04-17-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 17, 2021

Saturday Prayer

Another Mass Shooting…
Have mercy, O Lord!
Lives lost
Innocence lost
Families broken
Communities broken
Have mercy, O Lord!
When will it stop?
How many more lives?
Where is your church?
Have mercy, O Lord!
Have mercy!
Amen.



04-16-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 16, 2021

Scripture
: Luke 18:18-19
A certain ruler asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

Thought for the Day: This is one of those challenging passages for good Trinitarians. If you believe Jesus was God enfleshed, then shouldn’t Jesus be good as well? I have six or eight different answers to that one question, but that’s not necessarily what is relevant. First, Jesus did not initially answer the question, but challenged a presumption found in the question. He declared God alone as good. Yet as the story moves on, Jesus gave the ruler some suggestions for how he might stretch himself toward God, toward the goodness of God. Yet if God alone is good, then even Jesus must have been stretching himself toward the good that is God. If you think of it in those terms, then the life of Jesus becomes for us a model for how we are to stretch ourselves. Many of the suggestions Jesus made to the ruler were challenging and disruptive to life as usual. In the end, the ruler recognized that and was not willing to make the change. It is interesting how God is always willing to give us a choice.

Prayer: I may not be good as you are good, Lord God, but I seek to have your goodness seen within me more and more each day. Amen.



04-15-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 15, 2021

Scripture
: Galatians 2:19-20
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Thought for the Day: What is it that keeps you from living more fully in a life-giving relationship with God? For Paul, it was a thing called “the law,” yet sadly many have narrowly used the idea and missed the point. In his moment of time, Paul was greatly concerned about how religious rules and restrictive interpretations could squeeze out any sense of grace and mercy. Ultimately, he was worried about people missing a life-giving relationship with God. There are times when people become so hyper-focused on the historic context of scripture (which is important) so as to never ask the next question, “So how does that relate to our current context?” And today, there are many examples of faith traditions squeezing out grace and mercy because of religious rules and restrictive interpretation. At the same time, there are many other ways in which people find themselves unable to access the life-giving love made real in Jesus. So I return to my initial question: What is it that keeps you from living more fully in a life-giving relationship with God? What needs to change? What needs to be transformed?

Prayer: Like any relationship, my relationship with you, Loving God, needs constant work. There are many things, both within me and from outside of me, that seek to interfere with the relationship I desire. Help me to be mindful and confessional, and where possible, seek lasting transformation. Amen.


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04-13-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 13, 2021

Scripture
: Micah 6:8
He has told you, O mortal , what is good and what the LORD requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.

Thought for the Day: On Sunday I shared the importance of having a clear response to the question: What are you doing here? Though the question can be heard in many different ways, I ask it in the big and broader sense. The question is asking about a personal mission statement, a clear sense of who you are in the universe. There are a lot of scriptures one could draw from, but these words from Micah would be an important scripture to consider. To ask the question, “What is good?” is to be reminded that only God is good, yet we are to endeavor to reflect God and the goodness of God. If that is our goal, then there are certain things required, including: to do justice, embrace faithful love and to walk humbly with God. I’m not suggesting you choose these words for yourself, but maybe wrestle with them for the day. What would it look like to make these words your mantra, and then to elevate them to your purpose statement for life?

Prayer: Continue to encourage me, O Lord, and in your encouragement provide me some courage. It might appear to be easier to wonder through life somewhat aimlessly, but if I desire to be faithful to you, then I need to know who I am and what I am doing here. Help me in my search. Amen.



04-12-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 12, 2021

Prayer for the Week
:
We ask for wisdom,
we ask for mercy.
We ask for faith,
we ask for compassion.
We ask so much
from the One who
has given so much.
O God who is abounding in steadfast love and who offers forgiveness beyond measure, we cannot match your generosity. We cannot pretend to fully replicate your sacrificial kindness, but we can strive to live so as to honor your giving. May the choices we make this day be the evidence of our heartfelt appreciation for all you have done. We shall offer our gratitude in lives well lived. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.



04-11-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 11, 2021

Scripture
: Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, so does shame, but wisdom brings humility.

