May starts with the International Workers Day on May 1st. We are thankful for the good work that workers provide every day. We also celebrate the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 4th. The first Thursday in May is a time for focused prayer for our nation and our world. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5th. May is a month for celebrating mothers. Mother’s Day is May 14th. Whether our mothers are still living or have passed on, let us take time to thank God for the gift of mothers. May is a month to celebrate Memorial Day, on May 29th. It is a day for remembering those who died serving in the United States Armed Forces. Take time to thank active military personnel for their service. May is a month for enjoying outside spaces and places in temperate climates. Take time to breathe fresh air, enjoy the outdoors, and delight in the beauty of the creation around us. Whatever events we celebrate in May, let us celebrate God’s gracious gifts to us, and, especially, the gift of life. Blessings, Chaplain Nancy
April this year offers spring flowers and Spring Break! If you have plans to celebrate Spring Break why not try to include carving out some time for things that encourage your spirit? Enjoy the springtime scenes of leafing trees, buds opening into blooms, and birds singing from their perches. Spring offers invitations to be amazed at the diverse beauty of creation and the magnificence of the Creator. For Christians, we have important April calendar events in Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Resurrection Sunday. On April 27th we will offer our Spring Memorial Service remembering and honoring our residents and family members as we share our grief journeys and memories. Whatever our faith tradition, we can find time this month to reflect on God’s glorious handiwork and restore the wonder in our souls.
March this year starts with Ash Wednesday on the 1st, initiating the season of Lent. Christian churches all over the world observe Lenten practices in preparation for celebrating Palm Sunday and Easter, the resurrection Sunday. Lent is a time to make heart preparations in thankfulness to God and focus on setting aside something we would prefer to do or eat in favor of a time of prayer and compassionate work.
March is also the month to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day and the wearing of the green in honor of this great Saint of Ireland. One of the prayers attributed to Saint Patrick invites God to be in him, through him, and all around him. You can find it by searching the Breastplate of Saint Patrick.
February is the month of love! Red hearts decorate store windows and websites. Valentine’s Day arrives on the 14th, reminding us to appreciate those we love dearly.
As we remember to celebrate our loved ones, let us also celebrate being loved by God. In Jeremiah 31:3, God says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” It is wonderful to think about kindness and love in the context of being a recipient of God’s kindness and God’s love, but we are also able to share love with one another because God loves us.
What outlook will we have for the New Year? Will we see it through a positive lens or a negative one? We have the ability to choose our outlook.
I recently watched a documentary highlighting the musical Carter family and their mountain music from the 1930s until the present day. One of the featured tunes with lyrics in the documentary was entitled “Keep on the Sunny Side,” originally written in 1899. You can easily find a recording of the Carters singing it if you search online. Maybe you remember hearing it. The message speaks of a positive attitude and how it will help us in life if we see things with a sunny outlook. We may know some family members or friends who have a positive outlook, who wake up happy, who are upbeat and positive. Positivity can be contagious. We can choose to see things with a gloomy outlook or a sunny outlook. What will we choose?
It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas and the holidays here. What reminds you of the reason for the season? For me, holiday music evokes memories of childhood and shopping in the city in the snow. Christmas invites baking, cooking, decorating, and gift-giving.
This year, three holidays will share the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Four Sundays in the church calendar, before Christmas Sunday December 25th, we honor the season of Advent, anticipating the celebration of the birth of Christ. Advent weekly themes for December are Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Hanukkah arrives this year on the evening of December 24th and ends on January 1st. The week of Kwanzaa will celebrate its 50th birthday this year, starting on December 26th.
November is a season of Thanksgiving and preparation for the holidays. It is good to give thanks to the Lord. An old hymn encourages us: “Count your blessings; name them one by one; and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” We have so much for which to be thankful: families, friends, food, clothing, shelter, education, and more.
This year, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Thursday, November 24th. Where will you celebrate the holiday for giving thanks this year? Who will join you? Who will be missing from the table? We can give thanks with a grateful heart for all that we have received from the Lord. What a wonderful blessing it is to awaken each morning and to see another day. Tell someone you are thankful for their presence in your life or take time to send a card or a note. Enjoy giving thanks!
Who is watching us? This month we will be celebrating the Hall of Fame for our Hometown Heroes on October 13th. The scriptures tell us that we are living epistles, books, read by all who see us. Do we live in such a way that we are pleased with our lives? When others look at us what do they see? Do they see kindness, consideration, gentleness, politeness, and courtesy? What kind of life have we been living? Is there something we would like to change? We have power in prayer to ask God to change us. We can also thank God for the progress we have made, the encouragement we have received, and any good direction in which we are headed. If we distribute kindness, then kindness will be returned to us. As we care for others, we will have persons who are watching us and caring for us.
The sun faithfully rises and sets each day. We are blessed to see another day. Our experience of the sun rising and setting seems so simple and yet we know from science that is the Earth revolving around the sun and spinning on its axis, causing the daily appearance of the sun in the east and disappearance in the west. One biblical prophet, Hosea, writes: “Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn” (Hosea 6:3 NRSV). Hosea invites us to persevere, to press, to seek, to know the Lord. Why? Because the Lord’s appearing is “as sure as the dawn.” God is as faithful, as trustworthy, as certain, as sure as the sunrise at the end of the night. This psalmist reminds us to sing praises to God at all times because “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NRSV).
What if we received messages or indicators that someone, anyone cared about us enough to let us know in a specific way? What if we were especially kind to someone today? What kind of energy would it take for us to look for needs, anticipate needs, and offer to meet needs without having to be asked? Perhaps a cup of coffee would cheer up someone who really likes coffee. Perhaps a note of encouragement would make a significant difference to someone who just needed to know that someone cared about them.
Who is it in your life that needs to know that someone cares? What will you do?