Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-28-18

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Scripture: Exodus 20:8-10

Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you.

Thought for the Day: The Formula One Driver, Jenson Button, said:

“Rest for me is fitness training.”

How many of us view rest as part of our essential fitness training? Or how many of us view rest like we view fitness training, and we never do it? The idea that every human being, in fact, every living creature deserves rest was pretty radical. The animal or person that I purchased was mine, and I should be allowed to push them every single day. Immigrants who might not have the same rights as citizens could also be forced to work every single day. This was common thinking in parts of the ancient world. If they got sick or died because of over work, they could be replaced. God’s sabbath requirement was a way of declaring value and worth upon every living thing. Of course, if we do not value ourselves enough to take rest seriously, then why should we value anyone or anything else? Taking the time for our sabbath rest reinforces our value in the eyes of God, and demanding that others receive sabbath completes God’s belief that all have value.

Prayer: Help me find the time to respect myself with rest, O Lord. Help me live a life that allows others to find time to rest. Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-27-18

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Scripture: Acts 13:47
This is what the Lord commanded us: I have made you a light for the Gentiles, so that you could bring salvation to the end of the earth.

Thought for the Day: Paul and Barnabas offered these words to the Gentiles, and though the “us” could be Paul and Barnabas or everyone who was there, the point remains the same – we have been made as light for the task of bringing the Good News of God’s saving work to the end of the earth. The phrase “end of the earth” has always been a bit intimidating to me. Even in this current moment where social media, news and travel have made the world much smaller, I am still a bit overwhelmed at the thought of going to the edge of what is known. When Acts was written, it was thought the earth was flat, and so the language of “the end of the earth” was both figurative and literal. It was a place of darkness and danger, a place of unknown peril. Today, the end of the earth might be Syria or El Salvador, or maybe somewhere much closer. The issue of human trafficking, not simply in the sex industry but also in agriculture and restaurants, is a dark and dangerous place for so many. Today, at 12:15pm and 6:45pm, the G.P.S. (Gather, Pray, Surrender) Prayer Gatherings will focus on those who have been caught in the trafficking, those who have been rescued and those who are trying to be light in this end of the earth reality. I hope you’ll consider participating.

Prayer: God of Light, allow us to both absorb and reflect the brilliance of your love upon the world. Give us the courage to go to the end of the earth even if it is two blocks away from where we live. Amen.

JOIN US

TODAY
at
12:15pm & 6:45pm
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-26-18

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Prayer for the Week:
An invitation was given by Jesus:
  Come, all who are thirsty.
In him, we shall taste the living waters.

O Fount of Every Blessing, we cup our hands and draw cool and life-sustaining water to our lips. In the same fashion, we reach into the reservoir of your gifts and draw forth all that will sustain us. Too often we postpone or fail to take advantage of these opportunities to be refreshed in your presence. Our spirits become parched and weak, yet we push ahead as if we can survive without you. Our prayers are often mechanical and empty of meaning. They do not express our true needs, nor do they express a willingness to let you be involved. Forgive us, O God of Mercy, when we do not respond with gratitude toward your invitation to come and drink. You are generous and we are thirsty, yet our human nature can have us arrogantly believing that satisfying our spiritual craving is within our own capacity. Extend your invitation to us once again through your gracious Spirit. Draw us to the well where we can drink from your abundance. This we pray in the name of the one who spoke of rivers of living water pouring out from him. Amen.

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THIS TUESDAY

12:15pm & 6:45pm

In The Chapel

Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-25-18

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Scripture: 1st Samuel 1:10
Hannah was very upset and couldn’t stop crying as she prayed to the LORD.

Thought for the Day: I came across a number of images and paintings depicting this scene from 1st Samuel. In each case, Hannah was kneeling, and she was looking up toward heaven with her hands clasped in a very holy posture. She looks so reverent and proper. Religious art seems to want to present Bible characters in very sterile and unrealistic ways. Hannah is described as “very upset” (heartbroken) and unable to stop crying. I don’t wish to be rude, but I picture snot, blubbering and undignified sounds. There might have been fist shaking at heaven or pounding on the ground. It’s a less than pretty picture, yet I think prayer and God are very receptive to such emotions. There have been a few times in my life when I have sobbed uncontrollably. It was not a pretty picture, and I am rather thankful no one had a cellphone camera. Being honest and transparent in prayer, even in our worst moments, helps to create a healthy and trusting rapport with God…a rapport that will be beneficial in other moments of life.

Prayer: Thank you, Gracious God, for this moment where you are fully available for all that I bring to it. Amen.

DON’T MISS WORSHIP

Continuing our trip to the well
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THE DAY HAS ARRIVED

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-24-18

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Scripture: Psalm 107:4-6
Some of the redeemed had wandered into the desert, into the wasteland. They couldn’t find their way to a city or town. They were hungry and thirsty; their lives were slipping away. So they cried out to the LORD in their distress, and God delivered them from their desperate circumstances.

Thought for the Day: Last August, Mick Ohman got lost in the Arizona desert. With few supplies in the scorching heat, he was certain that he would not survive. After 48 hours of wandering, he saw a guy on a dirt bike. It was Troy Haverland, and he took Mick almost an hour to a town called Lake Pleasant. The entire ride, Mick kept on yelling over the motorbikes motor, “You know, today you can say you saved a life.” It must be a very powerful and humbling experience to be able to say, “I helped save a life.” Every life is precious because every life is precious. God responds to the cries of those in distress, and though the poetry of the Psalm makes it sound as if God swooped in and rescued the person, we must remember that this is a retelling of the Exodus Story. God was the central actor, but God called Shipharh, Puah, Yocheved, Miriam, Moses and Aaron as full participants in this rescue operation. Where is God calling you to participate in the rescue of another human being? Are you listening for such a call through your times of prayer and study?

Prayer: O Lord who beckons humanity, I pause to listen. I want to be aware of how you are inviting me to join others in the redemptive work of grace. So many needs; so many cries; so many opportunities. Guide me to the place where my gifts can best be utilized. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

DON’T FORGET

This Sunday at Noon

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-23-18

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Scripture: Psalm 5:3
LORD, in the morning you hear my voice. In the morning I lay it all out before you. Then I wait expectantly.

Thought for the Day: Where do you turn in times of trouble, heightened anxiety or despair? Too often we turn to those things that offer absolutely no help. And let’s be honest, there is not one of us who is immune from trying to hide, escape or blunt the pain with things like alcohol, social media, shopping, work, etc. Even the regular churchgoer can give the appearance of turning to God, yet in their time of difficulty, they build their lives on the shakiest of foundations. God never promises us immediate or struggle-free solutions, but God does offer us a permanent and reliable foundation from which we can honestly and forthrightly face whatever needs to be faced. In this Lenten Season, let us strive toward a life that is built upon the One who will not forsake us.

Prayer: Through this time of prayer and other opportunities of Spiritual Formation, O Rock of My Salvation, allow for my life to be more centered and established upon you and your unceasing love. Amen.

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SUPPORT MISSION

Come and Eat Chili
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-22-18

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Scripture: Ephesians 2:5
However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God’s grace!

Thought for the Day: Like many of you, I was sad to hear of Billy Graham’s death. In a time when there is plenty of skepticism when it comes to religion, his name still represents integrity. One of his quotes that seems appropriate for this day is:

I am not going to Heaven because I have preached to great crowds or read the Bible many times. I’m going to Heaven just like the thief on the cross who said in that last moment: “Lord, remember me.”

If there were folks who deserved Heaven because of personal accomplishments, Graham would be among them. Yet it was his humility and complete dependence on grace that made his life and message so powerful. Today, I give thanks for Billy Graham!

Prayer: Merciful God, we are thankful and fully dependent upon your grace. May our lives give witness to this amazing gift. Amen.

NEW FORUM/CHAPEL CHAIRS

Arrive Today (Thursday) at 8:45am


Sunday’s Message

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-21-18

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Scripture: Ephesians 4:32
Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.

Thought for the Day: After yesterday’s discussion on friendship in which I referenced some words from Henri Nouwen, I found the following words that also come from Nouwen:

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

In the Ephesians passage, the Greek word we translate as kind is: Chrestos. Strangely, the word can also be translated as useful. I find that very interesting for often kindness is syrupy sweet and not all that useful. Yet to align kindness with compassion and forgiveness is to speak of a kindness that is very real and impactful. A friend who is kind is one who is going to be useful, not in the sense of solving all my problems, but in knowing my pain and bringing the fullness of her/himself to my situation.

Prayer: I don’t always need answers, God. Often I just need a friend who will hear me as I attempt to put words to my struggles and pain. Thank you for the gift of friendship that is definitely divinely inspired. Amen.

STARTS TODAY

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-20-18

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Scripture: Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Thought for the Day: Who challenges you? In the movie, Good Will Hunting, Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) asks Will (Matt Damon) the question, “Do you have a soulmate… someone who challenges you?” Will rattles off the names of famous authors and philosophers, all who are dead. Sean points out how it’s not much of a two way street in that conversation. As we talk about Spiritual Practices (Spiritual Disciplines), I would like to toss one out that is not talked about very often – friendship. I’m not talking about superficial acquaintances. Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Friendship closes its eyes.” I would agree when it comes to the insignificant and superficial stuff, but I think a true friend is deeply aware and sees us better than we might see ourselves. Whether it is anxiousness around vulnerability or outright fear in regard to certain parts of who we are, there are too many people who go through life without a true friend. I think the Spiritual Practice of friendship would serve us all very well. Henri Nouwen wrote, “Friendship has always belonged to the core of my spiritual journey,” and I hope all of us can echo those words.

Prayer: Teach me, Gracious God, to be a friend by teaching me to open myself to those you bring alongside me. Allow my openness to create a space of mutuality where your Spirit comes alive in the dynamism of the holy moment. Amen.

DON’T FORGET

This Sunday At Noon

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 02-19-18

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Prayer for the Week: Grief and hopelessness can leave the human soul barren. O Holy God, the events of this past week make us once again feel as if goodness and love have lost their power. Your most precious gift, the gift of life, has been devalued and destroyed. Our emotions are a mix of rage and bewilderment, sadness and defeat, fear and righteous indignation. We want to do something, but it feels as if this story of violence continues to spin out of our control. Forgive us, O Merciful God, where we have allowed despondency to push aside our faith. Let us hear again your gift to the world who strongly confronted those who might make a little one stumble. O God who loves the little children of the world, we are allowing our children to stumble; we are allowing our children to live in fear; we are allowing our children to be killed. We cry out like Rachel, weeping for our children. We cry out to you, O Lord of Heaven and Earth, for hearts that are converted and convicted by the message of the cross – a message of a love that will sacrifice everything for the sake of the most vulnerable. You have called us to take up the cross, and as we begin our Lenten journey to Golgotha, we ask you to make the sacrificial love of Jesus more than a gift we accept, but a life we emulate. It is in his name that we pray. Amen.

MEN’S GATHERING
AT CRAMER RETREAT CENTER
TUESDAY

Dinner at 6:30pm — Study at 7:00pm
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