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Wednesday Words, Feb. 12 2020

Wednesday Words

February 12, 2020

Pr. Paul Cannon

Liturgy Explained

When I was young, my parents brought me to church each and every Sunday, much to the chagrin of the me and my siblings.  It wasn’t really a choice. “You can come to church and be happy” my mom would say, “Or you can go to church and be unhappy.”  Either way, we were going. 

And you would think a church rat like me would have learned a thing a two about the liturgy or the church calendar or the theological underpinnings of worship that we walked through each and every Sunday.  But I didn’t! Mostly I just went through the motions. 

It wasn’t until Seminary where I began to get answers to questions I never even thought to ask! As a pastor now, sometimes it’s hard to remember that there was a time when I had never heard of the lectionary (the three-year cycle of Bible readings). I probably couldn’t have even told you what liturgy meant! (It’s the basic pattern of worship that churches follow).

And so it occurred to me, maybe you’re in that same boat! Maybe you’ve been going through the routines of liturgy, with vague ideas of what it’s all about.  Which is why this Sunday, we’re going to forgo the traditional sermon, and instead take time to explain worship.

Over the years, we’ve received various comments or questions about worship.  Why do we have two different versions of the Lord’s Prayer? Isn’t the crucifix kind of a Catholic thing? Why do we let little kids take communion?  So we came up with the idea to have a “Liturgy Explained” worship.  We won’t have a traditional sermon on Sunday.  Instead, with a little bit of education and humor we are going to talk through the service, explain what we are doing, and why we do it.

Maybe you’ll get an answer to that question you’ve always had.  Maybe, like me, you’ll get answers to questions that never occurred to you. 

We won’t be able to answer all your questions, but we hope it sparks some interest!  After service you’ll have an opportunity to write down any other questions you might have and have them answered in next week’s Wednesday Words.

We hope a renewed sense of Liturgy will not only be an intellectual exercise, but also a spiritual one for you.  That as you come to better know the reasons we do things, it might bring you deeper into the worship with the Living God in our midst.

Wednesday Words, February 5, 2020

February 5, 2020
Pr. Cathy Daharsh

Have you ever heard the expression, “Those people are the salt of the earth”? An expression meaning that they are good and honest people.  
 

Is that what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that they were the salt of the earth?  Did Jesus mean that they were fine people and good citizens? Is that what Jesus means when he tells us that we are the salt of the earth?   Is that all that's involved in being the salt of the earth?  I think that Jesus had something more in mind than that.  
 

While salt has gotten a bad rap due to our excessive consumption, it is nevertheless an essential ingredient of our diet.  Our bodies require salt.  Salt, in proper quantities, can contribute to our health. Salt is also useful for flavoring food.  A little salt can transform food. Salt is also used as a preservative. Before refrigeration, people salted meat to preserve it.  That would have been a common practice in Jesus' day.  Salt, in the right amount, is a wonderful thing. 
 

Jesus says, "You! You are like that."  “You, my disciples, might seem insignificant in numbers and power, but don't underestimate yourself."  The reality is that a few people can indeed change the world just as a small teaspoon of salt can transform a meal. We need to hear that, because we often feel powerless.  The world's problems are so great, and we feel so small comparatively.  How can we help?  How can we make a difference? What we need to remember that we are not alone. Christ is with us through the work of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us to bring us together to provide hope and love to the world.

Our world is always in danger of deteriorating literally and metaphorically. You don't have to look far to see how true that is.  Just look on social media or listen to the news.  But Jesus, when he says that we are the salt of the earth, is telling us that we have the power to make a difference through the work of the Holy Spirit to preserve what is good.
 

Lastly, Jesus asks, if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? I ask you, "how do you restore your saltiness?"  Worshiping, learning, communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ recharges our flavor so that we may be just what the world needs.
 

You are the salt of the world, so let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven. Amen.  

Wednesday Words, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Words – Light

January 22, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

On them light has shined.

- Isaiah 9:2

The internship congregation I served at was named Light of the World. When I first began serving there, that name called to mind one of Jesus’ famous “I am” statements from the Gospel of John- John 8:12 which reads, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” But that wasn’t the scripture the name of our congregation referred to.

Instead, Light of the World used Matthew 5:14 as its theme verse, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.” They even adopted a theme song by “Tangled Blue” that had been written for that verse, which said, “You are the light of the world. So shine, shine, shine where you are. You are the light of the world” (Click this link to listen to the song on Tangled Blue’s website)

In John, Jesus says, “I am the light” and in Matthew Jesus says, “you are the light.” Which is it? Jesus? You? Who is the light that Isaiah mentions, when he says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”?

