Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-31-15

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Scripture: Matthew 28:1-6
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay…”

Thought for the Day: Tombs are often the setting for the climax in a horror movie. It is usually dark and there is a good layer of fog. The wind is blowing just enough to cause the leafs to swirl around and for the branches to crackle.  An owl usually gives off a startling call as a distant dog (or something else) echoes back with a chilling howl.  Hollywood is quite good at setting a scene that causes us to tense up and even close our eyes. Today is a day of tombs, and though we may find ourselves experiencing a moment of fright, we really have a different vision of the tomb. It is not a place of fear, but a place of joy. Seven years ago, I went to Italy with four other clergy. We had a great time, and during our visit to the Vatican, we toured an area under St. Peter’s Basilica where many of the tombs of former Popes are found. I was really taken back when we approached the tomb of Pope John Paul II, one of the most beloved Popes in recent history. There were twenty or so people hanging on his tomb sobbing. We stayed there for 30 minutes, and the people never left. Later I was told that some of the same people come to his tomb everyday, and cry and moan for hours. I understand how important he was to many people, and he truly was a saintly man, but I’m pretty certain that is NOT what he would want. Of all people, I feel pretty confident in saying that he is not there. He is enjoying life with the One he served, and desires for us to view the grave, not as an ending, but a beginning. On this Halloween, when goblins and ghouls are causing us to quiver in fear – when images of tombs and graveyards are the source of anxiety – when people enjoy being the source of other people screams, let us remember the tomb that was empty. Let us remember the joy!

Prayer: Gracious God, you are the source of resurrection. Through you, new life is found. As the world enjoys an evening of fright around the images of death, let us remember how your love frees us from all these fears. Let us celebrate the power of grace to liberate humanity into new life. Amen.

TODAY

Kingdom-Fest & Trunk-or-Treat

10am – 12:30pm
(moving inside if it is raining)

SUNDAY

At All Three Services
All-Saints-Sunday

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-30-15

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Scripture: Leviticus 19:34 (the Message)
Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God.

Thought for the Day: The Book of Leviticus is always a challenge, yet there are many beautiful and powerful take aways found within its pages. In a recent reading, I recognized an important concept that is often lost. First, Leviticus is a book of identity. Much of what we read is an ancient people attempting to claim their uniqueness in a crazy world with many ideas that could potentially undermine who God called them to be. When I was maybe 9 or 10 years old, I formed a club with three of my friends. We called ourselves the dirt boys because we liked to dig around in this area behind some bushes in my friend’s backyard. We created some pretty bizarre rituals, including a strange handshake, a password and a secret code for messages. We wanted to be unique, and not to be confused with the neighborhood girls – Yuck!  That is probably not the best comparison, but the Israelites were attempting to maintain their unique sense of self with some ritual and practices that we might consider a bit bizarre in our day. Yet at the same time, this community attempting to maintain their distinctive character would NOT allow themselves to lose sight of their core values. In this case, it was the idea of radical hospitality.  Foreigners were a potential danger to Israel’s identity, yet they refused to be anything but gracious and hospitable when a stranger or outsider appeared on their doorstep. From their past, they learned the importance of compassion and welcome as they were once the outsiders. For the Israelites, all the unique rituals and distinctive behaviors used to set themselves apart from the rest of the world were never to supersede the core value of hospitality…even when the one being welcomed was different in every way imaginable.  What is there for us to learn from these ancient writings?

Prayer: You have called me to a unique status, O Gracious God, yet you desire for my uniqueness to be seen most dramatically in acts of radical hospitality and unconditional love. If not seen there, then all other attempts at expressing our uniqueness as followers of the Christ will be empty. Amen.

THIS SUNDAY–NOVEMBER 1

Time of Remembrance at all three Services

All-Saints-Sunday


Sign-up This Sunday

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November 13th at noon

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-29-15

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Scripture: Acts 20:35
In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Thought for the Day: In this chapter, the Apostle Paul has reached out to those in Ephesus, inviting them to meet him in Miletus. In a lengthy speech, his closing thoughts are these words found in vs. 35. Throughout his speech, Paul continued to reinforce the idea that it was never about him, hoping that this selflessness would become a model for the Ephesians. Yet at the end of the day, it was always about giving of self for the sake of the weak. And then of course, Paul followed it with the familiar words that suggested it is more blessed to give than to receive. I’m sure there was an initial raising of eyebrows, but then people looked at Paul who gave so much, and he clearly lived as one who was blessed beyond measure. There is so much to be learned when we observe those who have sought to follow in the ways of Jesus.

Prayer: Continue to provide me witnesses, O Lord who inspires, for I need good models if I am going to follow in the ways of my savior, Jesus. Amen.

THIS SUNDAY
Commitment Sunday

Please bring your 2016 Commitments

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Make your commitment online
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Generosity - Stewardship

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-28-15

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Scripture: Luke 11:33-35
“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness.

