I did a mini-victory lap at my old job in December. For two weeks, I was back in Kansas working at the Global Ministry Center for the Church of the Nazarene. It was nice to be back in Kansas for a little while; I had the opportunity to see many friends. I am grateful for my time in Kansas, and I am even more grateful for all of my friends who live there. The only thing I regret is not taking more pictures. I’ve never been very good at taking pictures.
I preached a total of four times this month (two morning services and two evening services), so I spent a lot of my time on sermon research and prep. I think sermon writing is one of the most difficult and rewarding ways to spend my time. Even though preaching is not about staging a performance, it is definitely a skill to develop and continually improve. I do try to have fun with it (which is why I included a reading of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie during one of my Advent sermons).
On the list of things that happened: I officially accepted the position as the youth pastor in my home church. I am excited to start, but honestly, less excited about the month-long transition. I am ready to begin. Even though people have told me stories of the difficulties of working for your home church, I am grateful to have been given the opportunity. I am also grateful to be gaining the experience. I know I will learn a lot.
I was assigned to read Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer for my upcoming class in January. In addition to reading sections of the book out loud to my mother, I also walked around referring to Bonhoeffer as B. Hoeff. Because apparently I like to pretend I’m friends with dead German theologians.
I had a week off for Christmas. It was not much of a Christmas break, since my pre-coursework began early January, I was extremely grateful for even that one week where nothing was due. In addition to Christmas time with my family, it also called for some fun reading. I started with The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay. At twenty-two, I wanted to read this book because of the title. Obviously, I want to make my twenties count. I also watched Meg Jay’s Ted Talk several months ago. I do recommend this book for anyone in their twenties. I thought it was interesting and helpful.
My final book of the year was When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over by Addie Zierman. I loved it. Her story is not mine, but I found connections all over the place. She writes with refreshing honesty. It’s the kind of honesty where you know she’s not sugar-coating what happened. Her words are raw and poetic. It brought to mind my own youth group experiences (completed with my own See You at the Pole experiences). Overall, it is a hopeful message for anyone who has ever been emerged in Christian subculture and survived wearing WWJD bracelets and t-shirts with “Christian” messages.
TV & Movies
I started watching Bones on Netflix. I’m not sure why, but waiting for Sherlock made me want to get started watching another series.
My family and I started watching the Harry Potter movies from the beginning. Currently, we just watched the seventh movie. Believe it or not, I’ve never actually seen all the Harry Potter movies. I had previously watched the first two movies and the last two movies. I actually went to the midnight showing of the last movie, but that’s not a sign of my own Harry Potter fanship as it is a sign the guy I was dating at the time assumed everyone would be extremely excited that was his date plan. I wasn’t that excited, and as much as I tried to be excited as to not ruin the day for him, I fell asleep during the movie.
Articles & Videos
This article was convicting and thought-provoking. Oh, Honey! Come Here, I Think Your Privilege Is Showing:
“Because you are white you need to reject the allure of avoiding the topic altogether to write about sexy husbands, deep calls from Jesus, oppressed women in third world countries, patriarchy in the western church, or tasty recipes. I don’t have that luxury. I engage with the world and my words as a black woman. I live with the reality that if you and I knew each other during the Jim Crow era, my son could be tortured and murdered for telling your daughter she’s beautiful. If you ignore this, then I’m sorry….but Honey, I think your privilege is showing.”
I love NPR and Nadia Bolz-Weber, so I was excited when I saw NPR was playing a story about her and her church, Church for All Saints and Sinners. You can listen to the segment here.
I used this video in one of my sermons. It kind of makes me want to cry a little each time. I think more people should look for ways to welcome those who don’t have family during the holidays:
Check out what others are into this month: