Welcome to our blog! This is a place to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and joys of our faith journey. I'll be posting sporadically, but hope you will feel free to comment and join in the discussions.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Here we are in the Blizzard of '16, housebound, stating at the television if you're lucky enough to have power. Church has been cancelled tomorrow. It's too dangerous to be out there driving around. And God is aware of the situation, trust me. So I was just thinking why don't we ponder what the gospel lesson is about tomorrow and chew on that for a while as opposed to going crazy staring at the four walls?

So the reading from the gospel is Luke, chapter 4, verses 14-21. Jesus is beginning his ministry. He was baptized by John, went into the wilderness for 40 days and, in these verses we are told he has been filled with the Holy Spirit. So he comes to his hometown of Nazareth, attends synagogue and as a courtesy, since he is becoming well known for his teaching, they let him read for the scrolls. He reads from Isaiah, the following,
 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

Everyone is waiting to hear what Jesus will say next, how he will explain the text to them (that is, after all, what rabbis or teachers do--they explain and answer questions about the text). And what does Jesus say? He says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Picture the people of Nazareth, the people who have seen Jesus growing up with their children, saw him working in Joseph's shop. Seems a bit presumptuous--this statement. The people who knew him when he skinned his knee, wiped his nose with his sleeve, hammered his thumb, they are supposed to believe what he is telling them? He is announcing who he is, right there.

And we, 2000 and some years later, we're supposed to believe, too? Are we not? Do we really believe, though? We say we believe this man was among us and he was our Savior. But what happens when we skin our knees? When we are angry at the job, our spouse, the world, God? Do we still believe then? Jesus is still proclaiming the good news to us, even all these years later, telling us we can trust him no matter our circumstances. He promises to help, to give, to love us wherever we are and no matter what we do, if we come to him, he will takes us in.

It was not presumptuous for him to proclaim those things, it is imperative that we hear him and believe. Because nothing is the same after we do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Epiphany is one of those words...

I don't know if you have noticed it or not, but the church always seems to have words that stick out. They aren't used anywhere else. Words like: narthex, sacristy, vestments. But the curious thing is that the "church" also has words that are used in other places: baptism (by fire usually), blessing (or a curse) and epiphany. The word epiphany means:  a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence. This is the season of Epiphany, when we come to understand that Jesus came and surprised us all by saving us from sin. The most famous story of the season is the one where the Wise Men come from the East to offer the baby, gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is symbolic that three guys from out of the area came to see the "King of the Jews" and they themselves were not Jewish. That is kind of what Epiphany emphasizes. You don't have to be Jewish to see Jesus as Savior of the world. 

I was reminded of something today which I wanted to share. It has to do with a house blessing, writing the following in chalk over the door post. It's a way to celebrate this becoming aware of the gift of the Messiah. It goes like this:

20 + C+M+B+16

The letters have two meanings. They are the initials of the customary names of the three Magi:  Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They also abbreviate the Latin words, "Christus Mansionem Benedicat" which translates to "May Christ bless this house". The year is divided before and after these letters with the plus signs (small crosses) representing the protection of Christ on the dwelling.

Happy Epiphany! And I wish for you an intuitive and sudden understanding of the miracle of Jesus coming to us!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Go Tell It...

On the way to the meeting tonight I put on the mix tape my daughter made me two years ago. She makes one for me every Christmas and honestly I don't always like her selections. Those Carribean beats and even some of the smarmy supposedly heart warming lyrics are just not my style. But she hit the nail on the head with one of the songs. It's a great rendition of Go Tell it On The Mountain that has a great beat to it. It rocks! But the thing I like best about it, besides the fact that I can sing along with it and no one can hear me, are the lyrics. The refrain says:

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

That's what we are called as Christians to do. Too many people haven't heard the good news. Or any good news, it seems lately. So it falls to us to tell people through our bible studies, our Sunday School classes, our talking with each other. The good news...the Gospel is ours to share. Not hoard it or keep it inside, but share...over the hills and everywhere! Jesus Christ is born and lives in us. Let's share this good news.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What's The Deal With The Colors?

