Advertisements

Tag Archive: fellowship


DSC07035[Re-posted from last year at this time. This year’s observations will be in a following post.]

It began years ago with the recipe on the Chex cereal boxes. Then everyone’s grandmother added their particular additional ingredients. It took on different identities: nibbles, trash, Texas trash, and others. Cyndy’s mom’s recipe is for Texas Nibbles. Our daughter, Jennifer, fixed several different varieties: no nuts, hot, not hot, really hot – you get the idea.

But the point is that – in any variety – the mix is addicting. It is the one thing left over that you don’t have to do anything for but grab a handful. No cutting a pie, no getting a plate dirty, no digging in the refrigerator. Just grab a handful. And it’s salty.

We give containers of mix to the family for Christmas. We also usually receive a container from Jennifer. Naturally, this year was no different. But some things have changed. We still go to my parents on Christmas. But we don’t have a big meal anymore. Mom is not able to cook and serve the meal any longer. Cyndy and I take the Thanksgiving dinner to them – just dropping off food for them and visiting a short while.

On Christmas day Mom and Dad buy snack trays and deli sandwiches. Cyndy, Conner, Cameron, J.D. and myself – often in more than one car – meet Jennifer, her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Kelley, at the grandparents house. This year, Chris’ daughter, Katherine, was able to join us. Rather than have the meal (usually brunch), we go straight to the gift exchange.

Then we all get our stockings from the grandparents, snack a while, and visit. Visiting is the most important part. It is the part that does not and should not change. The people may change slightly from year to year due to life’s circumstances. But the family fellowship does not change.

Our family is one that gets what they need throughout the year. We give gifts to each other all year. Christmas is not about the gifts. It is about celebrating Christ’s birth. And it is also about family – in all it’s facets.

But the one constant between Christmas and New Year’s in our family is the presence of Texas Nibbles. The mix goes quickly around Christmas and then slows down to a steady rate of consumption. The salty after the sweet. Just grab a little and go kind of thing.

I don’t know what Cyndy and I will be watching tonight while waiting on midnight. But I can tell you what we won’t be watching – the countdowns to midnight. I can, however, tell you one thing for certain. We will be eating Texas Nibbles from the bag I have stashed.

Happy New Year! Peace be with you!

Advertisements

Texas Nibbles It began years ago with the recipe on the Chex cereal boxes. Then everyone’s grandmother added their particular additional ingredients. It took on different identities: nibbles, trash, Texas trash, and others. Cyndy’s mom’s recipe is for Texas Nibbles. Our daughter, Jennifer, fixed several different varieties: no nuts, hot, not hot, really hot – you get the idea.

But the point is that – in any variety – the mix is addicting. It is the one thing left over that you don’t have to do anything for but grab a handful. No cutting a pie, no getting a plate dirty, no digging in the refrigerator. Just grab a handful. And it’s salty.

We give containers of mix to the family for Christmas. We also usually receive a container from Jennifer. Naturally, this year was no different. But some things have changed. We still go to my parents on Christmas. But we don’t have a big meal anymore. Mom is not able to cook and serve the meal any longer. Cyndy and I take the Thanksgiving dinner to them – just dropping off food for them and visiting a short while.

On Christmas day Mom and Dad buy snack trays and deli sandwiches. Cyndy, Conner, Cameron, J.D. and myself – often in more than one car – meet Jennifer, her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Kelley, at the grandparents house. This year, Chris’ daughter, Katherine, was able to join us. Rather than have the meal (usually brunch), we go straight to the gift exchange.

Then we all get our stockings from the grandparents, snack a while, and visit. Visiting is the most important part. It is the part that does not and should not change. The people may change slightly from year to year due to life’s circumstances. But the family fellowship does not change.

Our family is one that gets what they need throughout the year. We give gifts to each other all year. Christmas is not about the gifts. It is about celebrating Christ’s birth. And it is also about family – in all it’s facets.

But the one constant between Christmas and New Year’s in our family is the presence of Texas Nibbles. The mix goes quickly around Christmas and then slows down to a steady rate of consumption. The salty after the sweet. Just grab a little and go kind of thing.

I don’t know what Cyndy and I will be watching tonight while waiting on midnight. But I can tell you what we won’t be watching – the countdowns to midnight. I can, however, tell you one thing for certain. We will be eating Texas Nibbles from the bag I have stashed.

Happy New Year! Peace be with you!

Since attending my uncle Jack’s funeral this past week, I’ve been thinking of times I remember being with him on family occasions. My daughter, Jennifer, took her first steps at Jack and Juanita’s house. Eventually my thoughts traveled to other experiences of my younger days. Such as our family trip to Pennsylvania.  Cyndy, the three boys, and myself replicated part of that trip in August of 2010. The trips were also on my mind because I am flying to Philadelphia this week for the Religion Communicators Council’s national convention.

Be that as it may, the story from the Pennsylvania trip when I was a teenager that came to mind was when we were driving through the farms in Amish country. The view was gorgeous and breath-taking. I think I even put down the book I was reading – I always read when we drove long distances. We drove through miles and miles of farms and fields.

We passed several produce stands – which were larger, as a general rule, than the stands I was used to seeing in Texas. The stands in Texas were mostly single farm stands whereas the Pennsylvania stands were co-op. After the third stand, my mother said “we need something sweet.” We pulled into the next stand, mom went looking and came back with several pounds of cherries.

We left the produce stand and continued our journey. The four of us ate cherries until we were nearly sick. Then mom spotted a nut stand.

