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The Nourishing Place

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The Nourishing Thought:  “Each of us is an inn keeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.” N. Maxwell 

Words of Wisdom:  The joy of Christmas is not the presents, but His Presence. 

“For outlandish creatures like ourselves, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning...not home but the place we must pass through if we ever are to reach home at last.”   F. Buechner

Sermon, December 2, 2018   First Sunday of Advent 

The word means coming or waiting.  The Scriptural meaning- waiting for the Messiah to be born to safe us ...and when that type of Messiah was not forthcoming, prophesies and stories were written to say “Wait” he will come a second time as a warning Messiah...so says the book of Revelations.  But to all wise people, the Messiah that came, the anointed Messenger Jesus, was who God knew we really needed. 

The tradition of four weeks of Advent was first established in the fifth century in the form of  a six-week fast leading up to Christmas.  In 567 the early Christian church asked all monks to fast every day during the month of December including the Christmas celebration….which was actually a celebration of the winter solstice when the days of planet earth began to lengthen, bringing light back to the world...that also is the theme that surrounds Jesus as the Messiah...he is the light of the world by enligtening us,  making our lives lighter by given him our burdens.  Advent is a special time in our church calendar set aside to give us time to pay attention to the great gift of love and light that is brought to us from God the creator through Jesus, the Christ. 

Now, here the words of Mark 12: 33-37 

Have you noticed there is in today’s media world no news?  There is no plain ole news, that is the imparting of factual information.  The word “news” comes from the first letter in the words north, east, west, and south.  So news means information from all around our globe. All the news from broadcasting media and social media today is Breaking News!  Developing News!  Latest News!  The First and Fastest News!  From the broadcasters everything seems to be a crisis, intense, stress ridden.  Breaking news is catastrophic..spoken so to get our attention, make us have to listen.  We hear and see the horror and say, “Oh, My, what now?  What’s next?”  And we are filled with anxst. 

Stressful, breaking news is repeated over and over again ad nauseum until we don’t want to hear it again. But, media news is fear based on purpose, by design, so that we will look to the airways to save us, to depend only on them.  News media and social media have taken the place of families, churches,  schools and governments by loudly and incessantly telling us what they think we ought to know and by the way what will make their sponsors wealthy.  We have allowed the media of all kinds to become the vehicle by which information is disbursed, some of which is vital, a lot of which is not even news but opinion.   

So where is the good news?  The unadorned life-saving news?  Well, today we have it.  By way of scripture we get the good news, the very good news.  That is, love is primary, above all other solutions, love has the potential to make life safer for all of us. 

 With the advent of Advent we recognize our Messiah has been born here on earth. Now, realistically, the Messiah you and I look to was not what the Jewish people wanted.  They thought the Messiah, that is the anointed one, would be a military man of war who would gather an army and destroy their enemies.  That did not happen.  So, by and large, the orthodox Jews today, are still waiting for that war like Messiah. 

The Messiah we have, the one we call Jesus, is good news indeed.  As far as we know now, we only have one life on planet earth to live, so we must live it to the maximum possible.  And that anointed Messiah Jesus teaches us how to live fully and abundantly with grace.  This Messiah came to help us  destroy our inner enemies such as fear, anger, guilt, depression, envy, dependence on crutches, and insecurity, so that we can live abundantly, peacefully, and joyously while we are on earth...we need not worry about where we were before we came to earth nor about where we will be when we leave earth. God has already handled it all for us now, in the present.  When we choose to live God’s way shown through the life of Jesus, we are building the kingdom of God on earth.  So, how does this Messiah save us from ourselves and help destroy our inner enemies?  He teaches that if we use the tools God gives us, such as love even for our enemies, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, hope, and faith, then we have within us the armies that do conquer our inner enemies.  When we use these tools we can be set free from the enemies within which try to control our lives to make us miserable.  Don’t we want freedom from these despicable destroyers? 

We are given opportunities in this life to make investments of our time, energy, and resources.  This amazing Messiah teaches there is only one investment that never fails and that is goodness, or  Godness.  From God the father we are created as intelligent beings, from Messiah Jesus the Christ we have a model of how to live every day how to treat our selves and others in every instance, and from the ever existing Holy Spirit we have the conscience and motivation to do good by being Christ to one another. 

So during the next four weeks of Advent, let’s not just wait for Christmas eve and day to come….let’s live it like Love has already come and lets spend Love with every bit of energy we can gather...spend love, share love, don’t wrap it up, deliver it personally...that is what Christmas really is...face to face love, face to face forgiveness, faith and hope in spite of all the bad news we see and hear...when we do spend love like it has no end, which is true,  we do help make life better, safer, more joyous and peaceful right now in the right way.  Let’s encourage one another to destroy these inner enemies and find the peace that is promised. 

Amen 



​The Nourishing Thought:  “But charity means pardoning what is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all.  Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.  And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all.”  G.K. Chesterton 

Words of Wisdom:  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste your time living someone else’s life.” 

“We are who we choose to be.” G. Gibson 

“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”  O. Winfrey
 



Sermon, November 18, 2018  Sunday before Thanksgiving 

Thursday of this week we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  The last few days of October, I went shopping in more than one store.  I was surprised that all I saw was Halloween and Christmas decorations and gifts.  Thanksgiving was absent. 

It is a fact that Halloween and Christmas, primarily because of Hallmark stores and television programs, spend in excess of 8 billion dollars each year on promotions, selling decorations and gifts, emphasizing witches and jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and Santa Claus, the Grinch, and reindeer for Christmas. Fun days. Family gatherings.  Nothing wrong with that.  Yet, it is Thanksgiving that reminds us and teaches our young ones about the very beginnings of our America...our nation.  Its emphasis is on unity, sharing, and caring.  But there are no posters or cards of pilgrims and Native Americans dining together in the open air.  On the store shelves there were very few papers plates or napkins reflecting Thanksgiving images or ideas.  Not too long ago Thanksgiving was a special day.  Schools, churches, and even stores reflected the sentiments of Thanksgiving...but no longer.  We have truly become a secular society.  So, what happened. 

Commercialization as overtaken our lives.  Children are are being raised by television, electronic games, Iphones and Ipads and the programs they all promote.  Where are parental restrictions?  What are schools teaching?  What are parents emphasizing?  Where is our nation headed?   

I think it is a moral dilemma and a shame there is only one day set apart to give thanks to God as a nation.  Actually, we should have a time each day set apart to give thanks and not just lipservice, but deep felt gratitude for our blessings. 

As Christians, that is as people of God, we should want to give thanks, to live lives of grace, and to give our attention to God’s gifts to us then to thank God appropriately by living into these gifts of love, respect, forgiveness, and compassion. 

To me, through a variety of life experiences, I have learned that gratitude is the very foundation of healthy, joyous, grace-filled life. 

