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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Love Out Loud

Just recently I was given the opportunity of loving someone out loud. By this I mean, I showed this person just how much they mean to me. My eldest brother came for a visit. He lives in Florida and he doesn't get much time off from work. So a splurge of coming up to see his siblings and mother was a great treat. How did I show him how much he means to me? Well, I fed him dinner, a real home-cooked meal when he came to my place from the airport on the way to our mother's house. We had a party the following night with lots of generations. Lots of laughter, memory sharing, and some of his favorite food from one of the bakeries near the old homestead. And then I didn't see him again. He went to stay with our other brother until it was time for him to leave. In a way, this was really hard. I really wanted to see him again. Talk about things, share stories, just he and I. But there were only so many hours in a day and well, it didn't work out that way. But I loved him just the same, without seeing him again. He is still in my heart even as he returns to Florida.

Can we love God out loud? Can we come to His table and be filled with good things, sharing with our brothers and sisters at the table? And can we be satisfied with not exactly seeing Him, but feeling His presence? Sometimes it seems hard to show our love for the Almighty. He seems so abstract. We're used to concrete things to love; our home, our car, our money. But the love I feel for my brother reminds me that the kind of love exists for my God, too. If only we would show it. Out loud.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Story of David

So here's the thing; I thought I kind of knew about David. You know, King David. The boy who would be king. He knocks off the Phillistine Goliath, remember with only a slingshot. He was one of God's favorites. I mean until he saw Uriah's wife bathing. Then things kind of went bad after that. But  that was really pretty much what I knew about him. Oh! And he was a shepherd.  Tended sheep for his father.

So this past Sunday rolls around and we hear the interesting story of the prophet who is to go to the father Jesse and anoint the next King of Israel. The name Jesse caught my attention. Some Christmas songs speak of the root of Jesse. And sure enough there he is! This prophet, Samuel, brings a horn of oil for anointing to Jesse. Now Samuel was a little scared because if crazy King Saul hears what he is about to do, he won't be prophesying any more. He won't be doing anything anymore. God tells Samuel to take a heifer with him to Jesse and say he's going to sacrifice to God, so Saul won't get suspicious. Now when Samuel gets to Jesse's place with his heifer and his horn of oil, first of all he calms everybody down. He comes in peace he says. And while I'm here he says to Jesse, let me take a look at your sons. The first son comes to Samuel and the prophet likes the look of him. But God says nope. Then the second son comes up. Nope, God says again. You can almost see Samuel roll his eyes. "Are you kidding?" We can almost hear him say. C'mon, make up your mind! But God reminds the prophet (and us as we read this) that we see the outside and God sees the in. So seven sons are paraded past Samuel and none of them are right. So Samuel takes a shot in the dark and says, "ya got anybody else around?" And Jesse says, "yeah the youngest but he's watching the sheep."

I have to say at this point I was reminded of Cinderella. Remember how the evil step sisters tried on the glass slipper and it didn't fit them and the Prince asks, "ya got anybody else around?" Of course there's no evil step mother or sisters in this story, just a sort of sadly going crazy king, but you know it's kind of the same. The last resort. The one no one thought would amount to anything is the one chosen. The Bible verses in the reading cagily don't mention David's name until the last couple of verses. But there it is! David is anointed and Jesus is the descendent.

And that's David's story. Or at least the beginning. Pretty cool. Good story. You should look it up. It's 1 Samuel 16: 1-13. There are lots of hidden stories like that. I'll try to share them from time to time. Or maybe you could share with me, your favorites. I'd be interested to hear them. Who knows, maybe we can split a heifer!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It's Not Like Anything Else

Being a member of the community in faith is not like anything else. There is an under lying something that binds a person to it. In a club or similar activity, involvement revolves around a common interest or theme:  the gardening club, the chess club, the procrastinator's club. But your life outside of the club may not reflect your intense interest inside the club. You might not water your plants as fervently as you should. You read chess manuals to solidify your understanding of strategy or you just like the shape of the Star Wars set someone plays with. You do things more or less on time, but like the laid back atmosphere of the club that doesn't meet on a schedule because they can't be bothered to pick a date.

A community of faith on the other hand seems to permeate through everything. It's not just the people who share similar beliefs, although that is comforting. It some intangible aura, if you will, that surrounds you. It is not a halo. Anyone who believes that, needs to look honestly for new glasses. The people of faith I know are sinners all AND saints all at once. They speak of loving their fellow human, then whisper about the guy two pews over who falls asleep during the sermon. Faith-based relationships are more grounded, more comfortable. You don't have to believe every single thing the person next to you believes, but you do have to be willing to open your mind to new possibilities. You get to question things honestly, discuss things more deeply and you get to sing out loud and no one minds. That in itself is a relief, since I've been known to lead perfect pitch singers astray with what passes for singing coming from my mouth.

