In the Sanctuary at 8:30AM and 11AM -
a blended service of traditional and contemporary elements with communion

In the hall at 9:45AM
scripture, prayer, and creative response with communion

Worship each Sunday @ 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Featured Post


We have moved the service that was tentatively planned for this Friday July 13th to Friday, September 21st 7PM-8:30PM in commemoration of th...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

PASTOR KEITH'S "FRIDGENOTES" for this week's sermon

Mark 1:21-28 FEB 1, 2009
The woman sat in her wheelchair with an afghan on her lap.
On top of the afghan was a board covered with letters, numbers and simple words and phrases.
“Would you like to pray?” I asked the woman
She pointed to the word “Yes.”
Disease had taken her voice and she communicated by pointing out the word or spelling it one letter at a time. The process was painstakingly slow.
“What would you like to pray for?” I asked as her finger began to quickly play upon the board. This letter, than that letter – I built the words together in my mind barely able to keep pace. “Your brother?” I inquired, hoping that I got it right.
“Yes,” her finger replied with a quick flick on the decidedly low-tech board.
“What should we pray for your brother for?”
The finger danced from letter to letter. I got utterly lost and had to ask her to start over and patiently she did. One letter at a time. I got a few words into thee message and lost my place. I should have been writing them down, I suppose. I asked her to start over again. I juggled the words in my mind, finally keeping them straight.
“That-he-know-the-Lord,” she spelled.
“That he know the Lord?” I repeated.
She shook her head, yes. Tears began to well in eyes.
She pointed to the board, to the words “Thank you.”
And so we prayed, we prayed for many things, but especially for her brother. That he know the Lord.

To know the Lord is our hope, our desire, our prayer, our mission, our life, isn’t it?
To know the Lord is to follow him, to serve him, to love him with our whole heart, our mind, our very soul.

We desire to know the Lord, because the Holy Spirit teaches us that our only true hope dwells with him, in him and through him.

In the synagogue a man whose life was racked in suffering, out of his mind, cried out in fear speaking the truth:
"What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God."

Rebuked by Jesus, the spirit departs and the man is healed.
The great irony throughout the Gospel of Mark is that time and time again it is the demons who know who Jesus is and the people who cannot fathom it.
The demons know and fear his righteousness, while the people do not know, do not understand, and cannot comprehend, until the cross on Calvary.
On the cross it all became clear.
That death is swallowed up.
That victory is won.
That the powers of this world are ultimately destroyed and will have no claim on us.

It is far easier to preach these words from the safety of a pulpit than from the disturbed grass at the grave. Yesterday as I stood by the graveside next to a coffin no bigger than loaf of bread, I struggled to find words to speak. Words that might cut through the tears being shed for the death of a child who took a single breath before dying unexpectedly at birth. Not to vanquish the grief, for that we must do for those we love, but rather to proclaim in the midst of the pain and suffering a word of hope and comfort that showers down upon us from the cross:
That death is swallowed up.
That victory is won.
That the powers of this world are ultimately destroyed and will have no claim on us.

That in the death of a newborn child there is so much that we do not know, cannot say, cannot even begin to comprehend, but this one thing we can say and say with assurance:
We know who Jesus is: the very Holy One of God.
There is nothing more to cling to as the flowers cascade down upon the small casket and tears shower down like bitter rain and a mother wanders off alone in her grief that will not be stilled.
Yet the Holy One of God will not let this day end in defeat. Because we know who Jesus is we know that death has no victory that day.

One of the hundreds of prayer shawls that we send off each year arrived in New York last week to a man who 25 years ago, give or take, taught me drama and directed me in our senior high school class production of MASH. Jim, I can call him that now since a quarter of a century has passed, has endured three bouts with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma over the past few years and will be undergoing Stem cell replacement therapy in a few weeks. They will be destroying his immune system and hoping to rebuild it with healthy cancer free cells given by a donor.
He gives thanks for our prayers.

We send out these shawls, we pray silently or out loud, fervently, passionately, we pray from the depth of our hearts for people like Jim, for our loved ones, for our family, for the nation, for the world, for the suffering, for the strangers that we meet on the street or on a bus or even in the pew right next to us because we know who Jesus is. That such knowing overwhelms our doubt, overruns our fears, and ultimately leads us besides the still waters to a place where we can declare in the midst of any circumstance that our sup still overflows, because we know who Jesus is.

The very Holy One of God.
The bearer of our cross.
The Savior of us all.

We live on this side of the resurrection. We live into the victory won for us. And so we are a hopeful people who bear a message of victory in the midst of every circumstance to the hurting, the grieving, the fearful, the broken, the lost of this world.

With the strength and compassion of God will you bear this message for the sake of the Kingdom? You know who Jesus is – together do we dare to bear this message this day?


No comments: