Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Have you seen my Son?

Tomorrow night, we have a reader's theater presentation called, "Have you seen my Son?". It is a play based on the night Jesus is betrayed, tried and crucified. Each character is a mother of one of the people who were with Jesus, not all of course but a few including Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Hearing the story of the events leading up to Easter from the mother's perspective, reminds me that the disciples, were real people not characters, they were born, raised by mother's, and struck out on the mission with Jesus. Their journey was unusual, full of unknowns and dangers. It was not an easy life, but one they pursued with passion, and dedication. Putting a human touch to the story enhances the power of their testimony to me, how frail and timid they were at times, how scared they were at times, how they abandoned Jesus at this crucial time. Yet God welcomes them back and uses them to spread the good news, their voices echo through time to our day. Even with how imperfect my witness is, God still is able to use me, use you for good, what a miracle is that!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easter Preparation (streaming thoughts)

Living, living a life that is worthy of the gift, living in a world where others can live healthfully, living to the fullest, playing, working, resting, all part of living a life, all I take for granted, all I give thanks for this day, an empty tomb, the defeat of evil, the cycle of death and rebirth, all concepts too massive to comprehend fully, yet trusting that doing the dishes, trimming the orange tree all is done in appreciation, in celebration, I did not die on the freeway, or from cancer this day, yet others have, other families grief, do I meet their suffering with healing in all I do this day? And do my decisions come back to enrich my life, or break down the sanctity of life? Does the empty tomb remain simply empty? My tenth Easter in this place, why so long in one place, why this place, what have I heard from the Spirit what have I missed, what am I still working on, what have I completed and need to move on? Friends everywhere and yet business gets priority, is this right or wrong, imperfect or perfectly understandable? What would Jesus say to me , to you to us, and what has he said and we were too busy to listen or care or act? It is a heavy week, remembering the life of Jesus, I wonder if it really has caught hold of my soul so that I can leave behind fear and anxiety just this week, and be prepared to leave the empty tomb and fill the world with love?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Laughing out loud!

Pastor’s Article
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” Psalm 36

The remarkable thing about this line from Psalm 36 is I happened to read it while sitting next to the fountain at the outdoor patio in the shopping center on the corner of Valley and Grand in Walnut. I was there instead of my office because I have become intentional about studying the Bible in public, and this spot is fun cause of the fountain, and because it is a popular gathering place for people to have lunch, or Boba or Starbucks.
Prior to reading the bible,I was reading some material I had stuck in my briefcase for this time outdoors in the Spring weather. I have been trying to keep to the ritual of reading from "Openings" a book by my friend Larry Peacock, and had forgotten the book, so I guessed which Psalm I should be reading. As it turns out Larry has it on March 21, so I was a few days early,however,for me to turn to this psalm and read it while sitting next to a fountain, I felt a smile arise from my soul and laughed at the notion of God planting the idea in my mind to read this particular psalm at that particular location.
As I start my week, and continue my preparation for Easter, I want to keep awake to the way God is directing me in these small but profound ways in my life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Not preaching just living!

This week our Chinese outreach pastor, Rev. Jimmy Nih is preaching. As I start this week, I am aware that not having to prepare for a sermon which gives me the freedom to work on other projects on my to do list. It also gives me an opportunity to take a breath, not have to concern myself with what I will be preaching on Sunday. I welcome the opportunity to take more time to read, to work on connecting with others via the internet, and take time to pause and discern how the Holy Spirit is guiding me and if I have been listening!
I love to preach, don't get me wrong, I love the discussions I have with others about the scriptures and what they have to say, putting together a worship service, with hymns and prayers,of writing out my thoughts to see if what I am hearing in the holy words make sense, and consider what action we are to take as a community of believers. This interaction with the sacred book feeds my soul, and give thanks to God for the opportunity to proclaim the good news.
I have discovered that taking a break now and then, helps me to think more deeply, and having to wait two weeks to preach again, gives my schedule time to delve more deeply into the book I am reading, or the scripture I am meditating on, to spend more time with friends, family, and members of the community, without the worry of having to rush home to finish the sermon prep!
How about you? What breaks do you need to take so you can breath a little more deeply?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Theology after Google

How do you see the world? As a photographer and sometime sketch artist, the quest to slow down and see the beauty all around, to breath in the air, to glory in the creation, helps feed my soul. In the holy moments of slowing down long enough to see the world as a place of beauty not just to be consumed connects me with the earth, and my role as garden keeper.
Seeing others who I am photographing, helps me see them in a new way, I may of missed the way the light dances off their hair, how one eye is set a bit lower than the other, they smile which is so joyful.
What helps you see the world in a more in depth way? How do you get connected to the beauty of the earth and the beauty in those we know?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The prodigal son

