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The wobbly manger

—by Venice R. Williams ...she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:7). The manger captivated me as a child. Each year I anxiously awaited the approach of the...

Turn it around

—by Karen G. Bockelman Note: In the January/February 2019 print edition of Gather, the last line of this article was mistakenly cut off. A printable PDF of this article is available for download here. Sometimes we need to turn things around. When our daughter was 3 or...

Real

--by Diane Norstad “Who are your ‘real’ parents?” That question was my first sense of being different in a negative way. My parents had told me about my adoption when I was little. We always thought of it as a good thing. As the Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians...

You are not alone

—by Sarah Carson I was thinking about this issue of Gather the other night when I pulled into the copy store parking lot. My to-do list was yards long, and I’d already called the store twice to beg them to help me meet my deadline. “Fear not,” I told myself, as I...

What’s wrong with keeping secrets?

–by Susie Gamelin A few years back, our family decided to play a game while recovering from a generous Christmas brunch. Each of us wrote on a slip of paper some­thing we thought the others didn’t know about us. The unsigned slips of paper were put into a bowl, drawn...

Great Thanksgiving

—by Kathryn Haueisen But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:32). …but if you do not forgive others, neither will your...

The work of repentance

—by Katrina Browne When I was in my late 20s, my grandmother revealed something to me about my ancestors. They were slave traders. The DeWolfs from Rhode Island sent ships to Africa. They sold people at auction. They did this throughout the Caribbean and the American...

Sainthood of sinners

—by Elizabeth Hunter We church people are flawed, stumbling, redeemed saints. But can we handle that fact? What do we do when our church has deeply hurt people or creation? Apologize? Admit that we’re missing something? In this final issue on the topic of repentance,...

The fellowship divine

—by Linda Post Bushkofsky It was my first trimester of college, and I sang soprano in the chapel choir. That normally meant weekly rehearsals and the regular Sunday morning commitment. But that fall there were at least four memorial services held in our college chapel...

Good guilt

—by Bev Stratton "I'm sorry.” I do not remember the circumstances, what he had done wrong or how I had exploded in anger, but I remember how important it was to tell my 8-year-old that I was sorry. I needed to apologize for my behavior, to make amends for hurting him,...

A change of heart

—by Ryan LaHurd Every Tuesday and Thursday my wife and I care for our 2.5 year-old grandson. On those days you might find me racing friction cars down cardboard ramps, visiting the neighborhood fire station to touch a ladder truck or watching “L” trains stop at the...

Changed hearts

—by Judith Roberts The day we purchased our house, we loaded boxes, furniture, toys and clothes onto my uncle’s truck. I was so excited. Our caravan of cars and trucks drove five miles north of the city of Hartford to our new home. Once we arrived, I played outside...

Please hear me. I’m sorry. I love you.

–by Abby Acceturra Recently I had a conversation with my partner that turned into an argument, and not the kind of argument that’s easily solved. He said something off-hand that I took too seriously; I responded to it in a way that triggered a landmine of his own...

The inward focused spiral

—by Sarah Carson Recently I got into a fight with my dentist’s office. It started innocently. I received a bill I didn’t agree with, and I left a message asking for a $30 charge to be removed from my account. But when it took several rounds of phone tag to get a...

It’s time to go deep

–by Elizabeth Hunter The first day of summer—the longest day of the year—felt like the longest day of my life. Years of stress had taken a toll in the form of lost sleep, lost weight and lost relationships. Yet I was gaining much-needed perspective. You might call it...

Ancestral tables

–by Venice R. Williams In some ways, I had been preparing for these days most of my adult life. I just did not fully understand it until my 98-year-old grandmother, Ora, arrived at our home for a two-week visit. My excitement about her stay spilled over into...

Most merciful God

–by Jennifer Phelps Ollikainen Whenever I realize that I’ve done something wrong, particularly something that impacted some­one I know and love, I feel the weight of it. My body feels heavy, and I usually can’t think of any­thing else until I make it right in some...

New eyes for worship

– by Leila Ortiz Growing up in the Pentecostal church, I learned that prayer was my true con­nection to the Divine. I learned this in community. Every Tuesday evening the church lights would dim. As musicians played softly in the background, my friends and I would...