Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reflections: Ladders and Dreams

(Photo taken at el Porvenir, Nicaragua).

True confessions - here's where I tell you how I can be kind of an idiot. Did you ever have something you learned in your childhood suddenly hit you and finally make sense? I am having one of those "Duh..." moments. There was a song I learned at church camp as a child that I loved to sing - but didn't really have a clue what it was about. "We are climbing Jacob's ladder..." is how it starts. Have you heard it? I know - I should have made the connection before now.
This week's Old Testament scripture from Genesis is about Jacob and a dream he had about angels going up and down a ladder from earth to heaven.

Jacob is comforted by the dream and reminded that God is always with him. I know - pretty obvious right? Geesh.

Do you remember your dreams? What have you been dreaming about?
I love this story because it reminds us of God's presence in our lives - even in our dreams. God's promises Jacob " I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…”

The same promise is offered to each one of us. This week I am comforted by comforted by God’s words and hope to pay more attention to my dreams (however weird they may be:)

(Photo taken at el Porvenir, Nicaragua). #sixthyouth

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What We are Reading: June, July 2017

Friends! Here are some of the books we have been reading this summer during Extended Session. All books are available through the Carnegie Library. Enjoy!

"My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother" by Patricia Polacco

"Mrs. Spitzer's Garden" by Edith Pattou

"Hug This Book" by Barney Saltzberry

"Love Letters from God" by P.K. Hallinan

"Three Little Words" Amy Novesky

"Wemberly Worried" by Kevin Henkes

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Reflections: Sharing the Burden

What are you carrying around?

Last week I was in Nicaragua visiting our friends at the el Porvenir coffee cooperative. One of the things we did was help the workers spread compost on the coffee plants.
We carried the compost into the field in big buckets. At first, they didn’t seem to be that heavy. But the longer and farther we carried them the heavier they got. But at el Porvenir they have a rule that the workers always worked in pairs or teams—so they could pass the heavy bucket back and forth between them so that it didn’t get too heavy for one person.
Jesus talked about something like this in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." In this passage, Jesus is talking about us sharing our burdens with God -like all the things that we are mad about, or sad about, or worried about, or those things that we just think we can’t handle or do by ourselves. The longer we carry things the heavier it gets. Jesus said to share our burdens with God. God is always with us - waiting to take a turn carrying our buckets when they get too heavy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Refletions - It's Complicated - but God is with us.

This week's story from the Old Testament reminds us that families have always been complicated! If you take a read through Genesis you will find the story of and elderly Abraham and Sarah - who were gifted by God with a child who they named Issac. But prior to this, in the years where they were yearning for a child together, Abraham had a child (named Ishmael) with his servant Hagar. In this week's scripture reading, we get to the part of the story where Hagar and Ishmael have been cast away - and this servant woman is wandering about in the wilderness with her young son.

They had no water and Hagar puts her son under some bushes (probably to protect him from the sun.) She's helpless, crying, and worrying that her child will die.
Have you ever felt like that? Sometimes when we deal with a problem it may seem as if there is no solution. We don’t know what to do. We feel helpless. Our families can be just as complicated and sometimes we can feel - or literally be - cast out like Hagar. In Hagar’s case, the Bible says an angel of God spoke to her, comforted her, and she is provided with water to give her son to drink. In the end, “God was with the boy, and he grew” (21:20).
Moral of the story: God is with us. Hagar opened her eyes to God’s message and saw things in a different way. Can this be true for us? Perhaps we don't encounter angels - or we don't hear the voice of God speaking to us - But God is with us. God is with us when we feel helpless. When we feel like we are cast out. God is with us to comfort us, to give us water, and to remind us that we are loved.
(picture is called Hagar and Ismael by kfwisely on DeviantArt)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Reflections: All this stuff

What are you carrying around?

This week I am thinking about stuff. I cleaned out my office at home one day last week and I got rid of a lot of stuff. Stuff that I don't need or use.

I am also thinking about all the stuff that I need to take with me when I leave next week for our mission trip to Nicaragua. I always pack way too much. 

Then there is the stuff that we carry around with us that's not actual material items - but stuff like worry, guilt, grief, and stress.  I need to get rid of a lot of that stuff, too. 

In our Gospel reading from Matthew this week, Jesus has called his disciples and is now giving them some instructions.

Read Matthew 9: 35-36 and Matthew 10: 1-14

He said it was time for them to go out into the villages without him and do what he does. He gave them the power to heal the sick, just like he could.  He told them to not take any money for what they do and to not take anything with them on their travels. 
No giant backpack (like the one I will be packing for Nicaragua).  

He said the Holy Spirit will give them everything they need for their travels. He told them to find good people to stay with and God would give them the words to say.

I wonder how the disciples felt about what Jesus was asking them to do? 

 I wonder if we could do that—go somewhere without all of our stuff and just depend on God and others to help us? 

We carry around a lot of stuff. 

Some of that stuff is ours - and some of that stuff belongs to others. We don't have to carry it all.  
Jesus told the disciples to carry only what is essential. I hope that I can do a better job of editing all the stuff that I carry - and how much of other people's stuff I need to carry. 

What kind of stuff can you let go? 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Reflections: The Space Between

How do we honor the space between no longer and not yet? I've been thinking about that because our scripture readings this week are about beginnings and endings. 

Genesis brings us the story of God's creation and the beginning of the earth while the very last verses in the Matthew's Gospel share Jesus' commissioning of the disciples - his instructions to them before he departs.  This is the time of year when things are ending. The school year ends. There are graduations and people moving on to new things. Spring is ending and summer is here. 
So how do we say goodbye what is no longer and prepare for what's next? I think both these passages can help. We can spend some time outside experiencing this wonderful creation and observing all the awe and wonder that nature brings. We can consider how we can - just as the disciples were instructed - share, teach others, and show God's love. Both are reminders that God is with us.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Confirmation 2017 - June and July

Here is what happening with our
Confirmation Class for June and July!

Thursday, June 22: 6 to 8 p.m.  We will meet at the Crazy Mocha coffee shop (2100 Murray Ave. - Treats are on me!) This meeting's topic will be "Decently and in Order." We will be talking about how our church is organized and the role of the Elders and Deacons. 

Saturday, July 8: 10 to 12 p.m.  We will meet for breakfast at Bruegger's Bagels (1719 Murray Ave.) The topic for this meeting will be "The Word and the word." How we use the confessions and the scriptures.

Sunday, July 23: after worship 11:30 to 1:30 (here at the church - there will be pizza!).  It would be helpful for Confimration Class members to attend the church service that day because our topic will be "Sacraments and What Happens in Worship." Gail and possibly Pastor Vincent will visit with us to talk about our worship service and they liturgical church year and all the worshipy things.