Friday, January 06, 2017

The epiphany of "WE"

In life, it can be easy to succumb to the idea that we are better off left by ourselves. People can hurt or offend us. We can become tired of all the noise of being in community.We can long for peace and quiet that we find in solitary space. Even as a extrovert, there are times that living in the atmosphere of "WE" becomes too much.

Taking a pause needed?
Yes.
Collecting our thoughts is important?
Yes.
But saying farewell to community forever because it's challenging, frustrating and stressful?
 NO!

In the account of the Kings coming to see the Christ Child, we see three people traveling to seek something - someone - that made living in community something good, life-changing and hope-giving. This Christ Child brought with him God's promise of love, forgiveness AND a call to be in community. To be "We" instead of "Me".

God, help us in the midst of conflict, frustration, and anxiety. Holy Spirit, help us to live into the new life of community that the Kings searched for and protected. Jesus, remind us by your life of fostering, redeeming and preserving community and helping us to move from "ME" to "WE".

May your Epiphany bring you love, joy, peace and hope to live as "WE".

Matthew 2:2-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Visit of the Wise Men
Matthew2:2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men[a] from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,[b] and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah[c] was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd[d] my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men[e] and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,[f] until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped,[g] they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

#advantageousadvent Day #40 Keep on keeping on

Psalm 72, Joshua 1:1-9, Hebrews 11:23-31

Down through the ages God has taught us how to be just and righteous thru His example.  If we choose to live this way we will flourish and prosper.  We need to continue to have faith and follow God's example to the best of our ability.  Always remember no matter how many trials and tribulations we go through God is always with us.

Judy Lind

Saturday, December 31, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #35 What we crave

By Linda Johnson 1st Kings 3:14. "If you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life."

Be merciful and loving and his promise of ever-lasting eternal life is ours.  This is the inseparable bond that our hearts crave. 💝

Love God with your everything!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day#29 The most precious gift of all

12/25/16 – Titus 3:4-7
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

When I think about my faith, not only at Christmastime, but all year long, I think about God’s mercy and grace.  There is no better gift on earth than His gift of mercy and grace!  I’m sure God wants us to be righteous people, help those in need, and be thankful for our blessings. But He also completely forgives us when we “wander”.

And the hope of eternal life . . . how wonderful is that?  My mom is spending her first Christmas in heaven this year, and it gives me such peace that I know she had a strong faith, which she expressed and shared,  and truly believed in His grace and mercy.  It is so comforting to know that she is right there beside God, watching over all of us.

By: Debora Morlock

Friday, December 23, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #27 God has a purpose for YOU!

Luke 1: 46b-55;  2 Samuel 7: 18, 23-29;  Galatians 3: 6-14

First scripture reading from Luke 1: 46b-55 is the Magnificat, Mary’s Song of Praise.  Magnificat, a Latin word, is the first word in this passage and is praising God for what he is going to do through her, and that all would be well through her faith.  This song has been used through the centuries as a basis for many hymns and choral music.  God is portrayed in this passage as a savior of the hungry and downtrodden for the ages.

The second scripture is from 2 Samuel 7: 18, 23-29.  This prayer in the Old Testament is from David to God thanking him for what He has done for him and his people, taking them out of Egypt.  David is then asking God to keep his promise to him and his descendants with His blessings so that they would help fulfill God’s greater purpose.   Then through them the world would be continued to be blessed.

The third scripture is from the New Testament in Galatians 3: 6-14.  In this passage Paul writes that we should consider Abraham.  He lived by faith, that his descendants would be blessed; that by their faith they might receive the promise of the Spirit.

In all three of these passages, mortals are praising and thanking God for his help and blessings, asking God to continue his mercy to them.  They receive blessings through their continued faith, even through hardships.  May we continue to live in the faith and fulfill God’s purpose for us and for all humankind.

Dorie Deyo

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day#24 Freedom is Free! No really...

On Sunday evening at confirmation class, the students and I looked at Galatians, a letter of Paul, that was written to the people in Galatia (present day Turkey); that focused on the challenges of being the church that included people from varying backgrounds. Some of the people that were in this early Christian movement had started their faith in the Jewish tradition and others were gentiles who had come from a background of various belief systems. This new collaboration between people from diverse backgrounds caused conflicts.

What did a person have to live like to be considered a Christian? What about all the traditions and laws that the Jewish people used to follow? Would this newly developing group find a way to be church together, even in this midst of these challenges?

All in all, Paul spoke to the people of Galatia about the importance of all people being united in Christ, and because of Christ that Jews and Gentiles had been freed to live - and be the church that was no longer slaves to the law. Jesus had, on the cross, made all that believe in him - FREE!

To some, this offer of freedom from sin and freedom to live seemed too good to be true, like a sales offer that claims a desirable new product is FREE - with no strings attached. This is often NOT our experience, so it's hard to believe that God would give this gift of freedom - for FREE!
But this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the good news that we long for. This freedom is better than any sales offer we've seen, because this offer has been paid in full by Christ on the cross.

We have been freed from sin and sent out to live - to be the church - to be God's children in all the variety and complexity that is the sea of humanity.

Prayer:
Thank you God for this freedom from sin and freedom to live - help us - in our diversity and varied gifts to live freely. Help us to know your offer is one we can trust.
Amen

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Monday, December 19, 2016

#advantageousadvent Day #23 A brag letter for God

Recently and friend and I had a cup of tea, shared what was going on in our lives since our last cup of tea, and talked about our feelings concerning "Annual Christmas Letters". While we enjoy hearing news from family and friends, we did notice that is challenging to tell the whole story of our year on one piece of paper. It is easy to look at the high notes of the days that have passed and think that achievement and the communication of achievement can become to focus of  our annual holiday letters. It also can become easy to allow this letter to become a singular statement of, "This is what I've accomplished this year.", without taking into consideration how many other unseen heroes actually were instrumental in making any of these accomplishments possible.

The more we talked about holiday letters, we came to embrace that whatever achievements we like to share - we need to give credit where credit is due.

Meeting a goal or achieving a dream is not reached by sheer determination or effort of one person; but is a collaboration of many people through many networks with shared sources and influences - and some would say; with the help of God in order to come to pass. Today's text is Hannah's prayer - and some might say it is a bold statement, perhaps even a brag letter - on how amazing God is. Even in the midst of struggle, Hannah sees God as her rock, her wisdom and her hope. If Hannah were to write an annual Holiday letter - the star of it would be God.

In the joy of the season, we love to share the happiness and good things of the past year; but it's important to remember how God has blessed us with the helpers and 'the help of God' in every moment.

Prayer:
God thank you for your help, for the helpers and the people, family and friends, that share our days, our joys and our sorrows. Thank you God for being our rock!


1 Samuel 2:1-10 (RSV)

Hannah’s Prayer
2 Hannah also prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,because I rejoice in thy salvation.
2 “There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides thee;
    there is no rock like our God.3 Talk no more so very proudly,
    let not arrogance come from your mouth;for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
    and by him actions are weighed.