Alyssa Sellers


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Making Peace with Psalm 23

greenpasturesandstillwaters

Where I grew up most, kids learned the 23rd Psalm. I think they had to in catechism. Where I grew up, all the school buses altered their routes to include a stop at the Catholic Church on Mondays for catechism classes. Because of where I grew up, I heard that Psalm recited as rote and therefore I didn’t much care for that Psalm. Also it talked about valleys of death and rods and staffs, and hearing that over and over and over again sorta creeped me out.

Where I live now, I do full time ministry through my church by encouraging and supporting university students and other transients of my downtown Portland neighborhood in a variety of ways. To do this work, I raise my own support. I sorta suck at this aspect, but that’s another story for another time. And now I have an agent for my book so I’m retooling my book proposal which means an enormous amount of research and writing and editing and feelings of inadequacy. Again, another story for another time. And I also have a life full of relationships with people not connected to anything mentioned above that I try to maintain. I guess you could say I’ve got some stuff going on. Continue reading

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Remembering That I Forget

My Christmas Tree ~ Portland, Oregon 2012

I live in that magical land where Christmas trees grow. Oregon is the nation’s biggest producer of Christmas trees and harvested over 6 million in 2011 and , sadly, I did not purchase one of them. Last year, I thought I was broke and would be gone too long in December to purchase a tree. This year I have a whole new appreciation for broke-ness and will be away from my home for a week but I am not letting this deter me.  My friend Belinda, a graduate student at Portland State, offered to drive me to a Christmas tree farm just outside the city to pick up a tree and to celebrate the completion of her finals.

As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle and onto the parking lot, I knew I made the right decision. The smell of Fir trees enveloped me and I shouted, “I LOVE CHRISTMAS TREES!” Thankfully it was a rainy Tuesday afternoon and no one else was around.

Belinda and I set out in search of this year’s perfect tree. When I first saw my tree, I impulsively burst into, “O Tannenbaum!” However, not wanting to make a hasty choice, I tied a bright red bag to a branch and walked on. Eventually after much deliberation, I chose the tree that inspired my song.

I spent the better part of a day decorating this tree; mostly because I’m a perfectionist but also because I’m sentimental. As I unwrapped ornaments that had been unfairly confined for two years, vivid memories flooded my consciousness and I remembered the refrain from a song we sang during worship service on Sunday:

Though the world may see and soon forget
We will not forget who you are and what you’ve done for us.

But do we? Do we really remember? I believe that humanity as a whole is fairly forgetful and this is why God instructs us in all sorts of reminders like the celebration of Passover, hauling rocks from the dry bottom of the Jordan River to create an altar and participation in communion. These acts remind us of what God has done and reinforce for us the promises of what God will do.

This year, decorating my Christmas tree, was one of those reminders. As I hung up the lights, circled the tree with a garland made of old silver Mardi Gras beads and placed ornaments on branches, I could not help but to recall specific things God has done for me and as I remembered I began to feel joyful anticipation for all of the things God is going to do. This, my friends, is worshiping fully.