Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-31-16

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Scripture: Psalm 116:15
The death of the LORD’s faithful is a costly loss in his eyes.

Thought for the Day: Sing with me, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere we go…” In fact, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas with a strange ghostly, thanksgiving edge to it all. As you have probably experienced in the last few weeks, there are stores with Christmas decorations already up, yet along the back wall is a 8ft Frankenstein inflatable, a giant spider and a cornucopia. It just doesn’t feel right. Yet with that said, there is a holiday that is running under the radar, and that holiday is All Hallows’ Eve, the day before All Saints’ Day. It is the Christmas Eve of the Saints, and there are no big inflatables or special light effects for the outside of the house. It flies under the radar of culture, but not among Christians. In some parts of the world, Christians have used All Hallows’ Eve as a time of prayer, the visiting of cemeteries or even big parties. The line between sacred and secular has been blurred, yet it helped teach children to be comfortable around death…not to be terrified of it. Today, in honor of All Hallows’ Eve, say a prayer for all those who have gone before us. If you wish, raise a glass in merriment to honor the memories of loved ones. It’s all good, and then look to November 1 – All Saints’ Day. Enjoy the fact that there wasn’t a frenzied black Friday sale or twelve parties you had to figure out how to get on the calendar. At Cypress Creek, we will celebrate All Saints’ Day on All Saints’ Sunday, November 6. It is a wonderful time for Christians to recognize who we are as a community that stretches across history.

Prayer: I give you thanks, O Faithful Father, for all those who journeyed through life as witnesses to your two great commandments – for all those whose lives gave witness to a love that knows no end. Amen.

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-30-16

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Scripture: Psalm 127:1
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…

Thought for the Day: I have watched people take these words literally – sitting back and waiting for the Lord to do the work. “Come on, Lord, build this house! Do your magic! Make it so…” I don’t believe that is exactly what was meant with these words of scripture. The author of the Psalm was not suggesting a passive faith, but simply a faith that looks to God for direction and empowerment. Each time I have done a Habitat for Humanity workday, I have worked alongside some amazing builders and skilled individuals. That is not where my gifts are found. I did not go to the worksite and say to the builders and contractors, “Build the house! Do your thing! Make it happen…” I ask, “So what can I do?” Each time, the Habitat Foreman or Forewoman got a sense of what I could do and then made me useful. Know that God has already sized you up, knows your skills, and will make you useful in the ways of love and mercy – the real brick and mortar of God’s house.

Prayer: O Lord, you are the builder of the house…yet we know you seek our assistance as co-workers in this good work. Encourage us in whatever we can do. Amen.

TODAY’S WORSHIP
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-29-16

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Scripture: 1st Peter 4:10
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.

Thought for the Day: In his book, Yes, Lord, I have Sinned, but I Have Several Excellent Excuses, James Moore talks about the stagecoach of the wild west. He says there were three kinds of tickets: First, Second and Third. A First Class ticket meant you always remained seated no matter the situation or problem. A Second Class ticket meant you had a seat, but if there was any problem, you had to get up and wait outside the stagecoach while it was fixed. A Third Class ticket meant you probably had to ride on the outside, and if there was a problem, you had to push. Moore thinks we have too many church members who think they have First Class tickets, but the Jesus-life showed us the humble actions of one who was ready to push if necessary.

Prayer: As Jesus served humanity to the point of death, O Lord, encourage me to serve my neighbor even when I might have to break a sweat. Amen.

TOMORROW’S SERMON
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-28-16

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Scripture: Ephesians 2:10
For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Thought for the Day: In the book, Radical Hospitality by Father Daniel Homan and Lonnie Collins, we read the following: “It is very hard to keep a straight face and say there is good in everyone. We have seen evidence to the contrary, haven’t we? It is hard to believe, but we keep trying to prove that there is good in everyone. We know people don’t always choose goodness. We only have to look in the mirror to be reminded of that… but if we don’t try to believe it, we will end up densely fatalistic and unable to see the most obvious good. It is worth the effort to believe.” Maybe what people need is someone who actually treats them as if there is goodness within them, and in doing so, invites them to live more fully into that goodness.

Prayer: Tempt me, O God, to live the goodness which I have within me. By your grace, persuade me to embrace and share the divine goodness with which you gifted me. Amen.

SUNDAY’S SERMON
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What Does It Mean?
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-27-16

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Scripture: 1st John 3:18
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

Thought for the Day: I came across a little stewardship devotion I wrote years ago based upon these words from 1st John. The devotional said, “We bring the gift of ourselves in hopes that love may flourish among us and through us. This comes through our honesty before the Creator who brought the gift of the divine self to the world. Our gratitude is found in the genuine expression of ourselves through love for sisters and brothers. In sharing the person God created us to be, we demonstrate our faith and say, Thanks! to the one who created us and showed us the way to true life.” This devotional thought came to mind as I listened to Rev. Gary Groves sermons this weekend, specifically his comments about gratitude requiring an act of faithfulness (not a direct quote from Gary).

Prayer: May the truth of your love, O Creator God, be obvious in the actions of my life. Amen.

THIS SUNDAY’S SERMON:
Cookies and the Way of Love
1st Corinthians 15:1-10

P.S. Holy Grounds will be
in the Foyer of the Centrum
as the Flooring still needs
a little time to dry.
We can walk on it,
but no tables or chairs.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-26-16

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Scripture: John 8:12
Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Thought for the Day: Coming off last weekend’s theme Fuel the Fire, I was intrigued by something our Board Chair, John Basel, told me. Recently, John finished teaching a Sunday study on the Gnostic Gospels, and he referenced a book entitled: The Gospel of Thomas, Annotated & Explained. In the book, the author wrote…

The Jesus of Thomas is not a peacemaker;
he is an incendiary of love,
a pyromaniac of divine passion,
announcing the laws of a transformed world
and of the enormous struggles,
sacrifices, and sufferings,
both internal and external,
necessary to engender it.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is referred to as the light of the world, yet so often we think from the perspective of 21st century people where light comes from a bulb. It might get warm, but unless we are changing it, we never notice its heat. Light for first century people was almost always associated with fire and thermal energy. If Jesus is the light of the world, then maybe the author gets it right when he describes Jesus as an incendiary of love and the pyromaniac of divine passion. When Jesus is followed and emulated, things will heat up!

Prayer: May the incendiary power of your love, O God, burn within me a fire capable of removing all that is unhealthy and unhelpful, while also providing light for my path forward. Amen.

WEDNESDAY STUDY

Remember-
Moving to the Annex Building
(New floors in the Activity Room)

Ecclesiological Etchings: 10-25-16

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Scripture: Proverbs 28:1
The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

Thought for the Day: Why would anyone flee when there is no one pursuing them? This was my initial question in reading the first half of this passage, and then it hit me. There is no person or army approaching ‘the wicked’, but there is something else that is chasing them. It is, what Geoffrey Chaucer described as the power of guilt. He wrote, “The guilty think all talk is of themselves.” The persecuting power of a guilty conscience is unrelenting in its pursuit because it is inescapably attached to the one who is running. The only way to change the situation is to stop running, face our past, confess, seek healing, and begin the process of loosening the tight grip guilt can hold on us. Any other option will have us in excellent shape for the guilt-ridden marathon, but that is a race no one wants to finish.

Prayer: Encourage me, O Gracious God, to trust your mercy, stop my race to nowhere, and to find your healing. This I pray in the name of the one who will be my strength every step of the way, Jesus. Amen.

SOME INTERESTING MATH
AT CYPRESS CREEK CHRISTIAN CHURCH

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