began to learn so much about ourselves.
Social Distancing, the new “4” letter word of 2020. Who could have known how painful it would become? Who could have guessed the mental health issues it would create? Who could have guessed, of all things, we’d run OUT of toilet paper? Who could have anticipated the level of domestic violence that erupted like an epidemic throughout our community? Who would have anticipated that mom and dad are no longer safer in the nursing home?
Here we are, June 1, just 2 months later and the world we knew, the life we had, the future we looked forward to no longer exists. Life, for every single human being in the entire world, is changing into a whole new form that we still can’t quite imagine. The changes has slowed down but with the recent reopening and loosening of protocols may well send us right back into a spiking of COVID cases and deaths.
If that’s not enough, people are truly going crazy. Domestic Violence has become common, still not acceptable in any way, shape or form, but we don’t know how to live in close quarters 24/7 without trying to exert control over our “significant others”. Hate has risen to a new high as we mourn the senseless death and torture of George Floyd.
How do we live; where do find hope; how do we breathe into the future?
We must look to that which is infinite. We must look to that which is greater than the greatest of us. We can only safely lean on the embrace of the one who is the Source of Our Being. Only this Divine One can stand up to all and win in the end. This one who calls you beloved, even though you might not have heard the call. This one who embraces you with healing, hope, justice even though you might not have felt the embrace. This one who waits on you to turn and and say yes. This one reaches, calls, waits, holds, carries, and so much more. I know because somehow, the Divine Spirit touched my life many years ago and got my attention. I know because this one who calls me beloved somehow reaches into my space and guides me in life giving ways. I know because something inside me recognizes the Source of My Being and draws me into life empowering me to share that same life with others.
If the idea of God, Higher Power, the Source of Our Being is strange to you please just take 30 seconds to invite the possibility. Sit quietly and just invite that which is great than yourself to just be with you in the moment. Sit for 30 seconds with the open invite to this one. Then go about your day being mindful of the invitation you extended earlier. The next morning do the same: 30 second invite and then mindfully going about your day. Continue this for 30 days, one month. I will be praying for you and I know God will be walking with you.
Faith, God none of it is magic, rather it is much better. It is miraculous.
May you know God’s blessings through all things.
Once upon a time, in a place called America people spent most of their time at home focused on family. They would venture out greeting neighbors as they worked in their yards and take walks around the neighborhood daily. On an average day one could see whole families out on their bicycles toward evening. Commonly each day they would enjoy a meal of fresh fish casually caught on the shoreline or out in the family boat.
Over time life became more and more complicated and the priorities of the people became skewed. Happiness became more and more difficult to find, to claim, to recognize. The people began to see one another more as a means to their own advancement than relationships to be cherished. The people began to drink to excess, eat to excess, do everything to excess.
One day a ferocious monster invaded all the land and the people scurried into their homes. They used the internet to communicate with one another and share the latest news. Each day they read how many of their neighbors were injured by the monster and how many lives the monster took. They saw stories about how the monster was all over the entire world doing this same thing. Businesses were closed, traveling restricted, schools closed, jobs lost and life began to feel much much smaller and restricted. It was the best way to protect not just themselves but one another. Fear threatened to overcome the people.
As time went on, the people began to realize how much they truly cared about one another. Each day as the numbers of those injured or died went up and even just one more each person was touched with sadness and prayer for the rest. They began to care about how they affected their neighbors. With less and less income and absolutely everyone in the same “boat” they began to share food with neighbors, making sure no one was forgotten.
They dealt with their free time by cleaning up around the house, taking care of things that needed mending long ago. After 2 weeks of this quieter simpler life they began to recognize the value of relationships, free time and they were surprised at how they were learning how to live without spending money. They became creative in ways to connect with one another in worship, study, and just being in groups safely. Their priorities began to shift again and happiness re-entered their lives.
The people so valued the lessons they learned they realized that they wanted to reorganize their way of living, their priorities so that even after the monster was slayed, their lives would stand for so much more than they ever thought before.
free COVID19 testing with appointment only – Saturday in Marathon, CHI call 305.216.2107 for appointment
for help with birth, babies, children needs – keyshealthystate.org
FKOC – $250 per household/month no rent assistance right now
Rent assistance – Campisino 904.878.0708 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rent assistance – Catholic Charities – 305.292.9790
Monroe County Social Services – Rx, LiHeap, etc – 305.852.7125
“He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives salvation to impart! You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.” Words by Alfred H Ackley, 1933
What wonderful opportunities we’ve had over the past few weeks to enjoy the joyful busyness of our lively honey bees collecting pollen everywhere the possibly can. Each day the beautiful blossoms proudly display new life about to burst forth on every tree, bush and flower.
Imagine our joy last week when my husband and I discovered that our native Satin Leaf tree that we’ve had for 8 years, began providing us with succulent purple plum like fruits to increase our health. Our black sapote tree supplies the entire neighborhood with plenty of chocolate pudding fruit every day. The Valencia Mango tree exploded with beautiful yellowish/orangish/brownish blossoms everywhere. The Holy Basil bush is delighting our honey bee friends every morning with tons of flowers along with the Brazilian cherry blossoms. The sopadilla tree hangs heavily with ripening fruits. Our yard is bustling with life and busy happy honey bees because we keep everything organic. Birds are making their nests high in the trees loaded with berries, puppies are chasing the lizards around, opossums are keeping the unwanted insects away, mosquito fish keep water clear for the wildlife, God has a plan and we are blessed to watch it and help it along. As we love this earth it loves us back.
