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Sunday Spirit November 4, 2018 (click on photo)

God

If someone gave you a blank piece of paper and some colored pencils and asked you to draw a picture of God, what would you draw? Would it be a man with a long flowing beard floating on a cloud? Would it be a vision of the sun setting below a majestic mountain? Would it be a picture of your child’s face? Would it be lines all over your paper depicting the connection between all human beings?

As we tell our Confirmation students, there is no wrong way to draw God.

I read a quote somewhere that said, “We spend too much time talking about God and not nearly enough time experiencing God. So after you draw your picture of God ask yourself where or when do you experience God? To help answer, lets first answer this question – When you hear the word God what comes to mind?

I asked the children during this past Sunday’s Children’s Sermon – When you hear the word God what comes to mind?  Their response? Love, Kindness, Hope, Forgiveness.

So I told them when you experience love you experience God. When you experience hope you experience something about what God is about. When you experience forgiveness you experience something of what God means. When you experience kindness you experience God.

So get a piece of paper and some crayons and start drawing!

Sunday Spirit May 6, 2018

Luke 15:1-7
The Parable of The Lost Sheep

Read the story of The Lost Sheep.  What is Jesus trying to teach us?  Is this one sheep more important than the other 99?  Yes!  Why?  This one sheep is more because it is lost and the others are not.  God deeply loves and cares personally for us and will seek far and wide to bring us back home.  When the one who was lost returns, the Good Shepherd receives her back with joy.  There is comfort in knowing that God will not forget us, but will search for us until we find our way home.

See the attached fun, family project and create your own adorable sheep.  Maybe even give your sheep a name!

Cotton Ball Sheep Craft (1)

Sunday Spirit April 22, 2018

How should we treat our neighbors?  Should our neighbors be anyone we meet, even strangers on the street?  Jesus believed so.  He told us this truth through the Story of The Good Samaritan.  The story is about two enemies coming together and putting differences aside.  The Story of The Good Samaritan teaches us that God’s Kingdom is good and loving.  Does your child know The Story of The Good Samaritan?  Try reading the story below.  It is a play and done to rhyme.  Very clever!  Maybe the entire family can act it out!  Have fun.

Playscript GOOD SAMARITAN-1 (1)

Pointing the Way

Stratton PondI came across this observation in a journal I was reading today:
“People still crave connection to the holy and always will.
The church too often simply fails to show up at the intersection of the holy and our lives.”
 (Reflections, Spring 2014, p.13)

I think the observation is true.
I also think this is true.
For too long the Church has falsely marketed itself as THE locus and keeper of the Holy.
Come to church to find God.
Attend church to be religious.
What you need is here.
We dispense God like a pharmacist dispenses a prescription.
And, people aren’t buying it any more.
I am not buying it any more.

Are their holy moments that happen in church (or synagogue or mosque)?
Absolutely.
Sometimes when the sanctuary is full.
And, sometimes when I am the only one there.
But God is not locked up in any four walls.
Holy moments can and do happen anywhere at any time.
And, the truth we experience holy moments more out there than in here.
Watching your children.
Watching the sun set.
Holding hands with one whom you love.
Dancing like there will never be another dance.
Sitting still and allowing the silence around you to fill you.
What the church can do…
What we need to do…
Rather than thinking it is our job to dispense the Holy realize our job is to point the way.
What we can do and need to do is to be that reminder that we – all of us – are to pay attention.
For when we do each moment has the potential of being holy.

The Right Question (and who gets to ask it)

Some notes I keep the old fashioned way.
File folder.
Scraps of papers.
Articles torn from newspapers (remember those!).
Scribbled notes copied and recopied as file folders wear out.
One of those scribbled notes on a file folder which is often on my desk rather than in my desk is a line from Genesis 3. God walking through the Garden of Eden looking for Adam and Eve who are now hiding from God. “Where are you?” God calls out as God walks through the Garden. You would think that from the way we usually talk and think about God that God would already know without having to ask.

But, anyway.
What a reversal from the way that question usually gets asked.
In thinking about God, aren’t we the ones usually in charge of the questions?
Challenging God by asking, “Where are you?”
Where were you when the storm hit?
Where were you when the illness struck?
Where are you when I don’t get what I want or what I think I need?
But, maybe we have it all wrong.
An ancient story would say that we do.
Maybe our asking the question this way is just one more way we hide from God.
What if God is the one to whom the question belongs.
Where are you?
Implying God is present and we are the ones who are absent or hiding or not paying attention.
If that is true, then what about this.
Walking into work tomorrow what if you imagined God calling out, “Where are you?”
Or, if not work, what about walking into school?
Or, standing in line at the grocery store?
Or, scrolling through the headlines in the news?
Where are you?