I was in the Post Office the other day and a man I know slightly stopped me and said, “Can I ask you a question?”  I responded, “Sure, what is it?”  He said, I see you in here often.  You are alone, but you are always smiling.  Why is that?”  I was surprised by the question, so I took a moment to answer.  Then I said, “I guess O smile a lot because I am blessed and grateful for life.”  He snorted, “Grateful for life? My life is a mess.”  I said back to him, “I regret that for you.  But I  believe on our worse days, our most horrific moments, we are better off than 90 percent of the rest of the world. That means something to me.” He shook his head and walked off.  I went on to my post office box.  As I was leaving he was waiting at the door for me.  He held the door open and said, “I’ll think about what you said.’’ I smiled and went to my car. 

I wondered how many people refuse to recognize the blessings we do have. It may not be true but it seems to me that we are a society of complainers, grippers, critics, and people quick to find fault and place blame.  But I hope those words and feelings are mostly spontaneous reactions and not deep feelings.  If we consider our situations, even though some of us have burdens some of which are huge, we are still blessed.   

Look at David’s Psalm we read this morning.  David was an intriguing man.  He was a sinful man, a sometimes cruel man;  he did terrible things to his clan and country.  Yet, he also knew God and worshiped God.  In this psalm you might notice that David had no plea, no request, no prayer of want...rather it was pure praise to God for the blessings.  These words are passionate, full of energy and life.  I can just picture in my mind David dancing around and around singing this hymn to God.   

Do you ever do that?  Get so overcome with joy for your life, those you love, the plenty you have that we just twirl around saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” to God and the universe?  If you haven’t done so, I recommend it..that action and those words of praise lighten every burden and puts all events into perspective.   

God himself, or herself, however you choose to image God, that entity gives purpose and meaning to live...far more than possessions, money, power, position or things can give.  God and his infinite mercy keeps our lives from staleness and hopelessness.  He restores our souls so that we can live the life he designed for us...to love, to be grateful, and to share.  

Happy Thanksgiving. Amen  


Sermon, November 11, 2018 

Today is Veteran’s Day.  This special day began As Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of World War I.  In 1926, our Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance.  But it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a national holiday.  In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the day to Veterans Day to pay tribute to all American veterans, living or dead.  The day reminds us to pay special attention those people who have willing served their country honorably during war or peacetime. 

Today is a special day when we have the opportunity to give thanks and appreciation to all members of the military and in all branches of service. 

However, today should be a time of even more thanksgiving.  We are so busy thinking about our present and our future, that we tend to negate the importance all that has gone before us to give us the freedom and peace we enjoy today. 

There are several things we need to be aware of, remember, and be grateful for.  Here are just a few: 

It is the veteran, not the preacher, who continues to give us freedom of religion. 

It is the veteran, not the reporter who continues to give us the freedom of speech. 

 It is the veteran not the lawyer who continues to give us the right to a free trial. 


It is the veteran not the politician who continues to give us the right to vote. 

It is the veteran who salutes the flag and serves under the flag and who continues to give us the freedom to proudly wave the flag. 

Where would we be today had not these veterans stood up and stood tall for America?  And what will happen to us in the near and distant future if others are not willing to take that giant step, leave the comfort of their homes, endure endless hours of training, to keep us safe and at relative peace. 

 My question today, is, as Christians, followers of Jesus, the Christ, what can we do in the present time to make better the lives and careers of each veteran, every military person, and every person who works in public service.   Think about it:  military men and women are on call to keep us safe;  law enforcement exists to keep us safe;  firemen keep us safe...so to help these people we need to be more determined to keep our own selves safe...and we do that by being personally responsible for ourselves and our own well being.  We do so abiding by the rules our society has set for us so we all can be safe...we must abide by such laws as wearing seat belts, obeying the speed limit, talking about politics  and participating in our governmental system with common sense without hostilities and divisiveness.   We befriend friend and foe alike. We consider people on the other side of the world without judgment, condemnation or prejudice. We get to know people who are on the other side of our own philosophies.  Also, we don’t blame other people for the challenges we face nor do we expect others to solve our problems.  We take full responsibility for who we are, what we do, and how we act.  The answer usually lies in living and loving in all the appropriate ways.  Above all we must be kind..because every act of kindness adds kindness to the world.  We are safer as a community when we all do the right thing;  we are safer as a country when we all do the right thing;  and we are safer in the world when the right thing is expressed openly and willingly even if it is rejected by others.   

 So today, as Christians, followers of Jesus, our Christ, we recognize and give honor to our veterans, our military people, our public servants. My prayer is that we pledge to them that we will individually and as a church try to prevent problems that they have to solve.  Big Job?  Absolutely?  Can we do it?  Well, my answer is we certainly should try to do so. 

 God bless all his servants, all his followers, and even all his enemies.  Amen


*******


The Nourishing Thought:  Give us pure hearts, that we may see you;  humble hearts, that we may hear you; hearts of love, that we may serve you;  and hearts of faith, that we may abide in you.”  Dag Hammarskjold 

 Words of Wisdom:  Life is simple.  We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through it all the time.  This is not just a fable or a nice story.  It is true.  If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently.  God shows himself everywhere, in everything—in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes obvious that God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without Him.  It’s impossible.  The only thing is that we don’t see it.”  Thomas Merton, Trappist monk.



Sermon, November 4, 2018 

There is a book by Philip Newell called “Listening to the Heartbeat of God.”  Newell is a teacher of Celtic Spirituality, and in the book and his teachings he expounds on the natural and practical aspects of being a follower of Christ.  For Celtic Christians, God is in every bit of his creation.  We as humans have the ability to sense little bits and pieces of God every day in every action...however knowing His Allness is not yet possible.   

Celtic fishermen climbing in the boats at dawn hear and see God in swoosh and laps of waves and the foam that flows over the sides of their small boats.  The women see, hear, and feel God in the flames that light up the dry wood as they build their morning fires. They feel the heartbeat of God in wind whipping through the trees, in lightening and thunder, in a dog’s bark or the running feet of red deer.  Their hear and sense the very heartbeat of God in their own bodies and the hearts of those they love and hold close.  We too just have to touch our chest to feel the beat of God’s heart in our own hearts, and to watch the rise and fall of a heart in a sleeping child.   

With these things so very present and close why do we not pay more attention and realize these are the ways God speaks to us today, every day, all day long. 

WE know, or think, God is spirit and therefore without a body….yet every aspect of our cosmos and this planet is part of his body...and our church is the very body of the living Christ.   

If then God has a body, and we are made in his image, I think God has thoughts, ideas, emotions no more or less than we do.  I also think the very strongest, deepest, most profound place of God’s heart is in the passionate, unconditional love he as for his creation, especially his people, all his people. 

