Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-30-12

Scripture: James 4:10
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Thought for the Day: Yesterday morning, I made the drive downtown to the medical center.  As a Houstonian newbie, that experience is crazy.  As I entered the hospital from the parking garage, I had no idea where an information desk could be found.  I walked down a long hallway, and then noticed an information sign.  I had paused to look at it when a doctor asked, “Can I help you find something?”  “I’m just looking for the information desk so I can find out a patience room,” I responded. “Follow me,” he said, and we begin walking further down the hallway.  As we walked, we passed other doctors, nurses and medical staff, and each of them said to my credentialed escort, “Good to see you, sir!”  “How are you doing, sir?”  Whoever was leading me to my destination was someone very important, yet he had taken the time from his busy schedule to deliver me to my destination.  I was dressed rather casually, jeans and a simple shirt. Why would someone who was busy doing the important things doctors do, take the time to help me?  The humility of this man inspired me.  Maybe that was what God had in mind when the divine nature was humbled in the form of a small child.

Prayer: For all who chose to humble themselves through service, I give thanks, Lord, but especially for your willingness to come close in the birth of a child.  Amen.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-29-12

Scripture: Luke 10:8-9
Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

Thought for the Day: Just how close is ‘come near’?  Are we talking on a cosmic level?  If that’s the case, a few hundred light years away is pretty close.  Are we talking about the close proximity of a friend?  If that’s the case, then we could be talking about how the friend is sitting right across the table from us.   I don’t know the specific distance to which Jesus was referring, but I think it is close enough for us to know of its presence and for our lives to be radically changed.  Like a magnet’s ability to reorient the needle on a compass, so too does the Kingdom of God’s proximity have the ability to reorient our lives.

Prayer: Your kingdom is at hand, O God, and I feel its draw upon my life.  May all of who I am be reoriented by the coming of a child savior.  Amen

 FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
This Sunday–December 2

Worship at 8:15am, 9:30am & 11:00am

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-28-12

Scripture: Luke 1:8
Once when Zechariah was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense.  Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside.  Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him.  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard…”

Thought for the Day: The first response after an angelic appearance was often fear, and though we often picture angels as cute cupids, they were in fact something very different than what had been depicted over the last 700 years in paintings and other art forms.  Angels have often left a person trembling, but there are other cases when we simply felt the breeze from their wings as they passed by.  And when we encounter the gift left by these divine agent, our knees might shake, but it is less about fear and more about humility and awe.  My wife, Donna, and I had such an experience this week.  I won’t go into the details, but we were blessed by an unnamed angel whose presence was known only by the gift it left behind.  I say, “Thank you,” to the angel, but such gifts are really God-sent, so I guess I extend gratitude to God as well.

Prayer: O Lord who chooses to come close, as we approach Advent and look to the stories of angels, may I glimpse the gifts offered by all your inspired messengers.  Amen.

Don’t miss this Sunday…the First Sunday of Advent
December 2, 2012
Worship at 8:15am, 9:30am & 11:00am

also

Christmas Concert this Sunday night at 7:00pm
“Child in a Manger”

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-27-12

Scripture: Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thought for the Day: As we move into the season of Advent (this Sunday), we will speak often about hope, peace, joy and love.  We will emphasize one on each Sunday of Advent, and there is much to be learned about these important characteristics of the Christian faith.  The Apostle Paul spoke frequently about them, but his writings point to their interconnectedness.  One is the source of the others, while also being the product of the others.  As you grow in one of the areas, you will grow in the others…and as you neglect one of them, the others will suffer.

Prayer: May the journey of Advent, Lord, provide me opportunities to be challenged by the rich ideas of the Christian faith.  Amen.

Sunday’s Services
at 

Cypress Creek Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ)

December 2–First Sunday of Advent
8:15am, 9:30am and 11:00am

Sermon
When your britches fall down…
Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 2:1-3

And don’t miss…
The “Child in the Manger” Concert

This Sunday at 7pm

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-26-12

Scripture: Job 7:6
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to their end without hope.

Thought for the Day: In an intriguing article by Salvatore Iaconesi, My open source cure for brain cancer, (CLICK HERE), Iaconesi describes the process around diagnosis.  He observes that when “you are declared ‘diseased,’ you become a set of medical records, therapy, dosages, exam dates. It’s as if you disappear, replaced by your disease.”  One of the great sorrows I have witnessed over the years is the loss of self in the face of disease.  For some, it is the constant waves of hopelessness that slowly erode the foundation of personhood.  Other times, it comes quickly as one is shocked with words like cancer, terminal or hospice. Fear becomes the unwanted companion that draws the person into a very dark void.  Job knew this experience very well, and amidst friends who did not help at all, God remained faithful…coming alongside him and providing a pathway of promise.

Prayer: Marvelous God, when hopelessness makes its way into my life, provide me a lifeline of grace that reminds me of your eternal presence that shall never let me go.  Amen.

 

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-25-12

Scripture: Psalm 25:16
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

Thought for the Day: I’ve always been struck by the words of Mother Teresa who said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”  She had witnessed economic poverty and physical suffering like I could never imagine, yet isolation was in her experience that greatest impoverishment.  Could it be that replacing loneliness with relationship, the experiences of marginalization with community, would lead to a world without the needless suffering she dealt with daily?  I don’t know if it would entirely rid the world of such evils, but I must believe the difference would be remarkable.  When I am in relationship with another human being, suddenly the other’s needs become my needs.  And my abundance becomes the other’s abundance.  The end result is something Jesus would like to see a bit more often.

Prayer: Help me to broaden my vision of what the family of faith looks like, O Lord, so I can assist in the realization of Christ’s community here on earth.  Amen.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 11-24-12

Scripture: 1st Kings 5:12
So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty.

Thought for the Day: Wisdom and peace are closely linked as is demonstrated in the following story.  On a hot summer day, a lion and a boar went to the spring for a drink.  The boar got there just ahead of the lion, but before he could drink, the lion demanded that he move.  “I’ll go first,” said the lion.   “I showed you the spring,” said the boar, “so I should go first.”  The verbal argument turned to violence.  When there was a momentary break from the fighting, the lion and the boar noticed three vultures that had come to rest on a tree near the spring.  The sight sobered the two creatures, and the lion said to the boar, “If we continue to fight the only winner will be the vultures.”

Prayer: O Magnificent God, may all creation see the link between foolishness and violence, and in doing so, seek the alternant path of wisdom.  Amen.