Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Program, 1

The conclusion of our Sunday School year features the reading of the roll of the honored dead, from the beginning of Christ Church, and the planting of geraniums.


Thanks to all who serve, all who served, and all who gave their all.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

By Any Means Necessary, a Pentecost Reflection

By Jacqueline Lewis, published by Leading Ideas:

Her name is Essalia. She is 25 years old. Ella no tiene tampoco novio o esposo, no sweetheart and no husband, but she is going to have a baby. She also does not speak English. Once we got our names straight at the nail salon when I was on vacation, she commented on my ring. “Que bonita! Su esposo es muy especial.” Your husband is very special. “Yes,” I said. She called in her younger, más joven, and more salty amiga, Alejandra. “See the ring,” she said in Spanish. Alejandra liked the ring, but she liked my $5.00 sunglasses more. I sensed they often rehearsed this scene, commenting on the goods of clients. I found myself embarrassed, a word close to the one for pregnant in Spanish. I thought: I am so full of wealth and benefits; and these gals have so little relative to what we do. “Cuánto cuesta eso?” asked Essalia. How much did the ring cost? “Yo no se,” I don’t know, because I don’t. “Mi esposo es especial y muy simpático, pero él no es loco. Es más o menos mediante,” I said, not sure if I got that right. My husband is special, and very kind, but not crazy. He would spend a medium amount on a ring because we have bills to pay. They laughed, perhaps at my very rugged Spanish, or maybe they got my joke.

Read the full story.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Holy Manna

Pentecost Prep

Acts 1

Have you ever been overwhelmed by something that you cannot touch, at least not in a conventional way?  Perhaps by an emotion – grief, joy, anger, peace?  Felt yourself immersed in something bigger than you, more powerful than you?  Have you ever felt yourself connected to another person, not simply by being near one another or even by being in love or “in like” with each other – but connected at the core of who you are, connected at the level that goes beyond words, beyond touch?  We are made for that kind of connection.  And when we experience it, it is a glimpse of what God wants to have with us every moment.  In Ecclesiastes, we are told that “God has put eternity in the human heart” (Ecc 3:11, NIV).  Saint Augustine writes, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee” (Confessions).  One of the biblical expressions for this connection, for which God has designed us, for which we long, is being “filled with” or “baptized with the Spirit”.

The Pentecost story is mind boggling.  The Spirit comes in wind and fire. The disciples find themselves speaking a variety of languages they have never learned.  People are in town from every nation and they hear the story of “God’s deeds of power” in their own language.  The story is weird and really cool.  What particularly amazes me is that the miraculous demonstration – the speaking in many languages – was not clearly understood as a sign of the Spirit of God.  (Some folks thought the disciples had too much to drink.)  But, what they said in those languages was clearly understood, “God’s deeds of power.”  You see, while God desires direct and personal connection with each of us, the gifts of God are not about us being worthy of the gift, but about us fitting into God’s purpose in the world.  Today, we’re going to focus on the story of preparation for Pentecost.  And what can we do to get ready for this gift?

I want to be clear about one common question about filling with the Spirit.  Many times, folks wonder, “When we believe in Jesus, don’t we receive the Spirit?”  Absolutely yes (Acts 2:38).  That’s what the Scripture says, over and over.  John’s gospel talks about conversion itself as being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5).  However, people who believe in Jesus, people who have already received the Spirit, are nevertheless commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  And, in the Acts stories, the same disciple band is recorded several times to be filled powerfully with the Spirit (Acts 2, Acts 4:31).  Like any relationship, like any connection, refreshment, reconnection is critical.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Graduating from Seminary

Congratulations to Mark, one of our own, who graduated on 16 May from Drew Theological Seminary! Pray for Mark as he continues to pursue his call to ordained ministry!

Knowing Your Neighbor's Name

“You can tell that somebody is not from here if they talk to people in line at the grocery store.” We all laughed as we talked about the busy life of our metropolitan area’s culture while sitting in the living room of the small group leader’s home. “Yeah, we really don’t even know our neighbors’ names,” replied one woman in the group. I listened but then began to question the legitimacy of those observations—even if they had been made in jest. Of the ten or so gathered, probably two had grown up in the area. I found that “from here” didn’t actually mean “born and bred” here but more so “lived here more than ten years.” These comments explained how the prevailing culture had influenced the habits of many folks who moved here. But what was even more interesting was the fact that most people agreed about the concept of the statement that was made: most people don’t talk to anybody they don’t know, let alone gets to know their names.
Read the whole article.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Youth & Mother's Day - Children at the Altar

Diversity and Politics

I received several disturbing political voice mails attacking the increasing diversity of our region, and reflected on that briefly as we began worship this past Sunday. Because of Jesus Christ, there is "no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free - but Christ is all and in all". There is no room for fear or hatred among the people of God.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Heart Strangely Warmed

Life as I know it was a little difficult, but I am confident that God has always had a plan for my life. I was raised by my grandmother in the beginning years of my life when both my parents were struggling with an addiction. I met my father when I was five years of age and my mother when I was about ten years of age. Both of them lived very different lifestyles. By the age of eleven I was an emotional mess. I witnessed my father’s domestic abuse, and while under the care of my mother, I experienced rape and incest. Without proper counseling and support I became very rebellious, and by the age of eighteen I was a teenage mother with two children and an abusive boyfriend who introduced me to drugs.

For the next ten years my life spiraled out of control. My addiction caused a lot of damage. My children and I were homeless and spent many nights without food. I tried many times to get away from the man and the drugs by entering into rehab and safe houses, but nothing seemed to work.

Sunday, May 17, 2015