Tag Archives: icons

Giving Thanks

Heading to Boston

An early morning flight carried Christine and me to Boston for a family visit, the first in two years. Going North at this time of year is counter intuitive, but it was a very wonderful trip and so good to be with family. Of course the planes were packed as many families are finally getting the chance to reconnect after long times of separation and Thanksgiving had some degree of normalcy with people gathering in person.

Freedom Village

For Thanksgiving, Freedom Village residents raised $1050 worth of gift vouchers for food, which went to 52 different families, through Turning Points, a Bradenton mission to the homeless. Buying turkeys in bulk was not an option this year, but the gift vouchers, although not as symbolic as turkeys, were much appreciated. 

Giving Food Vouchers to the Homeless

Veterans Day this year saw 45 veterans over 90 years old, receive a special pinning for their military services. The event is hosted by the Chaplaincy and it had been in planning mode for about six months with many meetings, discussions and options depending on Covid’s activities. Very thankfully, about 150 people could attend and it all came together, as they say ‘in the end.’ Again, that was the first time that many of the community had joined together in nearly two years.

Sadly, in November, I led three memorial services and we now have two more scheduled. One of these losses has hit our community particularly hard as it was one of the staff, a young man who was killed in a motorcycle accident, leaving a four year old son.

One of the hardest aspects of growing old is loosing who we once were and what we once could do. That is the case anyway in our own minds and we tend to imagine it so for those around us. We may not be able to drive any more, walk any more, do the buttons of our shirt up or go to the restroom alone. We may forget the names of our family members or not recognize them when they walk in. Some of these losses can grow slowly or arrive quickly with a stroke. One thing I now know is, and a friend keeps reminding me, ‘Growing old is not for sissies.’  The mental and emotional struggles we go through, as we loose our physical ability to live an active life we previously enjoyed, becomes ‘‘the work’, not for sissies”.

Hannukah Celebration

As our society in America appears to be living longer in years, through medical developments, we may be living through the ‘older years’, for longer. One projection recently on the news, suggested that a child born today, might experience a life expectancy in the 150 years range. I shudder at the thought and wonder if with every thing which appears ‘to be going down the tubes’ in the world, particularly our changing climate, if anyone will be here in 150 years.

The Saving Grace of Getting Older

However, living an elderly life can be especially blessed by actively living a full spiritual life. What starts to lack in the physical can grow and be restored in the spiritual side of our lives. God does not view us as any less, if we are unable to do up our own shirt buttons. God looks for what our hearts are focused on, not on our physical accomplishments. I have had a productive career as a photographer, but I believe God cares much more about how I seek Him and care for others.

The power of a growing elderly population developing their spiritual lives, as their physical abilities decline, is as incredible and formidable as the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer. Far more than we can possibly think or imagine. It is one of the church’s resources not one of it’s burdens. There is a need for a proactive paradigm shift within the church to actively equip and encourage the elderly to develop the gifts of the Spirit. Many elderly have never seen the gifts of the Spirit in action, never seen someone get healed or witnessed a deaf person hear for the first time in their lives. How meaningful and fulfilling it could be for them to be introduced to the power of our living God.

Jesus told the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, before they received the power of the Holy Spirit. The church was never intended to function with out the help of the Holy Spirit and yet many life long church attendees were never discipled to seek out the gifts or the Spirit. They have been dedicated, faithful and sacrificial but sheltered from being proactive with the Holy Spirit.  I would love to see those mature 80 and 90 year olds full and overflowing with God’s loving, living Holy Spirit, as well. After all it is God who does the heavy lifting, He just wants us to join in.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 1:6.

Please pray that Christine and I can complete the work God has called us to, that all people will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, and that the work of our hands will lead people to God. And don’t forget to let us know how we can pray for you!

Love and Prayers,

Michael and Christine Hales

Mick’s Photography Christine’s Icons

What Am I Here For?

‘What am I here for and what happens next?’

