Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-28-17

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Scripture: 1st John 1:8-10
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Thought for the Day: Tomorrow begins the season of Lent. We have an Ash Wednesday service at 6:45pm (opportunities to receive ashes in the chapel from 7-9am & 11am-1pm). Ash Wednesday is an invitation to reflection, confession and repentance. It is not about concerning ourselves with the sins and shortcomings of others. Lent provides us the opportunity to reflect inward, to ask ourselves the questions we may not have wished to ask, and to be aware of what the Spirit might be attempting to bring to our attention. The University of Houston author, Brené Brown, writes, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable…” This inward journey can be unnerving, even painful. Yet the risk is worth it.

Prayer: Bring me into this season, Merciful and Gracious God. Bring me into the season of Lent as one who is willing to risk the adventure of deep reflection and honest confession. Be the One who walks with me along this inward journey. I make these requests in the name of Jesus who lived a life of vulnerability and love. Amen.

TOMORROW – ASH WEDNESDAY

Ashes & Prayer in the Chapel
7-9am & 11am-1pm

Pancake Dinner in the Gym
5:30-6:30pm

Worship Service in the Centrum
6:45pm
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-27-17

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Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Thought for the Day: In yesterday’s sermon, I mentioned these words of scripture that are often called the Shema. As I was driving home yesterday after the Chili cook-off and a meeting, I begin reflecting on the words. Actually, it was one word in particular that appears three times. It is the word ALL. Now I don’t know much Hebrew, and so understanding the word we translate as ALL is a bit confusing to me. It is the word kol, and it is a noun. It means the whole, the complete, the full. It is more than a description of the heart, soul and might. It is describing the wholeness of your heart, the completeness of your soul and the fullness of your might. I wonder if what the Hebrew author was attempting to communicate is this ALL finds its wholeness and fullness apart from who we are. It is God who makes it possible for us to love with such completeness – a God who inspires us to love with the fullest and most complete love that ever existed. It is my hope and my greatest yearning to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, and with all of my soul and with all of my might.

Prayer: Give me a full and complete heart that is able to both enjoy and honor you, O Lord, with the love you first game to me. Amen.

You Can Also Receive Ashes

in the Chapel at

7 – 9am and 11am – 1pm

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-26-17

 

Scripture: Philippians 2:5-8
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Thought for the Day: Recently I read the words of James Finley, a guest writer on Richard Rohr’s blog. He wrote:

We begin in ego consciousness, imagining that the union with God we seek is far off. After all, ego consciousness is the subjective perception of being a separate self that has to find God, who is perceived as being other than one’s self. But as ego consciousness yields and gives way to meditative awareness, we begin to recognize the surprising nearness of God.

Now if you are like me, I had to reread that a couple of times. What I take away from it (after a few readings) is that there is a not so good notion of God being very separate from us, and this very distant perception of God leaves us believing that it is our task to go and find God. As an alternative, the writer suggests that meditation allows us to see how God is very near to us. Even Paul suggests that Christ made the decision, not to remain distant, but come close. Too often our focus is so ego-centered that we are unaware of the God who not only comes close but lives within us. Faith is often described as a union with God, but that assumes that there was, at some point, disunion. If we were created in the image of God, then the divine spark/divine image already resides within each of us. Faith is not seeking union with God, but gaining an awareness and celebration of the union that was always there.

Prayer: Work with me, Lord God, to see what I may miss at first glance. Help me to see your presence in my life, not simply as a visitor, but as One who has chosen to dwell within me and all of humanity. Amen. 

SEE YOU IN WORSHIP

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TODAY IS THE BIG DAY

Chili Cook-Off

In the Gym
at Noon

Bring your money to vote

Youth will have drinks and desserts
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-25-17

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Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 13:11-13
Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Thought for the Day: For over seven weeks, we have been looking at Paul’s two letters to the church at Corinth. I don’t know if I have offered any great insight, but if anything, I hope you have read a great deal of these two letters – either reading them for the first time or being reintroduced to some wonderful and challenging ideas. With that, I echo the closing remarks Paul made to people he loved so deeply. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you – today and each day to come.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for calling forth one like Paul. His story speaks to the power of your grace and resilience. Your love redeemed one of the great haters of the church, transforming his life. May your redemptive power continue to work in my life and in the life of our church. Amen.

SEE YOU IN WORSHIP

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AND DON’T FORGET…

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-24-17

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Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 13:4-5
For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!

Thought for the Day: I know Paul is only trying to challenge the community in Corinth, but to be honest, I hope that God grades only on a pass/fail basis. And even then, I hope there is extra credit – what I will call the Jesus credit. Paul suggests that such bonus points are available when he says, “Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?” This is joyful news, but it is followed by the words, “…unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test.” Though I’m not suggesting it is a good translation of the passage, I have always liked thinking that Paul was saying, “…unless, of course, you don’t even show up for the test.” To me, that’s grace. There are going to be days when we all are doing really pretty well on the Jesus-life, and other days when even having the teacher curve the grades will leave us well below passing. This is where I continue to hold firmly to God’s wonderful gift of grace – which gives me a 100 for just showing up and trying.

Prayer: I love you, Lord, for the love and forgiveness that are gifted to me in all situations. May these gifts continue to inspire my life, guiding me toward a more faithful life. Amen.

SUNDAY

Chili Cook-Off

Noon in the Gym

Bring your money to vote!!!
Youth will sell sodas and desserts
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-23-17

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Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 12:11-12
I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.

Thought for the Day: I have always loved the language of the “super-apostles” as I picture the first century people in traditional garb with a big “S” on the front. No one knows for sure who exactly Paul was referring to in regard to these “super-apostles,” but it is certain that they had caused trouble and dissension within the community at Corinth. Though we may not use the term “super-apostle” these days, there are plenty of folks who cause trouble and dissension in the life of the church. In most cases, they don’t set out to cause problems. In fact, they can usually justify their destructive behavior with religious overtones. I am not referring to disagreements or differences of opinion in the life the church. This is normal and good. We need to engage one another, and allow different perspectives to challenge us. At the same time, we need to be aware of those who only want to lift up themselves or some personal agenda. On occasion, we may see the call of Jesus a bit differently, but as long as the discussion focuses on Jesus and his life, the Spirit of God will find a way of holding us together.

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, and work among us. Allow your love to weave us together as a single body by which your Gospel is announced to the world around us. Come, Holy Spirit, and use our collective gifts for the building of your Kingdom. Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-22-17

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Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 11:23-28
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one–I am talking like a madman–with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.

Thought for the Day: I know this is a bit longer passage than usual, but it is Paul’s resume. He probably would find that comment insulting, but it really feels as if he is laying out his case by telling all his troubles and the persecution he experienced at the hands of those who despised his teaching. I don’t know how successful he was with that approach, though I must confess that I am impressed in the sense that I don’t wish to experience what he did. With that said, I am more touched by Paul’s words around humility; his confessions around the “thorn” he carries with him; his boasting in his weakness. His suffering is worthy of great praise, but at the end of the day, are we really seeking great praise? Is that our goal? Or are we hoping that by the grace of God, and only by the grace of God, that our frail and fragile lives might somehow point to the love God has for all humanity?

Prayer: If my pride and ego ever grow beyond where they should, please find something with which to deflate them. This is my request, O Gracious and loving God. Amen.

Get It On Your Calendar Now

Entry into Lent

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