I think one of the most remarkable aspects of our bible, both old and new testament, is that it holds the story of our entire human history...the generating of us, the degenerating of our selves, and the regenerating of us by God...or in other words, God created us, we reject God, God redeems us...no matter what!  Perhaps this is how we can tell that we are indeed the heart of God...because even after we reject God over and over again, he goes to every extreme to encourage and enable us to return to him in a healthy relationship.  Those of us who know of God and attempt to be more like him are pleasing to him...and more-over because we more or less stay in line with him, he has more time to spend with the marginalized, the outcasts, the lost. 

Just look at all the scriptures that point us in that direction:  Jesus, the very reflection of God, spent most of his earthly time with sinners, with losers, with the diseased and the dishonest.   

There is a story that Jesus told about a shepherd who left 99 sheep to go find the one who was lost.  The woman caught in adultery was rescued by Jesus.  He reached out the short, ostracized Zacceus, told him to come down from the tree because Jesus was going to his house to have dinner with him.  Jesus cured the lepers no one else would touch or even go near.  He healed the woman who touched the hem of his garment, he healed the blind man, he raised from the dead his best friend on earth.  He forgave the woman at the well who had 5 husbands and was living with one who was not her husband.  On and on we read again and again Jesus loved, cared for, identified with, and socialized with the lost, the wounded, the not-too bright ones...and he even made some of those his disciples.  How can we not see God’s passionate love for us, for you and me, even when we feel battered, and guilty, and not worth much.  God’s love rescues every one of us and raises us up from the depths of our own created hell into an existence with Him that is all we ever need...the stuff bliss is made of. 

 All of these stories talk about changes in a person’s life.  I think that is the grace, the love God gives us.  He offers to each one of us, no matter who we are or what evil we think we have done, an opportunity to come into a radical, life-altering, relationship with him...the God of all, the creator God that made an infinite universe but thought you needed to be in it now.  God is available every second...perhaps God is waiting for you to realize how vital you are personally to our planet and our community today.  Think about it.  Are you ready for a healthier, happier, more peaceful existence...if so, try God.  He has all the answers just for you.  Amen 





 Scripture:  Deuteronomy 18: 10-13

The Nourishing Thought:   “The challenge of the saints of the twenty-first century is to begin again to comprehend the sacred in the infinite things of this world.  Let us encourage one another to see and honor the holy in things and moments that we usually view as ordinary or devoid of spirit.” 

 Words of Wisdom:  “For centuries the church has confronted the human community with role models of greatness.  We call them saints when what we really often mean to say is ‘icon or hero or star,’ ones so possessed by an internal vision of divine goodness they give us a glimpse of the face of God in the center of the human.  They give us a taste of the possibilities of greatness in ourselves.”  Joan Chittister in “A Passion for Life” 


Sermon, October 28, 2018 

 Halloween is only 3 days away...and did you know that last year $8 billion was spent on Halloween decorations, costumes, candies, and parties?  $8 billion...second only to Christmas spending.  Another thing we need to know about Halloween is that it once was a celebration of the church.  Halloween originally was the eve or evening before All Hallows Day...the day the church remembered and celebrated the church’s saints and all believers who kept the stories of love and life eternal alive. 

All Hallows Day later became All Saints Day which Pope Gregory designated as November 1 for all church calendars. 

Once Christianity began to move into the upper regions of Ireland, England and Scotland, the Christian faith became entangled with some pagan festivals.  In these areas of Europe, the Celts celebrated a festival of summer’s end called Sanhaim (Sew een), which also marked the eve of the Celtic New Year, November 1.  In Celtic lore, transitions like the change of one year into the next, were considered thin times...when the veil between life and death thinned.  On the eve of the Celtic New year,  spirits of the dead could roam around their previous areas of life.  These ghostly meanderings could cause trouble for the living, like ruining crops, destroying homes, or farm buildings.  Therefore, the Celtic people set out food and goodies to appease the spirits...hoping no harm would be done.  They hoped by offering treats bad tricks would not be played on them...hence trick or treat. 

During the middle ages, superstitions increased and witchcraft flourished.  October 31 became a potent day for spells, curses, wicked incantations.  Therefore, the more ominous symbols of Halloween grew and included witches, black cats, bats and skulls.    These images came to American through the English and Irish immigrants during the 18 and 1900’s. 

All the while, the Christian church was spreading….and in each new area the church came face to face with whatever pagan rites and rituals were present in those geographic areas.  So the cultural aspects of the Christian faith began to place its own rites and rituals on the same dates as the pagan festivals hoping to move the pagans into the Christian faith….but more often than not, the pagan and Christian festivals and holy days became intertwined which added confusion and complexity to the simple faith of Christ which was to love, forgive, act kindly and be merciful. 

Having said all that, perhaps it is still a good idea to take some time in the church calendar to remember and thank with great gratitude all the saints and believers throughout the centuries for keeping the powerful story of Christ love alive.  To look back at the mistreatment of saints and believers, the horror many withstood to save the church and its belief system, is to see courage unabated, bravery in the face of torture, and lives crippled to maintain a faithful stance.   Do any of us today even begin to understand what history has done to our faith and its holy traditions.  How many of us today would willingly face torture rather than deny our God?  How many of us would even be willing to be inconvenienced to stand up for God in the face of harm?  

In truth, we have that facing us today.  Secularism is taking over Christianity at an amazing rate.  What should we do to preserve our faith and all its miraculous traditions?  Or more specifically, what are you willing to do today to keep and preserve for the future your belief in a risen and loving Christ? 

Amen




The Nourishing Thought:  “Humans are never helped in our sufferings by what we think for ourselves, but only by revelations of a wisdom greater than our own.  It is this which lifts us our of our distress.”  Carl Jung 

Words of Wisdom:  Rumi believed we must learn to dance even in the midst of our pain.  “Dance, when your broken open;  dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off;  dance in the middle of the fighting;  dance in your blood.  Dance, when you are perfectly free.” 

“Believe God’s word and power more than your believe your own feelings and experiences.  Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea.”  Samuel Rutherford





October 14, 2018    23rd Psalm 

When I was about 20 years old my husband Neil and I lived adjacent to his grandmother’s dairy farm in Lyman.  One huge pasture had Golden Guernsey cows.  The pasture beyond that had sheep.  Being a town girl I had never touched a lamb or a sheep.  So one day, Neil’s grandmother Mrs. Ritchie asked me to go with her to give her sheep some treats.  She carried a large bag of something that looked like smushed up cheerios.  When we reached the fence line, Mrs. Rictchie called in a loud voice, Sheepa, Sheepa.  And the sheep came running to her.  She talked to, sang to them, then them threw their treats in a large arc so they all could have some goodies.  We watched the sheep for awhile and then Mrs. Ritchie walked the fence line to make sure her sheep were safe.  I was impressed.  So much so, that about a week later I went to the sheep pasture by myself and in the same style as Mrs. Ritchie I called to the sheep. Sheepa, Sheepa.  The sheep ignored me.  I called again and again.  Then the sheep ran away from me not to me. 

