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."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's the End of the World As We Know It

With all the jokes and discussion about the rapture this week I have been constantly singing REM.

I have to admit I laughed at many of the jokes and the greetings on Sunday Morning about still being here.  I have never been one to worry about the apocalypse or rapture.  My first year as a pastor I decided to preach on Revelations so I thought I should learn about the popular understanding of the endtimes and read the Left Behind Series.  I started out just reading them to see what people thought and then I got addicted and wanted to know what happened to the characters.  But there reached a point, it was before the last two books, where I couldn't read anymore.  I didn't want the Jesus they were depicting to come back.  I didn't want to meet a Jesus who only saved the people who had said the magic words.  I didn't want to meet a Jesus with attack helicopters and machine guns killing people.  the Jesus of these stories didn't fit with who I loved and followed.

The Jesus that I know and follow came to welcome the sinners, to invite the prostitutes and tax collectors to the party.  The Jesus I followed asked me to welcome into God's family the last, the least, and the lost.  The Jesus I followed when speaking about the end of the world, is speaking of a time when God Reigns.  What would that time of the Son of Man's return look like?  Would it be violent and judgmental or would it mean that the world as we know it would be transformed where the the lions and lambs lie down together, where deserts run with water, where the hungry are fed, the oppressed are set free, where Love reigns.

It's the ends of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Be Bold

Have you ever prayed for God to make you bold in sharing the word?  The Scripture lesson for this week is from Acts 4:23-31.  In this section and throughout Acts people pray for boldness or are giving boldness in sharing the word of God.  In the section of text this week, people are not happy with the earliest followers of Jesus.  They are changing people and the Jewish leaders want them to stop. When faced with this confrontation the disciples pray for boldness and then find themselves filled with the Holy Spirit.

And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servantJesus." When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:29-31

As part of the United Church of Christ, we have declared ourselves to be filled like these early Christians with boldness in proclaiming the Gospel message of welcome and inclusion.  We speak of a God who is still speaking to us and through us. 

God is still speaking:  
  • where God is all-loving and inclusive
  • where a church welcomes and accepts everyone as they are
  • where your mind is nourished as much as your soul
  • where Jesus the healer meets Jesus the revolutionary
  • where together we grow a just and peaceful world. www.ucc.org
To pray to speak with boldness is a prayer for us to speak of this Stillspeaking God.  I invite you to try to be bold this week, to go forth today as a Stillspeaking Voice: 
  • Be attentive to God's voice in the world and in others 
  • Watch for each person God will send my way
  • Listen for an appropriate moment to share a Stillspeaking word
  • Share the good news of extravagant welcome
  • Invite others to join me at church this week
  • Give thanks for the opportunity to be a Stillspeaking Voice for the United Church of Christ

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's your Easter Story?

I have been spending my time with the stories of Acts.  Listening to the stories that reflect the early Christian Community as described in Acts 2:42-27
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
This week we are celebrating the teaching ministry of the church and I have been thinking about stories.  What stories do we tell people about our faith, about Jesus, about God?  What story or image has stuck with you this Easter Season?

The image I have held in my heart is from my church's Easter Sunrise service.  This service provided me a time to be part of the crowd rather than the leader.  I must admit that I was rather distracted.  We held the service at sunrise in the park beside the lake.  While I would listen to what was happening I couldn't help but watch the water and the creatures of the water.  I am always drawn to large bodies of water.  They bring me a sense of calm and peace.  So I was listening and not listening to the service, when the pastor gave his sermon.  This retired pastor told of his resurrection experience, his call story.  He shared how he became Christian and the path that led him to ministry.  As he shared his story, there was a God moment.    I had been watching the geese on the lake and the seagulls, but as he shared the importance of resurrection faith to him, a flock of hundreds of white birds took off from the lake and flew behind him up and over the water.  It was an moment that made those of  us listening see and feel God.  These birds that hadn't been there were suddenly there in abundance.  This story of believing you were going to grow up to become a Japanese farmer after serving time in the military, was changed through an encounter with Christians that transformed your life completely.  This story of a living resurrection was punctuated by the new creation.  God stopped all of us there in that moment.  We shared the power and hope of the new creation.  We saw the beauty and power of God story.  We felt new life.  Alleluia.