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Behind the Scenes on Palm Sunday: True Confessions

 

Re-reading the scripture assigned for yesterday’s Palm Sunday worship, it struck me that Jesus was quite organized as he approached Jerusalem. He told two disciples: “go into the village and as soon as you enter it, you will find a colt tied up there, one that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it to me. And if anyone asks you about it, just tell them that I need it but will return it soon.” When faced with the chaos that awaited him, perhaps it was a comfort to take care of a few details, like securing an innocent little animal for the parade transportation? Jesus didn’t miss a thing, not a detail, as his holy week began.
 

I was pondering this yesterday morning as I tried to get out of the house, humming a medley of “get me to the church on time” and “Hosanna Loud Hosanna.” Sermon notes? Check! Car keys? Check! One last look in the mirror-my mama taught me to gussy up a little for Palm Sunday- and Lord have mercy what happened to my hair? The hot rollers were still warm so I popped a few in to tame the mane, threw my down coat on, gave the dogs a treat, locked the door and thought: “wouldn’t those remaining daffodils out in the woods look pretty on our altar table this morning?” So, I reopened the door, found the pruning scissors and the glass vase my friend Jacque gave my daughter on her high school graduation(2002) which still lives with me. (Shh, don’t tell her).
 

Curlers in my hair, coat on, pruning scissors & glass vase in my hand, I trekked out to the woods and proceeded to slip in some leafy mud, sinking my shoe in said mud, muttering a few inappropriate unholy words. Unstuck, I grabbed up the limp flowers, put them in the front seat, NEXT TO the palm “bush” that I had procured the night before at our local grocery store because the florist closed before I could get there on Saturday to pick up the life-sized palms that most normal humans wave on Palm Sunday. At my little, loving, grace-filled church, we had miniature little palm-ettes yesterday because unlike Jesus, I hadn’t thought ahead as well as I should have and we have yet to feel “called” to form an altar guild to take care of such things.

On the way to church, I made a list of everything I needed to do when I got there: wash the mud off my shoes and pants legs, take the curlers out of my hair, put the droopy daffodils in some resurrection water, take the Palm Bush inside and place the pruning shears beside it so that my members could “cut your own palmette.” I also really needed to breathe deep, pray and ask God for abundant grace.
 

This imperfect disciple-preacher knows God answered my prayer because we had worship yesterday as we remembered the one who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna. Blessed is he who come in the name of the Lord in spite of the mud, the bad hair days, the palmettes, the wilted flowers. Blessed is he who loves us while also taking care of the little colt. Bless.


 

At the Grocery Store at Noon

on February 14th

Ashley Crowder Stanley, Pastor

 

All I needed was one baking potato and some arugula, items I had forgotten when I did my weekly grocery shopping. I got a lot more.

 

As I rushed through the front doors, I was overwhelmed with the red tsunami that greeted me: red Starbucks cups, a 4-foot red balloon that spelled LOVE, red roses, red roses mixed together with yellow and white roses, red envelopes on the card display, red cookies, even red stuffed animals just begging to go home with me. I didn’t cave.

 

As I inched downed the aisle, I began looking at the faces of the men that were energetically shopping (I literally saw not one woman in the “red” section): some of them looked panicked, some were smiling, some seemed lost, a few were smiling, others were checking their watches, one guy had two identical bouquets in his hands and I smiled, imagining one was for his mama and one was for his beloved. Another man held his bouquet out to me and asked: “do you think she’ll like these?”.  Since I didn’t know him or her, I had no idea; “you’re doing great,” I said. The roses and cards and balloons are all meant to wordlessly convey the 3 words that are often so difficult, so vulnerable to say out loud: I Love You.

 

On another aisle, there was little girl in a sleeveless, frilly dress with red hearts on it who was waiting for her mom to decide on what cheese to buy.  She touched her mom’s hand and said: “Mom, I see you. And I love you forever and forever.” The mom stopped what she was doing, knelt down, looked into her daughter’s eyes and said “I see you too and I love you forever and forever, always.” I may have had to turn away to wipe the tears that were soaking my mask. 

 

Then, I got in line behind a woman who was slightly bent over and beautiful, unloading her cart of its half-dozen items: pimento cheese, a chicken pot pie, some Kleenex, 2 bananas, a quart of milk. She turned to me and said: “this is the first Valentine’s Day since my husband died. I miss him so much but we have to carry on, don’t we?” I wished her a good day, resentful that the pandemic and our cultural reluctance to hug people kept me from putting my arm around her or at least squeezing her hand. Right then, I remembered hearing that, except for medical interventions, the elderly can go for weeks, even months without being lovingly touched. I hope that someone she knows offers affection to her today.

 

Then it was my turn to check out: the potato and arugula cruised down the check-out belt where they stopped in front of the guy who seems to be there. He is kind, always smiles, looks me in the eye.  No attitude. A vestige of a head injury from earlier in his life.

 

“Do you have big plans for tonight?” he asked me. “Cooking supper,” I replied. “I forgot a few things. What about you?” 