I later confessed this to Mrs. Ritchie and she laughed.  She said don’t you know sheep only respond to the voice of their shepherd? I did not know that.  But it did bring to mind what the 23rd Psalm teaches us.  We should respond only to the voice of a loving Lord. 

The language used in the 23rd psalm is figurative yet it clearly leads us to an understanding of the meaning of the message.  The overall theme is to welcome our God’s divine nature as our own and to utilize that internal connection to the divine to begin to experience heaven today, in the now. 

We do that by accepting the truth that God is our shepherd and only his voice will keep us safe...that is, will provide salvation for us.  His voice is his teachings and his leadership.  He naturally provides for us the things that matter and the things that lead us to wholeness in connection to holiness. 

 Toward that end, the poem assures us God places in our paths comforts such as still waters and green pastures.  Then we begin to desire his kind of loving peace in our own lives.  When we feel at peace in the now, regardless of what is happening on the outside of us, God is restoring our souls to their original oneness with God.  By leading us in the paths of righteousness, God affirms that indeed our souls are still part of his all. He is saying to us, I am alive in the very cellular structure of your humanity. 

Then because we are human, and live in a more or less hostile world, we will face challenges...some very hurtful and serious challenges.  Those are the times we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  We do experience those times, but the psalm again reassures us we are not alone...God’s own rod and staff (that his his laws and teachings) are with us.  They provide hope in the fearful moments.  These holy laws and teachings of love and forgiveness can be the defense we have against going astray ourselves. 

If we cling to God and his abundance during these tough times, then there will be provided a table  for us, a table, a life, full of unconditional love which is the anointing oil,  and wisdom, the overflowing cup.   

The amazing aspect of the poem or psalm, is that all the action except one is done by our God.  The only action we take as his sheep is walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  Other than that, we trust God, we follow the teachings that make us wise and joyous, we accept the good blessings that flow to us and through us daily.   

As modern day Christians, it is sometimes difficult to understand imagery from 3000 years ago when this psalm was written.  However, the truth of it is eternal.  That truth is that God loves each of us as individual reflections of God.  He loves us so deeply he has invested his own holiness, love and wisdom inside of us so that we too will share that freeing love, that compassionate wisdom, with those we both love and do not love.  When we do so then love will grow to include the even the unlovely who need love to become more humane themselves. 

Because God created us he knows us very well.  And he knows only choosing to join ourselves to him by living this teachings,  will ever make us truly happy, joyous, and full of light.  In that state of being in the now, we begin our eternal journey of enveloping heaven...that state of being that makes us forever one with him through our consent.  Amen




The Nourishing Thought:  “The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God in the here and now.”  Leo Tolstoy 

 Words of Wisdom:  “The kingdom of God is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.”  Walter Rauschenbusch 

“If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”  William Law



Sermon, October 7, 2018 

 One of the amazing and stimulating traits of the teachings of Jesus is his reversal of conventional wisdom.  Again and again, Jesus turns things upside down to show that the kingdom of God is different from the earthly kingdoms we establish.  The morals of his parables and teachings are usually not what we expect...they have surprise endings, such as the last is first, the poor are more blessed, the master is a servant to all, and God’s ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts. 

One of the most important teachings is that to have authority, to be a leader, is to become a servant.  In our expectations, we look at men and women who have authority and we expect them to be powerful and wealthy.  But Jesus taught the opposite.  In the Kingdom of God, the really great, powerful, life-altering people are those who willingly serve others...at all costs.  God honors his servants because he knows his servants will never harm others or manipulate them to gain power for themselves. God’s power is sufficient for his servants. 

Another major teaching probably makes no sense to us humans...and that is to love your enemies, be good to those who persecute you, and give to those who take from you.  We don’t want to do that;  we want to get even, we want to have revenge.  But Jesus taught (Matthew 5: 43-44)  you shall love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  In our holy scriptures, they are holy because if we obey them they make us whole and healthy, Paul stresses that teaching.  He stated that we are to love our enemies and by doing so we actually  get back at them because we are relieved of the burden of harming someone.  God will handle the one who hurt you. Revenge is the Lord’s.  But here is an interesting verse:  The Lord says, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.  If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.  In doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  In the first century people carried things on their heads.  If they were moving from one place to another, they would bind up the coals from their fire, and take them with them to their next place of residence.  That way they did not have to start a fire all over again.. and therefore the burning coals would enable them to cook and stay warm without undue effort.  So in effect, by heaping coals on their heads is actually a way of helping and assisting your enemies...which is God’s desire for us 

Another strange teaching is to become rich, give your money away.  To our human way of thinking to have money we hoard it, invest it, or save it.  Many people don’t give because they are afraid of being without themselves.   But Jesus says, “Give and it will be given to you.  (Luke 6: 38)    The world works on the principle of buying and selling.  But the kingdom of God works on the principle of giving and receiving.  The Kingdom of God is upside down from how we think and feel.  Jesus said that giving of our selves, our time, energy, and money, triggers a reaction.  It causes the things we give away to come back to us 30, 60, 100 fold...not necessarily in kind but often something even better.  And this principle applies across the board.  You can not out give God, even when you give out of need rather than out of plenty, you will gain more.  Ultimately it is not about money.  It is about our attitude towards money.  IF the only reason you give money in order to receive it, you have totally missed the point and that attitude will have a negative impact on you.  But when you give out of a true desire to help and bless others, then the harvest will come for you to receive.  Jesus said, “Seek you first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33 

There are other teachings that turn your ideas upside down….read the New Testament and look for these stories...they will bless you, they will give you the skills you need to enhance your life by focusing on something other than your ego.  So, where am I going with this?  

The answer:  conventional wisdom is cultural, societal, and man-made based on ego...that is, what’s in it for me, or what is good for me?  Christ wisdom is the death of ego to set you free to ask, not what is best for me, but what is best for others and me.  Christ wisdom is love...and the greatest experience of love in action comes when we are kind to all others, when we do not judge others or categorize someone as less than we are.  Through Christ wisdom we are enabled to accept others’ weaknesses, differences, and shortcomings, and to have patience with someone who has let us down or disappointed us. Christ wisdom resists becoming offended when another doesn’t act the way we hoped or handled something in the way we wanted.  Christ love refuses to take advantage of another’s weakness then forgiving someone who has hurt us.  Christ love chooses to see the best in each other. 

 You have a choice of ego driven, conventional wisdom which does involve stress, conflicts, and a desire to control all….which is impossible.  Or you can choose Christ wisdom, and follow the flow of life that leads to peace, hope, and stress-free living based on trust and faith in a gracious God.   

