Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

It's way after midnight -- almost 1:00 am -- and I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open. 

I pause before sleep to wish you a Happy New Year.  I pray for anyone reading this that next year is filled with the Holy Spirit, that God convinces you of his love for you, and that you find wonderful joy in your life.



Thursday, December 30, 2010


Sunset on the way home on Friday


Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Red Scarf from 2010
I was reading Songbird's blog today.  During December, she used several "prompts" from a source I don't know to push her blogging into various directions.  Some of them looked interesting.  Some of them I would like to write about but am not sure that the Internet is the place for those particularly personal musings.  Maybe...

Anyway, for today, I picked this one, based on the word "Make":
What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The very last thing I made was a pair of shoes I finished last night.  I call them shoes for effect, but they are really slippers, knit with wool and felted.  I finished the seaming last night and felted them in the washing machine.  They aren't completely finished, because I have to sew on the decorative piece and a button, but I like saying I knit a pair of shoes.

Skipping back a few items, in the middle of December, I finished a red scarf (that's a link to my knitting blog).  I sent it to the Orphan Foundation of America.  It will become part of a Valentine's Day care package for a young person who has aged out of the Foster Program.   I like the idea of knitting something for someone I've never met.  I pray it says to that person that God loves him or her, enough to prompt a total stranger to knit a scarf, especially for one particular child of God.

Sounds rather Emmaus-y. 

What would I like to make?  I think my next "big" project will be a baby blanket for an expectant mother at our church.  I need to order the yarn, but I have plans for the project in my head already.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stand Up

Inspired by Isaiah 60:1-5

Get up.
Stand up.
Open your eyes and see the Light!
God, in his glory and power, is shining.

All around you,
all around those who are with you,
is darkness.
Darkness, unrelieved by light,
surrounds you like a cave.
But the Lord’s light has come.
It pierces the darkness
and settles upon you.

In the darkness, the light shines.
It calls to God’s people,
and they shall see it shining forth
from you.
So stand up.

Stand up.
Lift up your eyes and see.
Look around.
Can you not see them?
They are coming because of the light.
Sons, from far away.
Daughters, with their babies.
It is light like nothing they have ever seen before.

You shall see.
Your heart will race with the rhythm of the Spirit
dancing within you.
Stand up and rejoice
for God comes in the light.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

What do we hear?

Holly from Biltmore Estate
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.  (Matthew 2:16)

We read or hear that story, and it sounds terrible.  Awful.  Doesn't it?
Do we really hear it? 
Even so, we read it, and while our minds say, "That's awful," do our hearts hear the words?
I ask that, because I wonder if, when we hear about terrible things in life today, do only our minds hear the terrible news?  Or do our hearts hear it, too?
Do we only see the homeless man with our eyes, or does our heart see him, too?
Do we only hear the words about the abused child with our ears, or does our heart hear it, too?
Do we understand about the death in war, or does our heart understand it, too?
Do we feel the pain of the cancer patient with the sympathy of the mind, or does our heart empathize, too?
I know we cannot be invested completely in the pain of the world.  I know I cannot be.  I wonder, though, if I have gone the other direction?  Am I so completely un-invested that I don't hear the words that every child in Bethlehem was killed?


Sunday, December 26, 2010


Part of Jack's sermon today included the phrase, "sow seeds of happiness."

How can I do that?  What would I need to do to make that a reality?  A goal? What does it mean to sow seeds of happiness?

Is there anything I do that plants seeds of happiness in someone else?   Is anyone smiling today because I lifted a load from their shoulders?  Is anyone closer to God, closer to joy, because of something I said or did?

How could I be more intentional about that?


Saturday, December 25, 2010


I hope your Christmas has been wonderful.  Ours has been great.

Too tired to write a post, so I'll suggest one, instead.  Yes, I know this is a knitting blog, but I like the message:  Enough

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Worship

Early Christmas Eve service at our church -- the chapel was standing room only!

