If you have been to and love Cuba or you are simply curious about Cuba, let me recommend this book to you which is written by our friend, Stan Dotson. It is well worth the read! This book will give you some perspective on what life in Cuba is really like. It is centered around the day when normalization of relations between our two countries was announced and contains stories of many of our Matanzas friends. The proceeds from sale of this book will support the Kairos Center at the First Baptist Church of Matanzas and a similar program in La Vallita. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, contact Nancy Bradley as she has a few copies for sale. Cost is $20, but any amount over the $20 will also go to support these two programs.For more information about the book, check out this website.
Triangle Interfaith Alliance presents an afternoon devotional of prayer and thoughts regarding Unity in Diversity.
When: Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 3 PM
Where: Kadampa Center, 5412 Etta Burke Court, Raleigh
Format: Presenters will share a brief prayer or thought from their faith tradition
Food: Light refreshments will be provided
Triangle Interfaith Alliance members represent diverse faith traditions including Baha’i, Christian, Jain, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Native American, and Sikh, as well as those with no particular affiliation who are interested in interfaith work. We invite you to learn more about our activities and to help us promote interfaith understanding, cooperation, and a compassionate community in the Triangle area.
Pullen’s Christmas Traditions (and a small dose of goofiness from the staff):
One of my mentors often asks me, “Nancy, how are you taking care of yourself?” I’m not sure why the question catches me off guard every time, but it does. A few weeks ago he asked again, and I felt a lump rise in my throat and an ache in the pit of my stomach. I knew I didn’t have an answer, and just hearing the question this time brought strong emotions that I could feel in my body, soul and spirit. After stumbling around for something to say but knowing the emptiness of my words, I resolved to take the question seriously. [Read more…]
As I strive to compose this blog on Joy, I admit that I have no fully-developed theological treatise on the subject – only observations and wonderings.
In fact, my first observation is that it is psychology instead of theology that would most adequately speak to the subject. (Since I am not a psychologist, I’ll have to continue with my few observations and many wonderings.)
Is there such a thing as “inner Joy” that is a constant part of life, always with us – or is Joy something we surprisingly experience only on particularly happy occasions? Or is it both? [Read more…]
James and Kim Crook will lead a group of Pullenites on the 2nd official pilgrimage to the Republic of Georgia next summer. We are currently working on dates, but are planning on sometime between June 24 and July 8, 2017. We expect the trip to run 7 to 9 days, including travel.
We are in touch with our friend and brother Malkhaz Songulashvili, to plan the details and work out costs. We will hold interest meetings in the next few months to show some pictures from previous trips, talk about the itinerary, the culture, and our friends. The first meeting is scheduled for December 11, right after Sunday Worship.
If you want to get a first person report from some of those who have traveled there, you might seek out Jim Hutchby, Brooks Wicker, Cathy Tamsburg, Felicia Roper, Sarah Benbow, Theresa Riggins, or Phil Letsinger.
As we anticipate the second Sunday of Advent, we meditate on peace together with this Advent Meditation offered by Brian Crisp:
Master, the tempest is raging
The billows are tossing high
The sky is o’er shadowed with blackness
No hope or help is nigh.
-James Cleveland, Peace Be Still
When I offered to write the first Advent meditation on the theme of hope, I had no idea I would be writing it at such a hard time for those of us who yearn for God’s justice and peace for all of God’s creation. These are challenging days when our emotions are raw and our hearts are sad, not unlike the days before the birth of Jesus that we anticipate again in this Advent Season of 2016.
The travel-weary couple who found refuge in a stable in time for the birth of their child lived as unwilling subjects of an occupying government, the Roman Empire. A power-hungry, narcissistic King Herod initiated a massacre of all Jewish baby boys around the time of Jesus’ birth because he feared any threat to his control. At that time, the Jews understood their world to be divided into two types of people: Jewish and Gentile (non-Jew) and they worked hard to disassociate themselves from the Gentiles. The Jewish religious and governing system was also divided between two parties: the Pharisees – the ‘people’s party’, taught the law and traditions of Israel’s patriarchs, and were strictly conforming to Jewish law; and the Sadducees – the wealthy and conservative leaders who rejected the faith traditions in favor of political and religious cooperation with the Romans. This was two thousand years ago but the parallels to our day are striking.
