November 4, 2012

This Sunday, our theme will focus on "Giving God our Worship." We will look first at Ruth 1:8-9, 14-18. Here, Ruth, a Moabite woman receives encouragement from Naomi, to go back to her people, her home, her land. Her husband is dead, her former life is over, reuniting with her homeland and family are now possible. There is nothing holding her, except her love for Naomi. Naomi needs her. Ruth, with everything to gain by leaving, declares her devotion to Naomi by staying. "Entreat me not to leave you, nor depart from following you. For where you will go, I will go. And where you will lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God." What a powerful depth of devotion! This depth of devotion is what we ideally bring to worship. Mark 12:28-34 reaches for the very core of why we worship … to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Worship, whether alone with a spiritual discipline or around the table with our church family, is how we express and renew our love of God and neighbor.

October 28, 2012

This Sunday begins our Stewardship Emphasis. The theme will be "Giving God our Days." Too often, people take their days for granted. People tend to get up in the morning, shut off the alarm, brush their teeth, and mentally go through their schedule. Consciousness is not orientated toward the Divine. People tend to remain focused on the secular. What would it mean to start our day with gratitude, to anticipate the unexpected as God’s Word spoken in our day, to say the "prayer of surrender," as did Bartimaeus? What would it look like to pray the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, "Give us this day, our daily bread (spiritual food)?" What would it sound like to "name our needs" as Bartimaeus did in the New Testament lesson for Sunday? What would it be like to surrender to a Loving Mystery, as Job did in our Old Testament text for Sunday?

October 21, 2012

In today's world, many people claim to be atheists. They do not believe in God. Everywhere from a high school student arguing at a dinning hall table to a TV comedian making a movie challenging the notion of God to a scientist holding a test tube, we find arguments against a belief in God. In today's world, Christians are often pressed for reasons why they do believe in God. The sermon Sunday will attempt to address this question: "What does it mean to believe in God?" We will try to imagine Abraham, wondering about in a culture committed to idols, and explore what concrete experiences he must have had that drew him to the conclusion that his life was in the hands of God. He "discovered" God. At the time, he didn't know God’s "Name" (YHVH, the nature and hidden Power of this Force); that came with Moses (Exodus 3:14). Abraham called it "Eloheim." We will draw from the priest Melchizedek of Salem (later Jerusalem) who helped Abraham in this quest, and from the experiences of Job when God spoke out of the whirlwind.

October 14, 2012

People can become so intoxicated with the issues of life that they lose a sense of Presence. Each moment is precious, and in a deep sense, eternal. God is present in the Presence. Paul Tillich, a famous theologian, wrote a book entitled, "The Eternal Now," and this was his point. Eternity is in the deepest dimension of Now, and contains the enfolded past and future in a Presence beyond time and space. The invitation is to be mindful of our moments, as so poetically expressed in by the Psalmist, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom," (Psalm 90:12-17). The condition of being overly attached or identified with the issues and things of our world is characterized by the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22).

October 7, 2012

As a congregation, we want to ponder Paul's metaphor of "The Whole Armor of God," and come up with more modern day and less military comparisons for Paul’s summary of the essential qualities of being Christian. Please read Ephesians 6:10-18. Ponder: (1) in our culture today, what is a modern way of talking about the "powers and principalities" or "arrows of the devil" against which we are struggling, what are we seeking to overcome? If not a "battlefield," then what? (2) What modern metaphors would you use for Truth, Righteousness, the Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, and Spirit, which Paul equates with the Word of God? Please note, this latter is a little different from evangelical Christians equating the Bible with the Word of God. Most of the Bible wasn't even written when Ephesians proclaimed this. Paul equates the Word of God with Spirit. And (3) what does it look like/sound like/feel like to "pray in the Spirit" Spirit being the Word of God. How do we actually do this?