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Our Christmas dragon friends – Photo by Kathryn Z. Johnston

Here at the Manse, we are counting down the days to Christmas and checking the weather forecast. The wind has been a little too high for the Christmas dragon with moving wings and his companion, so we have piles of fabric in our yard. There’s always something wistful about these few days, particularly in the northern hemisphere, as sunrise and sunset draw closer together. We’re busy with the details of creating other people’s experience of Christmas, whether family members or church folk. This morning, very early, we sat near the tree with our dogs and drank our coffee, enjoying the kind of conversation that two people who have known each other a long time specialize in, with one thing leading to another and then to something that would have seemed far afield when we first sat down but flows naturally in the moment.

The blog posts featured here today do the same for me, and I hope you will find a friend or two among them, a sense of knowing and being known, on this day when the countdown reaches five. Don’t stop with these excerpts but click through to read in full and let the writers know you visited with a comment.

Sally Coleman wonders about absence in “Stars…”

This year, the star didn’t show up…
In the darkness of our days it didn’t show at the food bank,
In a climate of political confusion,
Some jubilant, others despairing,
There may, ( or so it was deemed)
Have been a better story to tell …

Michelle Francl-Donnay considers what we might hear “In the susurrations of trees.”

I love to listen to the wind in the trees, in any season. I can remember the birch tree outside my childhood bedroom window, shivering in a bitter Illinois winter breeze. The wind stirring the oak tree outside my study. The sound of the wind in the pines in my neighbor’s yard, creaking like a bed of charcoal in the fireplace.

April Fiet acknowledges that joy can be hard to come by in Far As the Curse is Found.

This year has been exhausting. I have struggled to feel well – nothing major, but enough of a constant struggle that I am weary. For the first Advent in many years, I have had to work to set up my tree, decorate the house, sing the songs, not because I didn’t want to do all those things but because my heart was struggling to figure out how to do all of those things from such a worn out place. How can I sing “Joy to the World the Lord is come” when I so desperately need him to come again?

It turns out, “Joy to the World” wasn’t my problem; “Joy to the World” held the key I was looking for.

Milton Brasher-Cunningham invites us to consider things past in advent journal: regrets, i’ve had a few …

We don’t like to admit we screwed up, or that we hurt people, or that we missed something because fear or caution got the best of us. But regret is more profound than learning a lesson, more meaningful than saying, “I’ll never do that again.” Regret is a reminder that in our average human lives we are capable of great damage and doing it differently the next time is not the same as coming to terms with what cannot be repaired or redone.

Who is speaking to you on this Friday, five days before Christmas? Let us know in the comments.


the words of her mouth coverMartha Spong is a UCC pastor, executive director of RevGalBlogPals and a clergy coach. She is editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, coming in January 2020, and There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, both featuring writers from the RevGalBlogPals community, as well as co-author of Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith) with Rachel Hackenberg. She lives in a manse across the street from the PCUSA church her wife serves in South Central Pennsylvania. (One of the dragons was a gift from members of the congregation.) 


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back to the specific post. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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