God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let Your God Colors Shine

Bring forth the kingdom of mercy,
Bring forth the kingdom of peace;
Bring forth the kingdom of justice,
Bring forth the City of God!
     Marty Haugen, “You Are Salt for the Earth, O People”
These are the words to the chorus of one of my favorite hymns. They call on us to help to build the Community (city, kingdom, reign) of God; a community where mercy, peace, and justice reign. These words are taken from Matthew’s Good News from the section of Jesus’ teaching called the Sermon on the Mount. As we begin a new sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, I want us to stop and take a moment to hear these words as if for the first time.

Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Creator in Heaven.
Matthew 5:13-15 from The Message
Think about the images in this passage as translated by Eugene Peterson. You are the seasoning that brings out the God-flavor. When I read this section the first image that pops into my head is my Grandmother’s house at Thanksgiving. I loved my grandmother a lot, but cooking with seasoning was not common. The food would come around to me and I would reach for the salt and pepper hoping to give it some spice. This passage says think about your life as the seasoning. Are you living your life without flavor when you are here to bring out the God-flavor on earth? What would it mean if your life was spent sharing the flavor of God with others so that they can experience a part of God’s community here on earth. And if you don’t share the flavor, how will people know that God has touch and changed your life?

Or to put it another way, you are to be a light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. Can you imagine what it would be like to walk through this world and bring out God-colors? So that the light or spark of God that is there in everyone is able to be seen for the first time. For the first time, someone, who is in the darkness, is invited into the light of God. They can see that light for you have been generous and opened up your lives and your home to those who haven’t experienced God yet. By being open to others, you give them a chance to be open to God.

First Congregational United Church of Christ what is God calling you to do to build the Community of God? First Congregational UCC how are you going to bring forth the kingdom of mercy, peace, and justice? First Congregational UCC how are you going to share the flavor of God with the world? First Congregational UCC how are you going to bring out the God-colors in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and the world?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jesus called and I said No.

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 "Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned." 17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:12-25)
Jesus called and immediately Peter and Andrew followed.
Jesus called and immediately James and John left father and boat and followed.
Jesus called and I said no.

I was on a mountain ok it was a hill and I was bathed in the light of God and saw the whole world before me. No voice, no call. Yet God enveloped the 10 year old me. Did I change and become a different person. Did I tell my preacher father that God had a plan for me? Jesus called and I said no.

Jesus called and I said no.

I was at a youth event. I heard the most amazing preacher. I knew that one day that was going to be me. Did I talk to my youth advisors and association minister and say I need your help. I think God wants me to be a preacher. Jesus called and I said no.

Jesus called and I said no. People kept asking me what are you going to be and do. I said I’ll be the first female president in 2008. That wasn’t a real answer. That wasn’t a truthful answer. Jesus called and I said no.

Jesus called and I said no. I said no I don’t want to go somewhere new where I won’t know anyone. I don’t want to live with no money and used cars. I don’t want to speak of faith; I want the world to change. I want to get down and dirty and change the system so no one is hungry, the earth is protected, people have access to schools, jobs, healthcare, freedom... You can’t do that as a pastor. Jesus called and I said no.

Life became unexpected. My husband left. My dissertation wasn’t working. My son and I need food, clothing, shelter, work. I was in church every Sunday sitting with my grandmother, my aunt, my cousins. And the preacher began to speak.
Jesus called and Peter and Andrew, James and John followed.
Jesus called and Matthew followed.
Jesus called and Phillip followed.
Jesus called and Nathaniel questioned and then followed.
The preacher preached. The disciples followed. I heard this week after week. Jesus called.
Jesus called and I said yes.