Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-29-16

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Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5
When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters—God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night. There was evening and there was morning: the first day.

Thought for the Day: Today is a big day, one that comes only once every four years. It is February 29 of Leap Year, though that’s a bit redundant for it wouldn’t be February 29 if it was some other year. The concept of the Leap Year goes all the way back to the Egyptians who first recognized the need to add a day every four years. The Romans later solidified the idea that the calendar year was actually 365 1/4 days. Of course, that is not technically correct. It is 11 minutes and 14 seconds less than 365 1/4 days long, and for that reason, an additional correction was added in 1582. At that time, it was decided to skip Leap Year three times every 400 years. This additional correction has allowed for the calendar to work for the next 3,000+ years, but at that time, another correction will be necessary. The poet of Genesis 1 really had absolutely no concern for the technicalities of days, years, Leap Years and necessary corrections. Instead, the spiritual balladeer was interested in illustrating with rhythmic and structured meter the purposeful shape of creation. And even though we have a tendency to read all kinds of things into the first creation account of Genesis, the truth revealed in this Hebrew poem is that for which we continue to search. Amidst the chaos that is so often experienced, we claim the idea that divine purpose and design are woven into the very fabric of all that is known. 

Prayer: Holy One of Creation, whether it is a special day like February 29 or one a bit more ordinary, let me seek your presence encrypted into every moment of every day. Amen.

WEDNESDAY’S STUDY

Noon & 6:30pm
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-28-16

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Scripture: Luke 9:18
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

Thought for the Day: The Confessing Church was a group of Christians who stood against the Nazi’s during WWII. In his 1936 lecture, “The Presentation of New Testament Texts,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer proposed an alternative strategy of reading Scripture. Instead of questioning the Bible from their standpoint, as the German Christians were doing, Bonhoeffer challenged members of the Confessing Church to let the Bible question them. When people begin to do what Bonhoeffer suggested, they begin to discover something different about Jesus. They discover that Jesus is more than a historical figure to study – he is a living presence that continues to engage and challenge us.  

Prayer: As I discover who you are, O Loving Lord, I more fully discover who I am.  For that, I am thankful!  Amen.



 

TODAY’S SERMON

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WOMEN’S GATHERING

Today at 3pm

Theme: “God Has My Heart” 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-27-16

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Scripture: Psalm 46:2 (the Message)
God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.  We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea-storm and earthquake…

Thought for the Day: I’ve never put the words hide and fearless together.  When people hide, I tend not to think of them as fearless. With that said, I was out for a run years ago when I ran past a house with a fenced front yard. There were two dogs who came running at me and they were barking loudly. They were as different as could be.  One of the dogs looked to have some German Shepherd in him, while the other could have fit inside a shoebox with room to spare. The little one was the most aggressive of the two dogs, but after a moment, the bigger dog seemed bored and wandered off.  The little dog didn’t realize he had been left alone and maintained his fearless approach.  Then in one of those funny moments, the little dog realized he was alone, panicked, and ran to the porch where the big dog had gone to rest. There is great fearlessness when we’re standing next to the big dog. I also believe we find an attitude of fearlessness when we know we stand firmly (or hide) in the presence of God.

Prayer: Give me the confidence of your presence, O Lord, so I may stand without fear before all that life may throw my way.  Amen.

TOMORROW’S SERMON

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-26-16

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Scripture: John 3:20
All who do wicked things hate the light and don’t come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light.

Thought for the Day: What scares you? What frightens you? It is interesting how the answer to that question has probably changed some throughout life. Depending on your age, what you said half your lifetime ago is not what you would say today. At the same time, it can leave you staring at the ceiling late into the night. You may not be expecting a ghoul to appear from the closet as you did when you were six years old, but the imagination can still conjure up all kinds of anxiety-producing items hiding in the dark. A lot of the things that frighten us are a bit embarrassing, silly, shameful or awkward… or at least that’s the way we feel. We might even consider them Phaulos, the Greek word we translate as evil.  Yet the word can also describe something that is worthless or without value. So much of what we fear is really rather meaningless if only we could bring it into the light. We often feel concern over what others might say when we allow for these items to step from the shadows that have concealed them for far too long. In a lot of situations, I don’t know if we “hate the light” as much as fear the light and what it will reveal. Getting past this fear is the necessary step toward freedom from those things that cause anxiety at night. 

Prayer: Free me, O Generous God, from my own fears that keep part of my life living in the dark. Free me by bringing all of who I am into the light where your redemptive love does its thing. Amen.

SUNDAY’S SERMON

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-25-16

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Scripture: Luke 7:18-22
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”  When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’”  Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind.  And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.” 

Thought for the Day: “Go and tell what you have seen and heard.”  These words have echoed throughout the centuries of the church, and for many of those years, the church has done a fabulous job of taking those words seriously. Yet there have been other times in the church’s history when it has forgotten these words. Instead, it has demanded adherence to some doctrine or list of rules. It has forced certain understanding of behavior upon the culture.  It has used fear as a manipulative tactic in keeping people ‘on the straight and narrow.’ In today’s society when people hunger for a meaningful and experiential encounter with the divine, the church needs to embrace the words of Jesus. It simply needs to go and tell what has been seen and heard. Let’s share our experience, and in doing so, create a means by which we might inspire, or at least introduce. 