Thought for the Day: This past Sunday, I preached on this text and the surrounding verses, and though I conceded that there is darkness in our world, I want us to celebrate the light. And though there are many who wish to cry and complain that everything is dark and hopeless, that simply is not the truth. There are plenty of beautiful and powerful expressions of light and love in our world.  One such story that should be told comes from Locus Grove, OK (about an hour east of Tulsa).  This past weekend, quarterback Mason Fine shattered the Oklahoma high school career passing record in his team’s 56-21 victory. You would think this would be the headlines; you would think that it would be the talk of the town; you would think that Mason would be carried off the field by his team. None of that was the case, in part, because of Mason.  Instead, it was all about Colt Rowlands – a young cancer patient who Mason has adopted. Under the direction of Mason, the football team worked hard, and got LifeFlight helicopter to bring little Colt to the football game so that he could have medical people with him the entire time. They put Colt front and center during the coin toss, and then at the end of the game, Colt was able to take a handoff and run it for a touchdown.  It was all the work of a high school football player who just broke a major record, but wanted no attention. Instead, he wanted it to be Colt’s night. And it was as Colt was carried off the field like a champ.

I know the news is much more interested in shootings and carjackings and fires, and though that is information the public should know, let’s recognize where the light of love and grace and humility is shining brightly… especially among those who are often stereotyped as being selfish and inconsiderate.  Mason Find is one example of light in our world. Let’s tell his story!

Prayer: Though there is great tragedy and sadness in our world, help me to keep celebrating the light – the gift from you, Lord, that has the power to push back the darkness brought on by tragedy and sadness.  Amen.

LINK to the News Story


With a Thankful HeartA New Study
Begins Today

Noon or 6:30pm

Looking at the Biblical concepts of:
Thanksgiving,
Gratitude
& Blessing


This Sunday

All Saints’ Sunday

A Time of Remembrance
at all Three Services

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-27-15

Conviction

~From Rev. Norma Lowrey
Scripture:  John 14:12
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me, will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

Thought for the Day:  As I walked the streets of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Masada, Caesarea, and Capernaum and sailed on the Sea of Galilee on a recent trip to the Holy Lands, I thought about this scripture a lot.  Its true meaning didn’t really dawn on me until I had the awesome opportunity to baptize some of my fellow travelers in the Jordan River.  When I asked each person if they believed that Jesus was the son of the Living God and if they accepted him as their personal savior, I asked myself that same question each time.  My answer, as was theirs, – YES!  It really hit me that through this strong belief in Jesus as our Savior, we can do the same works that He did and more.  Now, we may not make front page headlines and we may run into some strong opposition, but it is our continuing efforts to spread the Good News, no matter what, that Jesus was asking us to do.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, I ask for your guidance each day as I strive to do the good works that your Son taught us.  For it is in His Holy Name that I pray, Amen.

With a Thankful Heart

A New
Wednesday Study

Begins this week

Noon or 6:30pm

Looking at the Biblical concepts of:

Thanksgiving,
Gratitude
& Blessing

And A Women’s Bible Study
“Fruits of the Spirit” 
on Thursday at 7 pm
In the Annex rm 26


This Sunday

All Saints’ Sunday

A Time of Remembrance
at all Three Services

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-26-15

Conviction

A Thought from Pat Kelly (a Church Member

I believe most of us have in our early childhood memory banks instinctive perceptions of good and bad, loving and unloving, kindness and unkindness and many other important elements we simply seem to be born with. Through faith I have come to accept all of these as from the Holy Spirit which I also believe is in and part of everyone from the beginning. The Spirit’s influence ebbs and flows as our personal emphasis shifts between selfish and unselfish, loving, helpful and responsible motives. One side isolates us and the other brings us together. How could these factors bear on church stewardship?

Good stewardship is a personal thing that matures and grows the giver while helping the receiver be effective. It requires us to apply our best wisdom in determining what and to whom our gifts are made in keeping with the Spirit of Goodness that lives in us. They are best made, not grudgingly but because we want to give.  At the same time they need to be sufficient for us to feel the gift through sacrificing something of note in order to make it. I wonder if it is selfish to enjoy the peace that follows from having done what I believe is the right thing. Hope not.

With a Thankful Heart

A New
Wednesday Study

Begins this week
Noon or 6:30pm

Looking at the Biblical
concepts of:
Thanksgiving,
Gratitude
& Blessing

The Women of Cypress Creek

And A Women’s Bible Study
“Fruits of the Spirit”
on Thursday at 7 pm
In the Annex rm 26

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-25-15

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Scripture: Psalm 33:5
The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

Thought for the Day: The actress Lorette Young said, “Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.” So often we awaken to the gift of love, but it started as a gift – the gift of a God who first loved us.  As the scripture notes, the earth is full of this love, but so often it goes unnoticed…until…until love makes itself known in acts of righteousness and justice. Love tends to be a bit nebulous until it finds itself a voice, and some hands and feet.

Prayer: Let me see your love, Gracious God, and when there is an opportunity, let me bring to life your love for the sake of others. Amen.

TODAY’s WORSHIP

“Pushing Back the Darkness”
Luke 11:29-30, 32-42


The Women of Cypress Creek

Gathering Today at 3 pm
in the Activity Room

And A Women’s Bible Study
“Fruits of the Spirit”
on Thursday at 7 pm
In the Annex rm 26