Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year

Every year about this time, we come across a time of new beginnings. For those of us who have lived through a few of these new years, we tend to view them with less and less awe and excitement, and more and more world-weariness and boredom. We have been through quite a few years of resolutions in which we have failed. It seems almost that this ritual is mocking us.

The history of the New Year and its resolution-making is found in early Roman mythology in which the head of Janus, a mythical King, was placed at the head of the calendar year. Janus was a two-faced figure with one face looking back at the old year, and the other face looking toward the new. It was symbolic of our need to reflect on the events of the past in order to ‘fine-tune’ our future. What didn’t work? What went well? The first month of the calendar year was named after him – January. Of course, January 1 is not the new year for all cultures and beliefs. For Christians it is the season of Lent with its beginning on Ash Wednesday that encourages us to spend time in reflection, honing and fine-tuning our Christian walk. However, as Americans, January is certainly the beginning of the calendar year, and the beginning of January heralds a fresh slate if you will.

If you are very artistic and like to paint or draw, or even if you like to write, there is nothing more intimidating than a blank page. The freshness of the page lends to wanting to put something on it that has excellence ascribed to it. It seems sometimes that staring at the blankness of the page tends to blank out my imagination and creativity as well. If I am writing I must begin with something, even if it is garbage, before my creativity can truly flow. So, I plow fearlessly into that fresh white page with a bit of irreverence in my case, so I can eventually work toward something worth writing or painting.

We must tackle the new year the same way – by plowing right into it. Not with the anxiety that any resolution we make is doomed for failure, or with the false sense of expectation that we can set unrealistic goals and meet them, simply because we want to, but rather with the expectation that we have a fresh new year in which to fine-tune our future. What worked or went well last year? What did not? What did you not accomplish that you would like to work toward? How can you set realistic goals to attain these accomplishments?

As a pastor, I hope that a renewed sense of faith, commitment to God and congregation, as well as a purposeful spiritual growth is included in your reflections for the new year. May each of you have joy, wisdom, health, wholeness, faith, hope and love for your new year to come.

Grace and peace for the New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve Service

This is the service for Christmas Eve until Communion. Scripture readers were Tim, Jean, Kaleb, Tanner, Ashley, Kent, and Jerri. Special music was by Raylene and Brent, Chelsea, and Jenna.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Blessings!

I would like to wish you and yours all the joy that comes with the celebration of Christ's birth.

I wish you joy and happiness, laughter and family, and love that lasts forever.
If for whatever reason these blessings seem to be elusive for you this year, I pray that you will have peace and comfort in your struggles, and feel the presence of God in your sorrow. I pray that you will have all hope and faith that your troubles might be brief and that joy comes with the morning. Blessings and prayers to you and yours.

Rev. Sonja

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Promise Fulfilled

Sermon on the 4th Sunday of Advent, December 21, 2008, on the Scripture reading for Luke 1:26-31. The opening song, "Mary Did You Know" is sung by Miss Jenna Hendrix.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thoughts on Solitude

I saw this elsewhere and I thought I would share this with you today.

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spoke too soon...

Okay, so I am having more difficulty than I have time to deal with at the present. I will try to switch my blog over to my own domain after the holidays.


I have had a hard time getting this transferred, but it is finally complete. My new url is I hope this hasn't been too inconvenient if you follow me regularly. I am still not certain about changing my information on the blog rolls I am on, but I will try to get that accomplished as soon as possible. Anyway, have a blessed Wednesday!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Feedback on New Layout

I have changed the colors, etc. on my blog (as you may have guessed if you are reading this on the page as opposed to a reader service.) Please leave feedback on what you think. I'd appreciate the constructive criticism or affirmations. Blessings.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advent Musings

We come to a paradoxical time of year. It is the time of year in which we celebrate the birth of the child born to poor parents with no roof over their head in which to bring their child into the world but a borrowed barn, and we celebrate this child born into poverty by spending inordinate amounts of money on things no one needs. Okay, occasionally a present someone needs slips in by some unsuspecting husband, but he will soon be set straight.

We rationalize this extravagant gift giving by saying that the child born in poverty was brought gold, frankincense and myrrh by the wealthy elite of a foreign land. Or, we rationalize that we buy extravagant gifts to represent the richness we find in our salvation, the extravagant gift God gave in Jesus, etc. The fact of the matter is, we buy extravagant gifts for a multitude of reasons and very few relate to our Christianity, if any do at all.

This time of year, even the non-believers in Christ get in on extravagant gift giving and become stressed over getting this person or that person just the perfect gift, or if not a perfect gift, one that will make them look good. This also applies for believers as well, as I do not have any intention of being discriminatory of my criticisms of the commercialization of a holiday originally begun to celebrate the birth of a poor child.

I would like to say at this point that I do not, in any way, mean to imply that I am so righteous that I do not fall into the exact same pattern that many other people conform to as we pass from Thanksgiving to New Year. I do. But I also recognize that I do this and as such do not attempt to rationalize why. I purchase extravagant gifts this time of year because it is the one time of year I can spoil my family with the solid excuse of "but everyone else is doing it."

In spite of, or maybe because of, our unity in our insistence on continuing this practice of extravagant giving, I would like to bring to mind the reason why we come to this time of year - to celebrate the birth of a child born in poverty. A child who grew up, not as royalty and not with privilege, but a child who grew in a modest, but loving and devout home. We celebrate the holiday of a child who grew up to wander from town to town bringing a message of hope in a time of oppression and persecution, a time in which wrongs needed to be righted and the world-norms needed to be turned up-side down, or rather right-side up - a time not unlike the times we find ourselves in right now.

For me, I plan to celebrate, commemorate, remember this child of poverty by adopting another child of poverty. No, I do not plan to adopt a child that will be living in my household, (no worries sweetie, no diapers), but one that lives in poverty daily. I am looking at possibly adopting a child, at least for Christmas, and possibly for the entire year. I have not yet decided exactly how I will go about this or what, if any, organizations I may support through this endeavor, but I feel led to do this to not only count my blessings, but to share those blessings with someone other than those in my immediate family.

In this way, I can remember the reason we celebrate our blessings with our family, the child born so long ago. By helping another child in poverty, I can respect the child who was born in poverty to bring us richness of spirit and abundance of life. I would challenge you to find some way meaningful for you that helps you remember the child of Bethlehem; some way to move outside of yourself and the extravagant spending for those who do not need. Celebrate the baby born in a manager this season.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Okay, so....I cannot handle too much excitement

I sent out an email that said I was being ordained May 27, 2008, and on my blog I posted that I was being ordained November 27, 2009. Neither of these dates are correct, and obviously my excited brain was not in control of my fingers or vice versa. My ordination date is MAY 27, 2009 at 7 p.m. at St. Luke's UMC in OKC. (I just double-checked with my calendar and yes, this is the correct date.) I apologize for any confusion. Thanks for all the congratulatory wishes and remarks. Blessings to you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanks for the Prayers

I have been officially approved for ordination by the Board of Ordained Ministry. After approval of the conference I will be ordained on Wednesday, November 27, 2009 at 7 p.m. at St. Luke's UMC. YEAH!!!!