Lessons and Carols

Lessons and Carols
Hosted by Brandenburg Concert and Florence Church

Continuing the work of Jesus, simply, peacefully, JOYFULLY, together.

We worship at 9:30 am on Sunday.
Sunday School begins at 11 am.
Potluck is the first Sunday of the month.

17975 Centreville-Constantine Road, Constantine, MI 49042


Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Lord!

O, Ha Shem, "I am,"
we live and move and have our 
Being in you, LORD. 

The name of God was considered to Holy to voice when reading Hebrew scripture.  Therefore, when the Hebrew letters YHWH appeared, the reader would say "ha shem," meaning, "the name" in Hebrew.  Praying, "O, LORD," can slip off my lips in many ways.  May I bow to "the name" that holds more than I can conceive.

Save us, O LORD, carry us back.
Rouse your power and come. 
Rescue your people, show us your face.  
Bring us home.

Bob Dufford, SJ 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Wisdom! The last prayers of Advent.

O, Sophia, grieve
torn children! O Wisdom's Womb,
tame Terror's Heart!

For over 1,000 years, the traditional daily prayers for the last week before Christmas are called the O Antiphons.  They cry out to various images and qualities of God to come, be with us, and save us. The Litany of the Great River by Meinrad Craighead introduced me to this tradition.  I look for my deepest heart pray using these calls.

O God, great womb of wondrous love,
your Spirit moving on the deep
did wake a world within yourself,
a pulsing, lighted world from sleep.

Now come with rest, O Sabbath sun,
O Sanctuary, sacred home, 
we groan till all is grown complete,
fulfilled, at peace, O Great Shalom.

Text, Harris J. Loewen, Assembly Songs, 1983

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Imagine! Peace Chairs, One Day in a Small Town in Michigan

Thank you, Wendy Anderson Halperin, for your lovely video of our day together in December, creating Peace Chairs.  This is a great encouragement for the process to continue!

You can contact Wendy Anderson Halperin and become part of the Sit in Peace project here.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Epiphany in the midst of Storm Ion

Sometimes I am a slow learner.  It seems that signficant trends can just pass me by.  For example, when did all responsible moms start making their children wear helmets when riding their bikes.  I missed that memo entirely.

Similarly, when I read about our current storm, "Storm Ion," I wondered, "When on earth did we start naming winter storms?" 

Naming Winter Storms

Hurricanes and tropical storms have been given names since the 1940s. In the late 1800s, tropical systems near Australia were named as well. Weather systems, including winter storms, have been named in Europe since the 1950s.  Important dividends have resulted from attaching names to these storms:
  • Naming a storm raises awareness.
  • Attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a weather system’s progress.
  • A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.
  • In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication.
  • A named storm is easier to remember and refer to in the future.
I remember The Blizzard of '78, our first winter in Elkhart County.  But apparently winter storms only got these kinds of tags in hindsight. 

Names are handles of meaning and markers, creating, in the case of winter storms, an illusion of control over the power of new weather extremes.  Before the winter season a high school Latin class helped to choose names and put them in order.  Then it becomes interesting to see how the name suits the storm as it blows across the country, just as the chosen names we have for our newborns must find the right fit on our tongues, the right adaptations.  Evelyn becomes Eve.

How do Ion and Epiphany name each other? I love that "cows' way" is part of the sense of "going" or "to walk" in the long list of "ion's" history as a word.  Here we are, going along the cows' way, the stable way, and POW! something appears! Epiphany! Light!
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Epiphany, a "striking appearance" is described in Matthew's gospel, as the story of the magi is spun.  It is as much the discovery of the child, Jesus, as the discovery of a way to go, an ION, a deeper than physics attraction for what we treasure and risk in life. 
For the seekers of Jesus in the circle in which Matthew's gospel story was told (Matthew 2), here was a way in to the new circle of meaning and solidarity:

Look for cosmic signs accessible to anyone in any land. 
Follow them. 

Find companions on the way. 

Do not trust rulers who guard power with deception and terror. 

Listen to the inner cosmos of dreams for wisdom that saves. 

Leave behind the best you have to offer. 

Return by another way. 

Tell the story.
          Word Origin & History -- epiphany
c.1310, "festival of the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles" (celebrated Jan. 6; usually with a capital -E-), from O.Fr. epiphanie, from L.L. epiphania, neut. pl. (taken as fem. sing.), from Gk. epiphaneia "manifestation, striking appearance" (in N.T., advent or manifestation of Christ), from epiphanes
"manifest, conspicuous," from epiphainein "to manifest, display," from epi- "on, to" + phainein "to show" (see phantasm). Of divine beings other than Christ, first recorded c.1667; general literary sense appeared 1840, first in De Quincey.

It is not easy to follow the signs of the heavens.  I don't know about you, but I know very few of the constellations.  I do not know how to follow them or how they move through the seasons.  We have lost the darkness that allows us to see the bright shining planets and falling stars. 