I know of no other place where I can be myself, bad singing and all, and I am accepted. For God loves me no matter what. And he loves all, so I don't have to worry if I'm having trouble with the snores of the guy in the pew. He has grace enough for everyone. Thank God.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Out With The Old, In With The New

We decided to tackle an interesting topic in our Adult Sunday School class next week. The idea that the God of the Old Testament is somewhat different from the God of the New Testament. Our class members, or at least two in particular, are of the belief that God learned a thing or two by the time Jesus was sent to intervene on our behalf and so he isn't the same being he was before. But how can this be? God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow! Isn't He? How can God change? He is. Just is. The idea that God would evolve because of us is ludicrous! Isn't it? Well, that's what we're going to explore on Sunday and I'd love you and anyone else you could invite to join us. It's sure to be an interesting discussion! We hope you'll be there.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Can You Do?

The above question is asked in all kinds of situations. When something seemingly inevitable happens, a person shrugs and asks, "well, what can you do?" because really it was going to happen anyway. When someone is sick or they have a problem it's stated a little differently, "what can I do?" Give me a task, a mission, a tangible "thing" that I am capable of handling and it will be done in short order.

When faced with a problem or question in the bigger picture of life, it takes on a different meaning. Didn't John Kennedy say,  "ask not what our country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." What can you do? Usually in this context we are talking about sacrifice kinds of things, time, money, something that is required of you out of the ordinary. And so we come to the time of the church year known as Lent. And this question becomes sort of a stickler. Because most of the time what you can do during Lent is something benign or insignificant by the world's standards. If you give up something like sweets or coffee, no one really notices except the person at the coffee shop where you stop every day to purchase a doughnut and a coffee (or maybe the people you interact with without that shot of caffeine--this may not be a good thing to give up!). But then Lent isn't supposed to be "showy" or "grandstandish". Its a time of reflection and contemplation. So what can you do?

There is a really easy answer to this. It doesn't cost any money, isn't showy or grand, in fact its quiet and most people would not even be aware you are doing it. It's praying. We can pray more often, or more earnestly. We can pray that today will be easier than yesterday, or that world peace could happen in our little corner of the world. Or we could pray that the person that annoys and distracts us at work, won't do that today. We can pray for our ministry, for our ministers, for our Nursery and afterschool programs, for our family in Christ. We can pray and just say thank you for breathing in and out today. Prayer is one of strongest, quietest, personal things you can do to communicate with the Almighty. What can you do? Let's all pray. And see what happens next.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Coming of Lent

This past Tuesday was the day before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday, it's called in some places. The tradition was that you used up all the fat before the lean times of Lent. So you had doughnuts and latkes and whatever other fat fried things you could get 'cause the fat wouldn't be allowed during the forty days of Lent. If we take that analogy one step further (as I am wont to do), we are going to trim down for the season of Lent. A lot of people give stuff up. Sweets are right up there with swearing. Giving things up for Lent was supposed to show you were serious about observing this time leading up to the death of our Savior. Said out loud like that, giving up candy or saying bad words seems like a rather paltry sacrifice considering the one our Lord experienced. But hey, we're talking humans, not super humans. And really, it takes some extra human effort sometimes to stay away from stuff that occupy our minds so much of the time. Nothing is trivial as long as you're serious about it. So we try to get into the idea that giving something up is a sacrifice, that if we really want to prove our commitment to God, we can stay away from certain things, behaviors, circumstances. The problem is this:  so many times, we fail to keep this commitment that we become jaded about doing it at all. We say, "well, I know I'm not going to be able to do this, so just forget it." Instead of trying to do our best, we give up at the earliest sign of struggle. "This is too hard," my kids used to say when we would try to get them to do something new. Change is hard. I don't like things different. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling when things go along as I expected. But the season of Lent can be a time to learn new things, not just give up the old. What if instead of in-reach, we tried a little out-reach. If we reached out with the gifts and talents we have in abundance. If we tried to show a little more compassion to our fellow human beings. If we tried a little more patience while waiting in line. This could work! Don't you feel it? And if you wanted to, you could still give up chocolate. But maybe you could give some chocolate away...hmmm, there's a thought. Let's try giving to others for Lent this year and see what happens.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What if...

What if you had the power to change the world? I mean really change it? Would you? Would you do that something to fix something broken? Right a wrong? Lend a hand? If you had the power to really make a difference, would you? Please join us at 9:15 a.m. for the next two Sundays, at least and see if you can do it. If you CAN change the world.