Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hobo-- contemplating the meaning of a word...

"Hobo"... A term I haven't heard or used in years, except when referring to a friend's little dog by that name. :)

Last week in my adventurous journey around town, I was re-introduced to the term and it has stuck with me because of the explanation that came with it.  I hadn't heard this reference before last week.

The person that used the term was previously homeless herself, so she wasn't using the term in a derogatory manor.  She used it to describe folks on the street and explained that the term comes from the expression "homeward bound".  That was a new explanation to me.  But it has stuck with me this past week and has rumbled around inside me.  We talked about how we're all hobos in that sense.  We're all homeward bound.  I like that.  I want a t-shirt now that says something about being a hobo.  It is very much akin to being an alien.  She also shared with me that her cardboard sign read, "Jesus was homeless too."  That's a powerful statement that is also a cause for pause.  But, I digress (something I do quite well here).

I associate the word "hobo" with trains and train hoppers, folks carrying sticks with red bandanas on the end of them as they travel.  My association comes from stories, movies, my imagination, and my ay dreams.  Though I never hopped a train, I day-dreamed about it quite a bit, after reading books or seeing movies.  It was romanticized and seemed like a neat way to travel.  I pictured myself carrying a stick with a red bandana tied to it. 

As I grew older, I learned by observation that living on the streets isn't romantic by any means.

As I mentioned, the term "hobo" had disappeared from my vocabulary.  Words such as homeless and hungry are those that I tend to use to describe folks that don't have a home.  Yet this term "hobo", especially when associated with "homeward bound" takes on a new meaning.

There is quite a bit of discussion about the origin of the term "hobo".  Some say it comes from the city of Hoboken, NJ where folks started hopping trains.  Others say it comes from the civil war days when soldiers were given one-way tickets home, thus homeward bound.  

Click here for a discussion on the term from The Word Detective from 2007.
Click here for an article from the Washington Post by John Kelly from August 18, 2014
Click here for information from Princeton on the term, code of ethics, etc.

The above links are interesting and provide historical information.  But they don't discuss the homeward bound aspect.

Click here for an article relating to homeward bound that discussed the ethical code by Linda Johnson from April 14, 2014

I could probably keep searching and who knows what I might find?!?! (or not)  But, it's the last day and hours of 2014 and I still have some things to do for Provisional Elder paperwork.  I also have those three other books to read before Monday. 

As 2014 ends and the fireworks begin (yes, I hear them starting already at 9:45pm EST), contemplating the term "hobo" and its potential origin of "homeward bound" fits my reflection time.

I am an alien.  One that is homeward bound.  Each day, each moment takes me closer to that reality.  Though I'm an alien here, I'm also home in the here and now too, in the sense that God created this place, the present, for us to live.  While here in the Kingdom of God on earth we are called to live out the example set for us by Christ and to follow the greatest commandments of loving God and loving others.  The home, the Kingdom of God that is to come, heaven, well... it is at some unknown point in the future.

For my grandmother, for Will, for Leila, for Dr. Cornelius, for Gene, for April, for Lyman, and for many others that I have known and/or heard about this past year, the future home is now present to them.    For those of us still on our journey "home", it isn't easy as we miss those that have gone on before us, whether it was in 2014 or an earlier year.  Yet, we too, are homeward bound.

How am I making the most of my time, my energy, and my relationships as a hobo?  Am I investing well in those around me as I journey on?  I hope so.  That is my desire.

How about you?  How is your homeward bound journey? 

Maybe it's not something you've thought about much.  If not, it is something to consider.

I am grateful to have been re-introduced to the term "hobo" and to the thought of being "homeward bound" in association with it.

Thank you, Robin!

To all, blessings on your journey!


Here's Simon and Garfunkel and their song "Homeward Bound".  It may not fit the theme of the heavenly home in its intention, yet.... home is waiting and this is a catchy song by talented artists.

P.S.  At some point I'll write a 2014 reflection post, but that will have to wait.  ☺

Monday, December 29, 2014

Convergence....thoughts and reflections from yesterday's sermon

Yes, I know.  I have LOTS of writing to do that is required, so why am I writing one more post?!?!  I can't get yesterday's sermon out of my mind.  Therefore, the best thing to do is to write about it.  Then, I can concentrate on the remaining questions I have to answer and tweak the others I have already answered.  That is my agenda today.  Theological questions. 

But, before I turn my attention there, here are my thoughts and reflections from yesterday's sermon by Pastor Rowland Buck at Burks UMC.

The title of the sermon: "When Christmas Dreams Come True"

The Scripture passage was from Isaiah 61:10-62:3. 

The message centered on the word "convergence".  Convergence is when two things come together to create a whole new way of doing things, expanding the possibilities.  Pastor Rowland mentioned the convergence of two rivers.  How they come together into one.  That's a good example of convergence.  But the one that resonated most with me was the one he gave using the combined technology of the cellular phone and the camera.  He mentioned the polaroid camera and the original bag cellular phones. 

With the convergence of technology, we now have cell phones that take great pictures, cell phone cameras.  Or, I guess you could say we have cameras that we can use to call and text.    Pastor Rowland demonstrated this technology for us during the service.

