A New Layer of Grief

A New Layer of Grief

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by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters enewsletter June 27, 2019

Yesterday we gathered to mark the passing of Tina Wootan. We have lost too many friends in recent days. It seems right to share the words of the poet/liturgist Jan Richarson, as she writes about the multiple layers of grief.

May her work comfort you this day.

~ Pastor Jake

Blessing for Falling into a New Layer of Grief
You thought
you had hit
every layer possible,
that you had found
the far limit
of your sorrow,
of your grief.

Now the world falls
from beneath your feet
all over again,
as if the wound
were opening
for the first time,
only now with
an ache you recognize
as ancient.

Here is the time
for kindness—
your own, to yourself—
as you fall
and fall,
as you land hard
in this layer
that lies deeper than
you ever imagined
you could go.

Think of it as
a secret room—
this space
that has opened
before you,
that has opened
inside you,
though it may look
sharp in every corner
and sinister
no matter where
you turn.

Think of it as
a hidden chamber
in your heart
where you can stay
as long as you need,
where you will
find provision
you never wanted
but on which
your life will now
depend.

I want to tell you
there is treasure
even here—
that the sharp lines
that so match your scars
will lead
to solace;
that this space
that feels so foreign
will become for you
a shelter.

So let yourself fall.
It will not be
the last time,
but do not let this be
cause for fear.

These are the rooms
around which your
new home will grow—
the home of your heart,
the home of your life
that welcomes you
with such completeness,
opening and
opening and
opening itself to you,
no part of you
turned away.

—Jan Richardson

Wrath, Love, and the language of the inner life of God

Wrath, Love, and the language of the inner life of God

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters enewsletter June 14, 2019

On Sunday, we celebrate, "Trinity Sunday," a day set aside to contemplate the mysteries of the inner life of God. You know, a light, breezy, summer topic.

Learning God's new language

Learning God's new language

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter June 6, 2019

I have always wanted to be fluent in more than one language. Sadly, the only other languages with which I have proficiency are dead languages and not many people want to talk about parsing the Greek or plucking an obscure Hebrew verbal form.

Sweet Summer

Sweet Summer

by Cass DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 30, 2019

Fifty years ago this summer my mom, dad, brothers, sisters and I moved from Wells, Maine, to Brandon, Florida. It was the summer of ’69 and I was 8 years old. Little did I know at the time how iconic that summer would become for our country. I remember watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon while watching a little 13-inch black and white TV, and seeing news reports of the Woodstock music festival, narrated by Walter Cronkite. I remember how hot it was in Florida compared to Maine summers. That was a sweet summer that I’ll never forget.

Thanks for nurturing our faith

Thanks for nurturing our faith

By Johnny Pierce

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 23, 2019

A few years ago we rebranded the products and services of Baptists Today publishing ministry to become Nurturing Faith. This includes our news journal, Bible studies, books and small-group travel experiences.

It is a name that expresses well our purpose — and, fortunately, it has stuck.

Seven Ways to Avoid the Summer Slump

Seven Ways to Avoid the Summer Slump

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 16, 2019

We have a few more days to go on the school calendar until families begin their seasons of vacation and teachers take a break from the classroom, but you don’t need a calendar or a thermometer to tell that summer has already arrived. I can see that dazed summer glaze on so many faces. Students are ready for a break. Families are ready for a vacation. Just at most folks are gearing up for a summer break the church is readying for a season that is heavy with activity and light on attendance.

Almost Summer

Almost Summer

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 9, 2019

Graduations mark our calendars in the coming weeks. School is about to be out. The bell is about to ring. Caps and gowns will fly in the air. We will need a different syllabus to chart summer's course. For a lot of folks, time in summer takes in a new quality.

Vocational Evolution

Vocational Evolution

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 3, 2019

Frederich Buechner has always informed the way I look at calling and vocation. He once wrote that vocation is that 'place where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.' Over the past few months, we have worked to find that intersection for Ruth, and for Highland Hills, a place where the present needs of the church align with the present gifts of the minister.