Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-20-14

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Scripture: 1st Corinthians 6:12 (the Message)
Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

Thought for the Day: Have you ever had someone ask you something that in the moment seemed entirely inappropriate? During a recent wedding, just moments before I stepped into the sanctuary to perform the ceremony, the photographer asked for my opinion (his was very clear) on a hot political topic. Not only did the wording of his question assume a specific take on the issue he raised, but clearly he lacked the basic facts. I made the mistake of pointing out that his question was flawed which only increased his desire to have a public debate with the bride just moments away from her grand entrance.

Within Christianity, I believe we should be able to talk about anything and everything. With that said, there are appropriate times and places for certain conversations and debates and there are inappropriate times and places. Being able to know when and where to keep our mouths closed is really important, especially as people of faith. If questions remain in regard to my thinking on this matter, let me reinforce that you should not ask the minister his thoughts on a controversial political issue 45 seconds before a wedding…especially when you are the photographer.

Prayer: God of Heaven, guide me in my conversations with others, and when the next thought is not quite appropriate for the setting, give me the wisdom to talk about the weather. Amen.

MEN’S GATHERING

Tuesday Night
Cramer Retreat Center
7pm


WEDNESDAY STUDIES
Noon & 6:30pm
Revelation-Odd

Four Week
Study on
the Book of Revelation

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-19-14

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Scripture: Deuteronomy 32:45-47
When Moses had finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them: “Take to heart all the words that I am giving in witness against you today; give them as a command to your children, so that they may diligently observe all the words of this law. This is no trifling matter for you, but rather your very life; through it you may live long in the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.”

Thought for the Day: In the last two months, we have spoken a lot about crossing over. In this passage from Deuteronomy, the people were still under the leadership of Moses prior to reaching the Jordan River and actually crossing over. Moses is looking ahead to that glorious day, and though he will not be traveling with them, he wants to make sure they understand the responsibility that will be required of those whom God leads to the other side. The Promised Land is not going to consist of one party after another. Instead, this should be understood as a calling and an honor. The life of faith has many crossing over moments, and though there is joy associated with all of them, God isn’t suggesting that we view it as our retirement. There is a whole adventure ahead of any individual or community who crosses over.

Prayer: Gracious God, usher me across whatever barrier stands between me and the life you need me to live. Amen.

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PRIMETIMERS

(Seniors Better Than 50)

Bus Trip on October 23
Varner-Hogg Plantation Historical Site

Sarah Rabon–Contact Person

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-18-14

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Scripture: Galatians 5:1-2
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you.

Thought for the Day: Paul is passionate about the notion of freedom, though this is not some permission-giving freedom to do anything.  To find freedom through Christ is to be freed from a life lived apart from God. This act of grace in Jesus Christ frees us to mirror God’s own life, to joyful choose the humble way of servant love for the sake of others.  When Christians toss around the language of how “Christ has set me free,” it is often used as some sort of divine permission to be freed from any personal responsibility.  Christ does not want us to live in guilt, but great responsibility comes with this gift of grace that unlocks the chains of whatever it is that has previously enslaved us.  The liberating gift we have received should not be tossed aside after we have enjoyed its benefits.  Instead, it should be studied and embraced, embraced and enjoyed, enjoyed and offered to others.

Prayer: May the freedom I enjoy by your grace, O Lord, be freedom that others can enjoy because of the life I choose to live through that gift of freedom.  Amen.

Be In Worship This Sunday

You’ll be glad you did


If you’ve not turned in your Commitment Cards,

please do so this Sunday
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PRIMETIMERS
(Seniors Better Than 50)

Bus Trip on October 23
Varner-Hogg Plantation Historical Site

Sarah Rabon–Contact Person

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-17-14

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Scripture: Micah 6:4
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Thought for the Day: The Prophet Micah reminding the people of their history — what it was that God had done in bringing freedom from bondage centuries earlier, and equally important, the people whom God had sent to guide them more fully into a life of liberation. Why is it that Micah is needing to remind the people of their history? Simply put, the Israelites in their freedom have come to resemble Egypt, the perpetrator of slavery. It’s fascinating how quickly the newly liberated can find their way into power and begin to do the very same things that had enslaved them. In vs. 8, Micah reminds them of their mission and purpose:

O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Those who have known slavery (or their ancestries knew slavery) would always be on the side of the enslaved. Within the larger family of Christianity, many of our sisters and brothers have known or continue to know slavery. Micah doesn’t make a suggestion, but tells his people (and us) what is required — justice, kindness and choosing to walk humbly with God.

Prayer: Let me always be aware of the enslaved, marginalized and weak. Keep their situations before me, so that my concern might reflect your concern, O Lord who has always worked to liberate the oppressed. Amen.

Worship On Sunday Morning

8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Don’t miss it!!

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-16-14

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Scripture: Isaiah 44:8-11
Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one. All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit; their witnesses neither see nor know. And so they will be put to shame. Who would fashion a god or cast an image that can do no good? Look, all its devotees shall be put to shame; the artisans too are merely human. Let them all assemble, let them stand up; they shall be terrified, they shall all be put to shame.

Thought for the Day: Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. I find his words to be some of the most challenging, inspiring and insightful. Recently he wrote: “All I know is that there is eventually a major equivalence between you and the God you worship. If you are a merciful, forgiving person, then I know you’ve met the real God. If you are narrow, stingy, and fearful, then you are worshiping something that is not God, probably some form of yourself.” Our lives of faith are to move toward God, a life that more resembles the truth that we were created in the image of God and intended to live as a reflection of that God in the world. Yet too often we seek to create a god in our image, living a life that no way resembles that image of the God made real in Jesus Christ. In those moments, all we end up doing is reflecting to the world something that is not of God.