In a recent sermon I reflected on an evening prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer that asks God to “defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.” I said then that living with this prayer over time has caused me to consider “night” not just as the hours of darkness we experience each day, but also as a metaphor for all of the hard, dark times in our lives…times like these when we are pretty certain that many (if not most) of the values we hold dear and people we care about will be under attack. This feels like “night,” which leads me to ponder the perils and dangers from which we need to be defended. Despair that paralyzes us? Apathy that gives in to the darkness? Anger that is destructive of coalition-building? Name-calling that further divides us? Short-sightedness that blinds us to the end goal of justice? These are but a few of the dangers and perils we face as we try to embody God’s justice and bring all of God’s children into a commonwealth where all can thrive.
As we enter the season of Advent in this momentous time in the life of our nation and our world, let’s ponder together the words of Brian Wren: “Hope is a star that shines in the night…” He reminds us that hope lightens the darkness; hope sparks creative and productive responses; hope inspires our actions for justice and peace for all people and our imperiled planet.
In these hard days, I invite you to consider who and what makes you feel hopeful and then hold onto them. Hug the people, figuratively if not literally, and memorize the words or actions that inspire hope in you. From another dark time in the life of our nation, Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us: “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” Let’s join him in clinging to infinite hope as we begin our journey to Bethlehem in these troubling days.
Here’s a brief video from the #NoDAPL protest outside of Wells Fargo in downtown Raleigh on November 15, 2016. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been re-routed through Native American lands, so this is not only an environmental issue. This is about the rights of Native People, their safety and their sovereignty. As a nation, we have taken nearly everything from them. No more.
By the waters of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
demanded our songs,
and our tormentors requested mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of those songs of Zion!”
How shall we sing this Divine song
in a strange land?
This morning, at the dawn of Presidential results, I faced a harsh truth: Babylon is here. Honestly, outside the Psalm, language seems hard to grasp, making my understanding of the writer’s seemingly incapability for song more palpable. As a person of faith , the sinew of my spirit stretches toward a Zion, that pinnacle of aspiration where all receive abundant welcome and care. I see this in our own congregation as our doors and our lives have been open to people of color, people with differing abilities, the LGBTQIA community, Buddhist, Hindus, Jewish people, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, agnostics, atheists, laborers, the undocumented, the refugees, women, men, and children. Our communion at Pullen, as witnessed this past Sunday, is rich, and it provides a glimpse into the Divine Community. But what happens when a strange land is oppressive and our persecution is at the merriment of our captors? How do you grasp for a land of milk and honey when the earth is crumbling? How do you shoulder one more move for the kin_ship of God in the dawn of imminent threat?
This morning, as most mornings, I opened the Hebrew Bible. This morning, I suspended my reading of Ezekiel or Job for the Psalms looking for a hope to answer the questions that are coming and unknown. My eyes lingered on the last line, “’Êḵ, nā·šîr ’eṯ- šîr- Yaweh ‘al, ’aḏ·maṯ nê·ḵār.?” The verb tense grasped my attention: a simple future modality. Simple future modality. Most often translated, the NRSV uses the conditional verb tense rendering “How Could we sing?” The conditional tense implies a futility where the song ceases and the melody can not be voiced. This is not accurate because the better rendition is “How shall we sing this Divine Song is a strange land?” This future simple modality is a continuum and implies, despite their captivity, the Hebrews could not not sing out their hope. This modality may not contain the subjugation desired by their tormentors, but the tune refuses to cease. The Divine Song has always been sung, is being sung, and will be sung again and again. The dream of freedom, the longing for that first Garden, the aching for Canaan, the yearning for the Kin_ship of God must be sung, even when the song is wordless and the melody is unknown. This is the Divine Memory that is woven in our spiritual DNA that draws us to remember a Holy Communion where all shall be truly embraced. These circumstances tonight call us to weep, but, first and foremost, this memory will always require us to sing.