First Third Conversations

And it's a wrap...

DoveA blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Holy Spirit Dove Window by Hickory on Flickr

As we face the new year, the holidays are just about all wrapped up. The Christmas music has lost its luster, the holiday treats are gone (and fresh veggies sound better than ever), and it is almost time to pack up the decorations for another year. It is just about time to call this holiday season a wrap.

But before we do, let's take a look back. How'd it go? Did you get lost in the holidays or were you able to

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Get Lost

A blog post by John Potts 

Image Credit: Path by pkdon50 on Flickr

“Get lost,” were the words that my cousin, Ray, would say. I was staying with him and his family. He was a teenager and I was a little kid. The words first hurt. Rejection by someone who you really look up can hurt.

But in the moment, I move on and took permission by his words to explore. To get lost.

So I would start to look around his house for things to do, to see and to discover.

It was never dull to be at

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Getting Lost in the Holidays

A blog post by Rachel Schwenke

Last Sunday, as I was attending to the craziness of Sunday mornings with youth and parents gathered round, I lost track of my 3 year old daughter Lily at church. At first, I just assumed she was playing with the other kids in the lobby or dining hall. Then I broadened the search to include my office, the youth room, and the reception area, where there is candy to tempt her. I hoped she wasn’t playing in the sanctuary and falling into the baptismal (again)! I recruited

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Christmas and December 26th

A blog post by Brigette Weier

At the beginning of December every year, alongside bills, advertisements, endless catalogs, and credit offers, we start to receive Christmas cards from family, friends, and people we can't remember how we know. It's always fun to get anything other than bills, so going to the mailbox takes on the air of a mini retreat in my day. But there is always one piece of mail that comes in the midst of in those cheery -- albeit somewhat self-aggrandizing reminders of how cute

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Finding Advent Rhythms

A blog post by Ben McDonald Coltvet

Image Credit: Advent Terminus - Happy Holiday 5 by Stuart Dootson on Flickr

Free time: It's one thing that easily gets "lost in the holidays" in my household. Time to play, time to be a family, time to be alone, time to sleep.

With all the schedules and commitments that overlap at the end of the year, it's easy to feel like our family's calendar is out of control.

How does this happen? Is it a result of poor planning or too much planning? Both?

One gift that

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A Time to Connect

friendsA blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Friends by Rodrigo Suarez on Flickr

Each year as I turn the calendar from November to December my mind creates a list of people I’d love to connect with during the holidays. Some of the connections are givens, like time with my brother and sister-in-law from California. Other connections are not guaranteed, like meeting with my college roommate. The “not guaranteed” connections require intentional effort to happen, and somehow the holiday

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Lean on Me

TrustA blog post by Tom Schwolert

Image Credit: Trust in the Lord by listentothemountains on Flickr

There’s an old camp song that goes, “Whose side are you leanin’ on? Leanin’ on the Lord’s side. I lean, I lean, I lean, I lean, leanin’ on the Lord’s side.” I really hated it because it was so cheesy, as many camp songs are. Maybe that’s why we don’t forget them. If there has ever been a “song plant,” I’ve had this one planted

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Why Worship during Advent

Advent WreathA blog post by Timothy Siburg

Image Credit: Advent Wreath by Chris Wolff on Flickr

The Centrality of Worship

Worship is central to the church’s practice and understanding of who it is. We worship to praise and give thanks to God. In worship we join together as the body of Christ in song and the Word. We remember God’s promises and receive God’s promise of forgiveness and reconciliation.

It is important to worship in Advent as it is throughout the year. Advent, though, is a particular

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Lost in the Holidays Part II

ChocolatesA blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Chocolates by Jonathan Reyes on Flickr

Bittersweet -- there is no better word for the days of Advent, Christmas, and New Years than that. Sweet sums up the excitement of being with family and friends, of living in a season of giving, of having an intentional season focus on serving, and, of course, the yummy treats which delight our taste buds. Sweet describes the gift tradition is and the opportunity for passing things on from one generation to another.

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Lost in the Holidays

A blog post by Terri Elton

Image Credit: Christmas 2007 by Christina Rutz on Flickr

Some say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” while others dread the season. Christmas, the heart of this season, is centered on Christ, and yet amidst the holidays Christ often gets pushed aside. Truth be told, it’s a hard time of the year to be a church leader…and it’s a hard time to keep the focus in our personal lives as well. So how is it we don’t get “lost

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