Ecclesiological Etchings: 12-31-15 (7th Day of Christmas)

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Scripture: Ephesians 4:32
…and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Thought for the Day: In Wendell Berry’s book of poetry, “Leavings,” he has a piece simply entitled “A Letter to My Brother.”  It begins, 

Dear John,
You said “Treat your worst enemies
as if they could become your best friends.”
You were not the first to perpetrate
such an outrage, but you were right.
Try as we might, we cannot
unspring that trap.  We can either
befriend our enemies or we can die
with them, in the absolute triumph
of the absolute horror constructed
by us to save us from them.

As we prepare to begin a new year, let us name the animosity and ill feelings we carry. And in doing so, let us recognize how they are more destructive to self then they are to the one to whom they are directed.

Prayer: Teach us the way of forgiveness, O Lord.  We know its importance, but the how is where we often struggle.  Amen.

ARE YOU EXCITED!

One Service Sunday – 10:30am
With Larry the Camel

Bring some Canned Vegetables

Stay for the Lunch
Camel Walk-General

Ecclesiological Etchings: 12-30-15 (6th Day of Christmas)

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Scripture: Luke 2:41-42
Now every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.

Thought for the Day: “I can’t believe another year has come and gone!”  How many times do you say that?  I find myself saying it more and more.  I wonder if the parent’s of Jesus said it as they were preparing to participate in the Passover festival.  I wonder if Mary and Joseph ever said, “This year, let’s just skip it all together.”  Maybe they said it, but I doubt it.  These liturgical events come around each year, and they are important. The ritual experiences teach us and shape us in those things we value. Today is my 20th wedding anniversary, and though it is an important one, so will 21 and 22…  Naming it and celebrating it reconnects us with why we got married in the first place.  It quietly forms us in those things that are of value.

Prayer: Holy and Magnificent God, I give you thanks for your amazing gifts of love and mercy.  As special holidays and anniversaries occur this year, may they give us reason to celebrate and reconnect with your wonderful works of grace.  Amen. 

BIG SUNDAY

One Service at 10:30am
Camel Walk at 10:00am

Stay for a luncheon
(Soup and Sandwiches)

Bring some canned goods to share
(Some for the soup, some for NAM)
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 12-29-15 (5th Day of Christmas)

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Scripture: Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Thought for the Day: Saint Francis de Sales, not to be confused with Saint Francis of Assisi, wrote: “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” As we approach a new year with many well-intentioned resolutions, let us not become discouraged when we fail after the second day.  Let the third become for us a new day with new possibilities that were unavailable to us on the second day.

Prayer: I will not beat myself up over blunders in my life.  Even when I cannot see past them, you, O Lord, are patient and hopeful.  Amen.

THIS SUNDAY IS

Epiphany Sunday

One Worship Service Sunday – 10:30am
Camel Walk from Meyer Park – 10:00am

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 12-28-16 (4th Day of Christmas)

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Scripture: Ruth 1:16-19
But Ruth said to Naomi, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.

Thought for the Day: Like many people, I have been drawn to the story of Ruth, in part, because of her perseverance and tenacity. She is a great example of one who faced obstacles and uncertainty, yet remained steadfast. In my sermon yesterday, I said:

I’m more interested this year
in being resolute.
Resolutions without being resolute
are empty promises
that will most often end with guilt.

There is much to learn from Ruth, but through everything, she was a person who was known for being resolute – firm even in the face of the unknown. The church desperately needs resolute followers of Jesus, and I believe the best way for us to build strength in our determination is to know one another. Ruth was committed to her mother-in-law, Naomi, but she also suggested that Naomi’s people would become her people. Real community provides a much better chance that the visions set before us will actually become reality. Determination can be found within an individual, but it is most often seen when there are individuals who are committed to one another.

Prayer: Continue to provide me a community, Heavenly Father, from which I can draw strength. I desire to be resolute in my convictions and determined in my following of Jesus. Amen.

THIS SUNDAY

Camel Walk-General

Ecclesiological Etchings: 12-27-15 (3rd Day of Christmas)

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Scripture: Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

Thought for the Day: Today is the Third Day of Christmas, and as the song goes, on the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Three French Hens. I just learned that the song, The 12 Days of Christmas, was a 16th century song created by Catholics who were living in England during a time when they were forbidden to practice their Catholic faith. The only recognized church in England was the state church, and so the Catholic families used silly (though also symbolic) songs to teach the faith and doctrines. The French Hens were very expensive, and these three expensive gifts were a reminder of the three gifts being brought by the Wise Men from the East. In our current time when there is absolutely no external threat to Christianity in America (lots of perceived external threats, but the only real threats are internal), I wonder how much creativity we have lost? Are we doing what is necessary to teach our children the faith or are we making assumptions that someone else will take care of it?