Praise band, Ember and youth readers with Jack

Brass -- the two trumpeters are our sons.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter Snow

One of the songs that our praise band is singing at the worship service tomorrow is Winter Snow.  I had never heard it before, but I see, as I look it up in Google, that it is a Chris Tomlin song:

Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of heaven in your flame.

But you came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky at night
To the earth below
Thinking about it, I think God might be like a winter snow in some ways. 

  • Snow coats everything - it's everywhere. 
  • Snow transforms the landscape.  Nothing is the same after a snow.  What used to be brown and lifeless becomes sparkling and alive, beautiful to behold
  • Snow is quiet.  Silent. 
  • And yet, even though it is quiet, it is also relentless.  Falling. 
  • No matter what we like to think, snow is unpredictable. 
  • Snow is out of our control.
  • It can be dazzling.
  • Snow can take you by surprise.
He came like a winter snow.  And still does.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Image from Hermanoleon clipart
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  (John 14:9)

Monty's sermon today at the Advent Luncheon at St. Mark's was an "Ah hah" moment for me. 

The idea that Jesus was (is) a reflection of God was not new to me.  I believe that one of the reasons Christ came to earth was to reveal the nature of God to us -- look at Jesus, see God.  When Jesus looks into a mirror, he sees a reflection of God's eyes.

The revelation moment for me, though, was something else.  Jesus is a mirror for us, as well.  When we look at Jesus, we see who we are meant to be.  We were created in the image of God, and Jesus not only reveals the nature of God to us, but also reveals our own nature to us.  When we look in a mirror, we see God's eyes looking back at us.

Jesus was totally divine and totally human.  And he reflects each to us.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Longest Night

Today is the winter solstice -- the longest night of the year.  Many churches have Longest Night services on tis evening for those who have experienced loss during the year and need a different kind of worship service.

The part of the Longest Night that we don't often remember is that the light is coming -- sooner tomorrow than today, and sooner the day after than tomorrow.  The light returns.

It's hard to remember that on the Longest Night.

I wonder if that is one of the reasons that God gave us the church -- each other -- to be reminders to each other of the return of the light.


Monday, December 20, 2010

December Snow

It's been snowing here. 

I just keep looking up at the sky, shaking my head, and saying, "It's December.  It's not supposed to snow like this in December here in West Virginia."

As I looked at different blogs tonight, looking for a germ of an idea for a blog post, I ran across a post on the United Methodist Reporter.  As I was scanning the articles, I noticed the words "South Charleston, West Virginia.

First UMC, South Charleston
When it snows in Kanwha County, and the schools are closed, First UMC has a Snow Day program.  Because not all parents can stay home from work or take their children with them to the office, First UMC has responded with Snow Days.  Parents can drop their kids off at the church for the day.  The program is free for the parents, and the kids have a safe, fun place to stay when the unexpected happens and school close.

That's church.  Church responds when it snows in December and parents are looking at the sky, wondering why the unexpected is happening, and how they will deal with it.


Sunday, December 19, 2010


A link to a Social Network Christmas was sent to me earlier this week. I didn't open it; it just sat in my inbox with all of the emails from retailers advertising sales for Christmas.

Luckily, something told Jack to take a look at the link when he received the same email. He included the video in today's sermon.

It reminded me of the emotions that Mary and Joseph must have gone through as Jesus was born. I recommend the video to you.


Saturday, December 18, 2010


Taken on grounds of winery at Biltmore

 To summarize the plot of the move Tangled -- a take-off of the Rapunzel fairy tail -- a princess was born in the kingdom.  To celebrate her birth, the Queen and King released a floating lantern.  Soon after that (and unrelated to the lantern), the princess is abducted.

Each year, on the princess's birthday, her parents release a floating lantern.  As they do, all of the inhabitants of the kingdom release one as well.

The floating light was released first in celebration and love, and then in love and grief, and with the hope that the lost princess will see the light and return home.

God calls us to let our light shine -- as his light shines.  The light shines so that others can see their way home, so that we will encourage each other and witness to each other.  God calls us back in love and grief at our loss -- and with the hope that we will see the light and return.  Our light shines for the same reason.

