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Wednesday Words, September 16, 2020

Wednesday Words 

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

Who is generous to you? 

Growing up with three older brothers, I constantly tried to keep up with them and I was envious of the freedoms that they had and the things they got to do. I would often say, “that’s not fair.”  But, on the other hand, being the youngest and only daughter, and I’ll admit a bit spoiled, my brothers would often say, “that’s not fair.” 

Fairness is complicated, isn’t it? A decision is usually considered fair if it is equal. For most of us, fairness means that people deserve equal rights and opportunities and are treated equally. But how do generosity and grace fit into that understanding of fairness? Does fairness allow for generosity? 

In last week’s gospel reading, the owner of the vineyard doesn’t see the problem in giving each worker the same amount of wages no matter how many hours they worked. Those who worked a full day were disappointed that they received the same amount of wages as those who worked much less, and angrily say, “That’s not fair!”.

Jesus concludes the parable with, “the last will be first and the first will be last,” which is an ultimate example of God’s generosity for us.

This week we hear the end of the story of Jonah. In the book of Jonah, God asks Jonah to deliver a message to the city of Nineveh because they have lost their way. Jonah does not want to do this, especially, since they are the enemy.  He runs away almost stomping his foot and saying, “That’s not fair.” 

The story of Jonah gives a glimpse of a God who pushes God’s people to go beyond their boundaries to be generous in their love and mercy to others. Many of us are reluctant to do this, especially with people we don’t like. It’s easy to judge people and even hate them. Throughout our history, people have been concerned with who is included and who is excluded. But Jonah’s story flips it all around and challenges us to see things from God’s perspective. We learn that not even a reluctant servant like Jonah will stop our generous God from sharing peace, love, and forgiveness with those who are included and those who are not. 

Take time this week to think about and discuss: 

  • Who has been generous to you in your life?
  • How has their generosity shaped you as a person? 

Generosity can have an enormous impact not only on the person who has received the gift of compassion, time or resources, but also on the giver. Amen. 

Wednesday Words, September 9, 2020New Post

Wednesday Words – Generosity Challenge

September 9, 2020 

Pr. Paul Cannon

 

But (the landowner) replied to one of them… “I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” Matthew 20:13,15

We’re in the wrong season, but the theme “Ripples of Generosity” we are shifting to, is making me think about old Ebenezer Scrooge from the classic Charles Dickens novel “A Christmas Carol” (to be frank, I know the Muppets version much better). 

Scrooge, of course, is notoriously stingy - not only with his money, but with his heart, with his time and with his words as well.  But there is a seed of generosity, even in the crotchety old Scrooge, that is waiting for the right conditions to sprout.  His heart is opened when he witnesses the suffering of Tiny Tim and sees the future the Ghost of Christmas future shows him. 

When Scrooge returns to the present, not only is his heart changed, but so too are his actions.  His newfound generosity ripples forward through time, saving the life of Tiny Tim and bringing joy to all he encounters.

What about you?  Are you generous?  Without knowing exactly who you are, I can say yes.  God plants seeds of generosity in each of us.  The only other question is, “Will you nurture it?” 

As we enter a new season for the church year, we are going to be talking about Ripples of Generosity.  We hope that you see it as an opportunity to nurture your God-given generosity, and see how it ripples out into your neighborhood, community and even the world.

Here’s how it’s going to work.  You should be receiving an envelope in the mail (if you haven’t already) with six small envelopes inside.  Once a week (starting this Sunday, September 13th) we want you to open up the corresponding envelope to receive your challenge.

Some items are small … some are big.  Some are focused on your neighborhood … some on the world.  But we hope that this can be a time for us as a congregation to send ripples of generosity out into a world that needs it.

We hope you accept the challenge!

Wednesday Words, September 2, 2020

Wednesday Words

September 2, 2020

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

 

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,

"Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor;

and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, 

I will pay back four times as much.

– Luke 19:8

 

This week we will hear a familiar story from the Bible. It’s the story of Zacchaeus. You know that song that can get stuck in your head, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.”

According to the song, what seems to matter most about Zacchaeus was that he was short, but of course there is more to the story. In the story of Zacchaeus, we see his job as a tax collector “unravel” in Jesus’ presence. Many of us have been unraveled ourselves these weeks by the ongoing systemic racism, protests, violence in the streets, and continuing fears of pandemic.