There’s a theological part of my brain that wants to reconcile the two disparate passages from John and Matthew by saying, “Jesus is the light and we reflect his light.” After all, our Mission Statement is “We reflect Christ in message and action.” There’s truth in that statement … but that’s not what Matthew is saying here.

Our upcoming text for Sunday recalls Isaiah’s prophecy about light breaking into the darkness on the shores of Galilee. The image points a finger directly at Jesus, who began his ministry there. Jesus is indeed the Light of the World.

But then Jesus did something surprising; as the crowds began to follow him, he turned and told them “You are the light.” Not only that, but it’s your responsibility to shine your light on the world. “In the same way” Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

It’s not one or the other. It’s both! Jesus is our light and our salvation, but that light now lives in us. It shines through in our actions, that they might give glory to God (not for our own glory or our own righteousness). You carry that light in you.

Let it shine!

Wednesday Words, January 15, 2020

Wednesday Word

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

“The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb the Lord named me.” – Isaiah 49:1-7

I never liked my name growing up. My last name was LaBouve’ (pronounced La Boo’ vay). It was a name that generated lots of nicknames: boots, boob, boof, boov – you get the idea. I also didn’t care all that much for my first name, Catherine, a name that my mom called out when I was in trouble. What made my name even worse was when I was researching it for a 7th grade project I discovered that my first name meant “pure” and my last name meant “cow.” Pure Cow! I was mortified as I had to do an in-class presentation telling my class what my name meant.

But, as time went on, I learned that nicknames were often given because people cared about me. I learned the time and attention that my parents put into choosing my name. I also learned that my middle name, Ann meant “Grace” which is a powerful word from our faith story. Lastly, I learned that how I choose to live my life influences the impression people have of my name more than my name itself.

In the Gospel reading assigned this Sunday from the book of John, Jesus renames Simon to Cephas (which is translated Peter). Name changes in the Bible are an indication of the beginning of a new life, a new purpose, and a new relationship with God. Cephas is the Aramaic word for rock and Peter is the Greek word for rock. Jesus sees rock-like possibilities in Peter that will not be realized for quite some time. For now, Peter is spontaneous instead of rock-like. In his enthusiasm, he will walk on water toward Jesus, only to stumble as soon as he realizes what he is doing. In the heat of anger, he will cut off the ear of one of the men who come to take away Jesus. He will argue his loyalty to Jesus but will deny him three times. Only after Jesus’ resurrection will Peter begin to be like the rock that Jesus saw in him so much earlier. There are possibilities like this in each of us. If we follow Christ, he will bring those possibilities to the surface for us just as he did for Peter.

We are given lots of names by the world, but I hope and pray that you remember in 2020 that you are a “child of God.” May that name give you hope, courage, and strength as you try out new names and let go of other names this year. Blessings to you!

Wednesday Words, January 8, 2020

Wednesday Words

January 8, 2020

Pr. Paul Cannon

The Names of Jesus

Picking out names for your kids can be kind of hard; it’s a very personal decision. For both of our children, Kirstin and I didn’t have a set idea of what to call them right away, so much as parameters for choosing them. We didn’t want them to be anything too popular or trendy, we wanted them to connect with family and we wanted the names to have a positive meaning.

Our first was Isaac Farrel Cannon, and our second is Elin Joan Cannon. I’ve often thought about those names. Neither name is overly popular, and Farrel and Joan are family names (check, check!). As for meanings, Isaac means “he laughs” in Hebrew, and Elin is a Swedish name meaning “light”. For us, those names were more than just labels for our kids. They held hope for who they might become, while rooting them in memory of loved ones (past and present).

Names reveal things about who we are, which is why we’ll be talking about the names of Jesus during this season of Epiphany, as we reflect on who Jesus is after his birth.

Immanuel, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God … just to name a few. It’s fitting that we have so many different names for Jesus, because we are still trying to figure out exactly who Jesus was (and is).

To one he’s a savior. To another a rabbi. To another a brother. And to yet another … a friend. We have so many names for Jesus because he is all those things, when we need him to be.

So the question for you today is, what do you need Jesus to be? What name might you call out to him right now? Do you need a teacher? A counselor? Do you need peace and quiet in your life? Whatever it is, Jesus is there for you, revealing himself to be exactly what you need today.

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