And then there are the new signs in the sky, streaks of straight and crossing lines.  Some would claim that the military research that goes on in the ionosphere, called HAARP, makes one more contribution to human disruption of long standing cosmic patterns -- weather. 

Morning sky over Florence Church, October 2013

It is hard to read the signs of the times.  And dangerous lest we fall under into the influence of terror in one form or another and forget to be GOING, on the way, the cows' way, down to earth, with Emmanuel, God with Us.

And so on this day of worship -- at home on Epiphany in the midst of Storm Ion -- we pray:

God of gold, we seek your glory:
the richness that transforms our drabness into color 
and brightens our dullness with vibrant light; 
your wonder and joy at the heart of all life.

God of incense, we offer your our prayer: 
our spoken and unspeakable longings, our questioning of truth, 
our searching for your mystery deep within.
God of myrrh, we cry out to you in our suffering: 
the pain of all our rejections and bereavements, 
our baffling despair at undeserved suffering, our rage at continuing injustice: 
and we embrace you, God-with-us,
in our wealth, in our yearning, in our anger and loss.

Jan Berry in Imaging the Word, vol. 3, Susan A. Blain, ed.  (p. 115)

Saturday, January 4, 2014


We will be celebrating the culmination of this season of worship in our homes due to the coming storm and existing snow on the roads.  How disappointing!  I was so looking forward to Donald Lanctot's epiphany message, to the burning of the greens, and the Pastor's Pancake Brunch.  One of those three has been rescheduled for Sunday 12 January.  That would be the Pastor's Pancake Brunch.  I am determined to find another place for Donald's message of darkness into light.

Meanwhile, soak in these images of the season!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Drawn into Peace: Worship and Workshop, December 15

 “The more we can make PEACE a personal project
the worldview of PEACE…will be felt in homes,    
in neighborhoods, in cities, in nations, and in our world,”
writes local author and illustrator, Wendy Anderson Halperin.

Wendy Anderson Halperin will lead a workshop called “Sitting in Peace,” at Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite on Sunday, December 15, from 9 am to 5 pm.  Participants will transform chairs and tables they bring into original art: peace chairs and tables, potential holiday gifts.  The day includes worship, fellowship and hands on design and painting.  Children and participants of all ages – parents and grandparents, people of faith, teachers, artists and activists -- will be “drawn into peace” by choosing quotes and images that inspire peacemaking. 

“If we are to teach real peace in this world…we shall have to start with the children.”  Gandhi


Wendy Anderson Halperin, of South Haven, MI, is an acclaimed artist who has earned a reputation for her richly detailed, imaginative and expressive pencil and watercolor painting.  Her most recent picture book, PEACE, is a collection of quotes addressing the eternal question, “How can we bring peace to the world?”  PEACE is packed with quotes from peacemakers around the globe and throughout history.  The “Sitting for Peace” workshop invites children and all participants to choose quotes about peace to inscribe and illustrate as creative reminders of the power of choosing peace in daily life.

Registration is required (at no cost) by email: florence.brethren.mennonite@gmail.com Receive necessary information in advance to prepare a chair or table for the event.   A free will offering will be taken to support Halperin’s “Sitting for Peace Project.” http://www.drawingchildrenintopeace.com.

Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite is a welcoming, progressive, rural peace church located at 17975 Centreville Constantine Road, Constantine, MI, and affiliated with the Church of the Brethren and Mennonite Church USA.  More information on Facebook and at florencechurch.blogspot.com

Pastor Nina B Lanctot



Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Cider Dog"

"If life hands you apples, and pears, and lots of them -- make cider!"

When bounty, creativity, hard work and imagination -- and faith -- all come together, it is a joy!  Here is the convergence:

A bountiful apple and pear crop! Praise God!
Harvesting those apples and pears!
Making a special blend cider that all your friends will love!
Asking for cider donations for a "special project" -- a dog for Sara.
Sara McDonald's imagination of a service dog to assist her diabetes care.
A local organization that saves dogs from the humane society and trains them as service dogs.

Sara and her husband, Nathan Nichols, found a great organization in South Bend that hope to train their very first diabetic service dog for Sara:

Midwest Assistance Dogs is to help disabled individuals cope with life’s daily challenges through the assistance of a trained canine companion. Our mission includes acquiring, whenever possible, our assistance dog "trainees" from local animal shelters. By using shelter dogs we are able to fulfill our mission while at the same time provide a loving home to an animal that otherwise may have been euthanized.

Jerry Warstler loads the apples and pears to take to Millers' Cider Mill, Middlebury, IN
Apples and pears go in for washing and grinding.

Putting smashed fruit in layers in the press.

Squaring up the press.
Todd Warstler catches cider jugs off the line, lots of them, to load in the truck.

 If you would like to make a donation for CIDER DOG, contact Pastor Nina Lanctot at florence.brethren.mennonite@gmail.com.