The youth are meeting at the Wallace house for a pool party to celebrate the start of the new school year. This is a time to introduce and welcome the new members of the youth group while we swim, eat pizza and create a ten foot banana split. There is a short meeting for parents at the beginning of the pool party.
In the midst of a flurry of news, ads, and apps vying for our attention, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Our culture venerates bombastic personalities, dramatic stories, and extravagant lifestyles. And yet, God invites us to see through these grandiose facades. In I Kings 19:9-18, Elijah is called to the mountain of God where God will pass by. There were gale-force winds, an earthquake and fire, but God was not in them. After these displays of power, God spoke in the stillness. In the quiet and seemingly insignificant, we hear the whispers of the Divine. Here we find the way to a life rooted in God's acceptance and grace--a life liberated from the false importance of our culture's frenetic pace.
You can listen to sermons you may have missed, go back to a point of interest, or just find out a little more about Central. Each week we contemplate the scriptures in the light of Christ to consider how we can follow in the way of Jesus today.
This week, we hear again the familiar story of Jesus feeding the multitudes. It’s a great story, but have we ever thought of the many ways Jesus feeds us with many good things in addition to food? Matthew 14 begins with the news of the execution of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. Many questions could be expected. How will the Jesus movement respond to this news? How will Jesus himself respond to this news? Will there be an organized protest? Will Jesus immediately go to be with his family so they can grieve together? Will they continue to risk being at odds with the powerful elite? Would it be better to take a break until things calm down? As you think about our customs of gathering for a meal after experiencing loss and death, also consider how this perspective can give new meaning to the feeding miracle. Consider how Jesus responds to this difficult situation with compassion. Notice as Jesus breaks, blesses and offers the bread, he foreshadows all future communions his followers will share with him. Allow these insights to create fresh space to listen to this story and learn from it, as we gather as God’s people this Sunday.
As Summer comes to an end, the children, youth and their families are meeting in the gym during Sunday School for a time of instruction and prayer as the children and youth transition to their new classes and meet their teachers. We are excited for our children and youth to continue their growth with God. On this special Sunday, we gather in worship to give thanks for a wonderful summer for our children and youth as we also look ahead to a new school year by offering a blessing in the morning service. Please join us for the worship service as we encourage our children and youth in their journeys of faith.
This week, we encounter a set of parables in Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. Jesus uses a variety of stories to describe the Kingdom of God, from yeast and mustard seeds to pearls and nets. These commonplace images lead us to look for the holy in the mundane, to find God among the humble and the least. Here we find a kingdom that does not impose pronouncements from on high, but springs up from the grassroots, spreading through the most unremarkable means. We find that God's kingdom is open to all, a beautiful treasure that beckons us to reorient our lives toward our generous Creator.
Each year I am reminder and encouraged by my time meeting at the Alliance of Baptists Annual Gathering. It is always a nice and peaceful week to be among other Baptists who think and act as we do at Central. This year the theme was Embracing God’s Call to Justice and Love. And much of what we heard was in our grand tradition of provocation and dissent. In order to live out our calling to be love and work toward justice, it is imperative for us to understand our heritage as Baptists and our history of dissent.
This year, we will focus our Lenten journey on the process of “unlearning.” Unlearning starts with the recognition that we have, over time, developed very specific biases in the course of our lives. These perspectives have served us well, but they are not universal. Everyone has their own set of discriminations. The Christian practice of Lent is a purposed and discipline plan of letting go, of changing our patterns, of seeking to approach our life from a fresh angle. It may require a different pattern of behavior or response. It may seek to undo old and more familiar ways before new connections and pathways can be made.
You are invited during this season of Lent 2017 to reflect on and ponder anew the teachings of our Lord in the beginning of chapter 5 of the Gospel of Matthew. These celebrated sayings often beginning what the English words, “Blessed are…” might be the most famous of all of Jesus’ words. Yet, instead of inviting us into a deeper insight, their familiarity can actually lead us into a nearly neglectful form of inattention. We can be so certain we already “know them.”