Your choice.  Amen 


​The Nourishing Thought:  “The first to apologize is the bravest.  The first to forgive is the strongest.  The first to forget is the happiest.”  Anon 

 Words of Wisdom:  “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” 

 “Forgiveness is the surrender of our victimhood-taking back the power of full personhood that was stripped from us by another or our selves.”  D. Prisbin 



Sermon, September 30, 2018 

Today I want us to think about forgiveness.  It is one of the foundational concerns of our faith.  As scripture tells us, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  But thanks to the good news of the gospels, we don’t have to wallow in guilt over our wrongdoings.  We have been given a gift from our Creator...and that gift is forgiveness. 

We know from life experiences that every action has a consequence...either a positive one or a negative one.  It seems we often keep doing the harmful things we do hoping we don’t get caught... 

rather than just stopping our harmful tactics.  Getting caught and having consequences, however, can be the best most corrective thing that can happen to us. 

For example:  a lady wanted a pet, so she purchased a parrot that could talk.  The parrot was mean and spoke only unkind hurtful things to the lady. He told her she was ugly and useless.  Every time she tried to feed him he pecked her on her arm and laughed.  After several days, she had had enough.  She grabbed the parrot and threw him in her freezer.  For a few minutes he kept talking but then there was silence.  The lady thought, “Oh, gosh, I’ve killed him.”  She rushed to the freezer, opened the door, and the parrot was there shivering.  The parrot said, “Lady, I am sorry for the things I have said. Please forgive me and I’ll only say nice things from now on.”  The lady replied, “I accept your apology.”  Before the parrot flew out of the freezer, he looked beside him and said, “May I ask you a question.”  Yes, she said.  He asked her, “What did the chicken do to you?” 

That is so corny, but it makes a great point.  The parrot suffered consequences, but he noticed the chicken perhaps suffered more stringent ones than he did.  Is that not how many of us look at life and the wrongdoings therein? We compare our sins to those of others and often excuse ourselves because ours isn’t nearly as awful...or so we think. 

Young people feel immortal and think they are smart enough to misbehave and not get caught.  That is rarely the case.  Knowing this about us humans that God himself created, he loved us enough to build in a saving devise available to all of us.  It is called forgiveness:  we are to utilize forgiveness as we forgive ourselves and others.  It keeps us humane and opens doors for healing, for getting rid of guilt, anger, and fear.   

In the Lord’s prayer we say most Sundays, there is a phrase that states:  Father forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who have trespassed or sinned against us.  That word “as” has two connotations.  WE are forgiven as we forgive, that is in the very act of our forgiving others we too are forgiven.  The other way to look at the word “as” is we are to forgive as much as God has forgiven us. 

It is my opinion that forgiveness is the great test of a Christ filled life.  You can look at almost any thing humans desire to become, and tests are always part of that becoming.  For example if you want to be a pro-football player you have to have a certain skill set...but you have to pass the test of running a certain distance in a certain amount of time, or tackling someone without seriously hurting them our yourself.  There are tests you must pass to become a football player.  If you want to be a doctor, you have to have intelligence, caring, and an ability to spend long hours wide awake, because you hold another life in your hand.  You take many tests to make sure you can legitimately call yourself Doctor. 

The same thing occurs as we become Christians.  To be a Christian means you live every day the way Jesus the Christ lived.  One great test we must pass in order to legitimately call ourselves followers of Christ is to forgive all, all the time, and do so willingly. 

Many of the greatest minds have discovered the power of forgiveness of self and others.  Paul Tillich taught that there is no condition for forgiveness...it is a choice    Henri Nouwen stated “Forgiveness is love practiced among people who love poorly.  It sets us free without wanting anything in return.  Francis of Assisi said, “It is in forgiving that we are forgiven.”  Robert Frost learned that to be social at all is to be forgiven.  Francis Bacon said that a person who wants revenge keeps his wounds open, which otherwise would heal and do well. Confucius taught that to be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.  Lastly, medical and psychological researches have documented the positive effects of forgiveness on the forgiver.  They say forgiveness reduces stress, lowers the risk of heart disease, and aids people in having happier, better adjusted, and healthier relationships.  Sounds like forgiveness is worth pursuing. 

Once we decide to be Christian, then we are making a commitment to live like Jesus did in regards to loving others, forgiving self and others, and being kind and compassionate.  I think those are the real tests of being a Christian.  How do you rate yourself in those areas?  Amen 


.The Nourishing Thought:  “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.”  Aldous Huxley 

 Words of Wisdom:  “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”  Les Brown 

 “If you believe it will work out, you will see opportunities.  If you believe it won’t work out, you will see obstacles.” Wayne Dyer


Sermon, September 23, 2018 

 Several years ago I was in Oxford keeping my grandchildren.  Charlie was 8 and Camille was 11.  I had asked them what they wanted to do that afternoon and immediately Charlie said let’s jump on the trampoline.  Camille said, “No, let’s go bike riding.”  An argument ensued.  Charlie became adamant and insisted, “Let’s jump, its fun.  I want to jump on the trampoline.”  Camille kept saying very loudly, “No, I’m not jumping.  We are going bike riding.  Charlie countered, “NO, trampoline.”  Finally, fully exasperated, Camille looked at Charlie and said, “Whaat eveah!” Then she walked away. Charlie  gasped, like he had been hit!  He immediately felt completely dismissed, of no value.  He started wailing and crying, “Camille said whatever to me.  She can’t say whatever to me.”   

 I was a bit surprised by Charlie’s apparent devastation, until I realized the word “whatever” conveyed at that moment what Camille felt about Charlie and his wants.  He got the message that who he was and what he wanted simply didn’t matter to Camille.  He was completely unimportant.   

Words are powerful because they reflect our thoughts.  They never just stand alone...they always reflect our thoughts...they are symbols of our inner most ideas, feelings, and thoughts. 

The word “whatever” held dire consequences for Charlie. 

Interestingly, in recent years Marist College on the Hudson River in New York took a poll attempting to discover the most annoying words Americans use.  47 % of those surveyed said “whatever” was the most annoying.  “You know” came in as the second most annoying, and the words “anyway” and “at the end of the day” were the third most annoying words we use. 

 But also interesting is that the very same word can have a completely different meaning depending on how it is spoken and in what context. 

For example, look at our scripture today.  Every phrase starts with “whatever.  In this instance the word is used to reflect the importance of the teachings of Jesus.  So we must first think then speak “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” 

 There are other “whatevers” in scripture.  Paul used it in several of his epistles”  “In Philippians he wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am.”In Galatians, he states, “Whatever a person sows, this he will reap.” To the Corinthians he wrote, “Whatever you do, do all to the gory of God.” 

