Christ

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Jesus as a Mother Hen

Published May 17, 2013 by Maryanne

mother hen jesusBeautiful picture swiped from Google

(Note: there’s a copyright in the center if you look closely)

Today was the first day I got to go to the women’s bible study at my church. They have them every third Friday of the month, which is hard because some days I have assignments on Fridays but today I was free all day! It was definitely a day off and felt so good.

The theme today was “Beneath Her Wings,” a bible study article written by Audrey West and published in the March edition of Gather magazine.

When Jesus (in the Gospel of Luke) is on his way to meet his end in Jerusalem and he offers shelter, he refers to himself as a mother hen, to those who remain close to him.

Our pastor spoke of this before in a previous sermon. I like the idea of Jesus as a mother hen because it is a metaphor for someone soft and gentle, yet strong and protective — showing the feminine side of our savior Jesus Christ. With all the other biblical metaphors Jesus could have chosen — a lion, an eagle, a bear — he chose the hen, a mother who loves her chicks so much that she gives them shelter under her wings.

Another soft reference for Jesus is as the lamb of God, my person favorite imagery of Jesus.

One of the questions we discussed was what keeps people from desiring to be gathered beneath Christ’s wings … what gets in the way of our own acceptance of God’s shelter?

My answer was that people may not be rejecting Jesus, but rather how the church is viewed. Remember a few months ago when Pastor Bell didn’t want to tip a waitress and wrote a nasty note to her that read, “I give God 10 percent, why should I give you 18?” I blogged about it here: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/pastor-bell-do-the-math/

Ridiculous things like this can turn people off to church. So it’s best, as Christians, to be more careful and not do silly things like this. It’s very hard to be sin free and perfect (I am the first to say because I can get very mean when provoked), but I feel that those in high places in the church have a responsibility to their flock and need to be on their best behavior when out in the public eye.

I also said that people may fear going to church because they could fear being judged. Unlike our church where people are so accepting. I shared that I felt comfortable from the get-go. Others in the church had tattoos like myself. Everyone is down to earth. I truly get so much comfort and joy going there because I can be myself. If this is how God loves me, so should everyone else — and I get that impression that I am very loved in my church, as I love everyone there too. Even if I wasn’t Christian, I can honestly say we really do have a good group of people who are positive, cheerful, polite, smart, fun, funny, joyous, happy, good hearted, kind and giving. (And I’m a fussy person who doesn’t take much to people — trust me on that!)

As June, who ran the bible study, said, “We have saints and sinners here alike … and you can’t beat that!” Not sure if those were her exact words, but that’s the gist of it, meaning no one is perfect and that’s fine!

Young girls in our church wear pretty dresses, some are short and that is fine. No one judges. I’ll never forget when I was young and I was wearing a short skirt. I got out of my car to go the bank and an old biddy yelled at me, “You have a Billy Graham bumper sticker on your car, but you are dressed like a hooker!” That was so mean. And I will never be that judging to another person, as long as I have my wits about me.

Another positive thing I learned about my church was that back in the 1960s the pastor who was at my church did a lot for the civil rights movement, which was absolutely great.

Being with this group of senior ladies for just a few hours really made my day. It takes me back to when I was just 18 and working my first job at Scribner Book Company. All the older ladies looked after me, like mother hens. Now I have this wonderful group of church ladies to converse with and share and grow with.

Perhaps this is a way Jesus manifests through other people … another way to interpret the “mother hen” reference.

Yeah, God is good that way … showing that He’s near in many creative ways and knows which way you personally will resonate most with.

 

Service of Darkness

Published March 30, 2013 by Maryanne

Service of Darkness

Last night, accompanied by my husband, I attended my first “Service of Darkness” as a Christian.

It was powerful.

It was done so well that it was easy to let your imagination take over and feel that you were right there, watching Jesus as he died and bled blood and water.

The service began with one of my favorite classical tunes: Gymnopedie No. 1 by Eric Satie (my favorite classical composer).

Prayers were spoken,hymns were sung, the choir performed, bible verses were read and the seven last words of Jesus were read as seven candles were extinguished throughout the service.

