Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-29-15

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Scripture:  Psalm 42:5-6
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Thought for the Day: Solomon Bellow, the author, once wrote: “Everyone needs memories.  They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.”  When the Israelites found themselves exiled and far from their beloved Jerusalem, they drew from their memories like a person draws nourishing water from a well.  Some say that in a time of crisis a person clings to his/her memories, but our memories are so woven into our being that there is no clinging to them.  We simply travel down the pathway of our past where we find those life-giving memories that sustain us in the present.

Prayer: Though I do not desire to live in the past, O Lord, may I venture there when necessary to find nourishment at the well of recollection.  Amen.

IMPORTANT

This Coming Sunday
July 5

ONE SERVICE SUNDAY
Worship at 10:30am

Don’t Miss It

And stay for lunch…

Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-28-15

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Scripture: Luke 10:33-37
“But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’”  Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”  The lawyer said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Thought for the Day: Samaritans were a category of despised people. Had the word been used in a melodrama, it would have been followed with boos and hisses.  Yet like he so often did, Jesus broke the scorned category by introducing us to an individual. Hate is often obscured when it is associated with “those people” who are demonized without specific evidence. In fact, the use of broad categories creates fear and suspicion that are not easily refuted. In today’s sermon, I will be emphasizing the importance of breaking the perceived categories used for perpetrating hate.  Breaking open these ill-construed categories happens as we get to know the individuals involved. Hate has no place among the followers of Jesus, and as those who love Jesus, we need to do as he did – breaking the categories that obscure people’s humanity. We can start by reaching out to the individuals within those categories.

Prayer: Hate has no place in your Kingdom, O Lord, and since it has no place in your kingdom, it must not be present within your church or the people who are the church. Amen.

JOIN US FOR WORSHIP

This Morning
at
8:15, 9:30 or 11:00

Jigsaw - Title

Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-27-15

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Scripture: Mark 12:28-31
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’”

Thought for the Day: I have never intentionally set out to write a long devotional, but this one will be much longer than usual – sorry!  As all of you most certainly know, the Supreme Court made a significant ruling yesterday. Like almost every major Supreme Court decision throughout American history, some people celebrated and others were left feeling highly disappointed. Quite often people have pointed to Christianity and the Bible as the foundation for opposing same-sex marriage. Technically, the Bible says nothing specific about same-sex marriage. The Biblical concept of marriage was an exchange of property (the bride) between two property owners (father and groom). For that reason, the notion of marriage between two property owners or two pieces of property would not have made sense 3000 or even 2000 years ago. Today, most of us would be opposed to a strict understanding of Biblical marriage for it dehumanizes women and disregards any sense of true mutuality. Of course, there are glimpses, especially in the life of Jesus, where a deeper understanding of love is revealed.

At the same time, a 2015 PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) study showed that the majority of Catholics (60 percent), white mainline Protestants (62 percent), and Jewish Americans (77 percent) either “favor” or “strongly favor” legal recognition of marriages for LGBT couples. Even 64% of more conservative Evangelicals under the age of 30 support same-sex marriage. How can this be? It all seems very complicated – confusing…

In the same way that Christianity has evolved over time, we find ourselves at another evolutionary moment. At every evolutionary moment, it has been complicated and confusing, but shouldn’t Christianity evolve? Just think: Christianity not only executed people for claiming the earth was not the center of the universe, but it supported slavery, opposed women having the right to vote and fought against inner racial marriage. It also used the Bible to argue all of these, and in some cases (slavery as one example), the Bible appears to be on the side of those things we would find immoral today.

So what do we do? Public opinion should not be our guide. Even the Supreme Court does not necessarily speak for Christianity. At the same time, Christianity needs to be asking the same questions being asked by the Supreme Court and the culture itself. Personally, I have very passionate opinions on the subject of same-sex marriage. I am also the pastor of a congregation that is all over the spectrum on this subject. There are people who I love and respect who disagree with me, but even the recent court decision is not going to change my love or respect for them.

