Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Nursery coordinator

JP with Michelle, our new nursery coordinator. And they are twins!

Sorry: Repairing Relationships through Reconciliation (2018-1007)

6-7 Oct 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 32 (as confession/pardon)
Children, 1 Samuel 25
Message, Matthew 5.21-26
Mission Moment, World Communion 2018 video

Remember that old game? I hated it. There was no real strategy. The only point to it was to land on someone else’s piece, say “sorry” and send them home. The more you do it, the madder everyone else gets. Great family fun.
      “You’re not sorry. Quit saying you’re sorry.”

Story of drop kick to brawl: Was I wrong? Was I sorry?
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9 ESV

Have you ever been the one to make a bad situation worse?
Have you ever been the one to make a remark that cut a friend or loved one to the core?
Have you ever assumed that someone was trying to hurt you, only to discover that you completely misunderstood the situation?
Have you ever walked on eggshells around someone because you are not sure how to interpret the awkward responses they are giving?
Has someone ever assumed something of you that was inaccurate, in a way that created a barrier between you?

No Outsiders

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I Want to Say I'm Sorry

Church opens modern hospital in Nigeria

The newly commissioned Jalingo United Methodist Hospital in Jalingo, Nigeria, is one of the best-equipped private hospitals in the region. The 30-bed facility, which opened to the public last month, is expected to treat more than 10,000 people annually. Photo by Sharon Adamu Bambuka, UMNS.
The newly commissioned Jalingo United Methodist Hospital in Jalingo, Nigeria, is one of the best-equipped private hospitals in the region. The 30-bed facility, which opened to the public last month, is expected to treat more than 10,000 people annually. Photo by Sharon Adamu Bambuka, UMNS.
By Sharon Adamu BambukaAug. 7, 2018 | JALINGO, Nigeria (UMNS)

The Nigeria Episcopal Area has opened one of the best-equipped private hospitals in the region. Unveiled last month, Jalingo United Methodist Hospital, a 30-bed facility, is expected to treat more than 10,000 people annually.

General outpatient, surgical, nursing, administrative and pharmaceutical units are stocked with the latest equipment. The hospital has an expanded range of services that includes an operating room, high-quality medical equipment and health care, as well as public space.

Bishop John Wesley Yohanna expressed hope that the new facility would encourage patients to seek care in Nigeria rather than traveling abroad for medical attention.

Dr. Ayuba A. Gagare, chairman of the United Methodist Rural Health Programme, said the hospital will provide urgent care for patients of all ages. He praised the church for alleviating the suffering of the people by bringing services closer to them.

Kite Festival (2 of 3)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Ric & Carol

Ric and Carol after he preached on a Sunday.

Transformation: Turn this cold stone into fire, 2018-0930

Transformation #4 –
      Turn this Cold Stone into Fire,
      A New Perspective on Human Spirituality
29-30 Sept 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7
Children, Matthew 3:11-12
Message, 1 Kings 18:21-39

Annie Dillard tells the story of a night she spent camping, reading, and writing in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  She was sitting at a picnic table at the campsite, writing to the light of a candle.  A moth, drawn by the flame, approached and landed upright in the melted wax around the wick of the candle.  The wings, legs, antennae, mouth blazed and disappeared, leaving the body behind.  She wrote this: “And then this moth-essence, this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick.  She kept burning ... a saffron-yellow flame that robed her to the ground like any immolating monk.  The moth’s head was fire.  She burned for two hours, until I blew her out” (Holy the Firm, 1977, p 17).

Today’s transformational metaphor: FIRE!

How many of you have worn clothing sporting the name and logo of your favorite team?  How many of you wear clothing that advertises the maker of the clothes?  Advertisers call this “branding” – and, yes, it is as much about them owning us as us owning their products.  How does it feel to be branded by corporate America – Coca-Cola, Nike, Hilfiger, Levi, McDonald’s?
      Branding goes back to the days of open-range cattle – branded with the symbol of their owner, branded with a hot iron like those great Western movies (or like the sadistic bad guys in our modern thrillers).
      Isaiah has a vision of the glory of God.  The floor shakes and the room fills with smoke, the train of God’s robe fills the temple, the lightning-serpent-angel creatures call out to one another . . . and Isaiah cries, “Woe to me!  I am falling apart!  I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the king, the Lord of glory.”  And one of the creatures uses tongs to take a coal from the altar, sets it on his lips and declares, “See, your sin is atoned for and your guilt is taken away.”  Branded.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Camping with the Scouts

Transformation: Breathless Body to Alive (2018-0923)

Transformation #3 –
      Turn this Breathless Body to Alive,
      A New Perspective on Human Life

22-23 Sept 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 104:24-35
Children, Mark 5:35-43
Message, 2 Kings 4:8-37

I remember watching a documentary film about a Bible translator and missionary among one of the tribes on the island of New Guinea.  The people among whom she lived believed that the human soul was physically located in the throat.  If a person was sick and became incapable of speaking, they were considered dead – and they were buried and mourned.  It is a horrible thing to imagine.