An orange plastic band was tied around the trunk of the tree. It really caught my eye because the early morning sun light was hitting the trunk. There are three or four trees in our housing community with those bands on them. They have been ear marked for cutting down. One can see why, there are hardly any leaves on them and they have fallen branches around them. Even so, they will be missed. Fortunately, our community is mindful to replace old trees with saplings.

We all have known since childhood that life is temporary and part of nature’s cycles; birth, life, death, birth and the cycle continues repeating with different hosts. Sometimes it takes an ugly orange band, to remind me, I cannot assume I know how much longer ‘my earth cycle’ is going to run. You see, I am pretty comfortable thinking, if I eat well, exercise well and be a good person, all will be well. But there has to be more to ‘this life cycle’, which we have been GIVEN, than doing it ‘well’ or for some, just surviving endless hardships.

Of course, I am asking those fundamental questions which all generations have done before me. What am I here for and what happens after this?

Recently, I officiated a memorial service for a nurse who had died with Covid, the second from that hospital in a month. The nurses have been living for nearly two years now under such pressure from Covid, working long hours in very stressful situations and limited staff. I was asked to keep the memorial service to less than fifteen minutes, because the nurses’ hands were needed working the wards. It was held outside on a very hot Florida afternoon and probably twenty nurses came. There was closure; a rose bush was planted, but I have to admit I left after all was done, heavy hearted because no one could tell me of that nurses’ spiritual life, no one.

So many of us are so absorbed in the activities of life, in the this case working long hours, that we don’t always get to really answer, ‘What am I here for and what happens next?’ 

For me, the most important part of that question is, ‘what happens next?’  I know in my heart, without a doubt, the truth of the words, Romans 10:13, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Because I can stand on that knowledge, then I can answer, ‘What am I here for and what happens next?’

But, that is my choice. 

Everyone needs to choose for themselves their spiritual life and destination. My plea would be, be sure you have answered those questions, before the tree crews come by with their chain saws buzzing. The freedom God has given us to choose in our lives, has responsibilities too. In this case, the decisions and choices we live by, are between ourselves and God, only. There is no other party, not a family member, a spouse, a parent, a political affiliation, our choice on vaccines, masks, our belief in climate change actions, not even the government, we can blame. This is just between me and God.

But God does not want us to answer these questions in a cold hearted clinical way. He is a God of love and his desire is to be in relationship with us, which activates love, lives love.

So I want to share a wedding I officiated between a bride of 84 and groom of 98, this last weekend. This was an affirmation of their love for each other, being placed before God, in a humble way. They just wanted the chance to affirm what God had already been doing in their lives; activating love and living lives of love.

So of course we read, 1 Corinthians 13, which ends so beautifully, ‘So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’ That is a rock I choose to remember.

Christine just finished teaching a four day online icon painting retreat. She has a large following of people all over the world now, who are dedicated to praying, painting, and walking closer to God through their visual prayers. We are so grateful for how God is working in our lives. Thank you all for your prayers, they make a BIG DIFFERENCE!

We pray for you too, and send our very best love,

Michael and Christine Hales

Michael’s Photo Website Christine’s Icons

What Do Jelly Fish Think About?

Jelly Fish

Walking on the beach, there is always something different to look at, from one week to the next. Sometimes there are a slew of jellyfish washed up for some reason.

We had a walk like that recently and the idea came to me as I pondered the stranded jelly, ‘what do they think about?’

It is the kind of thought a child would have, so I thought it was worth pursuing. Fortunately, I did not prod it, as I might have done as a young boy, I simply stared at it in wonder.

Jesus talks about us coming to the Kingdom of God as a child, Mark 10:13-15, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 

Working now in a community of elderly people, this direction could not be more relevant. 

Consider the saying, ‘It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks’. The older we become the harder it is for us to accept change, especially in our world or religious views.

People who have sat in a Baptist church for 80 years have a hard time thinking there may be a different expression of Christianity which is good and right; and that same thought could be switched to any other denomination. Perhaps, ‘thinking like a child’ would prevent our tendency to ownership of a denomination, rather than seeking an active personal relationship with God. Through a parent/child intimacy and trust.