Let your light shine!

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Fall Drive

Drive from Biltmore house to Winery in November.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Through the idea of God

The view out my office window this morning -- snow!
I was writing yesterday about expectations, and how we make God in the image of our expectations, instead of allowing God to make us into his own image, into the potential he created us to be (in his image).

This morning as I read another piece of Bishop Schnase's book (Five Practices of Fruitful Living), I was struck by this:
The fruit of Intentional Faith Development is not merely to know more about God but to know God, to see through the idea of God to God himself. (underlined emphasis mine)
Have you ever had that experience of Bible study?  I wonder if that  describes those Ah Hah moments we all sometimes have -- those times when a piece of God's word, either read from scripture or spoken to us by someone else, or ... and the list goes on -- but those times when God's word finds root in our lives, and allows us to see God, not our idea of God.

Are those the times when God is able to change us, to re-create us?

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010


When you go on an Emmaus walk, you are cautioned to "not anticipate."

We all do it.  We anticipate the weather, what will happen at work the next day, what our scores will be on a test, what will arrive in the mail each day -- the list is endless of what we anticipate.

When I was pregnant, I read a story about birth, and how it works along with anticipation.  When you are pregnant, you have expectations of what the baby will be like when he/she is born.  The birth of a child, and the end of the expectations, is wonderful, but it also means that we have to let go of what we anticipated, so in some ways that we might not realize, it is sad.  For example, before we know if a baby is a boy or a girl, we imagine both outcomes.  We think about the boy, and what he will be like.  We imagine the girl, in all of her glory.  Then, when a girl is born, the anticipation of the boy is ended.  Later, we can't imagine any other outcome, but at first, anticipation is ended.

In JtM's sermon today, he talked about John's anticipation of a Messiah, and how those expectations were different from reality.

Don't we do that in our expectations of God?  We think we know what he will do, how he will act, and when his ways are different from what we expect, we feel let down.  In our anticipation, are we trying to form God in our own image?  Instead of the other way around?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Questions about me:
  1. What time did you get up this morning? This morning?  It was cold outside this morning, and I wish I could have stayed in bed longer.  I got up at about 6:38 am. 
  2. How do you like your steak? Usually medium.  Medium rare sometimes.  
  3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Harry Potter 7, Part I.
  4. What is your favorite TV show? I'm not sure I could name just one.  Right now, I like NCIS, Bones, Grey's Anatomy.  I'm also working my way through StarGate - Atlantis.
  5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?  Where I live, with whom I live.  I wouldn't mind a larger closet, though.
  6. What did you have for breakfast? Poached egg and toast.
  7. What is your favorite cuisine?  It depends on my mood.  Really, I'm not sure I could choose one.
  8. What foods do you dislike? Organ meats
  9. Favorite Place to Eat?  Again, it depends on my mood.  I like all kinds of places.
  10. Favorite dressing? Ranch.  In the past few years, I've explored homemade vinegrettes, and those are good, too.
  11. What kind of vehicle do you drive? 2006  Ford 500, light seafoam green.
  12. What are your favorite clothes? Layeres.  So I can try to regulate my temperature.
  13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?    Scotland, Britain, Ireland.
  14. Is your cup 1/2-empty or 1/2-full? 1/2 full
  15. Where would you want to retire?  I have no idea.
  16. Favorite time of day?  Mornings when I can sneak some time for a quick breakfast out.  Mornings when I don't have to get up early (although I probably will anyway) or be anywhere.  When I sit down after dinner.  When I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking it is almost time to get up, but it's really only 1am.
  17. Where were you born?  Washington, D.C.
  18. Favorite sport to watch?  Olympics
  19. Bird watcher?  It's great to watch the birds in the back yard when the feeders are full.
  20. Are you a morning person or a night person?  I don't know.  Morning?
  21. Pets?  One beagle named Molly who is the sweetest dog who ever lived.
  22. Favorite book?   Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  23. What did you want to be when you were little? a teacher
  24. What is your best childhood memory?  Oh, I don't know.  That's too hard a question for 9pm.
  25. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog.
  26. Do you have children? Yes - two boys.
  27. Do you always wear your seat belt? Yes.
  28. Have you ever been in a car accident? Yes - 2.
  29. Any pet peeves? Yes, several. How about when you get gas at the pump with a credit card and have to go inside to get the receipt?
  30. Favorite pizza topping? Cheese. Pepperoni.
  31. Favorite Flower? daffodils.
  32. Favorite ice cream? Moose Tracks. 
  33. Favorite fast food restaurant? Again, it depends on my mood.  Not Burger King.  Not Hardees.
  34. How many times did you fail your driver's test? once.
  35. From whom did you get your last email? Jeff.
  36. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I don't use credit cards anymore.  
  37. Do anything spontaneous lately?Sat with older son and Steve after dinner and watched Princess Bride, making fun of the enjoyable, memorable lines.  "Let me 'splain.  No, it is too much.  Let me sum up."
  38. Do you like your job? Yes.
  39. Broccoli? Cauliflower? Broccoli, cooked.
  40. What was your favorite vacation? All of them.
  41. Last person you went out to dinner with? Steve and my younger son.
  42. What are you listening to right now?  Macy's commercial
  43. What is your favorite color? Blue, no question.
  44. How many tattoos do you have? None.
  45. Coffee drinker? No 
  46. Favorite pastime? In no particular order ... Knitting.  Photography.  Computer work.  Watching TV.  Having dinner with friends
  47. Favorite quote? Another question that is too hard for 9pm.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Three times

