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

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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...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, January 25, 2015:

Luke 2:  39-52

How quickly the children grow up! Could this Jesus in Sunday's Gospel really be the same baby we just saw in the manger? Can this boy be the same Jesus we'll be meeting soon? We spend so little time with Jesus as a young boy that it's strange to get these glimpses.

Those of you who live around teenagers will probably find the Jesus in Sunday's Gospel familiar. He's so self-absorbed. He doesn't worry about his parents' feelings and anxieties. And yet, he's mostly obedient, mostly a good kid.

We think of Jesus as a special case. We tend to focus on his divine aspects and overlook the human ones. Yet any child arrives with his or her own agenda. In the end, most children are a bit of a mystery. We wonder where they get that quirky sense of humor, or those interests that are so unlike any others in the family. If we're honest, most of us have moments, maybe quite a lot of them, where we wish those children would just conform, just be the little people we wish they would be.

The relationship that Mary and Joseph had with Jesus was no different. We might protest, "But Mary and Joseph knew that he was special!" Every parent feels exactly the same way: this child is born for greatness. Yet in how many ways our children will break our hearts.

And it often starts with education. Notice that Jesus has ditched his parents to stay behind with teachers and scholars. He has his own business, and Mary has her wishes, and they will likely clash. Read Mark's Gospel (go ahead, it's short, it won't take you long), and you'll get a different view of Mary and her view of the mission of Jesus; she's not always happy, and in several places indicates that Jesus is embarrassing the family.

But in the end, this week's Gospel is also a story of nurture. God comes to be with us in human form, and not just grown-up, self-sufficient form. God becomes the most vulnerable of creatures, a baby, and thus becomes, the second-most vulnerable, a teenager. Those of you who struggle with a teenager may not find comfort from the Good Friday outcome of this story. But maybe you can find comfort from the fact that even Jesus could be a pain-inducing teenager.

God comes to be with us, in all of our brokenness, the brokenness of our teenage years, the brokenness of our failed nurturing, the brokenness of all we have failed to do. God loves us in spite of, because of our brokenness. God lives with and mingles in our human messiness. We might even say that God glories in our messiness, that out of our messiness salvation comes.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Funeral Planning

This Sunday Jan 18th after we share some cake with Kayla those who are interested in funeral planning are invited to move over to Munson Mueller Hall where Pastor Keith will lead a brief workshop on what goes into a service and what one needs to consider. 

Godspeed to Kayla Frey

Sunday we will offer prayers of Godspeed to Kayla Frey as she prepares to head off to New York as she follows her dream. Join us for a special coffee hour in her honor. There will be a basket for cards and any gifts you may wish to give. Kayla will be singing at he 11AM service. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Isaiah 41:10

do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand
Isaiah 41:10

Anhinga, Shark Valley Visitor's Area, Everglades National Park January 2015

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Matthew 3:13-4:11

I love the words of God at the baptism of Jesus: "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased." Note that God says this at the beginning of Christ's ministry, before Jesus has actually done much.

Here's the best news of all: God feels the same way about each and every one of us.

In this season of New Year's resolutions, consider this question: how would your life changed if you believed that God loves you the way you are, right now, before you even make any changes to become a better person?

It's true. God's not waiting for you to become more spiritual before God claims you. Even if you never get to the point where you pray more often, where you give away more money, where you become that good and patient person you are sure you can be, God loves you, marks you, claims you, delights in you and with you.

You don't have to lose that ten/twenty/fifty pounds for God to find you worthy. You can have a wrecked household budget, and God still loves you. You don’t have to be the best parent/child/spouse/friend/colleague for God to care about you.

During our long years through the nation's educational systems, most of us learn all the ways we are inadequate, and most of us never unlearn those lessons. Even as grown humans, often the focus--in pop culture, in our jobs, in our families, in church even-- is on our failings, on all the ways that we would measure up if we just did this thing or that thing or another thing. And then we work hard on self-improvement, and even if we’re successful, we've still got those messages: well, great, now you can focus on changing this next enormous thing.

All this effort towards self-improvement can make us a bit self-absorbed, and we forget to work on some of the real and serious problems in the world. But what would happen if we decided that God needs us to be the person that we are, right here, right now, without any changes? What if we declared ourselves to be good enough?

Many of us dwell in the land of self-loathing this time of year. Maybe we've spent too much money on our Christmas festivities. Maybe we've eaten too much in that time between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Maybe we've already broken our New Year's resolutions. We look in our mirrors and see multiple reasons to hate ourselves.

Try a different practice for a week or two or 52. Look in the mirror and see yourself not as the world sees you. Look in the mirror and remind yourself that God loves you. God chose you. God delights in you.

You may find this hard to believe. You may be able to believe that God loves people like Pope Francis or Archbishop Tutu, or any number of people who seem more worthy than you. The good news is that God loves you the same way. God sees you in the same way. We are all equally worthy.

No matter how much you improve yourself, God will still love you. No matter how many times you lose sight of your goals and move further away from the best self that you could be, God will still love you. Of course God sees your full potential and probably hopes that you'll move in that direction. But even if you don't, God will love you anyway. No matter how miserably you've failed, God will always welcome you.

We've lived in the land of self-loathing long enough. Why cripple ourselves with this kind of thinking? There's work to be done, and the world cannot afford for us to waste time feeling bad for all the ways we've failed.

God loves you; you are God’s child, and you please God as only you can. Remind yourself of this good news proclaimed at your baptism. Proclaim it yourself at every opportunity.


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Matthew 3:13-4:11

For the next 2 weeks, we'll be considering the baptism of Jesus, and it's a good time to remember our own baptisms. We might spend some time talking about what baptism meant to our families. We might think about what it means to us. When I read this Sunday's Gospel, I focus on the last verse: "Thou art my beloved son; with thee I am well pleased." The good news that Jesus brings us is that God feels the same way about each of us.

What does this love mean for our post-baptized life?  We might look at the baptismal service in our hymnals, and think about what it is that we promise when we baptize.

Hopefully, if we were baptized as children, we had adults in our lives who took those vows seriously. As we grow up, we're expected to do these things for ourselves. Do we get to church regularly? Do we read the Scriptures? Do we surround ourselves with people who will honor those commitments we've made and help us on our journeys?

As we participate in the Church's rites and practices, we are reminded again and again of God's love for us. We are given much in the way of symbolic language that helps us understand. Baptism is one of those rituals. We bathe on a regular basis, and wash our dishes and our clothes and our children, so the idea of water washing us clean is not unfamiliar to us.

We might use water to remind us of the gift of God's grace. We could take a cue from Martin Luther, and remember our baptism each time we take a shower. If we're caught in the rain, we could lift our faces to the rain drops and thank God for all the gifts that we rarely appreciate fully. As we water the yard and the garden, we can think about the restorative power of water on a parched plant.

As we prepare to leave the season of Christmas and Epiphany, we can return to those stories to be reminded of God's love.  Look at the great lengths God has gone to let us know of that love. God becomes a little baby, born in a stable--and why? To let us know of God's love. God becomes a refugee because of Herod's jealousy. God loves us so much--the Bible is full of stories that show God going to great lengths to show humanity this love. An observant person might say that God still goes to great lengths to get our attention.

The juxtaposition of Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ also gives us an opportunity to see how differently people respond to this gift of grace and love. Herod is so threatened that he slaughters every child in Bethlehem and the surrounding region. John, on the other hand, tells everyone about the coming arrival of Jesus.

How will you respond to God's great gift of love?