 

“I don’t have a girlfriend,” he said. “So, I will get off work, go home, just fart around for a little while and go to bed. Just another day. I wish it was different.”

 

I looked him in the eye and said “I hear you. I wish it was different for you, too. You are my favorite check out guy and I appreciate you.” And he weakly smiled. Inside my head, I was chastising myself: “good grief. You botched that.”

 

Love, however expressed, says “I see you. You are important to me and to the world. You are not alone, even though it may seem that way today.  Here’s my hand, here’s my heart. Let’s do life together.”

 

May we peek around the balloons, the flowers, the emptiness, the grief, the cultural pressure to consume and take a tiny step at expressing your love. May there be a love tsunami that covers our world, that heals our hearts and that brings hope to us all. Even in the “red section” at noon on February 14th.


 

Of All Times!

Ashley Crowder Stanley, Pastor

 

When the For Sale sign went up in our front parking lot early in the fall, we were surprised, sad, and bewildered. The building that Wellspring has rented since “Day 1” would soon be sold at a tender time in our church’s lifespan. We had poured so much prayer, muscle, time and love into that service station turned BBQ restaurant turned church and we were grieved to realize we would have to leave it. “Of all times for this to happen,” we thought!  

 

After months of searching for a new home, Wellspring is delighted to announce that starting on Sunday, January 8th,  we will meet for worship in the Habitat for Humanity building in their amazing meeting space, complete with kitchen, breakout room and a wide-open room for our worship services.  

We could not be more grateful to our friends at Habitat for Humanity for making this space available to us. They have become generous and supportive with us and we look forward to discovering ways to support their life-changing ministry in our community.

 

On January 8th at 10am, we will open for worship at the Habitat building BESIDE the Re-Store.  There is ample parking, an elevator for those needing assistance and restrooms beside the room we will be using. We will also welcome our new musician, Sarah Fowler, who will lead singing and play the keyboards for us. We are excited to have Sarah with us!

 

The address for our new location is:

33 Meadow Road (Habitat Offices next to ReStore)
Asheville, NC 28803

 

Wellspring Congregation: An Inclusive United Methodist Church welcomes you and anticipates the years ahead.  All of who you are is welcome.

 

Pastor Ashley Crowder Stanley
Pastor Kelly Dotson


The Sign We've Been Waiting For

Ashley Crowder Stanley, Pastor

 

“Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” my daughter Catherine asked me.  “That’s easy,” I said, “will you design a logo for Wellspring?” Over the course of months, my graphic designer offspring went to work, asking questions, experimenting with a color palette, envisioning a “mark”(symbol) that would clearly represent our mission of being a welcoming, inclusive, abundance-focused, connected community centered on the grace of God and the belovedness of all people.

 

When Catherine met with our leadership team to reveal her design package, it was clear that she had embraced this project not only with her skill and but also with her heart.  Here are a few things she told us about the design work:

 

 

 

  • The mark creates a sense of a circle around a central focus.  The line represents disparate elements that have been joined together.  But there is also space for entry into the circle. 
  • She redesigned a standard font by expanding the space between the letters to evoke a feeling of openness and space.  Even the edges of the letters were rounded to be less sharp and edgy.
  • There is a connection between the font and the mark(see picture below).  This gives a visual sense of cohesiveness.
  • The color palette she chose contains shades of green, blue and white to inspire calm, peace and help us remember the waters of baptism in which we are named “beloved” by God.
  • She chose a secondary font for the words “an inclusive United Methodist Church.”  This secondary font was chosen to compliment and balance the primary font.  

 

With the design package as a guide, it was now time for the construction of our large street sign which would be installed at our location on busy Sweeten Creek Road.   Woodworker T. Stanley volunteered to tackle this daunting project and the work began!  T., along with friend and Wellspringer, Lew Kraus, invested countless hours in the sign’s design and creation. Here are a few details:

 

 

  • It is made of 2” thick white oak
  •  It weighs about 100 lbs.
  • It is 38” wide and 48” tall
  • The logo and text were cut with a CNC router, using the specified design and fonts.
  • The paint color(navy blue) was chosen from our color palette.
  •  It was hung on the freshly painted(Thanks Steve Pagano!) street post formerly used by 12 Bones.
  • It took a ladder in the back of a pick-up, a group of brave and strong volunteers (thank you Jeff, Austin, Brenda and T.) to hang it as a bunch of giddy onlookers cheered them on!!

 

We can never adequately thank the creative people who have contributed their talent, resources and time to helping us reach this milestone.  I hope they will always derive deep satisfaction in knowing that their work helps Wellspring communicate warmth, hospitality and grace to everyone who passes by.  

 

We are Wellspring Congregation: An Inclusive United Methodist Church, a beautiful array of imperfect people who want to grow closer to God and to one another.  The circle is open. All of who you are is welcome here.

 

The Girl in the Rainbow Tights
Goodness Multiplied
Homemaking
Spreading the Light at Wellspring

I would like to encourage you to share your reflections or prayer requests with me at my confidential email: ashley@wellspringcongregation.org

I will be honored to reflect with you and pray for you. 

Rev. Ashley Crowder Stanley

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