I was reading a blog post the other day by an author. She was discussing the structure of one of her books. She explained that to make a point in a book, the author needs to tell it three times. Three times, in different ways, perhaps, but three times in a story emphasizes the point.

When we decorate or prepare a piece of work, an element is usually repeated at least three times, to achieve balance. Three candles in an arrangement, three images in a layout.

Three is an important, balanced number.

We have been told, as children of God, that we are loved -- by a creator, a redeemer and a sustainer. Three times, so that the message is heard.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Friday Five - Tis the Season

From RevGalBlogPal's Friday Five;

For this Friday Five please let us know five of the things that mark the season for you. And the bonus? Tell us one thing that does absolutely nothing for you.

  1. Driving home this evening I told Steve I thought it was time to put up the tree. Seeing lots of trees up in the neighborhood, I'm missing ours. On mornings in December, when the house is still quiet and dark, I'll turn on the tree. I love the lights.
  2. Sending out our church's emailed Advent Devotionals has become a traditional part of Advent for me.
  3. Since the first year Steve and I were married, I've made it a tradition to leave him a gift each morning on the twelve days leading up to Christmas. It's always something small, but I have fun with it. It's one of the ways we count down to the holiday.
  4. Christmas music
  5. During this time we drive around town and look at Christmas lights. I love Christmas lights.

Bonus: Hmmm. Something that doesn't do it for me.......The amount of email I get from stores triples during this season. I would like to have fewer emails in my mail box (from stores and online retail outlets).

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nativity Scene

Nativity scene from Logan Memorial United Methodist Church


Friday, December 10, 2010


You may have noticed a pattern through some of the posts this week. Our Sunday school class was taught by Rev. Jan Thornton last Sunday. She focused on Joseph -- what can we learn from Joseph and how he responded to the Angel's instructions regarding Mary.

She said that exhibited mercy, a belief in the mysterious, and courage. These are characteristics the Holy Spirit enabled him to demonstrate, and we are called to demonstrate them as well.

Many things she said struck me as "a hah!" moments, but especially, "Joseph didn't have the advantage of Jesus' teaching." He didn't, but Jesus had the advantage of Joseph's teaching.

That idea was the basis of the three poems: Joseph's Mercy, Joseph's Faith, and Joseph's Courage.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Joseph's Courage

He sat in the garden,
The heat of the day still slithering
through the quiet of the night.
Beyond his torment
the disciples stood watch,
with closed eyes
and sleeping hearts.
He was alone with his prayers
and lonely in his fears.

