We look forward to Rev. Crystal Shepherd as our Gospel Proclaimer. She will be preaching on John 12:1-8, the anointing of Jesus at Bethany. Let's gather to hear afresh this story on the power of love, devotion, and gratitude as proper ways to develop and enrich our religious lives.
Today we’ll hear a story from Diane Campbell and music from CJ Powers.
It took six years and two schools to get me through seminary. By the time I was finished, I felt like I knew a lot more and was certain of much less than when I started.
Little by little, things that had been nailed down for me for as long as I could remember came unhinged. Coffee tables turned up in the kitchen. Dining room chairs slid down the hallway. The TV was in the kitchen sink. The couch was on the back porch. Everything was in disarray.
The more I learned about the various threads of thought and tradition in the Christian faith, the more diversity I found within the scriptures, the more I opened my eyes to see the spark of the divine in the other, the less I was willing to say with certainty.
I’m still quite an anxious person, but over time this uncertainty has become less unsettling and more freeing. Changing minds is less important than learning to see from another perspective. Having the right answers is less important than opening up to the questions. And the mystery is slowly becoming more of a friend than a threat.
The Rev. Toya Richards is a radically progressive Christian with a passion for sharing the love of God at home and abroad. Her call is to preach, teach and minister what it means to love humankind, using the perfect model of Jesus as her guide. Presently Rev. Richards’ ministry takes place through the Alliance of Baptists, where she serves as communications specialist. She also is the owner of Grace Multimedia, LLC, a social enterprise committed to helping people connect in life-affirming ways, engage the world critically and transform into all they are created to be. Rev. Richards is the proud mother of Kayla Alexis Hill, 25; Harrison Alexander Hill, 23; and Sierra Danielle Hill, 20. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University.
Today we’ll hear a story from Erika Webb and music from the Sanctuary Choir, including the anthem from last Sunday's service with Quinn Chapel A.M.E.
Each year just before Lent, we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday. In other traditions, Transfiguration Sunday comes on the second Sunday of Lent. But either way, there’s a connection between the season of Lent and this mysterious story of Jesus’ mountaintop experience with his inner circle. So today, we’re going to contemplate this mystifying story.
During this season of retreat and letting go, it’s good to remember that we’re looking forward to something beautiful--transformation. It's a reorientation of our maps, a reorganization of our belongings, a reinvigoration of our stride as we travel the way of Jesus.
Sometimes transformation may happen in quiet and solitude. Other times it may happen with good friends. And while some transformations may take place in prayer closets, many may find transformation on sidewalks, or wooded paths, or even rush hour traffic. Some folks have bright and shining moments of epiphany, but I have a feeling that most of us have our revelations more slowly, over years or decades.
There is no formula for transformation. There is no procedure for renewal. There is no recipe, except maybe love and patience. Maybe the best we can do is put ourselves in places where we might connect with the Divine, and give ourselves a little grace to exist. Maybe we might encounter the Spirit of God in the stillness of the morning, or in the smile of a friend, in the awkward hellos of a stranger, in the sharing of a meal, in tears of grief, in making a sandwich for someone who's hungry, in painting a picture, or knitting, or reading a poem, or even dancing.
And just maybe that grace that we experience will boil over into a gratitude and a love that in turn transforms the world around us.
Rev. Ken Golphin, minister of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. in Lexington, Kentucky, preaches at Central as we continue our journey through the female witnesses found in the Gospel of John. What a blessing it was to join together in worship with our sisters and brothers from Quinn Chapel in common fellowship, worship and our common identity as brothers and sisters in Christ.
This week we'll hear a story from Rachel Childress and music from Raleigh Kincaid. It’s week 3 of our lenten journey.
I didn't grow up observing Lent, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate this season more. For brooding, artsy-fartsy types like me, it fits. It’s nice to have a time of year when I can be “contemplative” rather than just plain moody.
I used to see Lent as constriction—a shoring up of our moralities and behavior. But more and more, I see Lent as a widening. It’s about exploring our interior landscapes, not navel-gazing. It’s about making room, not austerity. It’s about release, not constriction. It’s about reconnecting with the Source of life, not about disconnecting from all enjoyment.
I still have this tendency to think that God wants some proof of my allegiance—that somehow God is not satisfied with me as I am. And so I can tend to turn Lent into another way that I have to prove myself to be worthy of Grace, to be worth saving. But that is not the purpose of this season. God is not looking for proof of our worthiness. God is not keeping notes on if we prayed enough or if we used our “driving words” on the way home from work.
God is whispering to us, calling us out into the wide open spaces, leading us into fields of grace, pointing us to where the waving wheat of gratitude sways, inviting us to find the streams of fresh clear water that spring up in the most unexpected places.
Who knows what goodness may be born in our hearts when we make room for love to flower there, when we make room for life to grow and thrive? Who knows? There may be less room for some things, but I don’t think we’ll miss them.