11-30-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

November 30, 2019

(Saturdays during Advent will have a guest writer from the congregation)

Guest Writer: Rev. Katelin Jordan

Scripture: Isaiah 2:5  

Come, house of Jacob, let us walk by the light of the Lord.

 

The season of Advent is an opportunity and challenge to live in darkness, waiting for the light that will come. We are waiting, always waiting, knowing that the light of Christ will come, but that it isn’t quite here yet. So often, we want to rush right into the light. We focus on the light of Christmas morning, forgetting that we must embrace the darkness of where we are now, to learn how to live in the waiting, and to find our light.

 

I have struggled with my health the past year. I have gone through countless procedures, tests, appointments, surgeries, recoveries, and therapies. But going through all of this has taught me how to find light in this darkness. I have learned how to laugh and embrace joy amidst terrible pain and uncertainty. I have learned how to give myself grace and forgiveness when I must cancel plans and say no to something that is being asked of me. I have learned how to ask for and accept help. I have learned how to embrace the darkness that is pain and, in doing so, have found the most beautiful light and love in the people around me who continue to walk this path with me, my family, my friends, and my church.

 

My faith in a God who loves me when I want to give up and who shares in my joy when I pick myself back up again is my light. Learning to accept that, while I may be in a time of darkness, there is light all around me on this journey is how I get up every morning and find the goodness and love in every day. And the love that I have been given by others is a constant reminder to me that I am also called to Live the Love First Life and all that entails as well.

 

This journey is hard. A time of Advent darkness always is. But in learning how to pause, and live in that dark journey, we are given the chance to see the light all around us! I like to think that, in all of the fear, pain, and uncertainty that Mary and Joseph must have felt on their journey to Bethlehem, there must have been light there too, even if just in the movement of the babe in Mary’s womb.

 

It is my prayer for all of us that we learn to live in our dark times, knowing that it is in those times that the light shines brightest of all.



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11-29-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

November 29, 2019

Scripture: Proverbs 24:27

Get your outside work done; make preparations in the field; then you can build your house.

Thought for the Day: How you get things done and the order you get things done might be just as important as what you hope to get done. In fact, the choices we make around the how and the order determine the outcome. We are impatient and compulsive creatures. Now there is nothing wrong with some good restlessness that pushes us forward, but if it is an attitude of “I want it now,” it will too often produce something other than what we wanted to produce. As we approach one of the most magnificent, joyful and fun times of the year, let us be mindful that it is Advent, not Christmas. Advent is the weeks of preparation before Christmas. Let us make good use of this time, recognizing that how we move toward Christmas and the order in which we do things on our way to Christmas will have a significant impact on what Christmas is for us. I hope to see you in worship on Sunday as we begin our Advent Theme from Isaiah the Prophet, “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

Prayer: It’s Advent, Lord. It is Advent! Let me say it again, It is Advent. Let it be a time when I take seriously all that is required to make sure that when I arrive at Christmas Day that I actually arrive at the birth of Jesus. Amen.



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11-28-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

November 28, 2010

Scripture: 1st Chronicles 29:12-13

Riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.

Thought for the Day: The author, Henry Van Dyke, wrote: “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” For all we have received, let us make sure we follow the path presented by Van Dyke and make it to Thanksgiving, not so much the holiday but the impulse to express the inward feeling of gratitude.

Prayer: For all that I have received, O God, I am more than thankful. I commit myself to the work of seeing the emotion I feel expressed in true acts of thanksgiving that positively impact the world around me. Amen.



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11-27-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

November 27, 2019

Scripture: Psalm 106:1-3

Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, or declare all his praise? Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.

Thought for the Day: It is said that a true optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day. I’m generally an optimist, though I probably would not take the leap into a new diet on Turkey Day. Though because I am an optimist, I believe in a day when we will move from charity to justice, from simply feeding the hungry to eliminating hunger. Notice how the author of this prayerful Psalm ties together thankfulness and acting justly. No one can equal the enduring love of God, and trying to do so with words of praise will always fall short. Instead, we are asked to express our gratitude in acts of justice. On this Thanksgiving Eve, I express appreciation for all those who have given to good charities in hopes of feeding the hungry. Let us make sure our charity is tied to an ongoing work for justice in the world, a justice that transforms the systems that create poverty in the first place.

Prayer: Happy are those, O God, who give bread to the hungry today while working to bring an end to hunger tomorrow. Amen.



11-26-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

November 26, 2019

Scripture: Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. Thanks

Thought for the Day: Is “giving thanks” an afterthought for Paul? The phrase “along with” might create that perception, but I read it as a way of suggesting how our prayers and petitions should always have thanks alongside them. Gratitude is more than the words, “Thank you!” Gratitude is an attitude that shapes ones consciousness. It was the 19th century pastor, Henry Ward Beecher, who wrote: “The unthankful heart discovers no; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” Prayer that has gratitude woven into it creates a capacity to see the good, the blessings, the presence of God. It does not dismiss or invite us into denial when it comes to pain, injustice or grief. If anything, an attitude of gratitude allows us to face and deal with whatever might come our way.

Prayer: In the busyness of life, I too often forget to be thankful; I too often allow myself to think I am above gratitude; I too often claim incorrectly that I deserve everything I receive. Redirect my spirit, Lord God, that I might see the plethora of gifts that are offered to me. Amen.




11-25-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

November 25, 2019

Prayer for the Week:

Guest Author: Rev. Hannah Fitch

God of the harvest, whose love and nurturing is embedded in every good thing, we celebrate all that You have revealed to us.

In the light of each morning

You reveal the hope of a new day.

In the laughter we share among friends

You reveal contagious joy.

In the newborn baby

You reveal the wonder of creation.

In the evening colors of the setting sun

You remind us to take time to rest.

In the stars of the night sky

You reveal limitless mystery.

It is so easy for us to be blind to the bounty that surrounds us. Where we see nothingness you show us abundance. Where we see hopelessness you reveal opportunity. When we are alone, there you are. Give us eyes to see what You see in us and in our lives. Give us a heart to share your love with all those around us – known and unknown. Amen.



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11-24-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

November 24, 2019

Scripture: Romans 7:24

I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse?

Thought for the Day: Can I be honest? I have always loved this passage! The old King James Version has Paul referring to himself as Wretched. Now when I say I like it, it’s not because I believe we should have a negative self image. Absolutely not! Christianity has gone through periods where it has enjoyed self-flagellation. Important side note, flagellation is different from flatulation (as in, flatulence). That was one embarrassing moment in my ministry where a word came out of my mouth before I knew it was out. Back to my point, there have been Christ Followers who believed that self-harm, either to connect with Christ’s sacrifice or as a way of punishing oneself, was important to the life of faith. It’s ok, even important, to keep the ego in check. There have been a few times when I got knocked off my high horse, and though it hurt, it was probably a good. But there is nothing in scripture that would encourage us to intentionally hurt ourselves for the sake of hurting ourselves. Yes, Christ-following requires sacrifice that might include suffering, even death for some. But such sacrifice is done with the intention of love for the other and love for the self. The great saints didn’t injure themselves, but because of their unconditional Christ-like love, the world pushed back. If we are really living the Jesus-life, we don’t need to beat ourselves up. The world will probably do a pretty good job of it.

Prayer: Keep me doing the work of love, O Giver of the Christ. Keep me focused, even when others and society push back. Let the love you have for me allow me to celebrate a love of both self and neighbor. Amen.