At the end of the day, we as Christians need to reflect on the life of Jesus. Not only what he taught with his lips but how he educated his disciples through his interaction with others. When he was asked for a summary of the ancient religion, he pointed to two interwoven concepts – to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love is the unchanging core of Jesus’ ministry, while many other scriptural points were culturally and historically bound. I think we need to trust Jesus, and in doing so, trust love.

I hope we can continue this conversation in many different settings, yet I want to encourage those who are celebrating the Supreme Court ruling to be cautious not to rub it in the face of others. And for those who are disappointed in the ruling, don’t condemn the joy that others feel. Instead, let us all listen to one another, learn from one another, and love one another.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, continue to teach us your way of love. When there is disagreement and division within your church, keep us focused on the belief that your love always wins in the end. Amen.

TOMORROW’S SERMON

Jigsaw - Title

Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-26-15

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Scripture: Psalm 5:7-8
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house, I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

Thought for the Day: The Eastern Orthodox Bishop, Kallistos Ware, said that “God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.” Too often those of us in the church create unneeded lines of conflict as we attempt to demonstrate our superior knowledge of God, yet this exhibition of knowledge leaves very little room for our imaginations to be caught in the vortex of wow. I’m not suggesting that learning is bad. Absolutely not! But let us never place knowledge of God above the wonderment felt as we stand before the awesomeness of divine love and the mystery of that love being made real in Jesus.

Prayer: Let my mouth drop wide open as I come before you, my Creator and Redeemer. You are the source of my awe! Amen.

Join Us For Worship

This Sunday Morning
at
8:15, 9:30 or 11:00

Preaching on:
Philippians 1:27-30

Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-25-15

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Scripture: Leviticus 19:13
You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning.

Thought for the Day: You’d think there are certain things that don’t need to be said.  For instance, you don’t steal from your neighbor or keep money that doesn’t belong to you.  When you read passages like this one, you have a feeling the author was very aware of some specific situation.  There are times in faith when I’d like to think we could assume the basics, but assumptions are dangerous.  We need to restate them now and then as the world around us is always trying to justify why it is okay to steal from our neighbors and withhold money from those who have earned it.

Prayer: Mighty God, assist me as I attempt to stand firm in your teachings that are just and kind.  Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-24-15

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Scripture: Psalm 77:10
And I say, “It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”

Thought for the Day: Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a woman who experienced great grief in the kidnapping and death of her first child.  She wrote, “Grief can’t be shared. Everyone carries it alone. His own burden in his own way.”  In grief’s most difficult moments, it often feels like a solo experience. Yet looking back at my own experiences of grief, I see both the divine presence and the body of Christ walking alongside me. Both of these companions assumed much more of the weight than I realized at the time.  More than anything, God desires to see our grief transformed, yet this change does not come overnight.  It is a journey, but a journey we take alone only if we choose.

Prayer: Make your presence known to me, O Lord, in my darkest hours.  Even if it takes you knocking me upside the head with your spirit so that I know.  Amen.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT
July 12

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-23-15

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Rev. Sheila Gillette

Scripture: Phil 2:3-5
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

Thought for the Day: I heard this morning on KSBJ the DJ talking about this scripture and its meaning. Then the DJ was asking those listening, do we act like that, like Jesus, to all we meet? In our daily lives can the people we talk to, come in contact with, or live with, tell that we are Christian by our actions and words? Are we humble? Do we put others before ourselves? Got me thinking…………

Then as my day went on, I had to deal with the doctor, physical therapy, and insurance. They were both charging me my deductible; so, after paying double my deductible, I was getting a little testy on the phone with the insurance lady. I don’t think she could tell that I was a Christian by my words. Then I emailed the company that made the sewing machine that I bought for my granddaughter because there is a piece missing off the machine. When she called me back, she said “Rev. Gillette”? I said yes and we talked. She swears the piece is on the machine and I just didn’t turn the knob. Wow, did I stop and think about my reply after answering to “Rev”.  I’m not used to people calling me that! I think I was a little nicer to her than the insurance lady. But that title, “Rev”, really put me in my place. I wasn’t acting like a good Christian with my mouth whether I had the title in front of my name or not! Every time we open our mouths, we are representing Jesus. Make your/my words count!