As we grow older we will become more dependent on others and in that sense more child like physically. But how do we get our thinking, our trust, to become more child like, more innocent?

God is not asking for us to become stupid and not think about our beliefs, rather to open doors of a spiritual life which rational thinking closed years ago. Many Cessationist preacher declared the ends of the works of the Holy Spirit with the completion of Holy Scripture. Many sermon denounced seeking the miraculous or the outlined the danger of the supernatural. That theology has left an emptiness in many people’s life with God and kept many others from being interested to begin with.

Many of the elderly I minister with, have had no tangible experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit, even though they have been attending church for 80 or 90 plus years. I think how sad that is. I think again how boring that is. One thing I know is children do not enjoy being sad or bored; so something has gone wrong in the way ‘grown ups’ do ‘Church’ or the Holy Spirit has been received and known.

My prayer is to be ‘child like’ enough myself, that others can know, there are still spiritual doors waiting for them to explore through an intimate innocent trust that the work of the Holy Spirit is kind, caring, healing, loving and very much active today. I hope that is possible before some of us are too old to be children of Jesus; even for the first time or to wonder what jelly fish think.

Christine has had a busy month, preparing for teaching her next online Icon class and finishing up a commission. Her work was recently written about in two glowing articles, here are the links: https://www.einpresswire.com/article/552331066/christine-hales-creates-religious-icons-for-a-young-generation-of-christians

https://russianicon.com/holy-icons-in-the-modern-world-the-art-of-christine-hales/

Please pray with us for an end to the corona virus pandemic, for healing and protection for all, and for world peace.

We love you and pray for you each day,

Love and prayers,

Mick Hales Photography

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photographs Christine’s Icons

Not Offended

We are just moving into August and the numbers of Covid hospitalized people in Florida is now daily breaking all of the state’s previous numbers. Proudly or shamefully, Florida, sits number one for infections currently in America.

In many ways it all seems unreal, that we would be deep into another wave. For the nurses and doctors that I see when doing visitations in hospital, this is just totally exasperating, tiring and frightening. 

I question in my mind,”have people gone nuts?!” Get vaccinated, it works incredibly well!!

We have vaccines going out of date on the shelf here, while other countries are longing to get hold of them. 

I remember as a child preparing to go to Karachi from England, to travel between countries in those days one had to have an International Certificate of Vaccination, showing your vaccination dates for cholera, small pox and yellow fever. As a child I hated getting injections, but even at a young age I knew why I was doing it; for my own health, for the health of my family and for the people I would meet, anywhere.

Then there is climate change! Again I question in my mind, have people gone nuts; who say there is not enough evidence yet, to suggest climate change is really happening or that human activity has caused it.

 Some of the crisis events, I see around me, are too big for me to question or affect. I can speak my mind on them, but the political positions sent over the various media, have done such a good job of capturing and sealing peoples’ minds, one wonders if anyone is thinking clearly anymore. 

Then a text arrives on the phone, announcing the passing, of a person who attended one of my classes, just four days ago. She seemed alive and well at the time. What happened?

One thing after another starts to stack up, clogging my mind and I realize I do not like what I seem to be focused on. This is not what I want to be doing, this is not what God wants me to be stuck on. 

Mick Hales Photography

This morning, God confirmed that to me in two ways. 

First, I awoke knowing I was submitted to God and felt perfectly at peace.

Second, I had a meeting at my work and before it got started, a blind person, who is part of the meeting, shared how she did not want to be around all the anger and frustrations people were expressing in her life. She only wanted to experience people, as the individuals whom God sees them to be.

Yes; I had been sharing in the anger, the judgement, the isolation habits which seem to be bubbling to the surface within me and many other people. I was off the tracks. Off God’s tracks.

Mick Hales Photography, Christine Hales Painting

Thank goodness God worked through rest and a blind person, to help me see.

