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Wednesday Words, Jan. 30, 2019

Wednesday Words

January 30, 2019

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

In our Revealed Winter Read this week, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth. He goes to the synagogue and is asked to read the scriptures. He opens the scroll to Isaiah 61. When he finishes the reading, he announces that the prophecy is fulfilled in their hearing, that is, God is acting in and through him to fulfill God’s promise.

In that moment, Jesus finds himself labeled and judged. Because of this judgement, Jesus’ chance for ministry is limited. While the people in Nazareth are excited about his fame and the miracles he performs, what he says sets them off. They can’t hear what he’s saying because they know his background. He played with their children, attended their schools, and worked alongside his father in the carpenter’s shop. They label him as Joseph’s son and Mary’s boy. They do not see him as the Messiah and Son of God. They’re offended by his ministering to those in need and not the faithful of Israel. They’re angry when he suggests that God’s favors those outside Israel, the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian, and not their own widows and lepers.

Like the people in Nazareth, all of us have our ideas and assumptions about how God should be and how the world should function. Our ideas can limit us and can blind us to God’s possibilities. The Gospel reading this week challenges us to examine our preconceived ideas about God. Jesus causes them to be unsettled by calling for change in how outsiders are treated.

Even though we don’t  always understand God’s challenge to us to care for those who struggle in our world, God never, ever gives up on you and me or the world God created. God is patient. God celebrates that we are all God’s children, that everyone has something to offer, and that each of us is made in God’s image. God wants to open our eyes to the possibilities of what God’s love can accomplish in and through our lives and the lives of others, no matter who we are, what we’ve done, and what we believe to be our background.

Here are some questions for you to reflect on for the week:

When have you labeled yourself or been labeled by others in a way that has limited what you thought you could do?

When and how has God helped you to overcome your preconceived ideas about others? How has that opened up new possibilities?

How might seeing everyone as a “beloved child of God” open up new possibilities?

How might valuing others help lead us to experience their contributing to the good of the community?

Gracious God,  we confess that we are quick to judge others and label them. In doing so we hurt people. We limit the possibilities of what others might do and who they might become. Help us to use only one label when we describe others, “Beloved, child of God.” Help us see the gifts each person brings to build up the community in Christ. Amen.

 

Wednesday Words, Jan. 23, 2019

Wednesday Words

January 23, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

 

26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it;

if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

1 Corinthians 12:26

I’ve been watching my dog Pluto limp around lately. He either did something to injure his back right leg/paw or it’s just been so cold that he doesn’t want to put it down when he goes for a walk. Whatever the reason, it seems to be hobbling him a bit.

It’s amazing to watch him keep his balance on three legs. He lifts that back right paw up, and the other three hold him up. It’s not always pretty. He looks awkward doing it. You can tell that he’s not functioning at 100%, but there is a kind of beauty in watching the other three legs support the fourth when it’s suffering.

One body – that’s what Paul tells us that we are as followers of Jesus. The day that we were baptized, we joined this body of Christ. It’s a nice image, but sometimes I don’t think even we understand the power of being one body. It means that when one of us suffers, the rest of us go to work picking up the injured leg.

What does it mean to be one? It means that we lift one another up. When one falls down, broken-hearted, in pain or in grief, there is a whole community of believers that promises to be there to pick them up.

After all, that is our baptismal promise we make as a church, is it not?

People of God, do you promise to support (name/s) and pray for them in their new life in Christ?

It’s a promise to support one another. Not only is that the promise that we receive when we are baptized, but that’s the promise that we make. It’s a promise that says when you walk through our doors, when you become a part of this vast, complex body of God, that you will not have to walk through life’s trials alone.

There is power in a promise. It’s the power for the many to hold up the few. It’s the power of knowing that whatever you do and whatever comes in life, that you will be lifted up by a whole community of people in love and faith.

When another suffers, we rise to that baptismal promise, and lift one another up, because that is what we have promised to each other.

Thanks be to God.

Amen

Wednesday Words, Jan. 16, 2019

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

After the excitement of holidays are over, we are left back with our routines of life, which can be a relief for some but for others the cold, gray, and dark days can be tempting to hibernate and get lost in our own thoughts and fears. This time of year can throw our alignment off leading us to feeling exhausted and depressed. The truth is all of us have experienced times in our life when we feel out of sorts and I would add that we do not feel in right relationship with God. During our staff meeting yesterday, we discussed this very subject. We talked about what throws our alignment off and what contributes to feeling out of sync.

What contributes to you feeling out of sync?

  • Too busy?
  • Feeling distracted?
  • Anxiety?
  • Over-indulgence?
  • Tension?
  • Loneliness?

