Thursday, November 29, 2012

on the pastor's mind

What does the "Advent of our God" mean?  What do we think about when we think of God's return?  (not the approach of an infant, but the approach of God's ultimate reign)
   When you read this week's lessons what is your initial impression -- are they foreboding or encouraging? 
When we seek to live with Christ as the Alpha and the Omega we approach the world under the umbrella of the Gospel, and in doing so our view of life and situations are changed.
          A psychologist at Northwestern University led a study that analyzed how people told their life stories.  He found that the life stories tended to follow one of two patterns: a redemption sequence or a contamination sequence.  In the redemption sequence, the person telling the story is able to find good things that came out of bad circumstances.  For instance, "My girlfriend broke up with me, and I thought it was the end of the world.  But then I met Sally, and she and I have been happily married for twenty years."  Contamination sequences, on the other hand, are stories where no good comes out of them.  "My girlfriend broke up with me, and it was the end of the world."  The study found that those people who had the most redemption sequences in their stories had the more positive impact with their lives.  They had a desire to reach out and help others.  They wanted to invest in creating a better future for the next generation.  But the people who listed the most contamination sequences in their life story were far less successful in creating a positive impact.  They were less likely to concentrate on creating a meaningful legacy for their lives.  
          In other words, needless anxiety about life produces a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we worry, the less likely we are to see God’s hand at work and to experience God’s blessings.  We begin to see the world as only picking on us.
          From Pastor Randy's Sermon on Nov. 25
          How do you see Christ the King shaping your life? 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Alpha, Omega -- Beginning and Ending

During this week we stand between the Last Sunday of the Church Year and the First Sunday of Advent.  Do you feel like you are at the ending or the beginning?  How do you tell the difference?  Is it even important to do so?

These questions may seem to be nothing other than mental, emotional and spiritual gymnastics, but they are questions that often come to mind when we think about time in a linear fashion.  We say things like:  "Aren't you looking forward to ---?"  or "I can't wait til it is time for ---!"  or "I am so glad that is over!"  or "Those were the good old days!"

Yet time in the Kingdom of God is not linear.  In God, the Alpha and Omega, everything that is real always was, always will be and will be to come.

So take a look at your past year.  Now look at today.   Are you at the beginning or ending of something?

And if that thought process seems tedious.... here's something more fun!  Take 10 minutes to learn about the mobius strip!

Now envision your current day someway on a timeline traced on the strip--are you at the beginning or the ending?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On the pastor's mind for proclamation this week

The Hebrews text talks about the traditions of the Jews and their approach to God and worship.  The Gospel tells of Jesus and his words about the temple coming down.  How do we approach God?  How do we approach worship?

Hebrews 10:22 Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Free Fall or Floating

Yesterday we considered the ways we try to assure our own safety rather than trusting God completely for our security.  Pastor Randy told about a swimmer who always kept one foot on the bottom of the pool.  From the surface it looked like the person was freely swimming.  In truth the swimmer was always reaching for the bottom. In this way, the swimmer wasn't totally involved in "swimming".  In fact, the momentum was restricted, because the limb reaching for the bottom wasn't available to kick and move freely through the water.  

God invites us to float (or fall) freely through time and space, especially when we are in the "pool" of loving God and serving others.  

In what ways to you try to assure your own stability or security?  What might happen if you stopped doing that?  Would you free fall or float?  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who are all these people?

There is a scene in "On Golden Pond" where Norman is looking at the many pictures (of his family and friends) on the walls of the cabin.  His memory has lapsed, and he does not know the identities of the people.  He stares at the images and then with exasperation "Who the ... ARE all these people?"  Since his mind can't recall names, he sees no meaning in the pictures. 

Well, that may be true -- no name, no meaning. 

But there is something beyond a name we can appreciate when we look at pictures of people and remember that each person is both saint and sinner.  Pastor Randy reflected upon this in his sermon this past weekend.  We were considering the meaning of looking at pictures of people who are real for us because we have known them and have experienced their journey of life and faith in some way.   

For we don’t just see them as an image, instead we know our photograph is populated by real people.  Their faces bear witness to their histories and their hopes. They are not necessarily pretty by the false standards of glossy advertising, but in their own way they are beautiful, authentic, and alive.  But also with these people in our pictures... we also know their brokenness.  Almost everyone can pull one of those family portraits out and regal us with stories of pain, distress, frustration, and often even humor.  We can examine these pictures and we can start thinking about their story, in the end we know we all are a cast of characters.  But on this day we recall that though we are fallen people, because of the resurrection of Christ, we have been made saints through faith.    
Pastor Randy 

Pick any picture of a gathering of your friends and family.  Or take one page of the CRLC Church pictorial directory.  Do you see the saints and the sinners?   

Sunday, November 4, 2012

All Saints Weekend

How can we maximize the gift of worship today?  I know it is tempting to stop our engagement with the liturgy, the hymns and the readings when we exit the sanctuary.  However, what might change if our time in the hallway, the gathering space was seen as a continuation of a celebration of "All Saints"? Can you sense the atmosphere vibrating with words of wisdom regarding how we are to "be" the community of faith?

Then, go beyond that to the parking place, the roadways, your neighborhood, your home.   

There is something awesome about envisioning, with gratitude, praise and thanksgiving, "All the Saints" who are companioning us along the path of our every day life.  That vision expands our hearts and activates an understanding that there is more going on than what readily meets the eye.  The Saints who rest from the labor of life are cheering us on in our life, which for now, may be burdensome.  

As Pastor Randy said, we are seduced by what the world would present as the desired path.  We are surrounded by invitations to invest in this or that newest, more perfect program or item or person.  

Saints know that perfection is accomplished only in God--the Alpha and the Omega.  

If we listen with the ears of faith to the voices proclaiming eternal life we get a glimpse of what really matters.  

Pick one of the saints you have known...any saint.  What would that person have to tell you about what is on your mind right now.  How would that person help you see more clearly what REALLY matters?