Thought for the Day: I have been thinking a lot about humble service recently. Today, we will once again gather for in-person worship (LiveStream will also be available), and though the sanctuary is not finished, it will be good to be in there for a second Sunday. I’m guessing some folks might look around and notice the dust, the taped off area under the stairwells that remains quite dirty or the rough and uncarpeted aisles. What I want to talk about is all the hard work on Saturday by a handful of people to make sure the sanctuary was useable… maybe not perfect, but very useable. This group of people did not ask for anyone to take their picture and post it. They just got to work and made it happen. Wisdom is not necessarily academic brilliance. It is more awareness that comes from experience. For those involved in getting the sanctuary ready, their experience told them what needed to happen and they got to it… making it happen without seeking accolades. Today, I give thanks for all those who left the sanctuary a bit sweaty and dusty from doing some good work. God knows their names!

Prayer: Holy and Gracious God, you call us all to serve with a spirit of humility. Provide us the wisdom so as to recognize where we can best serve you. Amen.


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04-10-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 10, 2021

Scripture
: 1 Kings 19:1-2
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”

Thought for the Day: Phil Driscoll is a trumpet player and a songwriter. He has a song entitled, “Don’t Dance With The Devil,” and the chorus has the line: “Don’t dance with the devil. He’ll make a fool out of you.” Well King Ahab danced, maybe not with the devil, but with a not so good person by the name of Jezebel. Ahab not only danced with her, but married her. Whenever people choose to get married, there is some give and take. There will probably be some changes required for both folks, but any relationship that requires a person to give up their values should be questioned. My spouse has made me a better person. My values have not changed. Instead, she has helped me to understand those values on a deeper level, to see the implications of those values in so many new ways. This isn’t suggesting that certain values and beliefs should go unchanged forever. There are times when someone helps us to see how our so-called values are unhealthy or destructive, but changing on a whim for the sake of a relationship should always be done with caution. King Ahab was willing to go all in at the expense of everything he had previously claimed to believe. This rarely ends well.

Prayer: Help me to remain faithful to you, Lord God, and to the values and ideals you call me to live. I seek your assistance when I am distracted or find myself chasing something that undercuts the basics of a life that honors you. Amen.



04-09-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 9, 2021

Scripture
: Luke 12:15
And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Thought for the Day: As I was preparing for this Sunday’s sermon, I did a quick search to see how others might answer the question, “What does the Bible say about the meaning of life”? Of course, there was stuff all over the place, but one website gave a list of a dozen of the most important passages in the Bible for learning the meaning of life. Number four on the list was this passage from Luke’s Gospel. Now I would be among the first to join the voices of those who say that greed is a significant problem in our world, and the followers of Jesus need to make sure we are not overly obsessed with possessions. But for me, this passage from Luke’s Gospel (along with some others that were mentioned in the list) attempts to describe the meaning of life by telling folks what they should not do. There is a time and place for that, but I would think the “Good News” – with emphasis on the word “Good” – would want to begin with what we promote and encourage, not what we oppose. I would think it would be helpful to point people in the direction of where we want to go, not what we want to avoid… at least as a starting place. I am going to say something that others might disagree with, but I believe a lot of what has hindered the Christian message in the last hundred years is our obsession with telling people what not to do instead of sharing what is possible in life through love.

Prayer: Connect me anew, Lord God, to the beauty of your life-giving message. Let me hear it again; embrace it once more; share it with new fervor. There are some things I do need to be cautious about, but they most often fall inline when I focus myself on your unconditional love. Amen.


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04-08-21

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHING
April 8, 2021

Scripture
: Genesis 1:27
God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them.

Thought for the Day: This coming Sunday we will be reflecting on what it means to be human, and the specific question, “Why am I here?” In the language of philosophy, these are existential questions. Of course, it wasn’t just big names like Lao Tzu and Socrates who were pondering such things. In fact, there appears to be something within human nature that has always been searching for meaning, searching for purpose. And of course, such questions are not only taught in philosophy books, but expressed in poetry. Some people have described the first chapter of Genesis to be one of the great existential poems, seeking to provide meaning and purpose for a small tribe wondering a land in and around the Jordan River. This single verse presents a rather over the top idea of what it means to be human. The human ethos and purpose are inescapably tied to God whose image we bear. And thus, the more we know about God, the more we know how to live into the essence of our being.

Prayer: Gracious God, I know you guide my search for meaning and purpose, for it ultimately begins and ends with you. Let me never venture too far away from you or from the enfleshing of your presence in Jesus. It is in his name that I pray. Amen.