Mathew 11:4-6

And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

We often go to the beach for a mind re-set. There we experience the enormity of God’s sky, his clouds, the waters and endless lapping of the waves. We owe so much to the healthy functioning of this planet. Let us join together to pray for healthy climate controls and environmental protection universally.

Lord, we pray for the wild fires in California to cease, we pray for rain where it is needed, for crops to flourish around the world so that the poor and farmers can survive, we pray for our law makers to enact safety precautions to protect our earth and the peoples who depend on it.

Mick Hales Photography

We love you, Lord Jesus, you are our all in all, our savior and King. Please help us.

Amen

Sending you all love and prayers, and do let us know how we can pray for you! We always appreciate your prayers, especially for financial security, health, and blessings of love and friendship.

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons

Ora et Labora

My old school motto, pray and work, is actually a Benedictine value from the Rule of St Benedict. I had to do some research on my school in England recently which jolted that memory.

Myakka photo by Mick Hales

Looking back over my life I think I may have changed the word order to Labora et Ora. Or working more than praying.

The Benedictine concept was to stop work five times a day for prayer, or an ‘Office’, and then resume working, eating or sleeping. 

So many things in our Christian lives are about getting the right balance between our personal time with God and all the other issues we deal with constantly. Now that I work as a Chaplain, I find my personal time with God, can get squeezed out by time ministering to people.

I need to remember they are different but interdependent.

So, I took a morning to myself recently to visit Myakka Park which is close by and is as wild a landscape as we have; made up of palmettos, palm trees and live oaks all creatively interwoven as only God can manage.

Myakka Photo by Mick Hales

I took my bible with me and when I was deep in green solitude, I started to read Romans 8 out loud. Romans 8 has been transformational for me at different times of my walk with God, but on that day I felt such an oppression, I could not read past; ‘The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs with God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him.’

My heart seemed to sink deeply and I felt an immense resistance to continue with the reading.

I realized to stand as a child of God there needs to be a strong consistent parental connection, a living relationship, as Jesus pursued with the Father. Children tend to neglect their parents after they have left home. Their lives become full and connecting to their parents grows less rewarding. I had fallen into that trap and was being awakened to my failings. I was not spending quality time with God.

Two things seemed to happen simultaneously at that point. I received a text telling me, one of my flock had just passed away. I had prayed for her, alongside her son, the previous day.  Also, I heard God requesting me to finish reading Romans 8 out loud. 

As the words finally came out of me, ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus,’ the awareness of the loving Father was so powerful for me in that wilderness.

God gave me a lesson in undeserved love, by the depths of His Grace. As a parent does to their child. 

Saint Francis by Christine Hales

Please let us know how we can pray for you. Christine Sends her love, too!

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales Mick’s Photography Christine’s Icons

Memorials and Trust

Fallen petals by Mick Hales

Christine is between teaching classes on line and is using the time to work on three new icons. She has been inspired to write St Sebastian,  patrons Saint of Healing from the Plague , Madonna and Child on a Gothic shaped icon board, and Julian of Norwich, mystic and writer. She has been inspired to write these three because icons help us to focus our prayers and these particular saints represent issues we are praying about today.

Her next on line iconography class is scheduled forJuly 13-16th  , will focus on the principles of sacred geometry which are the untold structures behind the visual arrangement of icons and can captivate our eyes through their inherent dynamic. There is always so much more to learn about icons, their design and the prayer which is integral to their making.

Christine looking at a Rosa Bonheur Painting at the Ringling Museum

Memorial Day

Memorial weekend is celebrated as the start of summer and people made a dash for the beach, stores opened their sales, the airports were packed; so can we forget COVID now? Of course, we all would like that. 

For many in the USA, COVID would seem to be in the ‘rear view mirror’, but for many other countries, with very low vaccination rates, this is just the start of a prolonged health and economic onslaught. It is worth our remembering this COVID issue is by no means over!

Over the memorial weekend, Michael facilitated a memorial service for one of the residents at the community he serves as chaplain. This was the first in house, open in person memorial service in about fourteen months. He had done one outdoors with controlled attendance at a military cemetery earlier in the May. 