Unraveling can be uncomfortable, disorienting, and frightening. It can also lead to the creation of something beautiful, strong and new. There is so much good work we can do to unravel systems of injustice in our nation, in our community, and in ourselves. There is also good work that can be done in this pandemic as we reflect and renew the way we have been living our lives. Christ empowers us in his love to do the work that creates a new community of hope and peace. This weekend I came across a positive challenge that has inspired me:

 

Don’t give up on this year. 

Keep fighting for the good. 

Keep showing up. 

Keep loving. 

Keep giving back. 

Keep being kind. 

Keep being brave. 

Keep caring. 

Keep trying new things. 

Keep showing grace. 

Keep on. 

The world needs you. 

To believe in the good. 

~ by Rachel Marie Martin

 

We come together as a community of faith in a time of unraveling, but we are also being rewoven together in Christ’s grace, love, and forgiveness. May you find and share the good that Christ continues to weave among us. Amen. 

 

 

Wednesday Words, August 26, 2020

Wednesday Words – Discovering the Way

August 26, 2020

Pr. Paul Cannon

 

Ananias laid his hands on Saul and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Acts 9:17

 

I know you want an update. How did Isaac’s first day of Kindergarten go? Let’s just say it could have been better.

We were all ready for the first day of E-Learning in kindergarten.  We powered up his iPad, clicked the appropriate links to take us to his Zoom classroom AND (drumroll please) … nothing.  Zoom was down across the district and a few others.

Quick! Change of plans. The teacher sent out a link to a Google Meet conferencing app this time, and finally – FINALLY – we got online with his teacher and his classmates.

What’s that old saying? When God closes a door, he opens a window.  It might not have been how we pictured it (As Kirstin said, “My plan was to be the awkward mom crying outside the school building.”), but God found a way. 

Seems like something we could all use in our lives right now. 

This Sunday for our Unraveled series, we are going to be talking about the times in our lives where we have to discover a new way forward.  For Saul, he had to literally discover the Way

Saul was a Jewish Pharisee, and a persecutor of the early church.  When we first encounter him in this story, he is seeking permission to detain followers of the Way (a common name that early Christians used to describe their new movement). 

Suddenly, while on the road, a voice (Jesus’ voice) cries out and asks Saul why he was persecuting him. Saul is then struck blind and brought to Damascus, where a follower of the Way is instructed to pray for him.

Something like scales fell off Saul’s eyes, and he sees, not only literally but figuratively as well. Saul sees a new way and becomes one of the most (if not the most) influential of the early apostles. 

We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we need to find a new way forward.  But this week, think about what it means to find the Way.  The way of Christ that spurns power, wealth and privilege, giving freely to that which is weak, poor and downtrodden. 

That way, is the way of life. 

Wednesday Words, August 19, 2020

Wednesday Words

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

 

Seeking Understanding when Everything has Fallen Apart

This year, suffering seems out of control. I don’t know about you, but I feel like just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse something else happens.  For me, when life gets hard it takes extra energy and effort to gain a new perspective and understanding. 

In this week’s readings we hear stories of people suffering. In our old testament reading, everything Job holds important--his property, his family, his wealth, his physical health—has been taken from him. He is reduced to suffering and misery, and Job laments his circumstances and tries to make sense of what has happened to him. We also hear in the Gospel reading about a leader of the synagogue’s daughter dying and a woman who is suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.

When challenges come our way, and they do, they can eschew our perspective and our faith, and make it hard to think beyond our challenges. In those moments, I have found that I need to take intentional time and prayer to step back and take a balcony view. In my last 21 days of quarantine, it has been a deck view, but nevertheless it is about stepping back and looking at life from a different point of view and letting go of preconceived ideas. When I make an effort to see the world from a different perspective, I have found that God’s wisdom helps me to see life anew, and it also challenges me to be more in-tuned to the suffering that has always been around us but hasn’t always been noticed. 

In this pandemic, many are looking at life from a new perspective. Systems of racism that are harming people are seen. Essential workers struggling to make ends meet are seen and much more. 

When we step back and look from a different point of view, we can gain new perspective, but then we also need to take the next step closer to see and hear the individual stories that help us  to gain even more understanding and wisdom. From a balcony on the 20th floor we can see a larger picture of the landscape and the issues around us, but we can’t see the details of people’s faces or the flowers that are growing. 

Ultimately, Job discerns that God is the source of all wisdom, and to turn away from evil and turn toward the heart of the world, which God has made good. My hope and prayer for you this week is that when life is overwhelming you will take time to step back and look at life from a different perspective to find new understanding, but then to step closer and engage in the life around you. Amen. 

 

 

 

 

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