Waiting for Peace

Photo Credit: Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas

For many of the holy times we celebrate there are times beforehand that are for preparation, reflection, as well as for hope and healing. The season before Christmas is called Advent. This is a time during which Christians prepare to celebrate for the birth of Jesus. 

During this time, many homes and most churches light the four candles (three pink, one purple) of an advent wreath. As each of the four weeks before Christmas begin, a new candle is lit. The light of the advent wreath reminds Christians that Jesus is the "Light of the World." Not coincidentally, the first candle lit symbolizes hope. 

With Hope, we can move forward through dark times. With Hope, we have the strength to carry on, even in the face of great pain and suffering.

The following week, the candle that symbolizes Faith is lit. When we have Hope, our Faith in something bigger than ourselves grows.

Joy is the symbol of the third candle. Joy comes when we have Hope and …

Creating Hope

Angels: symbols of hope, safety, enlightenment Photo Credit: (c) 2018 Linda M. Rhinehart Neas

As I decorated for the holidays, I became acutely aware of the many symbols I have found comfort in over the years. Symbols that belong to the stories of how peace and love can be found in the darkness of hate and chaos. 

For example, after a prolonged illness as a child, when it was believed that I might die, the sister superior of our school gave me a little paper Angel to remind me that God was watching over me and sent me Angels to protect me from harm. That became a story of great importance in my life; one that, for me, was valid, real and for which I have had many qualifying experiences. But, for other people, angels are so much fluff. Some people classify angels with the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, myths told as a child that hold no real usefulness in our adult world.

Karen Armstrong, a former nun, writer and creator of the Charter of Compassion,wrote in "A Short History of Myth&q…

Balancing in the Dark

The days have been getting shorter as we whirl toward the Winter Solstice on a planet where the daily news seems darker than the skies. How do we keep our balance? 

In ancient times, the people of the North brought in evergreens and lit huge fires, both reminders that life continues. Many of the traditions in cultures around the world focus on the balancing of Light and Dark at this time of year. 

Unfortunately, as humans evolved and our world went from agrarian and hunter/gatherers to industrial/technical, we have cast aside many of the traditions and rituals that helped people keep the equilibrium. If these rituals and traditions are practiced, often, the meaning has been long forgotten. Like bells without clappers, there is no rhyme or reason to what we do any longer.

How do we cope? How do we find meaning in chaos? 

On Doctor Oz's website, the physician, Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, suggests using ancient ayurveda practices to help maintain a healthy balance during these stressful times…

Blue Holidays

Photo Credit: Office Publisher Clipart
Several years ago, I heard the term Blue Christmas Service for the first time. I was not aware of this term or tradition. I looked up the term and found this explanation: 
"Blue Christmas, also called the Longest Night in the Western Christian tradition, is a day in the Advent season marking the longest night of the year. On this day, some churches hold a church service that honors people who have lost loved ones in that year. The Holy Eucharist is traditionally a part of the service of worship on this day. Some churches hold a service of worship on the longest night of the year, which falls on or about December 21st, the Winter Solstice. There is an interesting convergence for this day as it is also the traditional feast day for Saint Thomas the Apostle. This linkage invites making some connections between Thomas's struggle to believe the tale of Jesus' resurrection, the long nights just before Christmas, and the struggle with darknes…

Giving Thanks with Prayers from Around the World

As we sit at our tables this week, let us remember to give thanks for all we have been given. Let us find time to say the words of gratitude to That which has given us all we have in whatever manner we perceive that Divine Energy to be.

At a loss for words?  Here are some you can use at your meal.

Blessings and Gratitude for you all!

A Prayer for the Thanksgiving Feast
            fromTalking to God by Rabbi Naomi Levy

For the laughter of the children, 
For my own life breath, 
For the abundance of food on this table, 
For the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast, 
For the roof over our heads, 
The clothes on our backs, 
For our health, 
And our wealth of blessings, 
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, 
For the freedom to pray these words 
Without fear, 
In any language, 
In any faith, 
In this great country, 
Whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants. 
Thank You, God, for giving us all these. Amen.

Armenian Grace

May the abundance of this table 
Never fail and nev…

Random Acts of Appreciation

Photo: (c) 2018 LMRNeas
This morning, as I rose to watch the sunrise, a thought came to me. What if we committed random acts of appreciation?  What if we mindfully thanked others for the hundreds of small and often overlooked things they do for us every day?
Who am I talking about?  Everyone!  Our lives are touched by hundreds of people every moment, but we don't see them, even when the gifts they give us are important for our well-being. For example: Thank the people who pick up your trash, or the young man or woman stocking the shelves, or the person driving the bus. Thank the clerk and the bagger; thank the teacher and crossing guard; thank the spouse who brings you tea or coffee. There are so many opportunities!
Thing is, you never know how your gratitude can change someone, especially someone who is feeling invisible. So, next time you pass the janitor in the hall at work or at school, take a second to say, "Thanks for the great job you do of keeping everything clean."…

Voters' Invocation

Photo by Ben Combee from Austin, TX, USA CC BY 2.0  via Wikimedia Commons

Just days before these mid-term elections, we send up our thoughts to the Divine Energy. Please bless us with peaceful elections. Please keep those who would hinder others at bay. Please enlighten those who have sat in apathy too long to rise up, go to the polls and vote. Please bless those who will work ceaselessly to combat hate, corruption, oppression, greed, and injustice with the opportunity, power and grace to do just that. Just days before these mid-term elections, we ask for Divine help, humbly and with hopeful anticipation.
May we all remember that together, we are more powerful than hate.
Blessings to all!