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."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Any Dream Will Do

I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain
To see for certain what I thought I knew
Far far away, someone was weeping
But the world was sleeping
Any dream will do
May I return to the beginning
The light is dimming, and the dream is too
The world and I, we are still waiting
Still hesitating
Any dream will do
Any dream will do
Any dream will do
            Andrew Lloyd Weber & Tim RiceAny Dream Will Do

When I was in my first philosophy class in college, the professor asked us if we had ever looked up at the sky and wondered.  She then said if you have ever done that you are a philosopher.  I spent many an hour gazing at the sky and stars and dreaming.  How many of you spend time wondering, dreaming?  Do you have dreams for your family?  Do you have dreams for the church?  Do you have dreams for the world?  Have you ever considered which of these dreams are a nudge from God and which are your own. 

This week as I have been thinking about the story of Joseph, I keep singing Any Dream Will Do.  This is an interesting song, because in the story of Joseph in Genesis, will any dream do?  Think about the first dream Joseph has.  He dreamed stars and wheat would bow down to him.  He knew that these stars and wheat were his father and brothers.  Being a kid, he shared this dream with the family and annoyed his brothers who already believe he was dad’s favorite.  This leads his life to take a drastic turn which includes - family drama, slavery, sexual harassment, and prison.  Yet he dreamed a dream from God.  This isn’t just any dream; it’s a dream that would save his family and people.  God worked to transform Joseph, so that when his dream came into being, Joseph was able to feed the people of Egypt and the starving neighbors which included his brothers and father.

Ordinary people like you and I are given dreams that can move our church, our community closer to God’s dream of the Kingdom Coming.  So what are your dreams for First Congregational UCC, what are your dreams for Lake Geneva?  Spend time pondering these dreams and share them.  Share the dream and together we can work to bring your dreams to reality.

We start our new sermon series on Joseph October 7.  In this series, we walk through Genesis 37-50 as we explore the ups and downs of Josephs' life. If you have ever wondered where God was in the midst of your hardships, this series is for you.  If you ever wondered about your completely dysfunctional family, this series is for you.  If you have ever wondered if your dreams have a larger purpose, this series is for you. 
October   7          Joseph Dreams                                      Genesis 37:1-11
October 14          You thought Your Family Was Bad!       Genesis 37:1-12
October 21          Sexual Harassment                                 Genesis 39:1-23
October 28          Prisoner’s Dream                                   Genesis 40:1-23
November 4        Pharaoh’s Dream                                   Genesis 41:1-57
November 11      Your abusive Brother’s Want Help         Genesis 42-45
November 18      Forgiveness                                            Genesis 50

Help us fill Joseph's Grainery
The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.’ And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses,and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world. Genesis 41:53-57
As Joseph filled his grainery, we are also going to fill our grainery.  For each week of our sermon series on Joseph you are invited to bring food for the Lake Geneva Emergency Food Pantry.
October   7      Pasta
October 14      Rice
October 21      Potatoes
October 28      Tomato Sauce
November 4    Peanut butter and Jelly
November 11  Cereal
November 18  Fruit

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You feed them!

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’ But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?’ And he said to them, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.  Mark 6:35-44
When we left the disciples last week they had set off to preach and heal carrying with them a stick and a cloak.  This week they have returned to Jesus and all of them are in the boat heading to the other side for a time to reflect and reconnect with each other and God.  As they reach the other side, the crowds have followed and are waiting and Jesus has compassion for the crowds.  This compassion isn't just being moved. The word is splagchnizomai - literally having one's guts be torn open (Ched Myers, Binding the Strongman).  Jesus is torn open for the people.  He is moved to see that they are like sheep without a shepherd.  And this moves him deeply.  

At that point the disciples come up to him and tell him to send the crowds away.  They are worried it's late and the people have no food.  Send them into the surrounding villages.  Jesus says:  You feed them. You feed them.  I wonder who we are like.  We see a need, there is something that needs to be done.  And we go to our pastor, the social worker we know and say you need to do something.  You need to start a new ministry for kids, a book group, a bible study.  You need to bring more families into the church.  You need to start a food pantry.  You need to do something about those teenagers with no place to go.  Yet, what Jesus is speaking to us this morning is a word about our obligations.  When we see a need, Jesus says you feed them.  When we feel a nudge from God, our moved by a problem, You Feed Them.  

The disciples, like us, are a little taken aback by this.  How can we feed them?  It would take a years wages to feed this crowd.  We don't have that.  The disciples get a little defensive.  They say we don't have enough resources.  They have forgotten they are with the one who has showed them that God's kingdom has broken through and there will be enough.  Jesus to turn them from their defensiveness asks them to look and see what they have available.  They come back to him with some bread and fish.  He has the disciples sit the crowd down in groups.  Then he blessed the bread and fish and they begin to eat.  There is enough for everyone to be satisfied.  When God shows us a need, we will be led to a way for the need to be filled.  We won't be left on our own.  The kingdom will open before us for that need to be filled.  

This past week I heard God say:  You feed them.  As you know all month long we have been collected school supplies for families in need in the community to be given out at the district offices.  As I shared with you last week their supply room is bare.  I asked you to bring more supplies this week.  I took the supplies we had collected to the administration building and was told that the shelves were bare.  She was so grateful that she hugged me.  I came back to my office and sat down and sent an email to the area pastors.  And then God multiplied the loves and fishes.  First I found school supplies outside my office door.  Then I began hearing back from the pastors.  The methodist church will do a drive.  The Lutheran church will bring the supplies left from their event and put a note in the newsletter.  From a friend at the Catholic church I received this note:
There will be supplies coming from our school.  The secretary and I felt for sure that the families would respond generously with a drive for them.  I spoke to a pastor at the small church in Genoa  city and she was interested to hear of the need and wanted to help.  There is a year round need.         I was giving out the vouchers from our church when a poor family came in looking for school supplies.  The only problem is that we had given them finacial help in June..  So there is a 6 month wait... They had tried to get supplies from the Administration Offices.  Same as you said...nothing there.  I knew this family and the reality of their mother's injury, so I took care of them myself.  I can't very well go around asking other when I haven't looked into my own heart.  I'll also send out some emails to people who might help.  Wanted you to know that your message is bearing fruit.                                                                                                                 
She emailed me later that night to say she already got the response how much do you need.

You Feed Them...

You Feed Them.

When we hear those words:  You Feed Them... we never know how much God will bless us when we act to bring forth God's Kingdom here and now.