The gospel lesson for this week's reflections recounts the story of Jesus calling his disciples. These "early adopters" left hometowns, occupations and families to join the gospel movement. Their lives would never be the same again. We, who walk in the earth-shattering influence of this heritage, know its life changing power. We are hard pressed to imagine how 2,000 years of human history would be different if it were not for this simple carpenter from no-name Nazareth and his humble cast of sidekicks. Hospitals, orphanages, academies of learning, institutions of spiritual and religious renewal and a general concern to help relieve the needs of the poor have all come to pass by those who have endeavored to follow Jesus. His disciples heard the Spirit's calling. They sought to live up to his example. They endured sufferings and embraced sacrifice, all in order to be his continued expression of grace, love and forgiveness to the world. Granted, there have been periods of history and specific Christian personalities who got it wrong. But such digression was only possible because those who strayed from the path cared little for matching their steps with the Master's. Join us this Sunday, when we remember and embrace the legacy of the disciples, men and women committed to following the way of Jesus no matter the costs.
A song by Aaron Austin, written for our communion service in January 2017. Come on in out the cold Set down your bags take off your coat There's room at the table for you Come on over have a seat It's a weary road rest your feet There's room at the table for you Lift a glass to thank our host He carved these legs he planed this top He pressed this wine with all his heart And welcomes us just as we are There's room at the table for you Don't need a tie or fancy dress You're fine like you are we're all friends There's room at the table for you Don't need rich kin or big degrees The last are first, the least our most esteemed There's room at the table for you Pass the bread beans and corn Don't be shy there's plenty more There's room at the table for you Pass the goodness pass the peace Everybody's welcome to this feast There's room at the table for you
This Sunday, the Christian world remembers the baptism of Jesus. The Lord of life and and love began his public ministry by entering into the Jordan River to be baptized. Throughout the centuries, believers by the billions have also been baptized as a sign of redemption, forgiveness and new life. They have confessed Jesus as the source of the power they have claimed in his name over evil, sin and death in seeking to join their life with his. How is this possible? Because Jesus, the one who will be claimed as fully God dressed completely in human flesh spent his earthly ministry to perfectly identify with the humanity he came to save. Jesus, the one confessed as the Trinitarian complement to God and the Holy Spirit, who was present in the creation of Universe and who bears the image of the full cosmos, took the form of a creature. He descended, descending into earth, into the fallen portrait of finite flesh, and into the muddy waters. The one who formed stardust and soared over the waters of the primeval void becomes one with the dust and is submerged under the rushing river. He is the King who serves, the Teacher, who is humble, the One with the power of life who submits himself to pain, suffering and death. We raise our voice with the Christian world. Our confession is in him. Our hope is in him. Our communion is with him and with the whole world being redeemed in this mysterious, visceral and eternal witness. Join us for what indeed, is worthy of our worship.
This sermon was preached by our Associate Pastor of Missions and Outreach, Aaron Austin on January 1, 2017. As we look ahead to a new year, we will find hope that the God who has carried along those who have gone before also carries us and will guide us in the way ahead. Reflecting on the gospel account of the flight to Egypt, we'll look for guidance and hope for our own journeys.
During the school year, we focus on filling bags for the backpack program. This program serves children who rely on resources such as free or reduced-price school lunches by providing food for the weekend that is child-friendly, nonperishable, easily-consumed, and nutritious. As time permits, we also do repack, in which large volumes of food are repackaged into smaller portions for distribution at local food pantries.
A christmas tree covered in white ornaments of strange symbols, the Advent practice of making Chrismons can be a means of meditation and sharing our faith story.
As we begin the new church year and celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, I invite you to be a part of an exciting and helpful resource to take a deeper journey with your knowledge and experience of the Bible. The goal is to provide resources to make Bible reading more "insightful, practical and transformative." Each course features 3-6 video lectures from 5-7 minutes in length. The presenters are from a rich ecumenical community of modern and moderate scholarship mostly from Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian traditions.
In response to many in our congregation who were seeking a "word" at the end of a long and tumultuous election season, our church staff planned a service of hope, songs and prayers on Wednesday evening, November 9th. The following is a pledge I presented at this service.