Category Archives: Musings

Minister’s Musing- 10 October 2012

Minister’s Musing

Bible Study and You in an African Way…..

On a sunny Sunday morning, she parked her bike in the fish bike rack and walked into the building wondering, “what kind of church is this?’  She sat in the back of the church following along in the worship folder, singing the hymns and then noticed that the words of the songs, the singing and the sermon were all from the sacred scriptures of the church – the Bible. 

And then it hit her.  She longed to know more.  She longed to read this Book and find its relevance for her life.   She realized for the first time in her life that she longed for a Bible Study. Who knew that this longing could be so strong.  What would she to do?

I have met this “person” several times. Many long to join a Bible study and wonder how to begin?  Here’s a suggestion:

1.  Find a couple of friends to join you and agree to meet on a regular basis.

2.  Choose from a series of readings:  a) Psalms;  b) The gospel texts assigned for Sunday;  c) or read a specific gospel through – verse by verse.

3.  And then follow the outline that our sisters and brothers in the African church.  This Bible study method was introduced at the Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops of the Anglican Communion. It is known by both names: “Lambeth” and “African.”

Opening Prayer:    O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. One person reads passage slowly.
  2. Each person identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention (1 minute).
  3. Each shares the word or phrase around the group (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION).
  4. Another person reads the passage slowly (from a different translation if possible).
  5. Each person identifies where this passage touches their life today (1 minute).
  6. Each shares (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION).
  7. Passage is read a third time (another reader and translation if possible).
  8. Each person names or writes “From what I’ve heard and shared, what do I believe God wants me to  do or be? Is God inviting me to change in any way?” ( 5 minutes )
  9. Each person shares their answer (5-10 minutes, NO DISCUSSION ).
  10. Each prays for the person on their right, naming what was shared in the other steps (5 minutes).

Close with the Lord’s Prayer and SILENCE.

So…. open the Bible with a friend.  God has something to say to you.

Gently,

PR E

Minister’s Musings

Sept. 12, 2012

“dripping with the love of God”

Jacob smiled and giggled throughout the morning barely fitting into the 100 year-old white gown that had been worn by his great grandfather and four generations of children. Jacob was baptized at St. Andrew’s on Sunday, reminding us yet again of the blessings of this rite.

Jacob, as a babe in arms, shared in the rite that proclaims God’s love which names us all as God’s beloved. This indeed is God’s work, not ours. Jacob and all children who are baptized emphasize this truth. God has already claimed us in love. And Jacob, even as a young child, now lives into this gift, “dripping with the love of God”. Jacob joins us and all the saints and sinners, as we live in, with, under and through this grace of God.

So what is “dripping with the love of God” like? It is cross-shaped and Sprit sealed.

The cross in the place where God’s love reveals Divine Love that embraces the pain, suffering and marginalized of the world and says you are not alone. The cross reveals the movement of the Holy into the world (vertical lines) and the action of this love engaging the world and embracing it with wide arms of care (horizontal lines). The cross is where Jesus died at the hands of the powerful and violent. Yet God’s love embraced the world through Jesus’ open arms in order to say to those who are offended by the powerful and the violent, “You are not alone.”

We live dripping in the waters of baptism, for the Holy Spirit seals the deal and empowers us to engage the world, working with the power and hope of God to heal it with the baptismal compassion that drips from us; to love it through the baptismal care that pours off us; to restore it through the baptismal grace that flows through us; to reconcile it through the baptismal shalom that streams abundantly as we strive for justice and peace throughout the earth.

Jacob experienced this grace as water poured over his head and then was marked with the sign of the cross with oil. He joined us as a brother to live “dripping wet in the love of God”. I’m eager to see where it takes him.

And I wonder where these waters have taken you? Where are you dripping with God’s love for the sake of the world?”

Gently,

Pr E

So, why go to church? Perhaps because it’s an OMG moment.

Minister’s Musing

September 4, 2012

So, why go to church?  Perhaps because it’s an OMG moment.