We all have a way in which we visualize the location of the soul, whether physically or metaphorically – perhaps in the heart, perhaps in the mind.  For the ancient Hebrews, soul and body were inseparable.  (It was Plato who first spoke about an immortal soul and a mortal body; Christian theology of resurrection follows Hebrew understanding rather than the Platonic, and imagines our essential humanity as embodied souls rather than as body-less souls.)  For the ancient Hebrews, it was the soul that gave the body life, and it began with the gift of God to the very first human.  When God made the first man, the story goes, he bent over a lifeless clay sculpture and breathed into it, “and the man became a living soul”.

“Turn this breathless body to alive”.  It is interesting to see the connections between the Hebrew understanding of the soul and that of this one people in New Guinea.  Those people had to learn some new things when modern antibiotics were introduced, but the ancient Hebrews were medically accurate (by 21st century standards) to say that a body long without breath was no longer living.
      If you’ve ever encountered your deepest fear, like the dementors from the Harry Potter stories, and had the life sucked right out of you by some bad news, by a death or diagnosis, by a partner choosing to leave, by a sudden job loss, you are reminded how important the breath is to life.
      If you’ve ever had “the wind knocked out of you” by a blow or a fall, or, “the wind knocked out of your sails”, the sails of your dreams and ambitions, you are reminded how important the breath is to life.
      If you’ve ever taken CPR classes, like Elisha placed your mouth on the mouth of another, you are reminded how important the breath is to life.
      If you’ve ever sat with a dying loved one and watched them exhale for the last time, you are reminded how important the breath is to life.
      “Turn this breathless body to alive”.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Group dinner

The grief group reunion dinner at King's.

Kite Festival (1 of 3)

Thanks to the team who did all the preparation for this event, which we hosted for the first time this year. And thanks to the folks at St. Martin's who made it possible and started this annual event.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Weighing in for Pounding the Pastor. We received 800 pounds of food and $500 dollars for the Mountain Top Food Bank! Our biggest food drive yet!

Transformation: Holy Water into Wine 2018-0916

Transformation #2 –
      Turn this Holy Water into Wine,
      A New Perspective on Human Potential
15-16 Sept 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 42
Children, John 3.5
Message, John 2.1-11

[Kathleen Norris] has a wonderful small book, from a lecture series on women’s spirituality, titled The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work”.  Quotidian is one of those big words with a simple meaning: ordinary.  Her theme is how ordinary things can shape a powerful spirituality, and she begins by telling the story of the first time she went to mass as an adult, a guest for a wedding and noticed that after the communion service the priest was cleaning up: [“Look”], she said to her boyfriend (now husband), “the priest is doing the dishes!”  She describes the priest as “a daft housewife, overdressed for the kitchen”.  And this glimpse of the ordinary, the “quotidian”, became for her the window through which she could observe, understand, and finally touch glorious mystery.

[Title] Review & intro

Friday, October 19, 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Our message series: SORRY! Remember that old board game? “The game of sweet revenge.” We all struggle with reconciliation in relationships. Over the next three weeks we will explore biblical teaching around reconciliation. Invite a friend! (Through Oct 21)

Transformation: Dust and Ashes 2018 0909

Transformation #1 –
      Turn These Dust and Ashes into Praise,
      A New Perspective on Human Frailty
8-9 Sept 2018, Christ Mountain Top, Commune
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 113 (6:00 pm only)
Children, Genesis 2.7
Message, Genesis 18.16-33, Job 42.1-6

[Title] Intro to series theme, EWWF song, transformation miracles
Craig Groeschel, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust, sure hope this coffin doesn’t rust”
I attended a small college ... soccer losing streak

But there are others whose entire life is defined by a losing streak – a breakdown in their health, the loss of a job, personal grief, dwindling opportunity and an increasingly uncertain future.  They face reinforcing cycles of depression, and they have good reason to!
      Job, one of the most remarkable biblical characters, was on a phenomenal “losing streak”.  Before the start of the streak, he was one of the most successful men around – fabulously wealthy, with a big family that adored him.  [Job-William Blake] But in one day, he lost a thousand oxen to Sabean raiders, seven thousand sheep to a lightning storm, three thousand camels to Chaldean raiders, all of his children in a whirlwind, and all but four of his servants (the ones who lived to tell the tales).  Then, a few days later, he lost his health and excruciating sores broke out all over his body.  When his three friends showed up to comfort him, they finally decided that he must have done something to deserve all this – and start an argument with Job. [Job-Phillip Rattner]
      In the midst of this protracted debate about the meaning of suffering (a bit long-winded for someone actually in the middle of such pain), Job utters this remarkable line about how he feels and what he believes God is doing to him: [click for text]

      He grasps me by the collar,
      casts me into the mud,
      and I am reduced to dust and ashes
            Job 30:18-19
ashes to ashes, and dust to dust
sometimes I feel like giving up
me, I’m rusted and weathered
barely holding together
I’m covered with skin
yeah, it peels and it just won’t heal
      Creed, “Weathered”, Stapp & Tremonti

[Ashes] The expression “dust and ashes” (and the common phrase from funeral liturgies) is an ancient Hebrew expression for being human – being scooped up out of the dust and breathed upon with the breath of God.  Sometimes we are much more aware of our frailty, our losing streaks, our failures, our dirt than we are of anything good and godly about being human.