Perhaps the hardest things in life to control are our thoughts and the words we use. Scientists tell us humans have 10,000 thoughts every day!  Most of us probably think our words and actions make up most of what we spend time on.  However, not by a long shot.  Our thoughts are never ceasing...when we are awake, when we are asleep, even in our unconsciousness words march across our brain in unending fashion. Our thoughts compose the major part of who we really are.   That’s why today’s scripture warns us to train our minds, or as God calls our minds our hearts, to think in kind, lovely, honorable ways.  Admittedly it is hard to do, but have you listened lately to a movie or a tv show?  The language used even by young people is pornographic, it is negative, it is beneath us a people of a holy God. 

 Someone once said, “”Watch your thoughts, they become your words;  watch your words, they become your actions;  watch your actions they become habits;  watch your habits, they become your character; and watch your character for it becomes your destiny and your fate.”  I think this statement is completely true.   

 Wise people have stated through the centuries that we as humans do nothing without thinking about it first...maybe fleetingly yet it still flashes through our minds prior to action.  So if we could control our thoughts better, our actions would improve tremendously.  If we want to grow spiritually, if we want to increase our sense of peace and joy, if we want to be more who God wants us to be then we must win the war over bad thoughts because they become harmful words and can create disharmony or chaos. 

Now in America, we do have the right to free speech….that is a civil law.  But it works best when used with a spiritual law to speak no harmful words and think no damaging thoughts. 

 Just how Christian, how Christlike are we, in the control and use of our thoughts and resulting words. 

Use this week to ponder that question.  In the meantime, don’t say “Yeh, God, what evaaah”...rather say, “God, whatever you want is what I want.”  Amen 


******


The Nourishing Thought:  “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.”  Aldous Huxley 

Words of Wisdom:  “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”  Les Brown 

“If you believe it will work out, you will see opportunities.  If you believe it won’t work out, you will see obstacles.” Wayne Dyer


Sermon, September 16, 2018 

 This week is the first anniversary of being in our new, beautiful sanctuary.  One year.  I asked Max what this week might mean to him.  This is his reply:  “It’s amazing.  You get a square of dirt, stack up on it a lot of bricks, hold them together with mortar, love, and compassion, then you open the door and God walks in.  All of a sudden thus is a holy, sacred place for all time.”  Then he said, “That doesn’t happen when Walmarts are built.” 

Yes, this is a sacred place...and I see it as a birthing place...as we birth the true spirit of Christ inside in our hearts and minds;  I see it as a nursery...like plant nursery...where we encourage each other to grow, expand, become more open and mature. Where we fertilize one another with good food, great companionship, and a commitment to study together the Bible and our faith founder Jesus, the Christ.   Taken all together it seems to be a recipe for abundant Christian living.  The gifts of caring, participating and your funds create an amazing outreach...because your caring, your love, is taken out into our broader community where hundreds of little school age children are adored and encouraged, taught confidence and reading skills, and where success at home, school and in the community are enhanced.  We reach out to neighbors in need to provide food, clothing, household items that help struggling families.  Our scholarship program gives young, determined students funds to gain further knowledge and skills.  In a year, we have even expanded by purchasing the red house behind us as a meeting place...we want it to be used to further friendships, a place where knowledge and laughter go together.  God has blessed this church, this place, and all of us together because I think we are doing what He has asked us to do….be kind, be compassionate, be loving, be forgiving,be humble, and trust him...the God of all. 

Now you might wonder why I read some of the genealogy of Jesus this morning….it is because the Jewish people found meaning in their own history.  They looked to the past for their purpose.  And, it told who Jesus was.  The original readers of Matthew’s gospel were Jewish people and Matthew believed they could best understand Jesus if they knew their history of past saviors:  Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David...and the best of all, the real anointed Messiah, Jesus.   

In our case, we look at our Christian history and have gratitude for those who have gone before us to protect this story and this holy possibility in spite of the horrors so many faced.  Our meaning, then, is not just in the past, it is in the present and the future.  And what does the future hold for us? 

I think first and foremost we are responsible to God to keep the stories of Jesus and his life-altering love alive.  And how do we do so?  We have a responsibility to young people to help prepare them for life ahead that right now may be quite scary and hostile.  They need skills beyond what schools can teach.   They need churches to teach hope, to value faithful living, and to give of themselves as a way to live.   

We have a responsibility to older people in our church and community.  We need to help meet their needs in a world that is changing too rapidly to keep up….technology changes minute to minute and older citizens struggle with phones, and Ipads, and things unheard of 10 years ago.   

We have responsibility to this community to be examples of Christ’s unfailing love.  Nearly everywhere I go people remark about you, people of the Nourishing Place, and they are astounded at what you do without all fanfare and advertising.  You humbly and meekly and wonderfully serve our risen Lord and people take notice. 

And we have a responsibility to continue being part of this church, to come together to learn more about the power of love, the majesty of grace, and to strengthen you, prepare you, and propel you into the next and coming years of ministry in this place and this community. 

So today, let’s remember who we are in Christ, remember where we have been, and then look to the future, remembering what we have been put here to do and where we are going.  Let us infuse the future beginning today with God’s wisdom, Jesus’ love, and our own commitment to serve one another as God’s people...He is here, he walks among us, he depends on us to spread the good news as we become more and more aware of our own sanctification...we are set apart to work and to make life holy, sacred, and meaningful.  God is faithful, kind, merciful and we must be so as well.  May we live in gratitude for the lives we have been given...and may they produce even more grace in this place and this community.  Amen 



​The Nourishing Thought:  “You receive what you give!”  

Words of Wisdom:  Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful.” 

H. Inayat Khan 

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you must keep moving.”  Albert Einstein 


Sermon, September 9, 2018 

 Today’s scripture is one of those stories that makes us think things we don’t want to think about...it forces us to ask ourselves just how far we are willing to go to serve the purpose of a loving, forgiving God. 

 So let’s put this story in today’s setting.  Suppose we are all here in the sanctuary, listening to spiritual music, getting in the mood to think about our relationship to our God, and there is a knock on the front door. We open the door and the infamous murderer Charles Manson is standing there.  He announces in a loud voice, “Hey, I’ve changed my mind.  I don’t want to kill people any more, I want to know Jesus and serve him.” 

What would you think, and what would you do? 

 I think we would be afraid, terrified.  We certainly would not trust him nor want him to come inside.  Someone might call the police to have him removed from our presence.  Some of us might drop to the floor or run out to the kitchen.  Perhaps we would be too afraid to move, and not know what to do.  

Well, what if Jesus himself was part of this congregation and he was here that day.  What do you think Jesus would say to Charles Manson and what would he do?   

 Now, hold that thought for a minute and look at today’s story again. When Saul came to Jerusalem to see the apostles they did not believe Saul and they were afraid of him.  He had murdered Christians by the hundreds, he was part of the Pharisees...those men who despised Jesus.  But one day as Saul was going down the road to kill more Christians he had a vision...the risen Christ Spirit spoke to him.  And Saul changed his mind.  He no longer wanted to kill people, he wanted to serve this new faith based on Jesus’ teachings of love and acceptance.  Even when he told the apostles what had happened to him they still were not sure of him. They wanted proof that his words were backed up by his actions.  Fortunately for Saul, he had a friend named Barnabas who vouched for Saul.  Barnabas told the apostles that Saul had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.  Reluctantly, the apostles allowed Saul to stay with them in Jerusalem.  One day Saul was preaching to some Greek Jews. They tried to kill him, so the apostles took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.  And an amazing thing happened.  Once the leader of the band of Jewish murderers, Saul, was converted, the murders of Christians stopped for a while, and the church throughout the Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace.  The church was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit and it grew in numbers. 

 Now back to the earlier question.  If Jesus was a part of our congregation, and each of us must decide if he is or not, then we need to think about what he would have said and done to Charles Manson.  This is my opinion and only an opinion.  Knowing Jesus through scriptural stories I think Jesus would have gone to the door, probably embraced Mr. Manson, and walked him a far distance from the rest of us to keep us safe.  Then I think Jesus spent time with him.  He might have taken him down to the Waffle House, fed him, asked him about his change of mind.  Jesus would care for him.  But, that is Jesus’ job.  To take the bad, the horrible, the terrifying aspects of our lives and help us make peace from them.   

What we need to realize is that Saul, before he was converted and became Paul, was just as terrifying, horrible, cruel and vicious as Charles Manson. Yet, God anointed Saul to change his mind and teach the rest of us how vital to life faith is, how essential the teachings of Jesus are in order to live abundantly.   

Remember Moses? He, was a murderer, but God anointed him to write down the laws that direct humane behavior.  So my conclusion is Jesus never discounts anyone for any reason...and neither should we. 

 We claim to be followers of Jesus, of his teachings, and we claim to trust him with our lives.  So, what would you do about possible unwanted visitors at our own door?  Is there any real redemption for them?  If so, what small part would you be willing to play in offering grace to such people? 

We may not have murderers come through our doors, but we do have people who have sinned terribly and I am certainly one of those people.  As are some of you.  We have people come to us whose actions and words have hurt others and damaged spirits.  We have people here who have spent time in jail, who are hungry and lost and come to us for nourishment.  Some of them come fresh from jail and stand in the breakfast or supper lines and then sit at a table all alone while others of us quickly go sit with people we know.   We meet people in the aisles of grocery stores, the post office, hospital waiting rooms, on and on,  who are starving for a smile, a kind word, a warm touch.  A forgiving spirit. How do you treat these people?  As discards, unworthy of your attention? Or are they people worthy of God’s love and yours? 

Today’s message, that is difficult and sometimes frightening, comes straight from the teachings of Jesus himself. The message is all about how you treat other people with special attention given to the outcasts or the different ones.    

 As Christians what should we do?   What will you do?  Amen 



​The Nourishing Thought:  “Words which do not give the light of love increase the darkness.”  Mother Teresa 

Words of Wisdom:  “Would it appall you or delight you if Christ revealed your thoughts to others?” 
“Humans look at each other’s outward appearance;  but the Lord looks at our hearts.” 


Sermon, August 19, 2018 

 Jesus, Moses, and an old bearded guy were playing golf. On the first tee Moses shanked the ball into a lake.  He parted the water and hit his ball onto the green.  Jesus teed off, hitting his ball into another water hazard.  But he walked on the water, and stroked his ball just short of the cup.  Then the old bearded man stepped up for his tee shot.  He hit the ball with tremendous force, but hooked it badly.  The ball bounced off the clubhouse roof, hit the cart path, and rolled down a hill into a pond, coming to rest on a lily pad.  A frog hopped over and picked up the ball, then an eagle swooped down, snatched the frog, and flew over the green.  The frog dropped the ball and it rolled into the cup for a hole in one.  Moses turned to Jesus and said, “I hate playing golf with your dad.” 

Yes, God can do anything...he is powerful, creative, brilliant, and a master of all good things.  However, he depends on one of his special creations to carry out his plans of goodness.  That special creation is you and me...us frail, faulty, sinful, uncaring humans.  He trusts us at some point in time to come to our senses and realize God knows what he is doing and he is wiser than all of us put together. 

So he sends a special someone to earth to show us what to think and how to use our lives for a greater good.  One way we do this task is to use the mind of Christ that is already inside of us.  

As a young man, Jesus would have been familiar with the prophets of old.  He would have known each one by name, when and where that prophet lived, and most importantly what that prophet taught him about God and God’s will.  From the prophets Hosea and Micah, Jesus would have learned what God expected of him:  not burnt sacrifices but goodness. “God has shown you young man what is goodness. Here is what God requires of you.  To do justice, to be merciful, and to walk humbly with your Lord.”  Jesus not only practiced those aspects but he taught his own disciples to do likewise, and hopefully us as well. 

So what does it mean to do justice? Throughout history it seems people associated God’s justice with punishment.  However, if you carefully read scripture, you see again and again where God’s justice is fair, it is righteous.  In Job he says, “the Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;  yet in his justice and great righteousness he does not oppress or hurt.”  From the Psalms we read, “God is full of unfailing love.”  God is upright and good,  he is fair and equitable.  He doesn’t show preference to some over others...his love is abundantly available to all people in the same portion. His love does not show favoritism.  Therefore, we are to emulate those traits and attitudes.  As followers of a good and grace full God, we too must love without prejudice, stand up for what is right for all people...all races, ethnic groups, nations, and religions.  God cares especially for the outsider, the marginalized, and we should emulate that all-encompassing compassion as well. 
 
The second thing Jesus learned and taught about what God requires is mercy.  God’s mercy means that when we deserve punishment God does not punish us.  Rather he blesses us instead.  We might punish ourselves through our actions and poor choices, but God does not.  He blesses, he loves, he forgives, he anoints, he lifts us up, he is indeed merciful, he does not give us what we deserve, he gives us love.  If we live into the mind of Christ that is within us, we too must show mercy.  We might condemn an act of hate and harm, but we must encourage the perpetrator to seek forgiveness and repent….meaning the perpetrator will cease his harmful acts.  Sound impossible?  Sound improbable?  Yes.  However, God’s truth prevails and our task is to at least attempt to emulate and imitate his kind of mercy.  When we choose to do so, the spirit within us will help and guide.  So we are here to do God’s will and leave he results to  him. 

The third thing Jesus taught about what God requires is that we walk humbly with God.  That means we walk side by side with God, for indeed his breath, his life, is within us.  We must seek a close friendship with God flavored with adoration for his majesty and gifts to us, recognizing all good things, all good things, come from God...through us.  Do not put Godly life in the back of your mind...rather keep those truths as guides for each day of your life.  God resists pride in people, but he gives grace to the humble.  The more humble you become the more God will work through you. 

As Christians we are to have the same characteristics that Jesus had while he walked this earth.  That means we have his mind as well as his spirit.  Having the mind of Christ means sharing the plan, purpose, and perspective of Christ.  The plan is for all people to recognize and accept the love of God for all people.  The purpose is to be personally involved in living your life with the intentions to follow the way of Jesus, to have the faith of Jesus, and to share your experience of the risen Christ spirit within you.  The perspective is obedience to his teachings...they exist to guide us into living lives of abundance in all the areas that make life meaningful:  like love, peace, forgiveness, grace, compassion.  If we do these things we will love ourselves and others in a new light, a refreshing experience.  We will know we are doing what we were put here to do.  And we will reap the benefits which are joy and fearlessness.  Isn’t this way of living at least worth the effort to try it?   

As Gandhi once said, “I thought Christianity was the best of all possible religions, until I met a Christian.  Then I realized the way of Christ has not really been tried.” 

Is that a condemnation, or an urging to try it, do it, live it.  We can’t possibly go wrong.  Amen 





The Nourishing Thought:  “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist seeks opportunity in every difficult.”  Winston Churchill 

 Words of Wisdom:  “Knowing is not enough;  we must apply what we know.  Wishing is not enough;  we must do our wishes.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

“Creativity is intelligence having fun!”  Albert Einstein 

Sermon, August 12, 2018   The Widow’s Mite 

Contrary to popular thought, this biblical lesson isn’t about money...it is totally about trust in God’s way of living.  The story indicates that Jesus and his friends were standing near the Women’s Court in the temple watching who tossed money into one of the 13 receptacles that were spaced throughout this court.  The wealthy made a great show of throwing enough coins in to make a noise...to be noticed.  However, the indigent woman, the widow, only had to of the smallest coins...the two equaled a penny.  She put both in and they made not a sound.  

Here was a woman herself in need of charity, however she had a giving heart and willingly gave her last money to God. 

Listen to this modern day parable that teaches the same lesson.  A Sunday School teacher had a class of children 7 to 9 years old.  She was teaching a lesson about obeying God and being generous.  Very excitably she asked the class, “If you had a million dollars would you be willing to give most of it to help people in need?”  Equally excited the class shouted “Yes!  Then she asked if you had a hundred thousand dollars would you be willing to give most of it to help the poor?”  The class shouted “Yes!”  Then she asked, “If you had one dollar, would you be willing to give most of it to help people in need?”  The class shouted “Yes” except for one boy who shouted “No!”  The teacher asked him why he said “no”.  His answer was, “Because I have a dollar.” 

Think about it.  Altruism, helping, loving, being generous are wonderful to think about, delightful to ponder, nice to consider...but actually doing loving, giving, being altruistic at your own risk and cost are altogether something different.  We want to keep what we have even though our faith says we own nothing...God owns it all.  God allows us to use what we have, what we have worked hard for and earned, to assist his people in need. 

The story of the widow is her life and livelihood means very little outside of her devotion to her God.  She trusted God with her livelihood which was her life.   

Some folks don’t like to think about offering what we have to God’s work for fear we will lose what we have….but let me remind you.  Thirteen years ago many of you in this room lost every possession you had...house, car, jewelry, photos, lifetime memories to a storm named Katrina.  But look at your now.  Some have more than you ever had.  Some have had those important things replaced.  God did not leave you alone….through people who have a willingness to help and give came forward and resurrected this community.  

The moral of this teaching is we must never, ever, ever blame fear, our fear of loss, for not obeying God’s call to give yourself away in caring...in whatever way it comes to you at whatever the cost.  A radical teaching? “Yes.”  Isn’t that what a Christian, a follower of Christ is asked to do?  Live radically on God’s terms not your own. 

If and when you decide to do so you will never regret it.  It is the way of Christ.  Amen
 




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Sermon, November 11, 2018 

Today is Veteran’s Day.  This special day began As Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of World War I.  In 1926, our Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance.  But it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a national holiday.  In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the day to Veterans Day to pay tribute to all American veterans, living or dead.  The day reminds us to pay special attention those people who have willing served their country honorably during war or peacetime. 

Today is a special day when we have the opportunity to give thanks and appreciation to all members of the military and in all branches of service. 

However, today should be a time of even more thanksgiving.  We are so busy thinking about our present and our future, that we tend to negate the importance all that has gone before us to give us the freedom and peace we enjoy today. 

There are several things we need to be aware of, remember, and be grateful for.  Here are just a few: 

It is the veteran, not the preacher, who continues to give us freedom of religion. 

It is the veteran, not the reporter who continues to give us the freedom of speech. 

 It is the veteran not the lawyer who continues to give us the right to a free trial. 


It is the veteran not the politician who continues to give us the right to vote. 

It is the veteran who salutes the flag and serves under the flag and who continues to give us the freedom to proudly wave the flag. 

Where would we be today had not these veterans stood up and stood tall for America?  And what will happen to us in the near and distant future if others are not willing to take that giant step, leave the comfort of their homes, endure endless hours of training, to keep us safe and at relative peace. 

 My question today, is, as Christians, followers of Jesus, the Christ, what can we do in the present time to make better the lives and careers of each veteran, every military person, and every person who works in public service.   Think about it:  military men and women are on call to keep us safe;  law enforcement exists to keep us safe;  firemen keep us safe...so to help these people we need to be more determined to keep our own selves safe...and we do that by being personally responsible for ourselves and our own well being.  We do so abiding by the rules our society has set for us so we all can be safe...we must abide by such laws as wearing seat belts, obeying the speed limit, talking about politics  and participating in our governmental system with common sense without hostilities and divisiveness.   We befriend friend and foe alike. We consider people on the other side of the world without judgment, condemnation or prejudice. We get to know people who are on the other side of our own philosophies.  Also, we don’t blame other people for the challenges we face nor do we expect others to solve our problems.  We take full responsibility for who we are, what we do, and how we act.  The answer usually lies in living and loving in all the appropriate ways.  Above all we must be kind..because every act of kindness adds kindness to the world.  We are safer as a community when we all do the right thing;  we are safer as a country when we all do the right thing;  and we are safer in the world when the right thing is expressed openly and willingly even if it is rejected by others.   

 So today, as Christians, followers of Jesus, our Christ, we recognize and give honor to our veterans, our military people, our public servants. My prayer is that we pledge to them that we will individually and as a church try to prevent problems that they have to solve.  Big Job?  Absolutely?  Can we do it?  Well, my answer is we certainly should try to do so. 

 God bless all his servants, all his followers, and even all his enemies.  Amen