Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-30-13

Scripture: Luke 8:22-24
One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm.

Thought for the Day: I’ve always liked this story in scripture.  I can imagine the panic-stricken disciples arguing over who is going to wake-up Jesus.  No one wants to look fearful, but they definitely want someone to wake him up.  They are unsure of why they need Jesus, but there seems to be a yearning to turn to Jesus in this time of distress.  For many people, this is the only time they turn to Jesus.  When the boat ride is uneventful, why weren’t the disciples equally excited to wake-up Jesus?  Find an occasion in your daily life when everything is well, and carve out a little of that time to simply be with Jesus.

Prayer: Whether it is crisis or calm, O Father God, I shall learn to look to you and the gift of Christ.  Amen.

Dinner at 5:30pm
Introduction to ARK at 6:30pm
Children’s Choirs at 6:30pm

Join us…

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-29-13

Scripture: Exodus 2:24-25
God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.

Thought for the Day: I like how God is affected by the groans of the people.  God does not act in a mechanistic way, but is compassionately responsive to the injustice and suffering of the Israelites.  Too often, the church portrays God as unsympathetic or aloof.  I will hear people say, “My prayers fell on deaf ears” or “God ignored my cries.”  I understand how it can feel as if God is unmoved if the answer to our prayer is slow coming or not the answer we wanted.  What we need to remember is how the scriptures portray God as very present and concerned in all situations.  Let us be assured that God is genuinely moved by the plight of humanity.

Prayer: Because my unique circumstance is known by you, O Lord, I find comfort and peace.  Amen.


Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-28-13

Scripture: Acts 23:11
That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”

Thought for the Day: As many of you know, I have been out of town this week.  Part of it was spent on retreat in the North Carolina mountains, but the second half was spent in Kansas City where I was able to spend a little time with my good friend, Rev. David Merrick.  David and I have been friends almost 30 years, and when he was diagnosed with cancer a few years back, I was devastated for him…and selfishly, for me.  He has fought courageously, continuing to do the ministry he loved at First Christian Church of Olathe, KS, until recently.  I appreciate and respect David for so many reasons, but most of all, it is his passion for the church that is both authentic and full of integrity.  He has and will continue to be my model for ministry.  Not even nurses and care givers can tell us how much time a person has left, but as I wrote in a Facebook post yesterday, “… David is rapidly moving toward death.”  It was painful to see this amazing man so feeble, yet in his moments of clarity, there was still humor, faith and brutal honesty.  At one point he said, “The irrelevant chit-chat is a funny game we play when someone is so close to death.”  Our conversation had been pretty frank, but there still appeared to be a dance of denial in my questions and reflections.  He was right – at times it was irrelevant chit-chat.  I trust that the God David knows so well will be the God who will continue to know him in death.  But let me add, I already see the resurrection in the lives of those who remain.  David’s sense of humor, passion for inclusion, commitment to the church despite all its faults, and his unmistakeable love of people are not only contained in the memories of those who loved him, but they are etched on our very beings.  Though David moves ever closer to the end of his earthly life, his life-witness is more alive than ever in the multitude who called him friend and brother.

Prayer: O God of life, death and life anew, we give you thanks for all the marvelous witnesses you have given us.  They are for us a witness to your reckless and redemptive love that has chosen to embrace all.  Amen.


Join us as we officially welcome

Tami Nelson

Director of Children’s Ministry

Reception in Holy Grounds

9:00 – 9:30am & 10:30 – 11:00am

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-27-13

Scripture: 3 John 1:11
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

Thought for the Day: I’ve been reading and rereading this passage ever since the bombings in Boston.  Please understand that I’m not taking a dig at Islam, as most Muslims are peace-loving as the prophet Mohammed taught them to be.  Yet throughout history, religions (and I am sad to say we must include Christianity in this group) have justified acts of hate and violence in the name of God.  The author of this letter understood the confusion that happens when people attempt to explain their self-serving and destructive behavior as God’s will.  In fact, those who commit such acts have not seen God, but a reflection of their own brokenness and anger.  This has been construed as God, thus giving divine permission for the person to act upon their feelings.  I raise this issue, not to point fingers at those who committed this atrocious act in Boston, but to remind us all of how easy it is to confuse our own will with God’s will.

Prayer: Ever-present God, through prayer, scripture and the faith community of the past and present, I will cautiously discern your will for my life.  May it always be guided by the words of Jesus who said we are to love you and neighbor.  Amen.

Welcome Reception

Tami Nelson
9:00 – 9:30am & 10:30 – 11:00am


Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-26-13

Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-17
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

Thought for the Day: I came across a little scrap of paper in the drawer with the following words, “Let us bow our knees before God, who understands us as we are, yet is always ready to help us become all we are intended to be.”  Does God love people only because of their potential, or does God love people despite their present shortcomings?  There is no question that God desires for us to become more than we are today, yet there is no line in the sand that we must cross before God’s love is activated.  Love is unconditional, and God’s love meets us right where we are.