I attended both services.  During the 2nd service, I uploaded the above picture to Facebook and posted this caption: "Convergence. Two things coming together to create a whole new realm of possibilities. Example-- the cell phone camera. Convergence. That's what Christmas is-- heaven and earth coming together to expand the possibilities with the birth of Jesus Christ."  

Christmas is the ultimate convergence!  Heaven and earth coming together to create a whole new way of doing things, expanding the possibilities.  Wow!  

Pastor Rowland reminded us that Christmas is so much more than what we do to ourselves during the Christmas season.  In fact, we were reminded at the beginning of the service that the Christmas season had only just begun.  Odd, isn't it... by the time Christmas Day comes and ends, most people are ready to put it away.  Yet that is when it really begins.  The 12 days of Christmas BEGIN on Christmas day and continue through Epiphany, January 6, the day that the Magi visited the infant (though not baby) Jesus with their gifts.  But that's a different story, sermon, and blog post.

How can we live into this convergence of Christmas rather than the hustle and bustle?  Pastor Rowland offered several thought provoking questions:
  • How does Jesus' teaching integrate into your life?
  • How do you follow him?
  • How will Christmas converge with your life in this next week?
  • How might your life be changed by the convergence of Christmas?
  • How will it make a difference?
In the first service, Pastor Rowland also mentioned the movie "Unbroken" and talked about the bravery and courage of the main character, Louis Zamperini.  There was a convergence moment in Zamparini's life when he was back in the United States at a Billy Graham crusade and stood up to walk out but instead walked down to the altar.  The movie is out in theaters now.  I've not seen it yet.  It seems like a powerful story about life, history, sacrifice, etc.   

Have you experienced the convergence of heaven and earth coming into your life?  

Take a look again at the questions Pastor Rowland asked.  Reflect upon them for yourself.  

If you'd like to watch his sermon from the 2nd service, check it out.

As you continue through the Christmas season, may you find the possibilities in your own life expanded because of the birth of Christ.  May there be a whole new way of doing things!

Blessings on your journey!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Waiting..... it's not only during the Advent season

I haven't written a blog post since November 20th.  It's not that I haven't wanted to nor that I haven't had many things rumbling around in my heart, mind, or soul.  I have waited.  I wanted to wait until I had everything totally done for my Provisional Elder paperwork, but I found myself at a place of wanting and needing to write today.

Today was the first Sunday of the Christmas season.  It is the 4th day of Christmas.  The past several Sundays were in the Advent Season, the waiting season. 

Waiting is a theme that comes around in the Christian calendar because of the Advent season.  In my home church, we had a 4 part series during the Advent season: "Christmas: Worth the Wait!"  Several Sundays there were thought provoking nuggets that I wrote down and considered.  I wanted to write, but I waited.  My focus was on finishing my Fall semester well and working on Provisional Elder requirements.

Hebrew is likely the hardest course I have taken in my life.  I have taken a handful of linguistic courses.  I have taken Greek.  I taught Romance languages for 24 years.  Even with a foundation of language and language learning experience, the Hebrew language took me for a long and difficult, albeit rewarding journey this past semester.  I am grateful for struggling through the learning and picking up what I can.

Working on my questions for Provisional Elder, the Bible Study, and my verbatim manuscript of the sermon I preached on November 23rd has kept me busy when I wasn't working on finishing the semester well.  That has also taken a high priority over the holidays, though I have taken several days off from writing and need to get back into full swing here quickly to finish it off and meet my deadline.

In the ebb and flow over these past several weeks, I have gone to the Wednesday mid-week Vesper service at the neighboring UMC church for some quiet reflection in song and prayer.  I have been able to walk some.  I met with my Spiritual Director.  I have read Scripture and thoughts from a variety of sources, such as Jesus Calling, Alive Now, and the different Upper Room Guides to Prayer.  I walked the labyrinth prior to my Hebrew final, praying my native American flute along the path.  I was blessed to spend some time out and about around time serving with some folks last week.

These things, along with meeting in community for weekly worship have kept me grounded over the past few weeks.  Yet, there has been a sense of restlessness too.

One does what one can do and lets go of the rest.  Yet, there is that sense of the unknown that remains.  The unknown isn't bad.  But it's there.  It can be exciting and energizing.  There is peace in the waiting.  There is activity in the waiting.  There is work in the waiting. 

God works in and through us while we wait.  God works in and through situations while we wait.  There is so much that we don't see, can't see, might never see.  Yet, we are called to do our part.  That thing, those things that we sense a nudge toward.

Advent is over, the Christmas season is here.  Is the waiting over?  Yes and no.  The waiting for the Christ child to come to earth is over.  But there is much more waiting over the calendar year.  If not in the church calendar year, there will likely be waiting times in your personal life, in my personal life. 

The waiting times are important growing times, healing times, strengthening times, resting times, learning times.  Waiting doesn't equate inactivity, but it does mean watchful listening and preparing for what is to come.

What are the areas of waiting in your life? 

Waiting can be transformational!  If you don't believe me, check out the next butterfly you see.  The time it spent waiting in the darkness was definitely transformational.

May there be peace and joy in your waiting! 


Burks UMC--Pastor Rowland's "Christmas: Worth the Wait" series: