Friday, June 29, 2018
Thursday, June 28, 2018
9-10 June 2018, Christ Mountain Top, baptisms
Praying the Psalm, 1 Samuel 2.1-10
Children, pouring the baptismal water, praying
Message, 1 Samuel 1.1-28
About a year after we were married, Robin and I began to work at making a baby. (Although, perhaps "Work" is not quite the right word to use.) It did not take long for her to become pregnant. We lay together on the old couch and asked each other, "What should we name our baby?" I said, "Elizabeth". Robin said, "That's exactly what I was thinking. What about a middle name?" I said, "Anne." She said, "That's exactly what I was thinking. What about a boy's name?" "I don't know."
Soon after the announcement of her pregnancy, what we feared most came upon us. Our baby was miscarried, early, a bloody mess filling the toilet over several days. Down the drain--our baby, our hope, our joy. The little girl we'd always hoped to have, Elizabeth Anne.
O Hannah, what do you say to us now? We staggered and prayed as if we were drunk. And we heard many would-be and well-meaning Eli's, attempting to get us to conform to standard forms of religious expression: "It must have been God's will" "It's nature's way--making sure our children are fit and healthy for the world". Well, if it was Father God's will, it certainly was not ours. And if it was Mother Nature's way, we rejected it flat out: Give us our baby and we will care for her.
At first Eli, like most of us, misunderstood the anguish and prayer of a barren woman. But Hannah reminds us of the blessing Eli offered, once he was confronted by the raw prayer that Hannah offered: "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him."
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Monday, June 25, 2018
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Friday, June 22, 2018
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
2-3 June 2018, Christ Mountain Top, Confirmation weekend
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 139, selections (6:00 pm)
Children, Mark 2.23 – 3.6
Message, 1 Samuel 3.1-20
One Sunday (age 9), my father let me take his Bible to Sunday School. The teacher taught us all about the books of the Bible and how they are grouped in our Protestant Bible: OT Law, History, Poetry, Prophets (Major, Minor); NT Gospels, History, Epistles (Paul, General), Prophecy. I took my pen and drew boxes in the table of contents. I was really excited. "Let's see...Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy--Law ...". So, on the way home I told my Dad all about it. He wasn't too happy about me writing in his Bible, so he bought himself a new one and gave me his old one.
Did you ever learn the books of the Bible in SS? Gen, Ex, Lev ...? That is a simple thing, but it is quite useful. It is also part of getting to know the Bible, the book that shapes our faith and relationship to God.
So, when I couldn't quite keep up with the sermon, I read the Bible. I learned to love it and cherish it through Christian Education--at church and at home.
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Monday, June 18, 2018
Friday, June 15, 2018
Thursday, June 14, 2018
26-27 May 2018, Christ Mountain Top, Trinity, Memorial Day
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 29
Children, John 3.1-17
Message, Romans 8.12-17
Play video, “My Story: Phil Solliday”
Mail, invitations to go into debt:
We’re calling about your credit card account
We don’t “owe” the flesh anything, because our flesh is “hostile to God” (Romans 8.7). Part of that hostility is our own destructive urges. The other part of that is our own good works, good works that proceed from our willpower as “good people”. Those good works accomplish nothing except creating the illusion that we don’t need God, or that we only have a limited need for God: “I got myself half way to God, half way to salvation.” So, I’m better than those who really need God.
“We are debtors, not to the flesh” (8.12). The illusion of our goodness only serves to put us in debt to our own selves, our selfish perception of our superiority, our independence from other lesser mortals and even from God. The debt to the flesh separates us from everyone else, separates us from God. But it doesn’t seem to do that. It’s shiny, it says that we’re good people – golden, platinum. Membership has its privileges! What’s in your wallet? Sign here and you can be the proud owner of … debt. Only later do we realize that we are in way over our head to a “spirit of slavery” that rules through fear (8.15).
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Monday, June 11, 2018
Sunday, June 10, 2018
19-20 May 2018, Christ Mountain Top, Pentecost
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 104, selections
Children, Acts 2.1-21
Message, John 15.26-27, 16.1-15
When we think of the gift of the Spirit, we often think in terms of miracle, in manifestations of the Spirit that are exceptional, unusual, not experienced by everyone. “That’s nice, but I’ve never experienced that myself.” The folks in the Covenant Group have practiced paying attention to the presence of the Spirit in small things. Each time they gather, they told stories of how they responded to “promptings” of the Spirit in the ordinary things of each day. Sometimes people say to me, “What made you do that, Pastor JP?” (Not about some hare-brained idea but about something that is good in a way that can only be described as godly.) My answer, most of the time, is, “I don’t know.” I wasn’t sensitive to a prompting of the Spirit, but sure enough, God was in it. How, I can’t say. I can only be grateful.
OR, when we think of the Spirit, we think that it would be better for our faith if we had lived in Jesus’ time, if we could have seen him perform miracles, teach the crowds, lead in prayer. We become nostalgic for something that we never experienced, except in our imagination, and we make the mistake of thinking that Jesus’ disciples had great faith. Check out the gospel stories, where Jesus says to Peter: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14.31). Or, what he tells all his disciples about the coming Spirit: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16.7).