This is good news!

Many people have died in the last year without the opportunity for their families and friends to have a memorial service; in whatever form that may take. Michael lost his brother in England and was unable to attend the memorial service because of the many restrictions, and that story is the same in many families.

The fact that in person memorials are now becoming a possibility, even many months after someone passes, can be really healing. Also, something we may not be aware of and is possibly as valuable as the closure from the past, is creating fresh openings for the future. 

When we celebrate those who have past in community, by laying their lives down before the Lord, we can open the door to a new future. We are in affect celebrating and acknowledging one of God’s creation. When we do that, new doors will open for us, which reveal God’s creative nature through new relationships or interests. It is God’s desire that we always continue to experience more of Him, and to enable that He opens new doors to unveil His heart and nature. It is then up to us to decide if we are ready to travel through the doors He opens or stay where we are. God always leaves us free choice.

When God opened a ‘new door’ of the gospel starting to be preached to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, Peter was given a vision to travel to visit a Gentile stranger, Cornelius, whose prayers had risen to God as a ‘memorial’.  What takes place is the laying down of the old and the opening up of the new, for both Jews and Gentiles. Read the whole extraordinary story in Acts 10, this is a snippet from the beginning, Acts 10:3-4

About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

It is really time now, for us as a nation, to lay down the destructive divisions of our recent past and decide we are ready to move through the many doors God has unveiled for healing. Let us all pray for an end and a rebirth, worthy of God calling a ‘memorial’, in our nation and in our own lives. Please join with us in praying for unity for our nation and brotherly love to replace self interest.

Sending our love and prayers to each of you,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s Photos Christine’s Icons

The Fullness of God’s Love

In April, Christine held another online icon class that focused on color theory and symbolism while the participants painted [ correct term is wrote] St George and the Dragon. She also completed an icon commission on St John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila for a church in Connecticut, see detail of St Teresa.

St. Teresa of Avila

She has developed an interest in the art of Egypt and is looking into exploring the Old Testament personalities to utilize that style in her iconography. What is wonderful about Christine’s work is, she is always looking for ways to bring the contemporary Western Church into a deeper usage of icons. Her online classes are known for leading the participants into a meaningful prayer time with the Lord while they are painting. This is the wealth of learning iconography in that it draws one intimately into a connection with the Lord.

Michael had trips, the first traveling for photography in over 15 months, to Nappa, CA and Western CT. Photographing gardens in those places, touched the high points of roses in California and tulips in Connecticut. 

At the elderly community where Michael is a Chaplain, people are slowly starting to be more engaged in activities. It is almost as though people need to learn how to be comfortable socializing again, even wearing a mask. Like learning how to ride a bike again. The isolation has left its’ toll. 

Michael has started a prayer table, for people to come to talk in depth about what has happened for them through the pandemic and receive prayer. It is particularly difficult when residents are faced with having to move to assisted living from independent living. Sometimes it separates spouses who have different physical abilities, who possibly lived together 60 or 70 years. On the whole though there is a feeling of optimism, especially that people will be able to visit with family again and a sense of purpose to life is filtering back in. Some who recently were moved to assisted living have been able to attend the Sunday service again, and it means so much to them to take up their places with old friends.

Life is such a gift, even when we lose some functionality, God loves us more than we can understand. We tend to look at our physical situation, where as God is looking at the nature of our hearts. He wants us to keep our eyes on Him, not on ourselves. When we are able to focus on Him; He deals with our inabilities, our fears, our purpose for living. He will enable us to know how loved we are by Him.

California Poppies by Mick Hales

Michael was recently given a dandelion by our four year old granddaughter as he was leaving from a family visit. It was not until he was some miles away, down the road, that he recalled being given some buttercups as he was setting out on a journey by his son, many years before.

How can a child express love, but by offering up a gift, and what could be more perfect than a dandelion or a buttercup? In true love there will be pain. Just as the isolation of this pandemic year caused painful loss, love will rise above it. Because God is love and his love surpasses our understanding. 