Prayer (based on Isaiah 44:23): Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done good things; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For you, O Lord, have redeemed all creation. Amen.

Don’t Miss Sunday

It should be powerful!!

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-15-14

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Scripture: Act 6:8
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

Thought for the Day: What ‘wonders and signs’ (second word could be translated as miracles) does a person need to do to get executed? In an initial reading of Acts 6 and 7, it appears that Stephen was stoned to death because he took care of the most vulnerable. It doesn’t sound like an offense worthy of the death penalty. Even if there were those who didn’t like Stephen’s acts of compassion toward the widows and orphans, you would think they could tolerate such acts. The word translated as ‘wonders’ in this passage comes from the Greek word, Semaino, which means to make known. For Stephen, he was making grace and deeds of power known not simply to those in need but to the social structures that allowed for them to be in need. Let me suggest that Stephen was not about the work of charity, which rarely ruffles feathers, but was in fact making God’s reign known in ways that confronted the structures that ignored the most vulnerable. In today’s culture, it probably won’t get you killed, but it will get you demonized. If that’s happened to you, at least you are in good company.

Prayer: O Triune God–Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer–I praise your name, and in doing so, commit myself to the work of changing this world for the better. Amen.

TODAY

Wednesday Studies
Noon & 6:30pm

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-14-14

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Scripture: Exodus 22:26-27
If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.

Thought for the Day: I’ve always loved this passage and similar ones found in the Hebrew scriptures. As I read these words, I find a God who is incredibly practical. Too often religion makes God into some inaccessible being who is only interested in incomprehensible doctrines and ideologies. But here in this passage we are introduced to a God who is concerned about a guy having something warm to wear to bed. Don’t get me wrong, theology and philosophy (the ways we talk about God) are incredibly important, but what we find here is that when we talk about God it should be in down-to-earth terms. Anyone whose compassion is focused on a warm nightgown for an individual who knowingly traded his away is someone who is concerned about the ordinary commonsense things that concern us all. That someone is our God.

Prayer: O Creator of All, thank you for being concerned about the most basic of needs even when I am knowingly traded them away. Amen.

Have You Returned
Your Crossing Over Campaign
Pledge Card?

Please do it soon
as we are completing the budget

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-13-14

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Scripture: Revelation 13:16-18
Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.

Thought for the Day: On this day in 56 AD, the Roman Emperor Claudius was poisoned and his 17 year-old stepson took the throne.  This young man was Nero, perhaps the greatest instigator of persecution against the early Christians.  The book of Revelation, though completely distorted by recent movies and Christian fiction, is addressing the divine word to first century Christians who knew great suffering.  The author of Revelation was not pointing to some 8th century, 12th century, 17th century or 21st century figure when speaking of the beast whose number was six hundred and sixty-six.  As every ancient language had numeric values for its alphabet, 666 was the number that represented the full imperial name of Nero.  Though Nero was dead by the time Revelation was written, the Emperor Domitian was considered by many Christians as a incarnation of the original evil one, Nero.  Domitian was equally detestable, bringing great suffering upon many groups including the followers of Jesus.  Understanding Revelation with in its context and its unique genre, those of us in the 21st century are able to appreciate the eternal truths about a God who stood with a persecuted people in the 1st century and continues to do the same in every generation.

Prayer: Lord God, keep me grounded when the world attempts to misrepresent the scriptures for no other reason than it is marketable and profitable.  Allow me to be a voice of reason amidst all the crazy hype.  Amen.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-12-14

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Scripture: Romans 12:17 (the Message)
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.

Thought for the Day: Wisdom is wisdom, no matter where its origin. It was Confucius who said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” When we are angry or frustrated or feeling neglected, we often respond with unhealthy and unhelpful behavior. I’ll be honest with you, I am not proud of all my responses and/or reactions. Yet when, by the grace of God, I find the ability to offer something good, the goodness not only honors the beauty in the other, but it also helps to reveal the beauty within me…making it more difficult for the other to continue in the behavior that originally caused injury.

Prayer: I need your strength, guidance and wisdom, O Lord of Life. I need you as I try to respond to those around me with the grace seen in the life of Jesus. Amen.

TODAY

If you have not
turned in your
Commitment Cards
for
the Crossing Over Campaign,
please do.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-11-14

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Scripture: Luke 19:4-6
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.  When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”  So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.

Thought for the Day: Luke’s Gospel is filled with stories of Jesus reaching out to the poor and those in need, and often those stories are put alongside words that are harsh toward the wealthy.  There is no question that Jesus had a special place in his heart for the least among us.  But  Fred Craddock reminds us that there were those who were mad at Jesus for sitting down with Zacchaeus, and it was probably because he was wealthy and they were not.  Craddock goes on to say,

“One can become so bitter toward the wealthy as to deny them a hearing of the Gospel.  More than once the Gospels present cases of persons of means coming to Jesus in search of life.  And why not?  Jesus did not champion war but he offered love and salvation to soldiers.”

The table of the Lord is much bigger than any group’s definition of who is deserving or welcome.

Prayer: When I assume someone to be unwelcome, O Lord of love, regenerate within me a vision of Jesus and his welcoming spirit.  Amen.

Let’s Cross The River

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