Sunday, August 28, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
Sunday, August 21, 2016
- Last Chance! We will decide by the end of today whether or not we'll go ahead with our Street Fest Hospitality Ministry. Your participation will determine this. Thanks for pitching in.
- Street Fest Hospitality Sunday Worship begins at 9:30 a.m.!
- Fall Sunday School Plans - Please note the following: Children and Youth Sunday School will begin on September 3rd for the Fall Season. Adult Christian Ed will take a break on September 3rd and kick off on the 11th. Our first study will be exploring a major cultural shift, the one from membership to discipleship. Join in! The discussion and learnings will be rich!
- Prayer Invite - The Homework Club, a vital ministry of ours begins again for the new school year on Monday. Please hold the students, staff, and year ahead in God's care and light.
- Alameda County Food Barrel is patiently awaiting your donations! August’s theme is Low-sugar Cereal and Oatmeal! However, you are welcome to bring any canned or boxed foods! We can also accept cash for them! Let’s fill the barrel up today!
(A reflection on today’s gospel lectionary text, Luke 13:10-17)
On Memorial Day this year I took my daughters for a hike. It was a beautiful day, and so getting out and enjoying the blue sky and warm air sounded like a good idea. The hike was a good 1.5 miles from the parking lot. My 6-year-old daughter walked by my side, and I put my 3 year old on my shoulders. She sat up there for the whole 3 miles hike - there and back - taking in the scenery.
The next day I went to my car to get something out before I had to go and pick my oldest daughter up from kindergarten. When I reached into the car there was a pull in my back that felt like I had been shot. The spot of pain stretched into my chest, and for a moment I couldn't breathe or speak. Was I having a heart attack? Was something seriously wrong? Was this it? I didn't know.
But, about an hour later I was in an ambulance taking me to the emergency room. I was fine. I had strained my back, and I just had to take it east for a few days. That wasn't going to be so hard to do with the narcotic pain killers and the muscle relaxers that I was prescribed. I could barely talk and gesture at the same time. I was fine, sure, but I couldn't move. Everything was difficult. I had trouble feeding myself, going to the bathroom, and walking up and down the stairs. I had trouble laying down in bed, and I had trouble getting out of bed.
You don't know how much you need your back until it hurts like hell to use it.
Needless to say, I have a whole new appreciation for the woman who was bent over. What could she do? What couldn't she do? And what things caused her great difficulty that most of her contemporaries didn't think twice about?
I'm a big believer that the healing stories of Jesus are true stories, AND that they contain deeper Truth. In other words, I think they actually happened to real sick, blind, paralyzed, and bent-over people AND I think they are also parables for a people and a society that are spiritually blind, spiritually sick, and spiritually doubled over.
You don't have to read much further to see the religious leader who chastises Jesus for healing a woman by an act of God on the Sabbath day to see the "bent-over" nature of the religious system of Jesus' day. It couldn't move. Everything was difficult - including, apparently, rejoicing at the healing of someone else. The religious system was so bent over that it was crippled in terms of basic ministry and connection to God and neighbor.
And Jesus wanted to heal it. Jesus wanted to see the faith be straightened out and stand up straight.
Even on the Sabbath. Maybe especially on the Sabbath?
Sunday, August 14, 2016
- Great Thanks to Pastor Moon for preaching today!
- Celebrating Your Generosity - Recently, we sent off the following donations to missions in the wider church because of YOU:
- $800.84 to the Ecuador Earthquake Disaster Response
- $485 to our Covenant Relationship with Marilyn Chan in Cambodia
- $112.25 to Missionary Katherine Parker's Advance
- $750 to the Wadi Foquin Community Development Project in Palestine
- Will We Do It?! In order to open our doors on Street Fest Sunday, your presence and participation is required. You can help in the kitchen, assist with crafts, lead games, keep the church clean, and of course, welcome all the visitors who walk through our doors! Sign up today!
Jesus promises a happy ending. Getting there is another story. In this week’s gospel, Jesus tells us that he’s here to shake things up: Do you think I came to give peace to the earth. No, I tell you, I came to divide it. Sadly, these few lines from Luke have been cited to justify centuries of religious strife, intolerance and holy war. But Christ is not preaching jihad, he’s predicting the impact his message of love will have on our self-centered human nature. There’s no hidden agenda here. He has come to turn the value system of the world on end. And he knows the process will not always be pretty. As nature’s arch-predator, the human race will not effortlessly be transformed into the Body of Christ. Jesus warns us that the world, the flesh and the devil will not go quietly. Expect plenty of pushback... from strangers, from neighbors, from friends, even from family. Jesus goes on to tell us: I came to set fire to the world. But that doesn’t mean he wants us to build his kingdom by fire and sword. The pitfall of reading snippets of the gospel is that we lose context. Jesus was, is and always will be the embodiment of divine love. As he tells us over and over, his kingdom is not of this world. His call to arms is a call to unconditional love. The conflict he predicts is not a territorial struggle or even a philosophical spat. The conflict will come between those who accept and follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior and those who reject him... sometimes casually, sometimes contemptuously, often violently.
At best, we Christians have had a very spotty record of settling our differences with love, to say nothing of the genocidal zeal with which we have often tried to foist our faith on native peoples across the world. To this day zealots lampoon tolerance as the last virtue of a corrupt society. Perhaps this is all in answer to some primal “us and them” reflex. Perhaps, like Adam, we are tempted to usurp the powers of God by passing judgment and dishing out punishment. All of which flies in the face of Christ’s very specific charge to us... we are to build the kingdom by loving God and neighbor. We are not to coerce the kingdom into existence. We are not to con the kingdom into being by sugar coating God’s word. With humble and honest witness, through the grace of God, we are called to help love his kingdom into being. And let the chips fall where they may.
Christians are to be courageous, not bellicose. We are not latter day scribes and Pharisees spoiling for a fight over doctrine. Christ does not keep score by territory conquered, theological arguments won or even by the size of the congregation. We are not responsible for results. We are only responsible for serving him and proclaiming him. That means we love and forgive, and then love and forgive some more. To most it’s not easy. To many it’s just crazy. To those of us who aspire to live in Christ, it is a joy... a preview of the serenity of being one with God.