Ephesians 3: 17-19

“…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Please, let us know how we can pray for you or your loved ones.

Michael and Christine.

Mick’s Photos Christine’s Icons

Challenges

He turned to me and said, ‘And don’t talk to me again with your mask on.’ Then he shuffled off with his walker. We had just shared a fifteen minute conversation. I had heard how his wife was ailing and unable to do much more than sleep. She had had a bad fall and then contracted Covid 19 and although this was several months later, he was worried she was loosing ground. I had prayed with him, for which he was grateful, then he finished our talk abruptly. 

Not being able to hear words spoken through a mask, is just the last straw for many elderly, who have seen their lives turned upside down in the pandemic. Loneliness, confusion, gradual loss of sight and hearing; these are just a few of the difficulties they face. Loss of mobility, fear of falling, memory loss and the slow onset of dementia or equally difficult, their spouse’s.

The physical challenges the elderly face slowly force them into an internally lived world. A world shared with themselves. The TV News constantly talks of a world so different from the one they grew up in and spent the best years of their life with. It seems like their value system has no value anymore.

It has gone or it is going. Everywhere they turn or they turn to do, has left or is leaving, has died or is dying. Possibly the hardest challenge for many is holding on to a purpose for living, a purpose for their lives, now.

Well, it has always been that way, one might argue. That is true, except for three areas which may have exasperated this purposelessness the elderly increasingly endure. 

Less and less people are being cared for by their own family members as they age, in fact their children are likely to live busy lives of their own, a plane trip away. No direct family connections leads to loneliness and isolation.

People are living much longer, due to medical advances, so living into your nineties or even hundreds, is becoming the norm. 

But for me, the most significant difference I see, is many elderly are living without a close relationship with God in their lives. 

The church past and present have contributed to this by: in the past, by teaching a theology of a distant judging Father God who expected works for one’s salvation; and in the present, by focusing on discipling the young, who would be more effective at reaching the lost, for more years.

Consequently, the kinds of questions and assurances, that a loving close relationship with Jesus Christ would answer and provide are left as an empty wound, mixed in with the all the other challenges aging brings.

God has led me to work in an elderly community as a Chaplain and I would not have had any awareness of this dynamic and quite frankly any interest either. We have a tendency to expect the state to look after the latter years of peoples lives with ‘meals on wheels’, or other programs. Some families are still able to help an aging relative but as a whole our society has moved away from an extended family life styles.

There is a real need for the spiritual lives of the elderly to be attended to. I am learning on the job and thank God for that opportunity.

We wish you all a very Happy Easter and look forward to hearing how we can best pray for you!

May God bless you and hold you in His favor,

Michael’s Photography Christine’s Icons

Christine and Michael Hales

The Right Place

Spanish Point Chapel, photo by Mick Hales

In the Right Place at the….

Working as a Chaplain in an elderly persons community I find myself asking the question, ‘Is this really where God wants me?’

Then I reason, ‘this is my selfish thinking getting in the way of serving God and my pride is trying to make my ministry expectations more significant than is appropriate.’

OK, so in that case, I am exactly where I should be, and God has not deserted me, but I still  wish I could serve Him more.

A little voice says, ‘What does that have to do with you? It is really up to God how he wants to use you.’ 

I am serving as Chaplain in an old people’s community.   I question it because my ‘Vespers’ services appear so boring that everyone goes to sleep.

Actually, it is just what they need, a chance to sleep, in the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the service this last Sunday, I had to shake awake my violinist, the only source of music we have, for him to play. 

But when you are approaching 80, 90 or your into your 100 years, it is an achievement to make it to the Sunday service in the auditorium. That is a big deal for each of them and if you catch a nap so much the better.

I often ask myself, well what can I really give or teach people who have gone to church for thirty five years before I ever read through the bible.

But there goes my thinking again, placing the burden on myself to be ‘doing the work’, when in fact only God can do it.

Most of my flock can not see to read, they cannot hear even with hearing aids, they do not move without a walker or an electric cart. They have continued as well as they could through the pandemic, trying to keep their thoughts positive, but it has hurt everyone. You can see the sadness in their eyes, as they pull down their masks and ask, ‘How long is this going on for?’

I have the luxury of movement, hearing, seeing and asking myself, ‘am I in the right place?’ 

My flock does not; they are staying where they are. Thankfully they can always ask, ‘God are you still with me, do you still hear me? Are you really as powerful as the Chaplain says you are and do you really love me as much as he says you do?’

That is when God silently answers and his love begins to flow and they are reborn again. Their smiles come back again and they are so glad they were able to make Vespers this week, even if they may have missed a part of it. They were present and so was the gentle Holy Spirit touching each one with wisdom, grace and power, in a very personal way.

God is always in the right place and I just want to be with Him as He ministers, in His presence.

 1 Corinthians 3:7    “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

Christine’s News

I’ve been finishing the “lamentation” commission and now that has been shipped off to it’s new home! I’m also finishing up a commission for st. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

I’m preparing for teaching my next online icon painting class, April 13-16. And I’ve successfully submitted my application for post graduate work at the Prince’s Foundation School in London for advanced Iconography research. In the next month or so I should hear the status of that.

Another Church Icon Talk

Tomorrow I’ve been asked to give a talk on my work for the Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bradenton, Florida. I feel so blessed to be here, working in my studio everyday. The winds are gently blowing, the sun is shining and I have all my icon materials and books all around me. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your goodness and blessings!

Mick Hales Photography

We send you all our love and best wishes for staying healthy and safe. Do be in touch with your prayer requests- it is our joy to pray for you!

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales

Michael’s Photography Website Christine’s Icon Website

Advent- The Coming of the Light!

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9

Sometimes we encounter Christians, who are sure, they are the holders of ‘the true light’. That they have been given a prophetic word, which must mean that they are following the correct path and them only. Then there are some who hold to a strict tradition which has always and only done things in a certain way, so any broadening of that way, is named heretical.

Annunciation Angel Icon by Christine Hales

The question then becomes, how does one interact with people who are so dogmatic they are unable see the other side of the coin; no matter how much truth the other side of the coin holds. 

As ministers for Christ these are encounters we have all the time.  These are not interactions with non believers but with other Christians.

‘Well, you say, this has been going on since the beginning of the Church, Christ was dealing with these same situations.’ The Christian family, as broad as it is, as diverse as it is, as large as it is, as dogmatic as parts of it are, is still completely loved by God the Father. God is able to continue loving all of it.

The Light which God brought into the world; His Love, is for everyone.

Mick Hales Photography

I cannot claim or assign myself, more lovable by God than any other.

Mick Hales Photography

I also cannot claim my way to worship, or express my creative gifts, as the only way that God would want it practiced. However, I do know He wants me to worship Him and be creative for Him, as He does with everyone.

Mick Hales Photography

This Christmas as we reflect on Christ bringing his true light into the world, I will try to remember that God’s love came into the world for everyone. 

Icons

Christine has been invited to give a series of talks for Advent at Church of the Redeemer, the Episcopal Church that we belong to. The Title of the series is “New Perspectives in Church Art”.

The “New Perspectives in Christian Church Art “Talks she is giving at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota this month will be aired on their FB page, https://www.facebook.com/RedeemerSarasota and You Tube page, https://www.youtube.com/user/redeemersarasota at 6:30PM Friday evenings, Dec.4, 11, 18, and January 1. Hope you can catch some of them, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it all!

Chaplaincy

Turkeys for those in need

Well, lots has happened in November. Freedom Village collected and donated over 1200 lbs of turkey for Thanksgiving for food challenged families. Christine delivered a commissioned icon of CS Lewis. We had an election which, unreally, was claimed to be a fraud. The in-person Alpha class that I led at Freedom Village was completed with a full house, fully masked.

Yes, we are looking forward to Christmas and time to fully celebrate Christ’s birth. 

We pray you are well and looking forward to it as well.

Ringling Museum Gardens