“Now I need something salty,” mom said, after which dad pulled into the stand. This time she came back with a pound or two of a nut mixture.

We continued down the road, stuffing ourselves with nuts. Fortunately, we had some cherries leftover. With the sandwiches and lemonade mom had made, we were able to stretch the sweet and salty cycle for most of the day. However, during the unfolding of the sweet and salty saga, another story unfolded.

As we ate lunch and switched between salty and sweet, we put our reading material down, turned down the radio, looked out at the scenery, and shared observations and stories.

After a while we quit eating and were just talking and sharing. The salty and sweet episode was, at the outset, giving in to selfish urges. But, rather than simply giving in to the urges, we used it  as a time to have a conversation and draw closer to each other.

Which is a lesson I have kept with me since our family vacations all those years ago. For one thing, a family vacation is not about having a perfect time, leaving all the problems behind. A vacation is about having an experience together out of the ordinary (facing different problems) as a family. When the vacation is over, you remember the good times the most, not the difficulties.

The other part of the lesson pertains to the sweet and salty episode in particular. In different forms it occurs in every vacation, and life itself. Satisfying urges is not, in itself, a bad thing. But if we let the urges control the circumstances, the urges become more important than the fellowship and our faith. God made food to feed us, but Jesus also said “is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Peace be with you.

Alyce McKensie, Professor of Homiletics at Perkins Theological Seminary at SMU, published a post before Easter entitled “Have You Got Your Ticket” on Patheos.com. With three teenagers and end of the year school and church activities, I was distracted and only recently re-read the post. The lectionary text that week was the Walk to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35. “… Easter season is a journey that begins with the empty tomb and the Risen Lord. But for some reason I’ve been thinking about journeys and ways we can remember where were headed and why.”

McKensie recalled the well-known story about Albert Einstein’s train trip when he was on the floor looking for his lost ticket. The conductor told him it was okay, he knew who he was, and trusted him. “It’s not a matter of trust,” said Einstein. “If I don’t find that ticket, I have no idea where I’m going!”

Alyce then wrote about receiving an original ticket to the Wesleyan Class Meeting of the Wesleyan-Methodist Society from 1829. How holding the ticket in her hand led her on a mental spiritual journey back to when James Hart (the name on the ticket) was in fellowship and worship with the society and back to the beginning of the Christian church with the Last Supper and the empty tomb. Read the full post here.

While I was reading her post, my mind went in a slightly different direction (as my mind is wont to do) with the example of the ticket. I do not know what the conductor would have done with the ticket when Einstein found it. But I remember having to get my ticket punched when riding on a train – ostensibly to prove the conductor had validated my ticket. Which led me to consider another kind of ticket.

Part of the problem with the decline of churches today is that many Christians live as though they are mentally getting their ticket punched. Not exactly a good example with which to persuade people to come to, or come back to, church. It’s more about having their eternal ticket punched than faithfulness or discipleship.

Went to Communion Sunday – punch. Went to Wednesday night dinner – punch. Church music programs – punch. Holiday worship services – punch. Christmas services and Easter services – double punches at least. As if the totality of one’s good works can bring entrance to heaven.

If St. Peter at the golden gate were the conductor to eternity, when handed the attendance punch card, he might ask: “Where is your mission punch card, your evangelical punch card, your kindness to strangers punch card?” And so on. If the applicant is using the punch card approach, they are going to fall short of the mark of a good and faithful Christian.

Approached with a true and right spirit, attending church services and events are joyful times of worship and fellowship. Worship and fellowship create an impetus for doing good works, not the other way around. The good works come as acts of faith to, in some small way, return the favor for the Lord’s magnanimous gift of grace. We should want to do good works to further our spiritual journey, not to collect points.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Ephesians 2:9,10

Peace be with you.

All Laity are invited to attend Perkins Theological School for the Laity (PTSL) at Perkins School of Theology March 3-5. The school consists of a variety of workshops and seminars with Perkins faculty and noted scholars. It is a chance for any and all Laity to explore theology on a college level as well as potential students. The only problem is trying to decide which course(s) to take among the excellent variety of choices. There are Thursday/Friday classes and Saturday classes.

The weekend begins with registration and check-in at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. After a welcome and opening worship at 1 p.m., there will be two sessions of the Thursday/Friday classes before the opening banquet at 5:30 at which Elaine Heath will give the lecture, “Vampire Love: Is Twilight Bad News for Girls?” The classes resume on Friday at 9:45 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m., interrupted only by lunch at 11:45 and the plenary lecture at 1 p.m. Miroslav Volf will lecture on “Empire, Church, and Missio Dei.” Evening worship will begin at 4:30 p.m.

This year’s PTSL program is being held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society (WTS). Participants will be able to attend certain events of the WTS meeting. Those taking the Thursday/Friday class, “Wesleyan Movement in America,” will attend Friday WTS sessions.

Registration and check-in will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning as will Morning Prayer. The WTS panels on war and mission begin at 8:30. Saturday one-day classes begin at 10 a.m. with a service of Holy Communion at noon and the Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award Luncheon at 1 p.m. The final session(s) of the one-day classes begin at 2:30 with the School for the Laity adjourning around 4:30 p.m.

There is not an all-inclusive price this year so the banquets and luncheons are optional. Participants can also choose between two-day classes, one-day classes or both. Course descriptions and registration can be found on the Perkins website. This will be my seventh year to attend the School for the Laity. It is a wonderful time for spiritual renewal, fellowship, and delving deeper into theology. I hope to see you there.

Peace be with you.

%d bloggers like this: