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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Featured Post

Advent Meditation on Joseph

The reading for Sunday, December 17, 2017: Matthew 1:18-25 This Sunday we read about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. We've no...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Transfiguration Sunday

The readings for Sunday, February 26, 2017:

First Reading: Exodus 24:12-18

Psalm: Psalm 2

Psalm (Alt.): Psalm 99

Second Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21

Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9


Here we are at Transfiguration Sunday again. We celebrate this festival on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, although the earlier festival day was August 6.

It's such a familiar story that we may feel that we can get nothing new from it.  But it's a story that bears repeating. 

When I read the Gospel again, I'm not surprised by Peter's offer to build booths and celebrate the Transfiguration in a commercial way.  Christ's command to tell no one makes me pause.  Why can't we share this amazing moment?

Christ says this often. Go and tell no one--that seems to be a constant command. And it seems antithetical to the task of the Church.

In just a few months, we'll get a very different  Pentecost message. Aren't we supposed to go and witness? Spread the good news? If Jesus is our role model, what do we make of his command to stay silent?

In some ways, perhaps Jesus knew the times he lived in. He knew that early fame would undo his purpose. He knew that people would focus on the physical plane--"This man can heal my blindness"--but not the spiritual plane, the one where we need healing the most.

He also knew that people who see visions, who catch a glimpse of something otherworldly, are often shunned by the community. What would have happened if James and John and Peter came down from the mountain and proclaimed what they had seen? How would the community have responded?

Jesus knew that he couldn't appear too threatening to the status quo too early. In the verses that follow, the ones not included in this Gospel, Jesus makes clear that persecution follows those who see visions. And that persecution still persists today. Our culture tolerates those of us who pray. It's less tolerant of those of us who claim that God replies to our prayers.

The life of the believer is tough, and one measure of its difficulty is knowing when to speak, and knowing when to hold our tongues. Sometimes we should keep our counsel. Sometimes we should testify verbally. Always we should let our lives be our testimony.

Christ also might have been wary of the human tendency to rush towards transfiguration.  We yearn to be different, but so often, we shun the hard work involved.  We might embrace transformation before we stop to consider the cost.

Like Peter, we might want to turn Christ into Carnival: build booths, charge admission, harness holiness. Jesus reminds us again and again that the true work comes not from telling people what we’ve seen, but by letting what we’ve seen change the way that we live. Our true calling is not to be carnival barker, but to get on with the work of repair and building of the communities in which we find ourselves.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sandra Carter Funeral Service

The funeral for Sandra Carter will take place as follows:
Visitation: Thursday February 23rd 4:30PM - 6PM in the sanctuary
Funeral Service Thursday Feb 23rd 6PM in the sanctuary.
Memorial meal to follow in the hall.
Singers invited to be of an adhoc choir to lead the hymns

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Who Are the Meek?

By Kristin Berkey-Abbott

When I first read the Beatitude text that talked about the meek inheriting the earth, my thoughts went immediately to the traditional definition of meek:  the ones that keep their eyes down, the ones that don't toot their own horns, the ones that will let themselves get bulldozed by the strong--the ones that will suffer brutality and take it.

But later in this same chapter of Matthew, we'll get to the part about turning the other cheek.  Here, too, I was taught that I was reading a text advocating non-violence.  But a more careful reading and analysis suggests something else.

These are resistance texts. Yes, resistance texts.

These are texts that show us how to resist evil in such a way that evil elements will not turn around and destroy us. Likewise, these are texts that show us how to resist evil in such a way that we don’t become the evil that we are resisting.

It’s important to remember that the culture of Jesus was a vastly different culture. It was a culture based on honor. It was a culture based on social hierarchy. It was also a culture ruled by Romans who were not going to tolerate social unrest, Romans who would not hesitate to slaughter dissenters.

So, if an member of the occupying empire army orders us to give up our coat, we can strip naked, giving up coat and shirt--which is an assault on honor, an assault that mortifies the soldier whose orders led to public indecency as much as the one who strips.  It's also a way of showing that we won't be controlled.  But we haven't done anything wrong--in fact, we've followed instructions and gone above and beyond.  What's the poor soldier to do?

Jesus shows us how to live in this world, how to resist evil without being destroyed by evil.  Some of us are in a position where we can do more to resist evil and oppression--and Jesus will call on us to do it.  But some of us cannot.  Jesus shows us how to live in the world, especially if we live on the margins of society.

What if the meek inherit the earth because they survive?

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Welcome to the New World Order, God's Order

The reading for Sunday, February 12, 2017:


Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."


Here again, we see an inversion, a way that Christ tells us that the world of the kingdom of God is very different than the world of the empire that surrounded early listeners.  In Simply Jesus:  A New Vision of Who He Was, Why He Did, and Why He Matters, N. T. Wright explains the Beatitudes this way:   "The Beatitudes are the agenda for kingdom people.  They are not simply about how to behave so that God will do something nice to you.  They are about the way in which Jesus wants to rule the world.  He wants to do it through this sort of people--people, actually, just like himself (read the Beatitudes again and see.  . . . When God wants to change the world, he doesn't send in the tanks.  He sends in the meek, the mourners, those who are hungry and thirsty for God's justice, the peacemakers, and so on" (page 218, italics in original).


These types of people are not the ones endorsed by most of the world. Spend a night watching television and contemplate what it says about our culture. We don't see many messages that remind us to be meek, to hunger for justice, to work for peace, to be pure in heart. No, we're supposed to dance with stars, or sing for a panel of harsh judges, or watch dramas about ghastly criminals.


Watch those in power and contemplate how rarely we see the meek speaking from a position of authority, as if they inherited the earth.  No, it's the other types of people who gobble up all the air in the room.  They're the ones who seem to have it all:  money, fame, access to anyone they want in any way they want.


Those of us who have studied history may feel bleak, as if it's always been that way.  But God's way is not the world's way.  And sometimes, we see an interesting glimpse of what God might mean.


I want to remember times when it seemed like no progress could ever be made, and then, voila, history changed in what seemed like a flash:  the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, for example, or Nelson Mandela being set free. 


Those who are younger than I am might not realize how huge that event was for me and many other activists.  Apartheid seemed like a government system that had existed forever, an entrenched evil that had a deathgrip on the country--likewise, the Soviet Union.

And then, it vanished, and a much more humane system evolved.  It's still far from perfect, but it's better than the old system.


Much of the reason why these systems crumbled was because of the meek, not the powerful.  Part of what set the stage for the crumbling of these systems is that people acted as if they were already free.  I'm thinking of Vaclav Havel and his group of writers and artists, who refused to stop creating, just because the State told them they must.  I think of Nelson Mandela, who spent his decades in prison not plotting revenge but dreaming about the best ways to govern. When he was released and elected president, he was ready with plans for creating a better South Africa.

My historical analysis is much too brief, but it's what comes to mind when I read about the meek inheriting the earth.


That’s the way redemption works—not in the ways we would expect, but in surprising ways that take us where we could not dream of going, and sometimes faster than we would expect. If we could travel back in time to tell the people of 1985 that the Soviet Union would soon crumble and South Africa would be free of white rule, the people of 1985 would think we were insane. If we could travel back to the first century of the Roman empire to tell of what the followers of Jesus would accomplish, those people would laugh at us—if they even knew who Jesus was.


We can choose to live as people of God, no matter what our human empires would have us believe. We do not have to weep in the ruins of our cities. Jesus has promised us that the new world order will look nothing like the world order that has held us captive for too long.


Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Strategies for Those Who Mourn

Last week at church, we talked about mourning with a focus on refugees.  No matter where we stand on the political spectrum, we can agree that our world situation, with so many people fleeing from all sorts of terror, gives us plenty of opportunity to mourn.

Jesus promises us that we will be comforted.  For those of us sitting on the sofa, waiting for comfort to come--may I suggest that we take a more active approach?

Now is a good time in the life of our nation to become more involved politically--it's always a good time.  We could call or e-mail our senators and representatives to let them know how we'd like them to vote and what kind of nation we want to see.  The process should work this way.  It's a representative democracy, after all.

But we might sink into more despair if this action is the only one that we take.  We may have legislators who will do whatever they want, regardless of their constituents.  We may feel that we call and call and call, and nothing happens.

Maybe we need something more immediate.  I thought of this when my college roommate saved the Campbell's soup labels on cans that I was going to recycle.  She told me that I could take them to my public library, and they could get free books that way.  I had never thought of that.

I don't use canned soup often, but I do occasionally use them when I need chicken or beef stock.  What a great idea to save the labels.

We could do the same with box tops, which come on many products and local schools can trade for stuff.  I mail mine to my sister, who collects them for my nephew's elementary school.  But at the time that she no longer collects them, I could still donate them to a local school.  Look around the chancel and see who has small children and ask them if they want your box tops.

What are some other actions that we can do that will take a small amount of time but bring some good into the world?  Let me list some:

--For those of us who want to get more involved in refugee issues, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service offers ideas, like letter writing to those detained or a visitation program or a way to donate money.  Go here for more details:  www.lirs.org.

 --When we go grocery shopping, we could pick up some items for the food pantry. 

 --When we go to a big box store, like Target or Wal-Mart, we could buy a package of socks for the homeless.

--Don't forget about the power of money.  We can write a check to national or local groups that are working for the changes we want to see in the world.  Even small checks are better than no checks.  Lutheran World Relief does an amazing amount of good work with not much money.

--Does your employer match your charitable giving?

--Don't forget about our own church which does an amazing amount of community work on a very small budget.

 --Bring some treats to the local office of your favorite non-profit or charity.  Raise the spirits of the people who are usually working long hours for low pay.

--Read to children.  At first this action might not seem simple as many groups now require a background check.  But once you're done with that, you might find joy in sharing stories with children.

--Buy children's books and give them to elementary schools and libraries.  Support programs that support summer reading.

--Don't forget about the importance of self-care and care of those around you.  You cannot keep giving and giving and not replenish yourself.  What would make you happy?  Do those things.

As we begin these activities, we may continue to feel bogged down in despair; we may wonder when comfort will come.  But through the months, as we knit ourselves more securely into our communities by our actions, we are much more likely to find the comfort that Jesus promises.