Worship Tomorrow

We’ve got a lot planned for worship tomorrow. Rev. Dr. Jan Todd will be preaching (but I’ll be there). We’ll be blessing Susie Shaw and Sandy Proctor for their Mission Trip to Panama. The Kids Choir and the Adult Choir will both have an anthem and we’ll be celebrating Holy Communion. Hope to see you there.

Starting Lent with the Prophet Isaiah

Lent is a time preparation. A time to intentionally turn back to God that we might better celebrate Easter. This morning I started A Way Other Than Our Own by Walter Brueggemann. He in turn started with this proclamation from the prophet Isaiah:

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the LORD,
that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7, NRSV)

That’s good news. Mercy, pardon, life abundant, life everlasting are freely available from the God who longs to be in relationship with us.

Mountaintops, Hilltops, and Plains

In my sermon yesterday, I preached on Matthew’s account of the transfiguration and talked about mountaintop experiences. I spoke with only a few notes and forgot to mention what to do if you haven’t had a mountaintop experience. I would like to address that oversight in this blog post.

Perhaps you haven’t had a mountaintop experience, but you’ve had what might be called a hilltop experience. You’ve felt or sensed an encounter with God that was meaningful to you, just not very dramatic. You’re good to go. God works in different ways in the lives of different people. Just take your experience and apply what we talked about yesterday. Let that experience be a source of energy and encouragement in your daily walk with Jesus.

Perhaps you haven’t had a mountaintop or a hilltop experience. In that case, I want to ask you to do three things. 1. Remember that God works differently in different people’s lives. 2. Be open to the possibility of God granting you such an experience. You won’t need to force such an experience, but being open to the possibility of one will hope you perceive it when and if it happens. 3. Either way, rest secure in the knowledge that God loves you. Jesus preached “The Sermon on the Mount,” but he also preached “The Sermon on the Plain.” Regardless of whether or not you’ve experienced God’s presence in a dramatic and memorable way, God’s love has been, is, and will be at work in your life.

Voices: Only God Creates

In our lenten devotional book, A Way Other Than Our Own, Walter Bruegemann, the renowned Old Testament Scholar makes an interesting point about God, human beings, and creation:

“God brings into existence that which does not exist. Did you know that the Bible never uses the word create with a human subject? We may “make” or “form” or “fabricate,” but only God creates, only God works a genuine new possibility, a new thing beyond our expectations and our extrapolations. It belongs to the mystery and holiness of God to call to be that which is not yet. Because this is God’s world, the world is not closed, either by our hopes or by our fears.” [1]

[1] Walter Brueggemann, A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017), Kindle, 62-63.

Bell Choir Special: “Ascensius”

From the bell choir:

In recognition of Black History Month, the bell choir is playing an arrangement of the spiritual He Arose. The tune’s name is “Ascensius” a version of “ascensus,” meaning to climb or rise. The lyrics to this spiritual include the first verse “They crucified my Savior and nailed Him to the cross… And the Lord will bear my spirit home.” And the refrain “He arose, he arose, he arose from the dead! … And the Lord will bear my spirit home.

Of Preachers and Math Teachers

In my last sermon, I made a point about how math teachers have the answers in their books but don’t share them with their students. Instead, the teachers have their students figure out the answers for themselves. I meant this as a good thing, but not all the former math teachers heard it that way. The point I was trying to make is that in his letters to various churches, the Apostle Paul did the same thing. He was teaching early Christians (and those of us who still read his letters now) to think theologically. To do that, he couldn’t just give out the answers; he had to share his thought process with them and us.

I’m thankful for the math teachers who brought this up with me and gave me a chance to clarify. I’m grateful they felt like they could speak honestly and frankly with me. Please let me know if you ever find yourself in a similar place.