What signs of life are you witnessing? Where in your neighborhood are you experiencing hopeful signs?
I just love those times when everything is going well, life is good, family’s doing well. A long time ago, I learned not to allow myself to dwell on the anxiety of when the next shoe will drop. Life is too short. Now when those nice, good smooth times come I live deeply into them. Continually I thank God for all the blessings I can name in those times. I breathe deeply of the life giving spirit filling myself and healing. Seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, sensing God’s presence and saying yes to my Creator’s invitation to join in the great joy of giving life everywhere I can. I’ve learned to be intentional about these times because I’ve learned that there are times when all this becomes so hard to see, sometimes even impossible to recognize and by being so intentional in the good times I can remember them when the haze becomes overwhelming, even blinding. I follow the breadcrumbs planted along the way.
The hard, blinding suffering of our lives and living can so easily turn our hearts to stone. Our eyes can become blind to blessings forever. Our hearts can become cold and angry forever. In these difficult times we can reject God, stomp our feet and insist that because we don’t understand what’s happening, God can’t be good. What kind of benevolent loving God would allow children to suffer? What kind of all powerful God would allow good people who have dedicated their lives to God’s ways to be tortured, abused or attacked in the many ways we’ve seen and experienced? Why does God give suffering a voice? And why would we serve such a God?
Platitudes have no place in this discussion. Why God, why? Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending this doesn’t exist doesn’t work. Getting angry at God, at our neighbors, our families, everyone doesn’t work. Becoming an island onto ourselves doesn’t work. Digging our heels in and stamping our feet throwing temper tantrums of various manifestations never works. None of it works. Pulling away from others, pulling away from God … none of it works. So what are we to learn from all this? How do we put the yin and yang of life together and survive?
These are some of the things we’re going to discuss and take to the kitchen of our faith over the course of 6 weeks. We’ll be using Lysa Terkeurst’s book: It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way alongside our Bibles and our life experiences. Come join us. You can participate for all six weeks or however many works for you. The SE District Office of the United Methodist Church is providing the books for free for the first 10 people to sign up. You only need to pay $10 per session or $50 for all six sessions. Your weekly time commitment would be 1 group session and 4 days of 20-30 minutes private study.
Let’s work together. Alone can lose our way or together, we can choose to follow the breadcrumbs.
Are you wondering what’s on the other side of New Year’s Eve? Maybe you had a great 2019 or maybe not. Either way, as we look toward the new year we all wonder what it’ll bring. For some people this time is filled with trepidation, others excitement and yet others just really don’t even think about it.
The good news is that we each have more power over what can happen than we usually realize. Sure, our very best efforts can be thwarted by evil that is in this world. But what’s important is what we do and how we respond, in the long run. After all, that’s what we have power over and no one can take that away from us. Some choices are easy to make and others build character, but they are ours through and through. And since we must claim responsibility for our choices, why not make the very best ones we are able to make.
My husband and I have chosen to pray that we love and respect one another every time we pray together. This will help us to remember, especially in those tense moments, to catch ourselves and speak the truth with compassion. What are some things you could do to help you be your best self this year?
Here are a few guidelines to help you:
The world is full of good and evil. Our focus determines of which we become most aware. We see what we look for and everywhere we go we find ourselves.
“As for me and my household, we will (love faithfully, live peacefully, give generously, forgive gracefully, play joyfully, pray daily) serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
When I was young, learning new things was exciting most of the time. However, when I was in my mid to late teens oh how I couldn’t wait to be taken seriously. I had a plan to study music in college and was very excited to embark on this new, more independent “leg” of my journey. I was certain that life as an independent adult would be so much easier. Oh how much I had to learn.
Of course, instead of simply getting easier, life just gets more complicated. For so many Christmas time isn’t a time of joy, rather this time brings memories of lost loved ones, lost jobs, relationships, especially the frustration that comes from having unanswered questions we want to ask God, and so many more struggles that seem to glare at us through the tinsel and lights. This year, my heart and my prayers are for those struggling in this way.
How I would love to be able to gift everyone with unshakable faith that God’s loving embrace with never, never let us go especially during those times of unspeakable pain that seems so senseless to us. I do promise you that God will always love you and every person anywhere. I promise you that Divine Agape will embrace you even in those dark scary shadows of life. I promise you that there is a Divine response to all those questions we want to ask and that response SOMEHOW will show us that even these terrible experiences demonstrate God’s love for us.
Anyone who knows my history or who has read my book, knows that horrific experiences are very much a part of my life. I don’t know why people suffer, but I do know, in a very real way, that God’s healing life-giving embrace is very much present and working for us throughout even these experiences. As I’ve suffered these experiences, each time I’ve grown in my ability to recognize God’s presence in and through all things. After the train-wreck, as I fought for my life and didn’t have the ability to put words together to even make sentences; I discovered the gift of being able to pray without words. My prayer was simply a knowing that somehow God was there fighting for me and empowering me. I was clutching on to that hope to get me through. Now, I know there is nothing that I can’t face because God is with me in a very real way no matter what. Yes, there are times I need to specifically remind myself. Re-membering our life and our faith is a great gift that the One Who Loved You Into Being offers to you too.
May you truly know God’s Agape through all things this Christmas season and New Year.