Prayer: Almighty God, help me to be your disciple. Give me the strength and wisdom to listen first, think about my response, and then respond in a loving, humble way. Let people know I am being an example of Christ in my daily walk. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

LOOKING AHEAD

July 5

Combined Service
at
10:30am
Fried Chicken Luncheon

Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-22-15

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Jan Nash

Scripture: Deuteronomy 34:1-7

Moses goes to Mount Nebo where he sees the wide stretch of lands. Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

Thought for the Day: Moses was given what seemed to be an impossible mission, yet he maintained forward focus, a sustaining vision, and discipline. The final chapter of Dare to Dream is packed full of inspirational sayings to help conquer burnout and adapt an attitude of perseverance and purposefulness. Here are a few tidbits of inspiration:

If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to first get out of the boat.
If you want to walk on water, don’t be afraid of getting a little wet.
Saints are sinners who kept on going.

Slaughter notes that we do not need to have all the resources at the outset of our mission to accomplish what God is calling us to do. God can use supernatural means to reach the hearts of unbelievers and those He calls. But He also uses you and me! Don’t be afraid to go live out your Big-Hairy-Audacious-God-Purpose!

Prayer: Lord of All Creation, I am so thankful that you never let go of me. Clear my vision and renew my focus and give me courage to persevere for the sake of Your kingdom. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

LOOKING AHEAD

July 5

Combined Service
at
10:30am

Fried Chicken Luncheon

Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-21-15

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Jan Nash

Scripture: Judges 6:14-17
Then the Lord turned to Gideon and said, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.” He responded, “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them.” The he said to the Lord, “If now I have found favor with you, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me…”

Though for the Day: Dare to Dream’s fifth chapter shines a light on doubt and feeling unqualified. At one time or another, we all struggle with feeling inadequate, inferior, or ill-equipped. The first thing to remember is that God has equipped you with everything you need to fulfill your God-Purpose. In God, you already have everything you need to accomplish the mission you were created for. It’s the Holy Spirit that awakens our gift and talents. Listed below are three tools to help us discover what God has called us to do:

The gifts of my HEAD – What I know
The gifts of my HAND – What I do
The gifts of my HEART – What I feel

Think about what you know, what you love to do, and what you’re passionate about. When you give your best, you can trust God to do the rest.

Prayer: O Lord, Giver of Gifts, I surrender my doubt to You. Sharpen my ears to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit as I embark on the path You’ve paved for me. Allow me, Oh Lord, to faithfully spread Your good news wherever I go.  In the glorious name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

JOIN US IN WORSHIP
THIS MORNING

Sermon TextMark 4:35-41

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 06-20-15

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Jan Nash

Scripture: Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Thought for the Day: Session four of our Dare to Dream series spotlighted the fact that we are all going to die. With that in mind, there’s no time like the present to seize the opportunity to seek God’s will for your life. We kindle our courage and begin the quest, plotting and planning in an effort to seek God’s will for our lives. Then, the excuses arrive.

I’m not qualified
I’m spiritually unfit
No one will believe me
I’m afraid

Sound familiar? God can reclaim, redeem and recycle our struggles and suffering, transforming them into tools for ministry. All we have to do is lose our ‘Big Buts’ and believe.

Prayer: God of Mercy, hush the excuses that fill my mind.  Infuse me with your grace and fill my thoughts with the joy of You! Help me, Oh Lord, to joyfully embrace your purpose for my life. In the glorious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

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