Me? Go to church?  Why?  What difference does it make?  Some days, I just want to boldly text, “OMG, why worship?” Except maybe that’s the point, “Oh My God!”  It really is all about God.  It’s a God thing.

I think we get it wrong if worship is all about ourselves. We may worship to find absolute answers or be entertained.  Though it is true that a good sermon, great music can be entertaining and meaningful, that’s not only why we worship. Actually many choose to get their answers and be entertained from watching the best preachers, the best music and the most relevant and deeply significant reflections from multi media. Yes, these modes of engagement with God’s story can connect us to God and God’s power, love and purpose in profound relevant revelation. However, I believe worship is much more than that.  O my God, much more.

First, we worship to praise God. We live in a world of abundance and awe.  There is beauty, amazing discoveries, and profound moments. We know friends, joy, food, shelter and more. We have danced, loved and lived with great excitement.  Blessings abound and the moments of OMG are abundant. We worship to give God praise.

And, it’s also true that are lives are filled with experiences that exhaust and challenge us, overwhelm and drain us, Yet, God invites and gathers saying, “I am your God and you are my people.” God gathers us for restoration as we are marginalized, overwhelmed exhausted, suffer, worry, and hurt during the week. God gathers us in worship. Love is spoken, sung and practiced.   In worship we re-affirm our dignity as God’s love is proclaimed and pronounced.

But we are not loved only individually. We know the love of God through prayer and song AND through the hands, voice and actions of another. We come to worship to connect to others, through an I-Thou relationship.  It is like a wonderful wheel. As God draws us to God’s self in the hub, we are drawn closer to each other like spokes in the wheel. We gather on a Sunday morning to worship to connect to each other and to see God’s love through people very different than ourselves. God gathers us in community because someone in worship may need us there. We show up for the other and that’s also a God thing.

And we go to be fed.  We are hungry and long for peace. We are hungry and long for hope and healing. We are hungry and long for meaning.  We are hungry and long for life.  We are hungry from within. And God feeds.  Jesus says, “ Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus says, “Come and eat.” Jesus joins the broken, the hungry, the lonely and the outcast and feeds them love from his very being, Jesus says, ‘O, my God is here for you to love you, to heal you, to forgive you and to feed you.”

So worship is an OMG moment.  For it’s about God as God gives to us abundantly. It’s about God as God reclaims our dignity. It’s about God as God connects us to others. It’s about God as God feeds us the love revealed in the Jesus. OMG, worship is a God thing.

See you in church.

Pr. E

An Olympic Attempt for a Worldly Good

Minister’s Musings

July 30, 2012

 An Olympic Attempt for a Worldly Good

The sanctuary buzzed with delight and anticipation as Susannah and Tatyana spoke of being chosen to compete in the Paralympics in London.  We all smiled with pride and eagerly applauded their triumphs. I wonder if this is what it is like for a celebrity to be embraced by a crowd of groupies.  As Tim said, “I’ve never known an Olympian before.”

On a Sunday in July, the congregation at St. Andrew’s blessed their travels, their participation and their competition. Yes, we are honored to know these two young women with powerful shoulders and muscular arms who display amazing physical strength and endurance.  Yet, we at St. Andrew’s also celebrate their hearts.  These two women carry a gentle kindness, a faithful witness and generous spirits revealing God’s steadfast love. They know the courage needed to endure incredible hardships and find strength beyond perceivable limits.  Out of this, they encourage and engage others to dream big and live fully. These women model ways of going and seeing and living compassion for the sake of others.

I am grateful to Susannah and Tatyanna for they have reminded our congregation that the Olympics are not only about the strongest or the fastest and the most powerful.  These games are also about people from around the world gathering together to share in the joy of peaceful competition and the awareness of unity even in difference – difference of culture, color, and capability.  These games of competition can also model compassion.