This Sunday coming up is the first Sunday in Advent. This is the time in the church calendar where we get ready...what, you may ask are we getting ready for? Well, for Jesus, is the standard answer. But he was here already, I hear you say. Yes, I reply, but he promised to come back. Not only that, I like to add, but he comes every day. There is an anticipation for the next four weeks and it has nothing to do with the sales at Kohls or Boscovs. We are awaiting the arrival of Jesus.

The vestments and the special cloths on the altar and lecturn that change color with the seasons of the church year are blue now. I read up on the reason they are blue. It said blue stood for hope. And if ever we needed some hope in this world it's now. Hope for a better world for our children. Hope for peace. Hope for a future not crowded with fear and bigotry, but populated with caring and embracing of differences. We are hoping for Jesus to come into our midst, our lives, and our souls. That is what Advent is all about. I hope you will join us.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Kingly Way of Looking at Things

This Sunday is referred to as Christ The King Sunday. Taken at face value, most of us would say, yeah, I get that Jesus was a King of sorts. He is, after all, God's son, right? But I wonder if we really appreciate what Jesus was "in charge of" based on our interpretation of kings. He helped the poor. He eased the suffering of the sick and neglected. He poured out so much love on everyone, it's a wonder he didn't collapse. He wasn't a Roman emperor. Or even a revered scholar. He was a teacher to those who would listen. And a place of refuge to those who had no where else to go. And the most miraculous thing is, He still is. He is still that place of peace and refuge and solace, if you would seek him out. So let's look at the kind of King Jesus really is. Not the wealthy, power wielding figure we associate with the word. But the tower of strength built on the foundation of grace and love. 

Join us as we celebrate the ordination of Pastor Jay Berry this Sunday (and, we'll celebrate with us every Sunday for that matter)! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Listening For The Voice

The world is a noisy place, especially recently. As the holiday season draws near there are a lot of people clamoring for our attention. As the political season winds up (or down depending on your perspective), the noise level seems to rise. The recent events throughout the world seem to scream out of our television screens, forcing us to face realities we would perhaps rather not. A clanging wall of sound, bashing on our ears. It is tiring. It is disheartening. It makes me feel sad.

But the funny thing is this, you see, I wear hearing aids. So technically, I could cut off the sound at any time, by "unplugging" my ears. If I take those devices out of my ears the world is a much quieter place. But I don't do it. I mean until I go to bed at night. I leave them in all day. At times I'm sorry to have heard things. At times I'm so grateful for these, it's overwhelming.

The Lord has given us so much. And the love He has bestowed and entrusted us with is an important part of how we listen. Are you listening with your heart? Or just your mind? Are you remembering that God came down to us to prove how important we are to Him? As we approach Thanksgiving, and the blessed season of Advent after that, let us turn down the noise of cynicism, the yelling of judgment, the hard-heartedness we sometimes build around ourselves. Let us listen for the distant choir of angels, the blessed quiet of the Peace which passes all understanding. I keep my hearing aids in to listen to God's Word around me, won't you join me in listening in?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Looking for The Answers

We have an adult Sunday School class that I frequently mention in this post. It's an interesting mix of people who come in and out, share stories and never talk, crack jokes and hardly smile. We are all seeking different things when we meet in class. Some of us just want to continue the fellowship from the church service. Some of us want to see what other people think of the gospel reading for the week. I send out the reading as an email for the class to peruse before getting together on Sunday. Some of us, me included, are looking for answers. And I don't always find them. Answers I mean. I like delving into scripture and reading blogs and checking over commentaries to see what others have to say. I'm almost always surprised by some commentators, sometimes surprised by the little bits and pieces I find out about the life of Jesus and the people of his day. And usually I'm pretty excited about the observations made by the members of the class. I'd like to invite you to come and share your story, your self and your ideas with us on Sunday. Even if you haven't read the gospel lesson, join us as we look for answers, even if we never find them.