He saw the friends he loved
softly snoring sounds of desertion.
He saw the future,
men coming to take him
where he did not want to go.
The rock under his hand was hard
sharp points piercing his skin
as the sweat of his struggles
dripped like blood.

Jesus remembered Joseph,
and the stories he had told him.
Instead of soldiers quickly approaching
He saw Joseph.
Instead of betrayal by a friend
He saw Joseph.
He pictured his struggling father
searching for the ability to obey.

He remembered the story.
He pictured Joseph, sitting on the ground
Outside the home he had been building
for his new family.
Sitting in the dirt
Tears of despair and disbelief
dripping to the ground.

An angel had come
and had given him instructions,
describing a path that would carry him
through ridicule and shame.
Marry the woman who had seemingly betrayed him.
Claim the child who all believed was the son of another.
He was the son of another.
He was the son of the One.

Joseph had stood.
The only thing holding him up
was his courage.
A gift from the Father.
And he walked to Mary.
Each step requiring fortitude.
And unearthly courage.

And Jesus had witnessed courage
In the life of Joseph.
The son stood, and demonstrated
What the Father had taught the man
Through is Holy presence.
Each walked the road
Showing love, grace,
Showing Joseph's courage.

Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1-4

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010


This picture reminds me of the vision of the West Virginia Annual Conference:
We envision all people on a journey of Christ-like holiness. As a holy people we belong to, are filled by, and serve God.
...A journey of Christ-like holiness...

How does it go with your journey?


Monday, December 06, 2010

Joseph's Faith

He stood in front of the crowd.
People, standing in the heat of the sun
As far as the eyes could see.
They were listening as he taught,
Hoping to hear whispers of the divine
Carried on the hot wind.

As the sun rose to its zenith
The disciples came forward,
Worn to thoughtlessness,
Knowing the hunger in their souls,
he asked, "Where will we find bread?"

As he watched his disciples struggle for faith,
For an answer to his question,
He remembered Joseph
And the stories he had told him.
Instead of lost disciples and hungry followers
He saw Joseph.
He pictured the look of wonder on his face
When he told Jesus of the visit from an angel.

He remembered the story.
He pictured Joseph,
telling him of the angel's promise
When he had been most lost.
Joseph had been told to not be afraid.
He had been told to believe the unbelievable.

Joseph spoke of this visit to the young boy Jesus
In a voice surrounded by wonder,
Over dinner one night
Over bread and fish.
Joseph had said, "Never let them forget
That in God, the impossible is possible."

Jesus witnessed faith
In the life of Joseph.
As Jesus gave thanks for a young boy's bread and fish,
He added gratitude for
What the Father had taught the man
Through an angel.
He believed the impossible.
Showing obedience, hope
Showing Joseph's faith.

Matthew 1:18-25; John 6:1-14

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Joseph's Mercy

The young woman stood in front of him
Head downcast, eyes staring at the ground.
Tears, filled with fear, dripped into the sand.
Men held her arms in a tight grip,
Making marks of shame in her skin.

The Pharisees told of her sin,
Unforgivable sin, to be beaten into the earth
By stones.
They stood by the law,
And he saw their sin for what it was.
Graceless. Unloving.

He saw how they were using the woman
For their own purposes,
Caring not for obedience to God
But only of securing themselves
Against the threat
That stood in front of them.

Jesus remembered Joseph,
And the stories he had told him.
Instead of a shamed woman and angry men
He saw Joseph.
He pictured the broken-hearted man
Who had believed his betrothed had sinned.

He remembered the story.
He pictured Joseph, sitting on the ground
Outside the home he had been building
For his new family.
Sitting in the dirt,
Holding a piece of wood
Dragging it aimlessly through the sand.
His dreams destroyed.

Until an angel had come
And had shown him the way out of judgment
And into mercy.
Joseph had stood by Mary
Against the stones.
Against the ridicule.
In obedience to the Father.

