Tag Archives: welcome

Being Neighborly

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I can’t wait for Halloween this year!  Costumes for the boys, check.  Mom and Dad coordinated costumes, check.  Candy to give out, check.

Here’s one of the most exciting parts for me:  for the first Halloween in six years, we have neighbors.  So often I have preached about neighbors, biblical challenges to be neighborly and love one’s neighbor, and I have not had to “practice what I preached.”  Sort of.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved living in a parsonage and have always had a wide view of neighbor that included not only actual neighbors, but also church members, community members, friends, staff of local businesses and (most recently) residents of a close-by assisted living facility.

So in a broad sense, I did have neighbors.  But in a more traditional sense, this year is the first year my kids and I will ring the doorbells next door and across the street and down the block.  And those doorbells will actually be on a street we live on instead of a friend’s street in a neighborhood we don’t know.

The whole family is excited, frankly.  The boys have neighborhood buddies they’ve met on the bus.  My husband and I are getting to know the families across the street.  We’ve even met a family at the gym who lives two streets over.  (Every time I see the dad there, even though I do know his name, I call out, “Hey, neighbor!”  It just doesn’t get old.)

And what better day to “practice” being neighborly than Halloween?  I saw it on an old high school friend’s FB page one time and her thoughts rang so true:  Halloween is one of the only times of the year when we actually open our doors to strangers, when we get excited to see who’s knocking, and when we welcome those strangers with gifts (treats) and smiles.  We are warm, we are inviting, we are happy to greet those strangers– dressed as all manner of outcasts from zombies to vampires to superheroes to Muppets (that’s us this year!)

On Halloween, Darth Vader and Yoda can walk side by side around the neighborhood.  When Batman and the Joker see one another on opposite sides of the street, squeals of delight usually ensue.  Princesses, kings and queens, fairies, and robots–heck, even angels and devils–find community and camaraderie in the shared goal of filling their bags with treats.  Parents and grandparents and designated grown-ups of all types nod knowingly and smile at one another.  It’s magical.  There’s not another day of the year quite like it.  And here’s the awesome thing– all that diversity, sworn enemies invading the same streets for candy, and I’ve never seen a protester with any kind of a sign saying, “God hates Miss Piggy.”  Nope, not one, ever.

My illustration is getting a little heavy-handed, but you get the idea.  If only… we could be as warm and welcoming and inclusive (and celebratory) of difference on the other 364 days of the year.  Then we might begin to scratch the surface of what it truly means to be a neighbor.

A Prayer for St. John’s UCC

This is one of my favorite prayers that I’ve written.  It came to me as I prepared for the Annual Meeting of the church in 2011.

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A Prayer for St. John’s UCC

God of stunning golden leaves and soft pink cherry blossoms,

God of children’s laughter and squeals of delight,

            We thank you for this place you share with us—

                                    this church that is St. John’s. 

Lord, you have filled this place with sweet songs, gurgling infants, and creaking bones—a wide and diverse gathering of your people: 

            and for this, we give you thanks. 

Holy One, you have taken a group of German immigrants building a house of faith and transformed them into a city on a hill—

            full of the joy of the gospel

            and welcoming all your children,

                        of all backgrounds, ages and races. 

            Again, for this, we give you thanks and praise. 

God who loves all the world and sent your Son to save it,

            We call on you this day and every day to strengthen your people of St. John’s to do the work of the Gospel: 

            to offer extravagant welcome to all you send through our doors;

            to share in heartfelt worship and praise;

            to serve as Jesus Christ taught us;

            and to open our hearts and minds to learning something new about you each day of our lives.

Each day, dear God, make clear for us the path which Jesus Christ showed us to follow. 

            Strengthen us by your unconditional love. 

            Fill us with your joy. 

            Guide us by your Holy Spirit. 

            Breathe in us the wisdom of being grateful for all you share with us.

We pray, this day and every day, you will shape our lives and our church into what you call us to be.

We offer this thanksgiving and praise, and we ask for this guidance in the name of the one whom we follow: Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

 

 

Grits and God-talk Finally Comes to Life!

Well, bless your heart, you’ve stumbled upon the internet home of Rev. Jennifer Sowell Glover.  Welcome!  This is the place where I ruminate a bit on God, share my thoughts on ministry, and celebrate my life and family.  And dream a dream or two, as well.

There cannot be God-talk without grits! These are spicy pepper cheese grits that accompanied VooDoo Salmon and succotash on Valentine’s Day 2014.

If you were in my actual house, like any good Southerner, I would apologize profusely for “the mess” (and unlike most Southerners, in my house there is an ACTUAL mess!), insist you sit in the most comfortable chair, and offer you something to drink or eat.  Since we are on the ‘net, I’ll just say a quick prayer of thanks that you can see my site without seeing my laundry pile!

Now, you may be asking yourself why on earth this blog is entitled “Grits and God-talk.”  It’s a good question.  It’s a title I’ve been tossing around in my head for about ten years now, and reflects where I’ve been and who I am.

Grits, as you might know, are a quintessential Southern food.  And while I’ve never been a huge fan of that “other” quintessential Southern food (sweet tea), I do love grits.  Good, fluffy, buttery grits.  One side of my Southern family loves them with sugar and butter, and that was my favorite for a long time.  The other side always preferred salt, pepper and butter– and when I met my husband and he suggested I add a little hot sauce, I was sold.  On him and the grits.

What you might not know about grits is that good ones can be hard to find.  Fluffy grits.  Often outside of the South, they are watery and overly gritty.  No good.  As much as I loved New York City, and as much as I love the area of Maryland where I currently live, both places could use some lessons in cooking grits!

Good grits are hard to find.  And so is good God-talk.  Honest God-talk.  God-talk that allows you to be yourself, have joy and great faith, wrestle with doubt and grief and hesitation.  God-talk that welcomes everyone and allows for differences.

And that is what I hope this blog will be.  A warm, welcome, and satisfying experience, like a bowl of grits made your favorite way.  A place where I can be myself, and you can be yourself.  And we can all celebrate that we are God’s beloved children, and that our differences are the thing that makes God so awesome– not the things to tear us apart!