God makes a human, and Pounding the Pastor

Monday, October 15, 2018

Open Table at the picnic grove

Ric and Robin at the Picnic Grove where we held a couple summer Saturday services, complete with campfire and marshmallows.


Thanks to Ken and Everett for taking down the dead tree (Aug 17).

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Things to do with a pothole ... baptize a puppy?

Thanks to your generosity, we were able to cut out and repave our holes. Zoe was a little concerned about getting into the water when she could not see the bottom!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sharper than a two-edged sword (Message 2018-0826)

Basis:          Hebrews 4:12    The Word as Two-Edged Sword                                 
Ephesians 6: 10-20      The Whole Armor of God
With school beginning, what is the thing most child caregivers start thinking about?
No, I’m not talking about having the house to yourself for 3-4 hours a day. Although that certainly is enticing!

At this beginning of the school season, what is our primary task? : Get the kids ready for school! As parents, grandparents, custodians of children of any kind, …we will prepare them with the supplies they need to get the year rolling, right? And not just the update in wardrobe; if our children are in sports, or music, or any of the arts, we will make sure that they are ready to begin the season – equipment, instruments, and supplies… all the “stuff” they’ll need.
As children of God, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians lays out God’s preparation for us, indeed the laying out the equipment WE need!
In first portion of the epistle, Paul makes the argument for the new ONENESS of a “Christian” society - of course, it had not been designated Christian as yet, Gentiles and Jews, people of all strata of society, had the opportunity of a new life in Christ where unity,  diversity,  purity, and  harmony prevailed.
But in today’s passage, Paul advises … Don’t get too comfortable. For there is evil lurking just beneath this glossy exterior. He warns us of the hostility of the devil and teaches us how to overcome this force.

Although we won’t all agree on one single image of a devil, what we can agree on, however, is Paul’s assertion that there are ‘powers of darkness’ in our environment that manifests as physical evil, injustice, and discomfort in our lives.
We live among economic inequality, racism, abuse of children, distrust in government, natural and human disasters, and on and on and on, and that is so very hard on us.
Furthermore, on a more personal level, we encounter the real, in-your-face tribulations of divorce, addiction, disease and loss of loved ones, conflict and violence, ...  challenges we meet as a part of our daily lives.

I’ve been doing a little weeding this week in the garden, not something normally in my wheelhouse, but I decided to try to help with something new. And as I am thinking about today’s scripture it doesn’t cease to amaze me how weeds not only grow strong, thick, and tall among the shrubbery, but they also have the capability to kill off the plants that were intended to grow in those areas.
Trials in our life are very similar to these weeds; out of control and harmful, and we need a weedwacker to clear them out and allow the intended plant life to flourish.

A lot has been written about the “powers and principalities” in Paul’s description on evil.
I believe that through Paul’s reference to these majestic positions of power, he is urging us to take notice, not turn our backs or deny they exist.

This emphasis on admitting evil is pervasive reminded me of Step One the Recovery 12-Step Program:  To admit we are powerless over something, and that our lives have become unmanageable.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Food and Fellowship

Thanks to the pink flamingo crew for taking one of our summer Food and Fellowship events.


18-19 Aug 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 49
Children, James 1.19
Message, Ecclesiastes 11
Mission Moment

This message comes out of my devotional life
      Bible in One Year 2018 plan
      Psalms and Proverbs (spread out year-long), 1 Corinthians, Song of Solomon
      Recently completed Ecclesiastes

Wisdom Literature, not preached often enough
An interesting biblical tradition, itself made of several strands
Conventional wisdom
      subverted by the cynic (like Ecclesiastes)
      or undermined by real life experience (like Job)
Proverbs, fables, parables, almost entirely poetic
Both wisdom and folly presented as women calling to us
Rooted in observation of the created world
Job 12:7-8  But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you;  8 ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Dueling proverbs, just as we have in English:
      Many hands make light work
      Too many cooks spoil the broth
            So don’t read proverbs as promises, as absolutes
Wisdom literature: You either get it or you don’t
      And it requires wisdom to read it well
My favorite one-liner from this read through of Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 10:1  Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a foul odor; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.