Prayer: May the unconditional love you have given, O Lord, stir my spirit and challenge me to seek a greater faithfulness.  Amen.

All Church Work Day
8am – 2pm
Lunch will be provided

Welcome Reception For
Tami Nelson
Director of Children’s Ministry
In Holy Grounds
9-9:30am & 10-10:30am

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-25-13

Scripture: Acts 26:20 (the Message)
I started preaching this life-change – this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life – right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world.

Thought for the Day: My friend, Rev. Michael Junkroski, wrote the following prayer that caught my attention, and like any good prayer, it provided a new entry point into the presence of God.  Michael wrote, “Shake me into consciousness, God of all consciousness! I’m tired of sleeping in the world of violence. Awaken me to your world of love, and send me forth as a beacon of hope in a world that mistakenly thinks it’s hopeless. Amen” (April 19, 2013).  How often have I become satisfied with what is not of God because the hopelessness I feel in regard to change has skewed my vision of God’s possibilities.  And at the end of the day, is it my job to change the world or be a living example of God’s loving presence in the world?  I believe the latter is our calling, and because it is God’s love we are demonstrating, it is already changing the world.

Prayer: Your amazing love, O God of all life, is making a change within me.  May my willingness to remain tapped into that love allow others to experience and welcome its amazing power.  Amen.


Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-24-13

Scripture:  Matthew 15:29
After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and we went up the mountain, where he sat down.

Thought for the Day: I am currently following in the footsteps of Jesus…well actually, I’m sitting like Jesus.  The mountains on the edge of Asheville, North Carolina, are beautiful and they invite a person to pause, and if possible, to sit.  Not everyone is a mountain person, but many of us who are mountain people find that the mountains can pause us into an encounter with God.  These faith-filled pauses are wonderful teaching moments for they make us aware of what was always there, but simply outside our capacity to see.  In time, we can train our spiritual senses to be more mindful of God’s presence found in and through all things.

Prayer: Give me reason to pause in this moment, O Creator God, so I can make note of your presence in the present.  Amen.


ARK Parenting Program Begins Tonight…

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-23-13

Scripture: 1st John 3:16
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

Thought for the Day: I’m currently on retreat with a group of clergy, and it is the same group that went to Italy four years ago.  I’m reminded of our exploration of some of the catacombs around Rome, including Pricilla’s catacombs.  As I listened to our guide speak about the more than 40,000 Christians buried in the nearly 10 miles of tunnels, I was struck by the number of infant graves.  The inscriptions and paintings were very moving.  Our guide also spoke about the more than 1,000 martyrs buried in that set of catacombs alone, and how the rich and poor were buried side by side.  The faithfulness of these people in both life and death was incredibly moving.  I felt as if I was walking on holy ground.  These words from 1st John reflect the stories of the faithful, especially those I encountered in the catacombs.

Prayer: God, though I may never be asked to die for the faith, I pray that I will find the courage to give deeply of myself for the sake of your kingdom.  Amen.

Dinner at 5:30pm
Intro. to ARK at 6:30pm
(Skills for relating to kids)

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-22-13

Scripture: Psalm 4:8
I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Thought for the Day: These are beautiful and comforting words, but they do not make a lot of sense for the family whose home was destroyed by a bomb in Afghanistan while they slept or the earthquake that wiped out villages in China yesterday.  We read these words of scripture and think of it as a request for a hedge of complete protection.  We all want to believe in some sort of divine soldier that protects us at night from all possible dangers, but I do not think the Psalmist thought in those terms.  In the Hebrew language, the word we translate as ‘safety’ comes from the Hebrew word for ‘trust,’ and it is often used to describe how an individual feels toward God’s promises.  It isn’t that God promises to keep us safe all night from every bad thing, but that God can be trusted to be God no matter what occurs to us.  It is a lot like the old bed time prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take.”  I can trust that no matter what happens to me, I ultimately belong to God.

Prayer: Give me rest, O Lord, in your comforting presence.  Provide for me a spirit of peace for you are trustworthy.  Amen.

Join us this Wednesday…

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-21-13

Scripture: Colossians 3:12
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Thought for the Day: I was rereading a cute book entitled, How to be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job.  There is something very intriguing to me about the monastic movement, especially the work of the Benedictine brothers.  Their works of hospitality and compassion are wonderful, but I also appreciate their ideas on community.  An important distinction is made in the Rule of St. Benedict in regard to what it means to live in community.  We should not view ourselves as a collection of individuals, but “as a society of people with a shared interest in each other’s welfare.”  The Apostle Paul was very interested in how Christians related to one another, and the above words describe people who are concerned about the needs of others above their own needs.  As we clothe ourselves with the attributes of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, we are putting on the garments of selflessness.  Our God demonstrated these attributes when the divine nature took on flesh in Christ.  Thanks be to God for doing so!!

Prayer: Give me a new wardrobe from your closet, O Lord, so I might display your loving attributes.  Amen.


Guilt Trip