And Jesus witnessed mercy
In the life of Joseph.
The son demonstrated
What the Father had taught the man
Through an angel.
He stood by the woman.
Showing love, grace
Showing Joseph’s mercy.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Red Tree

Tree in Asheville, North Carolina on Church Street.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Connected to Worship

The piece of a chapter I read this morning from Bishop Schnase's book was near the end of Passionate Worship. I was struck by this quote:
People who practice Passionate Worship let music into their souls. They lift their voices in praise to God. They let themselves sing.
I attended a funeral a few weeks ago for a pastor in our Annual Conference. He had been a District Superintendent and was currently pastoring a church. He was only 52 when he suddenly died. The church was filled to overflowing for his funeral. We ended up sitting in one of the nursery areas that had a window overlooking the Sanctuary and speakers to hear the service. It was somewhat like watching the funeral on TV (although that was available, too, in the Fellowship Hall). I felt disconnected from the worship taking place beyond the glass window.

When it came time to sing hymns, those of us in this little room stood up and sang. We weren't really adding our voices to those below -- the singing from the Sanctuary was rather muffled over the speaker system. We were just (timidly) singing.

I wonder, sometimes, if that is an analogy to how we approach worship. Do we sometimes feel as if worship is taking place somewhere apart from us, and we are separated from it by glass, with the sound muffled through speakers? Do we sometimes feel disconnected from worship?

What is our response? Do we "let ourselves sing?" Do we let ourselves sing, even though it feels awkward and timid?

When we did, in our little nursery room, we felt as if we were more a part of what was going on -- connected through the music. Participants.

If we will let ourselves sing (whatever singing might mean), will we breakdown the glass, unmuffle the sound, and become participants in worship? If we will do that, then will our griping about what is happening around us cease? Will participation connect us? And if it will, will we take responsibility for the choice?

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hey, God, did you know?

I was in a conversation with a person who was talking about her call from God. She was expressing to God her doubt that she was capable of the job he was calling her to do (she was in college at the time). She said, "Have you seen my GPA?"

I love that. It brings to mind several points to me.

  • Do we believe that God is calling us to ministry? Any kind of ministry? Are we listening?
  • If we are listening, then are we willing to express to God our doubts? I hope so. One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament is the conversation between God and Moses. The conversation lasts for a few chapters. Moses lists all of the reasons he is not equipped to do the job God is leading him to do. God participates in the conversation. I think if God didn't want us to be honest with him, he wouldn't have done this.
  • Do we think we are hiding anything from God? Do we think God might not know our skills and gifts? Our shortcomings? Our sins? He knows, even if we like to live in the belief that our deficiencies are hidden.
God knows you. And he's calling you anyway. Me, too.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

King of Kings

Hattip to Margaret, who sent me the link to this YouTube video. It's a flash mob singing the Hallelujah Chorus in a mall.

Whether this piece of music is to your taste or not isn't really important in this post. I've come to appreciate classical music, thanks to my friend MB and the line-up of musical pieces in my church, and I like this piece of music in particular. Even if I didn't, though, I would be struck by this video.

Imagine, for a moment, standing up in a mall food court and shouting your praise of God, that he is "King of kings and Lord of Lords." The vocal portion of this video begins with one young woman on her cell phone, standing up, singing a solo -- to a rather cheesy elevator music background accompaniment. It looks brave and courageous to me.

What would it be like if we were that brave in declaring our faith? What would it look like if God's work in your life and my life was so motivational and transformational that we were brave enough to tell a stranger in the mall that God is alive?

I haven't looked at the comments on the YouTube video, but I imagine there are some that talk about how great the event is, and some who tell how the commenter doesn't like it. There will be those who reject what we have to say. I think that is one of the reasons I am hesitant to say it, but, truthfully, I shouldn't be. I should proclaim my faith.

Hallelujah doesn't often sound like the Hallelujah chorus. Sometimes it sounds like an invitation to church, or a sympathetic ear. Sometimes Hallelujah is silent and sometimes it is loud, but it always proclaims the love of God.

I should be shouting Hallelujah.

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