During the profession of faith in Holy Baptism, we ask the congregation to join sponsors and parents, or those being baptized in confessing our faith in Jesus and rejecting sin. We say this with the understand that there are temptations and darkness in the world that are pressing against us every day.

Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God? I renounce them.

Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God? I renounce them.

Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from God? I renounce them.

The rejection of sin in the liturgy is followed by the Apostle’s Creed where we confess our understanding of God and God’s love and forgiveness when we fall short and we feel out of alignment with God.

The second part of our staff conversation yesterday was what are ways that we try to realign ourselves.  For some of us it might be time and space, for others it might be sitting down and talking with someone, and for me the best way is pray and lean on friends and family.

Our study of the book of Luke, ends this week with the Temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:1-13). The ways in which the devil tempts Jesus aren’t new to us. The devil tempts Jesus with needs, security, and power. These things are not so different than our needs and wants. God promises to be with us always; whether those times are sad, depressed, or joyful. But, the devil tempts us to doubt that promise too. Jesus leans on the scriptures to work through the temptations of the devil that try to throw him off.

As we live through the dark and cold days of January, may we remember that God is the source of all goodness, and God’s love is stronger than our fears and darkness. Amen. 

Wednesday Words, Jan. 9, 2018

Wednesday Words – Whole 30

Pastor Paul Cannon

 

And a voice came from heaven,

“You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

-Luke 3:22

After coming down off the sugar high of the Christmas season, my wife, Kirstin, and I decided that it was time for a reset. Some relatives and friends we know have been into the newest health craze Whole 30, and so we thought we’d give it a shot. We bought the book, read up (or I should say Kirstin read it, and I followed orders) and we took the drastic step of cutting sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, and pretty much anything fun out of our diet for the next 30 days.

Do you want to know how it’s going? In summary: The past five days on Whole 30, I have been feeling light-headed, constantly hungry, and sporadically cranky. If you see me digging through garbage cans or walking the sanctuary with a vacuous look in my eyes you’ll know why.

‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ It’s the question I’m sure many of us have had while on a new health kick. There are good reasons: live healthier, feel better, live longer, etc. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But for many of us (and I am just as guilty), we sometimes do them because we feel inadequate and unhappy with ourselves.

That’s where I think God’s word to Jesus in his baptism might help: “You are my son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Those aren’t just words spoken to Jesus, they are also words that God speaks to each and every one of us in our baptism. You are my son. You are my daughter. With you I am well pleased.

Really God? You are pleased with me? God, I’m a mess! I’m just happy if I can get out the door in the morning and both of my kids are wearing pants! You’re pleased with ME???

Yeah. Really. In Baptism God’s declaration to you is that he loves you fully, as you are – not the perfect version of yourself that you’re trying to achieve. God doesn’t condition his love on you being your best self. God knows your imperfections. But he loves you just the same.

Whether you eat that cookie or not.

Wednesday Words, Dec. 19, 2018

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

This third week of Advent we have been focusing on the Star of Unity. We are united in the anticipation and remembrance of the birth of Jesus that brings hope, joy, and love. 

Today, Wed. Dec. 19 at 7 pm, we welcome and invite you to join us at our Longest Night Service. This worship service is a time that we come together as a community acknowledging the blue feelings at this time of year. For some, this season is a "long dark night of the soul," in which memories of the past and the pain of the present can be overwhelming. We will pray and sing together recognizing that this is not a season of joy for everyone. We pray that you will find hope and comfort knowing you are not alone. We all wait in hope of the Lord's coming. 

Star of Unity

Wednesday, Third Week of Advent

The Bright Star of Bethlehem Devotion

Open Doors

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:5

At midnight on a wintry night, thirteen travelers boarded a bus at the Guesthouse of the International Center of Bethlehem, bound for Tel Aviv airport to return home to the United States. As the bus made its way through the dark and quiet streets, the travelers quietly sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem." The bus slowed to a halt, and the travelers looked out to see a solid metal wall, three stories high, across the road. The driver honked and they waited. To the left, atop the wall, was a lookout tower. The driver honked again and still they waited. Their "hopes and fears were present. The metal wall made a grinding sound as it slowly moved to create a narrow passageway. the driver drove forward, spoke to the armed guard, and the bus was permitted to pass. Our passage was made possible by the connections made between people. 

Within this three-story-high wall still more unifying work is being done. The International Center of Bethlehem is achieving the work of Christ, through education, sports, services to young families, services to the elderly, wellness services and cultural offerings that the lives of 60,000 people in the Bethlehem region. With something as simple as a honk or a friendly wave, you can be the agent of Christian unity in your communities as well. 

Prayer

Jesus, Star of Unity, unite us in our commitment to serve the needs of those in our neighborhoods. Amen. 

 

 

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