The first word: “Father, forgive them.”; Luke 23:32-38: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The second word: “Truly, I say to you …”; Luke 23:39-45: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The third word: “Women, behold, thy Son”; John 19:23-27: “Here is your son. Here is your mother.”

The fourth word: “My God, my God”; Mark 15:23-39: “Why have you forsaken me.”

The fifth word: “I thirst”; John 19:28-29 “I thirst.”

The sixth word: “It is finished.”; John 19:30-37 “It is finished.”

The seventh word: “Father, into your hands …”; Luke 23:44-56 “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

After the seventh candle was extinguished, you heard the closing of the tomb. And the church was dark.

We adore you, O Christ, we bless you, by your holy cross you have redeemed the whole world.

All left the church in silence.

New Member Experience: I Found My Home on Christmas Day

Published March 20, 2013 by Maryanne

new member

New Member Experience: I Found My Home on Christmas Day

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

 I was recently asked to write about my “New Member Experience” at Calvary Lutheran Church in Cranford for the bulletin and I’ve decided to share with all of you. Enjoy.

Christmas Day, 2012, was my first visit to Calvary Lutheran Church.

Even though I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior back in 1991, I was struggling to find a home church and had almost given up. Not that anything was wrong with other churches, as God is everywhere. It was just a matter of finding the right church for me. But from that first service at Calvary on Christmas Day, I knew, in my heart, that this is where I was supposed to be. I guess you could say it was, “love at first service.”

After the Christmas Day service, I was not only greeted by Pastor Carol, but other church members – both young and old – making me feel very welcome. I told Pastor Carol that I would be back, and within a month I was. I had found my home and decided to become a member, something I hadn’t done at other churches.

The New Member Reception weekend was held on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3. On March 3, new members were invited to the home of Anne Dawson, the chair of Calvary’s New Member Team.

Anne was a wonderful host, serving many guests a delicious meal. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1986, so I was especially thrilled with her awesome vegetarian chili. It was a joy having dinner with other Christians and getting to know each other.

Afterwards, members sat around sharing their testimonials of how they came to Calvary. Everyone had a unique story and it just goes to show how, through the power of Jesus Christ, people from all walks of life can come together and truly enjoy each others company.

Fellowship continued into the evening with a birthday cake for Pastor Carol and Wii games.

The following day all new members: Steve and Annie Buonaspina; John Fischer; Denise and Martin Garry and children, Nathaniel, Christian and James; Kathleen and Jack Jacinto and daughter, Genesis; Steve and Amy Owens and children, Caitlin, Luke and Avery; and myself, were received into membership through the Affirmation of Baptism.

Once again, I was greeted and welcomed by Calvary members that I hadn’t met yet and after the service there was a pot luck brunch in Fellowship Hall.

“We like to eat here,” Pastor Carol said to me as I walked past her carrying a plate full of goodies.

“As the pants get tighter and tighter,” I said, jokingly.

Pastor Carol laughed. Her sense of humor and ability to connect with everyone in a special way shows how magnificently Jesus Christ is working through her. With each service being so creative and uplifting, she inspires me to want to be the best Christian I can.

It’s both an honor and privilege to be a member of Calvary. I look forward to growing and celebrating Christ with my new Christian family. And I hope — with all my heart — I can be as uplifting and inspiring to the next generation of new members as everyone has been to me!

The Christmas Pig

Published December 5, 2012 by Maryanne

christmas-pig

My all time favorite book (knocking “Letters from the Earth” by Mark Twain out of a long-standing first place in my humble opinion) is THE CHRISTMAS PIG, a fable by Kinky Friedman.

It’s an enchanting tear-jerker that can teach all of us a little something about love and kindness and acceptance of all people.

It’s an off-beat Christian novel that will make you laugh and cry (and cry and cry).

It’s a beautiful tale about the friendship of a young artist named Benjamin and a very special pig named Valerie.

I highly recommend it!

The book has 23 chapters. So every December, I pull the book from my shelf and read one chapter each evening of December, leading up to Christmas Eve.

It’s a keeper and I was able to score an autographed copy. But someday I hope to meet Kinky Friedman and get him to re-autograph it for me!