Scripture: Revelation 4:11
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
Thought for the Day: Earlier in the week, I offered a quote from Anne Lamott’s book, Traveling Mercies. Sorry, but I’ve got another one:
There is nothing more touching to me then a family picture
where everyone is trying to look his or her best,
but you can see what a mess they all really are.
Those are some pretty honest and insightful words. A while back, I said in a sermon: “We humans have messiness down pat; we can do imperfection perfectly.” That is not intended to be heard negatively, for the charm of being human is that we are not God and were never intended to be God. Our journey is to search out and follow the Holy Mystery unveiled in Jesus. The path will be bumpy, and there will be a lot of stumbling, times of confusion, and a few outright failures. The searching, doubting, questioning, learning, growth and more confusion and questioning is strangely important.
Lent is the season of the year when the family picture – that is, the church family – doesn’t attempt to hide its messiness. It is the time when we are a bit more honest with ourselves and recognize that we haven’t been fooling anyone. It is our time to get real, cast off any facade we are wearing, and seek the true self God intended.
Prayer: Call me; invite me; draw me close. O Lord who first sought me, let me hear again your gracious and gentle request to a deeper and more passionate faith. Amen.
Join Us For Worship
Scripture: Ezekiel 28:15
You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you.
Thought for the Day: The passage from Ezekiel has been used to argue the theological concept of original sin, but I don’t think that’s exactly what was intended with these words. It sounds a little more like the ‘iniquity’ (the Hebrew word describes a violent, unjust deed) grew within us over time. Some have suggested the second half of the verse should be translated a bit different: “…until iniquity found its way into you.” Did this iniquity, our sinfulness, come with birth, grow within us over time, or was it something that was imposed upon us by the world? Could it be a little of each of these? If so, how does the story of God’s redemptive and healing love assist us in living in the tension between the prevalence of iniquity and the Spirit’s call toward the divine wholeness?
Prayer: May your Spirit continue to provide me a vision of a life lived with mercy, love and kindness. O Source of All Being, I desire to manifest your presence in my thoughts, words and actions. Amen.
Don’t Miss IT
Scripture: Psalm 122:1
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Thought for the Day: The devotional planned for today will be postponed until tomorrow so that I can bring you the above words of scripture, words that Rev. Gary Groves offered last night at our quiet Wednesday evening Lenten Service. Maybe it was because I just happened to be in the right place emotionally, but Gary spoke right to the heart of what it means to be a faith community at worship. He also spoke right to my heart. Too often we are focused on petty likes and dislikes, we complain because the service went over by 10 minutes, or someone looked at us the wrong way. In those moments, our hearts are turned away from the beauty of heaven and to the gutters of negativity and squabbling. It is contagious, spreading faster than the Gospel in the hands of a good evangelist. It is time for us to say with our lips and passionately announce with our lives, “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Prayer: May the prayers and praise of my life, O Lord of Heaven, celebrate your love for all of humanity, which of course, includes me. I wish to be grateful, full of joy and a true witness to what it means to know you. Amen.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
“When Tenacity Becomes Reckless”
Scripture: Matthew 13:33-34
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing.
You are invited to enjoy this Video Devotional. Thanks to Larry Lipton for providing video work, and to Stephanie Hickman for the performance of her original song: Make a Difference.
And Don’t Forget
Wednesday Study and Worship
Noon and 6:30pm
Scripture: Psalm 136:23-26
It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever; and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever; who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever. O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Thought for the Day: It’s a bit of a flashback, but I was thinking about Anne Lamott’s book, Traveling Mercies (published in 2000), and so I pulled it off the shelf. I had the following thought highlighted:
…most of the time, all you have is the moment,
and the imperfect love of the people around you.
God is the One by which all love is compared and evaluated. In faith, we declare a belief that the steadfast love of God is offered unconditionally, yet in our everyday lives, this love is proclaimed and conveyed through human beings. And though there are moments when love shared from one person to another is breathtaking, it remains imperfect. Don’t wait around for some flawless expression of love, for if you do, your life will slip away without relishing the many beautiful offerings of love that despite their lack of perfection bring joyful tears to the eyes of God.
Prayer: My life is enriched because of those around me who, to the best of their ability, have attempted to reflect your love, Lord God. Thanks for being their inspiration and encourager. Amen.
Looking at the Spiritual Disciplines
Noon–Study & Practice
6:30pm–Worship & Practice
In Less Than Two Weeks
Scripture: Matthew 9:27
As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
Thought for the Day: When was the last time you were on the receiving end of mercy? When was the last time you freely offered mercy? I remember assigning a task to a group of youth, the task of extending mercy wherever possible and to write down their experiences. The youth returned with a boat-load of stories, though there was a common thread of suspicion. People did not trust the words of mercy, often looking for the surprise ending. I can understand people’s skepticism, yet this becomes for Christians a great challenge. We have an uphill struggle against the reservations of many. We could let it deter our calling, or we could offer this gift with even more enthusiasm to those who hunger for it.