This week we will have a reader's theatre presentation of the prodical son, four voices will play the part of each of the characters in the story. I link this story to the words of Jesus on the cross, "Father forgive them". For his entire ministry, Jesus teaches about relationships, how to mend them with God, how to see the stranger as a brother or sister, to allow for those we have written off a place at our table. The world tries to push the model that we need to have a hierarchy, that those elected to public office have more power and prestige, those who are more successful and have more money are wiser, those of a certain skin color are more valuable. Further, when it comes to righting the wrongs that have been done to us, it seems that revenge, holding grudges, not trusting, punishment are higher values than forgiveness.
The kind of forgiveness Jesus preaches is not an easy task, or without its risks. Who says the younger son of this story in Luke 15, does not go out once again and spend all his father has given him? What if the oldest son is just in his reluctance to welcome his rebellious younger brother back? Forgiveness on the cross means that even in our most dangerous moments we are asked to reach out and care for another, to do all we can to restore the relationship to God and to us. It is not easy to forgive, and it is not easy to find a way of living beyond the celebration of restoration, life will continue to challenge that connection as long as we live. However, this is the life Jesus calls us too, the pilgrim path, full of pitfalls and unknowns. May God continue to guide us the whole way!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Story for Sunday March 7, 2010

A Story of a recent convention! (Modified by me, Homiletics Online has the original I used for the idea)

There was a worldwide convention of all who opposed God. The keynote speaker addressed the crowd and showed many pictures of Christians. The speaker commented on their task of undermining the work of God: “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from Biblical values.

“But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.

So let them go to church, let them have their Biblical lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!”

“How shall we do this?” shouted the convention goers.

“Keep them busy in the non essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.

What kinds of things? The crowd shouted back

“Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow.
Do not let them be satisfied with what they have, Tempt them with bigger and better things, a better car, a better computer, a better cell phone. Advertise, on billboards and TV ads, radio ads and on the Internet!

This will result in convince men and women to go to work for long hours, to work six or seven days a week, ten to 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their families and friends. Soon their main source of meaning and purpose will be in their work, and how much they can produce. They will not invest in their family or friends relationships, and soon they will get the message that they don’t really need relationships outside of the work. Divorces will become more and more common and soon the will to remain in relationships will be diminished, people will become happy with Face book and texting, and they won’t have relationships that will satisfy their souls.

What else? the gathered asked.

The Keynote speaker continued, “Overstimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that small, still voice of God. Entice them to play the radio, or IPOD whenever they drive, go to the gym, or while taking walks to keep the TV, VCR, DVDs, Cd's and their PCs going constantly in their homes. Do not allow the mind to wander from this constant input. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.

“Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail-order catalog and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes.

The crowd was working itself into a frenzy: “What about their free time?”

“Even in their recreation let them be excessive. Have them return from the recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week. Don’t let them go out to nature to reflect on God’s wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead.

Introduce drugs to help them work when they are exhausted, and more drugs to have them calm down when they are at play.
Cause them to think this is all normal!

The Crowd went crazy: We love it, tell us more!

“When they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions.

And let’s champion the cause that people should not forgive each other, lift up revenge and envy as the way people as normal ways to resolve conflict, increase war and decrease peace. If we increase their fear of being harmed, they will forget how Jesus taught them to forgive one another.

“Let them be involved in soul-winning, but crowd their lives with so many causes that they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.”
This is the most important part of our plan because if we can distract the Christians it will weaken the churches, cause congregations to fight amongst one another, we can divide them with theological battles, and keep them from uniting, so they will not be connected to God’s power to which can change the world.

Lastly, we must convince the world that the problems they face are too big and too complex to solve. Let us keep them separated by religious beliefs, culture, race, age, so they will not discover the power of connection, of being united as brothers and sisters in Christ.

It was quite a convention in the end. The evil ones went to their assignments, causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

Has their mission been successful?

You be the judge.

Their goal is to take our minds away from Christ and steer us toward the cares of the world. When we become disconnected from the Holy Spirit, soon we feel overwhelmed and under prepared for the cares of this life. God wants us to enjoy life, but God must be first. If we are too busy for God, then we are too busy!

—Source unknown.( Revised by SPM)