If you are not into using or thinking about the word God, insert whatever frame of reference is meaningful for you – compassion, kindness, your best self. Whatever word(s) you chose to use, the question remains and maybe it THE question we should consider each day.

Under Attack. Really?

church and state
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
 – Anne Lamott

The quote by Anne Lamott probably gives me away.
But, I have to admit I don’t get it.
I take them at their word, but I don’t understand the anger and the angst felt by those who feel their religious liberties are being infringed upon either by the LGBT community demanding acceptance or by the emerge of diverse religious/spiritual voices now finding a place in our country.  I do understand that the culture in which I grew up has changed and is no more.  And, I do understand that is hard and scary and for those of us in the Church because what we once knew and cherished is no more…at least in the way we remember it.

But, if this is really about faith more than it is about politics and power, isn’t our understanding of God bigger than that?  I happen to think God is more inclusive and welcoming and loving than I am and probably ever can or will be.  But even if I imagine God in the more traditional sense of my childhood, isn’t that understanding of God also big enough and broad enough to temper our anger and angst and our hurtful rhetoric?  If a change in our understanding of marriage goes against our understanding of the intent of God, is our best response to legislate morality or to provide a compelling enough witness though how we both live and speak that space is created for those others who do not think as we do to enter into a conversation with us about what we believe and why we believe it?

Right now, it seems to me, that all we are doing is pushing people away.
They are turning their backs to us rather than turning to talk.

Back At Me

where

 

What if that which we know and name as God asks us the same questions we often ask about or ask of God?
Where are you?
Why did you allow that to happen?
Why do you sometimes seem so far away?
Why don’t you answer me when I talk to you?
I don’t know about you, but considering these questions as God speaking to me rather than my speaking to God brings me up short.

Lately I have been purposefully taking some time each day to look around me or to look back on my day and ask, “Where did I see or sense something of the Holy?”
Where did I see beauty?
When and where did I experience kindness?
When did grace brush up against my life?
For what do I need to pause and say “Thank you?”
Those are all important questions that I need to continue to ask.
But maybe there are another set of questions I need to consider, as well.
What was God trying to say to me today that I ignored or was too busy to hear?
When was God waiting for me to step forward?
Who needed a word of hope or forgiveness that God was waiting for someone (for me?!) to speak?

I don’t know about you, but I think I need to do a better job.

With Eyes to See

fall leaves

 

The story goes like this…
Once upon a time, a preacher ran through the streets of the city shouting, “We must put God in our lives. We must put God in our lives.” Upon hearing him, a wise, old woman who spent much of her time sitting in the city plaza observing what was happening around her and watching those who past by said, “Sir, with all due respect, you are wrong. You see, God is already in our lives. Our task is to simply recognize it.”

Whether the word you use/the understanding your have is…
God or Spirit or Allah or The Holy or Ground of Being or Higher Power or whatever, the story is true. God is already here.
Already within you. Already among us.
All we have to do is to recognize it.

But, that is the hard part, right?
The recognition.
Taking the time…
Having the eyes…
To see.
In the midst of the busyness and the responsibility or the challenges of life as it is for us it is, sometimes it is hard to see what is around us or within us or between us. But, even if we don’t “see,” for whatever reason in the particular moment that we have right now, maybe we can remember the wisdom of old woman in the plaza and still claim the knowledge that God is present.

A Day Not Promised to You

This afternoon I will stand in a cemetery alongside a friend as we remember and celebrate and bury her grandmother. It is a moment, I think, not just to remember the person who has passed away, but to reflect on our own lives as well. Here is something of what I will share this afternoon…

Before he retired, a friend of mine used to call me up periodically to say,
“Remember, today is a day that was not promised to you, but it is a day so full of promise.”
And that is what I want to say to you today.
Today is a day that was not promised to you, but a day so full of promise.
I am hardly one to speak, because I sometimes look too far ahead and worry too much about what just happened, but the truth is the only moment that we have is the moment right now.
Where you are.
With the people around you.
I am not telling you anything that you don’t already know.
But on a day like today…
At a moment like this…
Life moves a bit deeper or a bit more into focus than we sometimes allow it.
And so I encourage you to remember…
Today is a day that was not promised to you, but a day so full of promise.

The second thing I would like to say to you is this…
When I was young I had this picture of God as being somewhere up in the sky looking down to see whether what I was doing was good or bad.  Now I think God is more about compassion and kindness and forgiveness and peace than about rules or about good and bad. And, I think of God as that which connects us to each other and to the world in which we live.  An abiding presence with us all the time; inspiring us and guiding us.  Our lives are a mixture of joys and sorrows, successes and failures, laughter and tears.  And it is not that God is with us sometimes…when life is good or we are good. And not there sometimes…when life is hard or we are struggling to find our way. That which we know and name as God is present in all those moments of our lives, and is present even now.