Prayer: Let me continue to look for creative ways of sharing you, O Living God, with others… especially the children. Amen.


 

JOIN US THIS MORNING

Three Services

8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Ecclesiological Etchings: 12-26-15 (2nd Day of Christmas)

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From Rev. Sheila Gillett

Scripture: Matthew 28:20
“…And surely I (Jesus) am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Thought for the Day: Faith is believing what we cannot see. It is believing in the truth of the Word that God left for us.  Faith that the words are true. Faith that we believe with all our hearts and souls that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. He died for us while we were yet sinners. We are a forgiven people and have hope for eternity. Faith that our imperfection is enough- that God sees us whole and beautiful even with our flaws. Faith that God is with us through the trials and hardships of this life on earth. He never said that life would be easy, or that we would not have hardships, trials, or grief. However, Jesus did promise that NO MATTER WHAT, He would always walk beside us and that we could lay our burdens upon him. We know that He cries with us, that he holds us in the palm of his hand, and wraps his arms around us in the midst of our tears and grief. When these trials test our Faith; when we ask why God? Why did this happen? He listens, and he carries us, when we cannot carry ourselves.

Holidays are not always fun and merry especially when life circumstances have not been easy in the past year.  We may be sad or saying “bah humbug” like Scrooge, instead of joyful and happy. With Faith in Jesus, we will get through this season of Advent- we will persevere.

Prayer: O Lord, help my unbelief when I am sad when everyone around me is happy. Help me to have ENOUGH FAITH to know that YOU are with me and this season will pass. Days of joy will return to me again because I know that You are with me until the end of time. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


 

JOIN US TOMORROW MORNING

Three Services

8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Ecclesiological Etchings: Christmas Eve

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Scripture: Luke 2:6
While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.

Thought for the Day: Oh the best made plans… It is not unusual to read a story about a baby being born alongside the road or in a cab or even aboard an airplane, but in today’s world, medical assistance isn’t too far away. In first century Palestine, being away from your family and community was bad enough, but to find yourself (or your spouse) giving birth in such a setting would have been terrifying. As much as we may attempt to plan things, life tends to happen in the gap between plans. It can be terrifying, yet some of the most amazing and beautiful happenings in history have occurred in these gaps. I’m not suggesting it is the way God plans it, but the important things routinely transpire when we release our need to control. It is there that God’s Spirit is able to wiggle in and accomplish what our plans have often hindered. Just a thought on this Christmas Eve… 

Prayer: Lord, you gave us a brain so as not to fly by the seat of our pants, but often our plans leave no room for you. Help us to make space for you to enter in to our lives. Help us to create a manger of the soul where your surprising gift can find rest. Amen.

See You Tonight

Xtmas Eve - FB

Ecclesiological Etchings: 12-23-15

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Scripture: John 11:11
After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.”

Thought for the Day: It is only two days before Christmas, and I am looking at a passage from the middle of Jesus’ ministry. That may not seem quite right in the chronology of the Christian year, but in light of our theme for this Advent Season, I am drawn to Jesus going to awaken Lazarus.  Though Lazarus was dead, Jesus used the word associated with the act of awakening someone from sleep. Clearly death and sleep are not the same thing, though scripture does use sleep as a soft metaphor for the harsh reality of death. In the Christian walk, we can unknowingly lull ourselves into a so-called sleep. Suddenly we find ourselves no longer connected to our source of life and vitality, and without that connection, we begin to die. Maybe not a physical death, but the spirit begins to wither. The words of Jesus should resonate with us, for they are universal words: 

I am going there to awaken them. 

They could be God’s words spoken to creation as the Christ Child is born. God continues to find ways of entering our lives to awaken us to the life-giving gift of love. Awake! A child is to be born in our midst.

Prayer: Wake us up from our slumber, O God who was born among the stable animals. Wake us up so that we do not miss your gifts being born anew into this world. Amen.

CHRISTMAS EVE

Tomorrow Night

Christmas Eve - FB

Brass Ensemble begins
playing at 10:30pm

Ecclesiological Etchings: 12-22-15

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Scripture: Isaiah 9:6
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Thought for the Day: It is said that life is the only real counselor, and I do believe that those who are willing to reflect on their faux pas and blunders will learn much.  To be self-aware is a great attribute, but I do not believe life is the only real counselor.  The stories of faith, even those that depict a complete failure, are great sources of advice.  Then you look to the teachings and parables of Jesus, and you find life-giving ideas that are not common sense.  In fact, they often go against what life would teach us.  Before Christmas day, make an appointment with the Christ Child and see what counsel he offers you.

Prayer: Mighty God, may the birth of Jesus be a source of counsel to my life this day.  Amen.

SPREAD THE WORD

ChristmasEve

Come early to the 11pm service
to hear a Brass Ensemble