Sometimes, when we are vulnerable and our eyes see, we discover gifts that opens our heart to hope. Saturday morning Deb and I went to our church in downtown Indianapolis to deliver some invitations to guests of our food bank. The  invitation was for our Easter morning breakfast which many of our friends from the street share with us.

As I stood and chatted with some of our hosts and some of our guests, I was reminded why I believe deeply in the church. There were 75 people shopping at our produce tables which had been supplied by Indianapolis Fruit (thanks to Deb's son, Collin Miller, who helped us connect with that wonderful resource for feeding the hungry). They then went into the market and shopped for canned goods that had been provided by members of Central and the Gleaners Food Bank. People come to the church for all kinds of nourishment.

And gathered with our guests were 20 adults and children who hosted the gathering, helping, visiting, providing coffee and cake while an orderly process of shopping was followed. While some waited, they went into the Thrift Shop where many purchased essential items of clothing for a small fee. Throughout the lower level of the church, ministry and community was happening.

Now I am not naive. I know that this is simply a small bandage on the wounds of our society where more people live on the edge of existence while a few expand their wealth beyond any description of decency. I know that a more just system of sharing the world's resource is absolutely essential not only for the survival of civilization but also for the fulfilling of God's desire for shalom. (And I have to say that I am glad that I am part of a congregation where people are gathering to act for justice for janitors, for those who need reliable public transit, for those who are excluded by laws from marrying the people they love.)

But, in the interim time before a more just society can emerge, I am glad to be part of community who does what we can to keep people from falling off the edge. My heart ached with hope as I shared that Saturday morning communion. I am thankful for small signs of God's love that I get to see.


Indiana winter this year has been one for the snow lovers--and cold lovers--and sledding lovers. I determined years ago that I would not let weather define my mood or what I do. Life is too short to let things I can do nothing about control how I live my life or how I feel about life.

But, I have to admit, this winter has been pretty weighty. The sub-zero weather that follows snow storms has secured the snow in permanent piles beside our driveway. Those who live in our city without adequate shelter have struggled to not only stay warm but, in too many cases, to stay alive. Those who are waiting through the winter of their soul find a companion in the weather even as they ache for a sign of new life emerging. The ubiquitous light of the media simply reminds us of the dark winter freeze.

I don't have answers to how we might speed through to spring. Thaw comes in its own time.  But, I think one way to carry the weight of winter is to partner with others. Reach out to those whom you know and offer them warm hospitality in your home. Share a hot cup of care by sending someone a greeting.  Light a candle in the cold by calling someone whose icy burden weights their soul. Companions may not have answers to weighty questions but they can help you know you are not alone.

And as you companion each other, hold hard to the hope that the snow will melt and that somewhere a sprig of spring will one day emerge. Allow that hope to warm your heart that holds the dark burden of pain and oppressive fear. Remember, under the snow is a seed that, with the warming sun, becomes a rose.


I recently led a class on preparing for the holidays.  A dozen of us gathered to share our anticipations and our anxieties.  As we talked we discovered that almost everyone there was struggling.  Most were not really looking forward to the holidays.
  In the stories were shared, most were dreading the holidays because they anticipated the sadness and loneliness that is part of them.  Most experienced the holidays as times when they missed something or someone really important to them:  deceased family members; children away from home; hopes for resources to do more than they were able to do; traditions that were no longer possible because of the changes in life or location.
Holidays are times when we seem to focus on accumulated experiences that can’t be replicated. (Or, more accurately, the memories of experiences that had acquired special meaning but can no longer be duplicated.)  While our life is full of such experiences, holidays seems to be a depository for more focused and special memories.  Hopes for happiness are exploited by a culture that uses our longings for belonging to sell us promises provided by its products.  We experience the stress of trying to be in the holiday spirit.
 But, I think that holidays are more than about what we have had and lost.  I believe they are open times for the welcoming of new and interesting possibilities for the future.  To welcome and embrace that open space for the future that has been given to us by the loss of things the way they were, we have to grieve the losses so they don’t control our way of looking at the holidays.
 Grieving the loss of the world the way it was frees us to embrace the world that is coming.  As you face the holidays and feel dread or sadness overtaking your spirit, take time to look at what has changed, to name that which is no longer a reality, to remember  the good that you have received, to forgive the past for not being permanent, and play with new ways of celebrating, developing new traditions that affirm what you truly believe about the holiday’s meaning.  Holidays are about relationships, loved and lost, and wherever we are, new relationships and new ways of expressing our life together are all around for us to explore.