July 29, 2008

Looking Ahead to August 3, 2008 -- 12th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Isaiah 55:1-5
  • Psalm 17 (VU p.739)
  • Matthew 14:13-21

The Hymns this week are:

  • #222 Come Let Us Sing
  • #299 Teach Me, God, to Wonder
  • #235 O Worship the King
  • #422 God Be With You till We Meet Again

The Sermon Title is Amazing Abundance.

Early Thoughts: What do we do about our scarcity? There us isn't enough, how do we deal with that? Or is there an abundance in our midst?

They could be forgiven for having no hope. After all, they were living in exile, a defeated and enslaved people whose land and temple had been destroyed. And to these people God speaks through Isaiah saying:

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price...Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
In the midst of the lives of scarcity, shattered dreams, and despair God speaks of abundance and promise and hope.

There was no choice. They had no food and the crowd was large. Obviously the people needed to be dismissed to go find sustenance. But instead Jesus says "give them something to eat". Jesus counters the apparent, obvious, scarcity with amazing, astounding abundance.

One of the biggest hurdles we have to leap over in today's world is the recurrent voices that tell us we live in a condition of scarcity. These voices impact us as individuals, as families, and as communities of all sizes and types. When we believe that scarcity drives our lives it skews our view of the world. It shapes what we think is possible. It shapes what we think is important. It shapes our priorities.

But the witness of Scripture calls us over and over again to think of the world as a place of abundance. Scripture reminds us that the abundance is found through trusting in God and God's time. Scripture reminds us that there is enough, and more, we just have to learn to look for it.

What would it mean to look on the world through eyes that see abundance? What would it mean to name the scarcity story as a myth? What would it mean if we re-defined what we mean by enough?

These are the question we need to explore as we look for the path that takes us forward into peace and prosperity (another word that may well need redefining) as individuals and church congregations and communities. Come join us on Sunday as we begin, or continue, that exploration.

And for a wonderful poem (which will likely be shared on Sunday) on the topic check out this link

July 25, 2008

This is Neat!

The Codex Sinaiticus, which contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament, is now online. Here is some more about it:
Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book.
Granted, it is little more than a neat thing to look at for those of us who can't read ancient Greek. But still it is really intriguing.

You can find it here

July 22, 2008

Looking Forward to July 27, 11th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • 1 Kings 3:5-12
  • Psalm 119:105-112 (VU p.841)
  • Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Hymns this week are:

  • #220 Praise to the Lord
  • #289 It Only Takes a Spark
  • #684 Make Me A Channel of Your Peace
  • #651 Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

The Sermon Title is Seeds, Yeast, Pearls...

Early Thoughts: When will the big change come? How can little things make a difference? Does a single drop change an ocean?

Think of making bread. All those cups of flour, the water, the oil/shortening and yet they would just be flat and hard if not for the little envelope of yeast. That little packet of spores changes the flour and water into bread (or in different uses and with different species changes malted grain into ale or grape juice into wine). That, according to Jesus, is what it is like to have the Kingdom of Heaven in our life.

Or think of a tiny little weed. Starting from a little seed (nothing more than a bit of fluff in the case of a dandelion) it can take over the yard.

Or placing an item of high value in an otherwise valueless location. Suddenly the container becomes incredibly important and valuable. This is what it is like to embrace the Realm of God.

Small things make a big difference. Small signs of God's presence change our lives. It is almost like a contagion, or an infection. It starts small but eventually takes over the host.

To be people of faith may mean that we stop looking for the big splash. Instead we go for the little infection. After all, the big splash often peters out because it is based on it's bigness. But the small infection knows that it starts small and grows from there. The small infection can transform more completely because it is growing from inside rather than forcing itself from the outside.

The experience of God's presence in our lives transforms us. But it isn't always lightning flashes and rolling thunder (some would say it rarely is). True transformation of a life, of a community, of a world grows from inside. True transformation may well start so small we can hardly sense it, or may think it is hardly worth noticing -- a field of dandelions starts with one small yellow flower after all.

July 15, 2008

Looking Ahead to July 20, 2008 -- 10th Sunday After Pentecost

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Psalm 139 (VU p.861)
  • Genesis 27:34-28:17

The Hymns this week are:

  • #371 Open My Eyes, That I May See
  • #238 How Great Thou Art
  • #660 How Firm a Foundation
  • #675 Will Your Anchor Hold?

The Sermon Title is Running Away

Early Thoughts: What do you do when you have gotten someone mad? How do you escape when your brother wants you dead? Can you really run away from it all? ANd where does GOd and morality fit into the process of making bad choices and ticking people off?