Prayer: As you have been merciful to me, O Heavenly Father, I pray that I can bring this mercy to others. Through your strength may it be so. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 13:11-13
He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’
Thought for the Day: Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt Seminary, has a book about the parables entitled: Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi. In the book, Levine quotes the Matthew Passage from above, though translating the word secrets as mystery. She writes, “Mystery is here not indicative of something arcane or in need of a special key to unlock a singular meaning. What makes the parables mysterious, or difficult, is that they challenge us to look into the hidden aspects of our own values, our own lives…For our own comfort, we may want to foreclose the meaning rather than allow the parables to open into multiple interpretations.” It is our nature to ‘foreclose’ or extract a single meaning, yet when we do so, we are squeezing the Holy Spirit out of the parable, leaving a lifeless carcass whose only purpose is to reinforce what we already believe to be right. There is something that causes uneasiness in leaving the parables open, yet that is exactly what Jesus did.
Prayer: Holy and Mysterious God, bring your spirit-infused stories into our lives so that they work upon us, not simply in the initial hearing, but whenever an evocative Word is needed. Amen.
First Sunday of Lent
Worship at 8:15, 9;30 & 11:00
Consider a Gift to:
Scripture: Luke 8:4-9
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant.
Thought for the Day: Jesus shared a parable, and it was followed by an interesting reaction: “Nice story, Jesus, but what does it mean?” This will be the only parable Jesus ever really spells out for his disciples. He usually shared them and moved on to something else. Some of the parables felt more like an analogue, as the meaning did was pretty clear. These parables did not need much of an explanation. Others, on the other hand, were much more vague and left people scratching their heads. I think Jesus enjoyed sharing parables that had the listeners pondering, reflecting and discussing it for weeks. In the faith journey, the process one must go through to get to the answer is often the answer itself.
Prayer: O Lord, may I never become frustrated when I am unable to answer the questions of faith. May my frustration arise only when I run out of questions. Amen.
Don’t Miss Tomorrow
First Sunday of Lent
Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 4:16
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
Thought for the Day: While at Minister’s Week at Brite Divinity School last week, I heard a lecture in which the speaker talked about the language of renewal, reenergizing, restoring and revitalization. All these words assume a return to something that was, but our speaker pointed out that our God is not about returning to what was. Instead, God is about doing something complete new (Isaiah 43:19—See, I am doing a new thing). The speaker encouraged us to think about the money and time wasted in the life of the church to return to something that was — instead of embracing something new, specifically the new thing God is setting before the church.
Of course, there are scriptures that appear to reference renewal or revitalization, but the word in the Greek that is translated in the above passage as renewed is Anakainosis, which is a combination of the prefix ana and the word that means new, unprecedented or uncommon. The prefix can mean backward or again, but it also can mean upward or through. Paul never talks about returning to the past, but moving upward into something fresh and different. And this new thing has nothing to do with tinkering or modifying. It is a substantive change. When Paul speaks of our inner nature being Anakainosis, he has no desire for us to return to our old selves. Instead, he wants us to be a new creation. The old has past away, and in Christ, there is no returning to what was… even if what was happen to be good in its moment.
Let’s be a church that is not about revival, but about being alive because of what God has done and is doing in our midst; let’s not look back, but forward and upward; let us see a true substantive change within us – individually and collectively.
Prayer: As your Spirit moves among us, O God of All Creation, make us new, inside and out—something beautiful and unique for this moment in time. Amen.
Support Week of Compassion
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 1:18
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Thought for the Day: If you really think about it, Paul is absolutely correct. I’m surprised anyone joined the Christian movement as Paul preached from one town to another. The cross is a pathetic marketing tool, as it is foolishness not only to ‘those who are perishing’, but to anyone who takes time to contemplate its meaning. Paul was writing to a bickering church (nothing unusual for the Pauline communities), but it’s puzzling how the meaning of the cross has become one of the great battle grounds of disagreement throughout Christian history. People have been willing to murder others in the name of that symbol’s significance. I appreciate Richard Rohr’s thinking on this matter in his book, Falling Upward. In the 5th chapter he writes about those who have attempted to give order to the cross by explaining away the whole notion of suffering as some sort of well organized substitutionary plan. He goes on to say, “The cross solved our problem by first revealing our real problem–our universal pattern of scapegoating and sacrificing others. The cross exposes forever the ‘scene of our crime.’” The cross is exactly what God does not want for the world, and the resurrection is God’s declaration for us to stop it!
Prayer: God, I see nothing of you and everything of you on the cross. It is nonsensical and absurd, and I can only guess that it is your grace making a point with something so pointless. Amen.
Don’t Forget To Give…
We invite all of the Lilies of CCCC
to join us this Sunday
February 22, 3-5 pm
in the Forum Activity Room
Our Theme is:“Heart Talk”.
Come share refreshments,
the fellowship and the message with our Lord.
All women of Cypress Creek and their guests are welcome