Prayer: As my heart has been warmed by your grace, O Heavenly Creator, may I be confident in sharing this experience with others.  Amen.

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This Sunday

Worship at
8:15am
9:30am
11:00am

Sermon Text:
2nd Timothy 1:1-7

Sermon Title
Terrified of Being Me

Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-24-16

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Scripture: John 1:15-16
John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; 

Thought for the Day: What does it mean to speak of grace upon grace? The Greek word we translate as grace is Charis. It means a number of things, but most often it is referring to God’s loving kindness or God’s merciful kindness. At Cypress Creek Christian Church, the language of God’s unconditional love has been historically important in defining the church’s mission. Unconditional love is another way of speaking of grace, but if something is already unconditional, what does it mean to double up unconditional. It might sound like nonsense, but think about the phrase, “Forever and ever.” Isn’t forever long enough? Why do we need to extend forever by adding a bit more of ever. Maybe this is John’s way of pushing beyond our capacity to imagine. We have a hard enough time understanding grace, God’s unconditional love. Such a gift brings about both awe and humility – but now double that experience.  

Prayer: The moment I believe I have grasped you and your grace, O Merciful God, I discover that I’ve yet to even begin the survey its depth. I am in awe! Amen.

TODAY

Wednesday Study: John’s Gospel

Noon & 6:30pm
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-23-16

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WEDNESDAY STUDY

NOON & 6:30PM

 

Scripture: John 1:8-9
He [John] himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world.

Thought for the Day: As I work through the opening chapter of John’s Gospel as part of our Wednesday study, I am drawn to the description of the light – how it was coming into the world. It had not yet arrived, but it was making its way there. During this Lenten season, let us be very cognizant of the darkness of the world, yet as we stand in the darkness, let us also echo the words from John’s opening chapter, the true light that shines upon us all is making its way into the world. Christianity is full of what some might call the already, but not yet. We are defined by truths that are described as: was, is and shall be. John is remembering the entrance of the light as the incarnate Christ, and though we look to that moment as the perfect paradigm of divine disclosure, God continues to find ways of disclosing light into the darkness – now and in the future. 

Prayer: God, grant that the light of your grace will continue to envelop the whole earth, and may we bask in it warmth and reflect its welcome. Amen.

A BIG THANKS

Successful Chili Cook Off

Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-22-16

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Scripture: Proverb 4:25
Focus your eyes straight ahead; keep your gaze on what is in front of you.

Thought for the Day: My friend, Rev. Michael Junkroski, posted the following quote. It has spoken through the smoke screen of blame that Christianity has so often attempted to use. In our current culture, we need to recognize where we have been the source of our own demise.

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Prayer: May my life be a part of the solution and not just another hinderance. This is my prayer, O Lord. Amen.

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-21-16

Scripture: Luke 4:17-19
The synagogue assistant gave Jesus the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Thought for the Day: The author and blogger, Gretchen Rubin , has written:

Negative emotions like… guilt
have an important role
to play in a happy life;
they’re big, flashing signs
that something needs to change.

We tend to associate certain emotions as bad, as things we should reject, but that is not necessarily true. Often such emotions, like that of guilt – which we will be discussing in worship this morning – are nothing more than a human response to an experience or realization. They invite us to wake up and change, yet too often in the case of guilt, we think it is inviting us to wake up to embrace the guilt. When needed, God uses guilt to say, “Something is not right…time to change.” But if guilt is lingering and becoming an identifying characteristic in your life, then the guilt is what needs to change. Jesus’ mission was to liberate the oppressed, and this was for both the physically oppressed and the emotionally/spiritually oppressed. 

Prayer: May your Spirit be upon me, O Lord, so that in your gifts of love and mercy, I may find freedom to make the needed changes and to more faithfully follow you. Amen.


THE CHILI COOK-OFF
IS UPON US

Let us join together for
some fun and good food
and to raise some money
for mission.

In the gym from noon – 1:30pm

Bring your money,
for that is how you vote.
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-20-16

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Scripture: Psalm 37:5
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. 

Thought for the Day: Do I commit to the ways of the Lord so that the Lord will act? It sure sounds like a nice formula, but God isn’t a formula. And there is a real danger in approaching God as a formula. Suddenly, it is no longer a relationship where both sides have life and freedom. Instead, it’s like a blueprint for getting what I want. Not to be too offensive, but it sounds like a person who brings his spouse a special gift with the expectation that the gift will produce sex. I’m pretty sure that is not a healthy relationship, but a formula. Instead of reading the passage as a prescription with a specific order and outcome, maybe it is simply three items in parallel with one another. We need to commit to the ways of God; we need to trust in the Lord; God has and will continue to act. When a relationship is based in love, we do not act one way with the expectation of receiving something specific in return. We love because God first loved us, but God still loves us whether we love or not.

Prayer: Thank you, Loving God, for showing us what a healthy and life-giving relationship can be. Amen.

SUNDAY’S SERMON
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…and then participate in:

The Blood Drive



…and stay for the:

Chili Cook Off
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