I believe these women are called to a unique ministry through this vocation of athletics.  For they actively engage in our Christian teaching of peace and understanding.  This is an Olympic attempt for a worldly good.  We gave each a small rock to remind them of the God’s Love that steady as a rock, and of St. Andrew’s, a touchstone of this Love for others.   And we blessed them with this prayer:

            Strong and Faithful God,

            We ask you to bless Susannah and Tatyanna.

            Keep them safe from injury and harm,

            Instill in them respect for the field of competitors.

            May they find endurance to compete well.

            Reward them with perseverance and discipline.

            Grant them the will to go, eyes to see others, and hearts of God’s compassion.

            As they have blessed St. Andrew’s and this university,

            May they be a blessing to others as they travel and compete.

            Guide them each day and give them what is needed.

            Bless them with friends to cheer them along the way,

            As they cheer others in peaceful competition.

            May your Holy Spirit be present in their journey and race.

            Almighty God bless them, direct their days and their deeds in peace.  Amen.

 

Gently,

Pr. E

Susannah Scaroni and Tatyanna McFadden will compete in the Wheelchair Track and Field 2012 Paralympics Games Aug. 29 – Sept 9 in London.

 

The heat doesn’t stop…. Neither does God.

Minister’s Musings

July 22, 2012

The heat doesn’t stop…. Neither does God.  

The heat just won’t stop.  Each day the grass is getting more yellow and brittle. And this week, a play-filled summer is shattered by yet another mass shooting in a movie theater. The theater is a place Terry and I often go to escape, to be cool, and to get away from pressure of it all. It is to be a safe place.  And now, this too has been tainted with a sense of despair and desolation.

It seems experiences and places of desolation are creeping into the very landscape of peace and play.  It is like the intensity of a heat that doesn’t quit.  And, as pastor, I wonder how to respond.  Where is God in this?  What does it mean? What do we do in the midst of a heat that doesn’t stop – this symbolic heat of pain, despair, violence and desolation. How do we respond as followers of Jesus?  I personally want to just run away.  Maybe say a quick prayer and then go on about my own business.

But, we who have grace by the very love of God, revealed in Jesus, are invited to come and follow this Spirit of Jesus into the world, into the heat.  We are invited by God to dwell in that love to be with Jesus and to do the things of Jesus.

So, what did Jesus do when the heat didn’t quit? Take a look at Mark 6.  Jesus is talking with his followers and they are celebrating the many healings and good works they had just accomplished.  As they are talking, Jesus invites them to a desolate place to rest for awhile. They take a boat across the water to a desolate place, and when they arrive it is crowded with many people, in fact thousands of people looking for mercy.  Perhaps Jesus and the disciples thought to themselves, “The heat doesn’t quit.”   But, look at verse 34.  “But when Jesus CAME ashore he SAW the large mass of people and had COMPASSION on them.” (BOLD mine.)   In the midst of the desolate masses, in the “heat”, Jesus came. Jesus sees.  Jesus has compassion.

This compassion is an active noun for the inner part of the body. Jesus “guts” for them.  He acts from the center of his being. The word in Hebrew is rechiem meaning womb or the place of life-giving, life-growing, life-nurturing love. Jesus shows compassion.  He extends a Divine love that is beyond empathy.  It is a love that joins the pain and remains with it, steadfastly.  Jesus goes, sees and acts with compassion. He is present. And out of this compassion, the never-ending heat can be quenched. Thus, hope can grow from the constancy of God’s compassion.

I don’t know when rains will come.  I don’t know when the killings by desperate people will end.  I don’t know what places will be safe. I don’t know how the desolation will end.

But I do know that God’s compassion comes to this heat, this desolation.  God sees it and steadfastly dwells among it longing to bring life, hope and love.  God’s compassion, revealed in Jesus, is steadfast and faithful. This is God’s work.

And God needs us, our hands for compassion to be lived in the world.  So we follow Jesus into the heat.  So we dare go, and see and share compassion. And trust for hope to come and quench the fire.  The heat doesn’t stop, but neither does God.

Gently,

PR. E