Ecclesiological Etchings: 01-31-13

Scripture: Proverbs 1:8
Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching;

Thought for the Day: How many of us did not listen very well to our father’s instructions and our mother’s teachings?  How many of us have kids who do not listen very well?  I’m guessing, depending on the day, the number to be near… let’s say, 100%.  At the same time, there are some young people who are simply able to look at a situation or hear a story and learn from it.  There are others, and I was probably one of them, who don’t take the obvious advice.  Instead, many of us have had to learn things the hard way.  I tend to believe there is a genetic component to the different responses people have to teaching moments.  Today is my mother’s birthday, and I want to thank her for offering me invaluable instruction, even when I chose not to embrace it.  I want to thank her for instilling within me a faith in God and a genuine faith in humanity.  I’m still learning what that means, but I am thankful for my mother and all those who have remained persistent in teaching children…even on those days when beating their heads against a wall might have produced a better result.

Prayer: For all those amazing people who were gracious in the face of my hard-headiness, I give you thanks, O Lord, for you must have been the encourager behind it all.  Amen.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 01-30-13

Scripture: Ephesians 4:4-6
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Thought for the Day: I think most of the world hasn’t heard, but a rather monumental statement was released last night.  The Catholic Church is going to recognize the baptisms of those in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Christian Reformed Church in North America, Reformed Church in America, and United Church of Christ.  Of course, these are all denominations that practice infant baptism, and so that means the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is not included.  Nonetheless, this is huge!!  For centuries, each communion has guarded its tradition as if the existence of God depended upon it.  I hope this is only the beginning of a new found respect and connection, for it is hard to speak about the oneness of Christ’s body as the different manifestations of that body bicker over a ritual…a ritual that doesn’t belong to any of us.  It belongs to God, and I’m pretty certain God is celebrating whenever and wherever a human being is blessed with the waters of baptism.

Prayer: Helps us to continue to find ways of honoring and demonstrating your unifying spirit, O Lord.  Amen.

TONIGHT–WEDNESDAY
Dinner at 5:30pm
Study at 6:30pm
Children’s Choir at 6:30pm

SUNDAY
Ministry Fair from 9:15am – 12:15pm
Different Ministries Sharing In Worship
Bring a can of Soup or two for NAM

Ecclesiological Etchings: 01-29-13

Scripture: 1st Peter 1:14-16
Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance.  Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Thought for the Day: I grew-up hearing Robin, the sidekick to the Caped Crusader, offer rather strange statements that all began with the word, holy. He said, “Holy Sardine!” when Batman was bitten by a shark.  “Holy dive-bombers, Batman” was Robin’s response to attacking crows.  Hundreds of such exclamations peppered both the TV series and cartoons.  The word holy in this case, and in the current culture when it is often the prelude to an obscenity, is an empty word.  This is unfortunate when in fact the word is an important adjective describing the character of God as well as those who faithfully followed.  These are the ones and the One who deserve our honor for having a core identity of love, sacrifice and sacredness.  Holiness should be both respected and emulated.

Prayer: You are holy, O Magnificent God, and I desire your help in growing my life to more fully represent the sacredness of your being.  Amen.

 WEDNESDAY EVENING
Dinner from 5:30-6:30pm
Study from 6:30-7:30pm
How to Study the Bible-Part 2
(Meeting in the Activity Room)

Ecclesiological Etchings: 01-28-13

Scripture: Luke 6:20-22
Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

Thought for the Day: I just went to the garage for a ladder so I could climb onto my soapbox. Over the years I have learned that most folks won’t give you help when you are preparing to scale the peak of some personal pet peeve.  With that said, I hope you will indulge me for a moment.

Christianity in America has been taken for a ride by the Prosperity Gospel of some mega-churches and their television counterparts.  They assume ‘blessing’ to be associated with the single notion of one’s check book.  Wealth and God’s blessing are inseparable in this theology, yet how can they make such statements when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor; the hungry; the grieving.”  Jesus is not implying that such people will become rich someday.  Instead, Jesus is proclaiming the nonsensical ideas of the Kingdom of God.  The Gospel writer Luke knew quite well that faithfulness was rarely associated with wealth or great possessions.  In fact, just the opposite!  In the kingdom of God, those who are poor, hungry or grieving will find a God who cares for them in the midst of their struggles.  This would have sounded like nonsense to many who heard Jesus say it, and even today, there are some who find it so bizarre that they try to change the whole notion of the Gospel by saying, “Wealth and affluence are the signs of a blessed life.”  That’s shameful!

Excuse me why I climb down from my soapbox.

Prayer: May the abundance in life, O God, be blessed by your grace so it may provide transformative care for all those who find themselves struggling and afraid.  Amen.

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 01-27-13

Scripture: Matthew 6:12
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Thought for the Day: Let’s make this simple.  Forgive others as God has forgiven you.  But let’s start by extending that forgiveness to ourselves, recognizing those things that continue to quietly haunt us and subtly impair an otherwise healthy life.  It will take both courage and consistency, but the effort put forward will never be regretted.

Prayer: Grant me the courage, Merciful God, to mirror your forgiving nature as I relate to both others and self.  Amen.

Wherever you are this morning,
find a place of worship!

Ecclesiological Etchings: 01-26-13

Scripture: Luke 7:48
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Thought for the Day: I’ve been having an interesting internal discussion since reading the words of Laurence Sterne (18th century Anglican Priest) on forgiveness.  He wrote, “Only the brave know how to forgive. … A coward never forgave; it is not in his nature.”  Sterne’s observation is correct in many situations, for there are folks who believe that choosing not to forgive is to hold power over another.  In fact, it is not a sign of power, but weakness.  What Sterne doesn’t seen to take into account are those who have never witnessed forgiveness and thus have no knowledge of where to begin.  The best way to create a world where others are more willing to forgive is to make sure they have plenty of models, from little things to big things.

Prayer: It’s just a few words, but the implications of forgiveness are far-reaching…and you have clearly shown this to be true, O Lord.  Amen.

Join us tomorrow (Sunday) for…
WORSHIP

at 8:15am, 9:30am & 11:00am
Sermon: Accountability to the Job Description
Luke 4:14-21

Ecclesiological Etchings: 01-25-13

Scripture: Luke 6:1-5
One Sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them.  But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Thought for the Day: This is the first of two stories where Jesus was confronted about what can and cannot be done on the Sabbath.  The religious leaders of the day did not approve of what Jesus was doing, yet even the Jewish law made room for an individual to do exactly what Jesus was doing.  A person’s health and wellbeing were always more important than ritual, yet some people forgot and began to place ritual above human need.  Do you see any churches today that place rules and rituals above people?  Do we forget that human beings were made, not so that God had someone to follow the rules, but because God is a God of relationships?  The rituals are a beautiful way of expressing and experience the relationship, but they were never meant to replace the relationship. When asked, Jesus summed up all the laws with the simple idea: Love God and love your neighbor.

Prayer: O Lord, may the teachings of faith that you provided through Jesus never be confused with the relationship those teachings were inviting us to experience.  Amen.