Contentment

 
For I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
 
Paul wrote this in prison surrounded by armed guards. The only food he ate came from family and friends. Outside his cell was a world of 99% poverty. Family homes were stacked together in close quarters and infectious diseases were the norm. There were no masks, hygiene practices, or enough space to keep each other safe.
 
If Paul can be content under these circumstances, can we not do the same?
 
Let the masks you wear and the space you give one another be a sign of your love for one another.
 

And while you are safely protected in your homes, may you learn the gift of contentment.



Appreciation is the Antidote

 

This is a week of Appreciation. Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4-8. National Nurses Appreciation Week is May 6-12 and Mother’s Day is this Sunday. There is plenty to appreciate!

Appreciation is the antidote to apathy, fear and mistrust. It turns the spotlight away from ourselves and unto the people who are the unsung heroes in our lives. The teachers who changed the direction of your life, the nurses who instilled hope, and the mothers who gave you wings to fly.

They are the reason you exist today.
They are the real heroes in this world of a new normal.
They prepared us for a time such as this, not only to live in it, but to engage and thrive in it.

Under their care, they offered hope and reframed our fears into bite-sized realities. Teachers, nurses, and moms are the chicken soup of the world. They made us feel better, repaired our souls, breathed confidence into us, and turned us into better human beings.

Together, they embodied knowledge, healing, and guidance grounded in truth. In fact, most do their best work with Jesus in their pocket. Teachers, nurses, and mothers pray for those under their wings. Chances are they prayed for you, too. These prayers changed you, saved you, and kept you safe while you are naively unaware.

Now imagine this: God created them just for you.

Thank them by respecting their efforts. Read a book, wear a mask, and call them on the phone.

Appreciate them.

Pastor Terri



When Pigs Fly

“When pigs fly.” 

My father used to say this every time he thought my suggestion was absurd.
 
Even though Dad had a great imagination, it was grounded in time-honored common sense. And common sense said my idyllic worldview was grounded along with the pigs. ‘When pigs fly’ was ridiculous, impossible, against all odds. But never give God the odds on who replaces death with resurrections.
 
So why does the new normal of today look suspiciously like a pig taking off in flight?
 
For every scary moment, an idyllic world tries to peek through.
Home cooked meals.
Parent-child time.
Time to be still.
Even the skies of Los Angeles cleared.
 
 Check the radar– I believe a flock of pigs just flew over California.
 
This is not the first time that a new normal took hold. The entire Bible is filled with pig-flying-stories.  Specifically the adventures of Jesus and his infamous resurrection, which propelled a new faith forward guided by young disciples who never seemed to have their feet on the ground anyway. Add a few timely visions, the winds of the Holy Spirit, and here we are filled with improbable experiences and a God who won’t give up because God created pigs in the first place. Another pig just took flight.
 
During May, our sermon series is aptly called When Pigs Fly.  These are the stories from the archives of the first apostles, stories selected last summer  to complement our JAM’s curriculum this month. I just didn’t know how prophetic those words would be!
 
 If you still don’t believe pigs can fly, dare to join us for the impossible stories that still fly today.
 

Also, stay tuned for information about the church of the future, summer 2020.

We plan to reopen in small increments, like house churches to keep the numbers small, and still keep the scriptures read and the coffee brewing. Sometimes, the past is really the future. Just when you think it cannot happen, a pig flies overhead.    

But best of all, God is with us.
 
AMEN


Is Jesus the Vaccine for COVID-19?

I saw a truck with the words “Jesus is My Vaccine” on the bumper.
The driver was trusting his entire fate into Jesus’ hands to protect him, no matter what decisions he made.

I support vaccines. Vaccines builds herd immunity which allows people to move about freely, without fear of disease or death. They protect not only the person who receives it, but the others around them from unintentional exposure. Vaccines work because people do not have to stay home, social distance, or lose their job to protect one another. Vaccines do all the work….. so maybe it sounds a bit like Jesus?

But is Jesus a vaccine?  Sounds catchy, but is it good Jesus theology?

Not if we believe in total surrender to Jesus Christ. You see, we have free will, the ability to listen to God’s wisdom or the choice to ignore it. God’s wisdom is imparted by the Holy Spirit to people. Some of them are doctors and epidemiologists whom God trained and prepared for a moment such as this. To ignore them is the same as ignoring God.

Surrendering to Christ means to follow Jesus no matter how hard it gets, to provide for our every need like a shepherd does for the sheep.

Daring Christ to save you is quite another. It is jumping off a cliff in the desert. Even Jesus refused to do that. Tempting fate is not filled with faith, nor is it a vaccine. It defies the wisdom of God and boasts of human pride, not surrender to the fullness of what Christ offers through the gifts of the Spirit.   

So, masks on in public, keep your distance, and know that we are bound together through the Holy Spirit who has already prepared people to lead us through a time such as this. 

We simply need to listen to the Wisdom of God and do our part to support God’s efforts.  

Best of All God is with us.
Pastor Terri. 



Do Nothing For Lent

“We cannot attain the presence of God

because we’re already totally in the presence of God.

What’s absent is awareness.” —  Richard Rohr.
 
 

It was a simple question, “What are you going to do for Lent?”

“Nothing,” I replied. “I’m going to do ‘nothing’ for the entire 40 days.”

Seriously?” I sensed the shock in their voice. “But YOU have to do something!”

“Nope. I’m going to do nothing and be fine without the fanfare of giving up something to prove my devotion to bystanders,” I said. “I’m going to do ‘nothing’ in order to experience God.”

‘Nothing’ is the beginning of everything with God.  Jesus enters the wilderness not to do something more, but something less.

Gone are the distractions pulling our minds in three directions. Gone are the decisions about supper, car pooling, and grocery shopping. Gone are the shields that stand between us and God.  Doing ‘nothing’ turns our backs on busyness andexcuses, and returns our hearts and minds to God’s presence.

So, this is the guide for doing nothing during Lent: (Caregivers–take turns watching the wee ones so everyone gets a chance to do nothing.) 

 

  1. Pick a time do nothing time. Spend 20-30 minutes doing nothing every day.

 

  1. No cell phone. No television. No music. No noise.

 

  1. Sit in a quiet space. Read Matthew 22: 36-40 (Greatest Commandment).

 

  1. Breathe in and Breathe out. Listen to God’s voice.

 

  1. Find God in the absence of busyness.

 

Lent is preparation for Christ’s presence among us. Doing ‘nothing’ is the only way to get us there.

 

May you find a deeper relationship with Christ this Lent by doing nothing instead of something.

 

Pastor Terri

 

 

 



Lent Came Early

On a bitterly cold Sunday in January, 2020, Lent arrived.

Our sacred symbols were carried off the altar during our last worship service before the remodel.

 

 One by one, the symbols left—first the baptismal font, then two large candles. After the scripture was read, the Bible on the communion table was gently walked down the aisle, along with the tablecloths, prayer journal, and flowers. But when I lifted the Christ candle and cradled it in my hand, my heart began to pound. I slowly moved the light of Christ down the aisle as we sang the hymn It Is Well with My Soul. 

 

It was bittersweet, watching the symbols being removed from the space, but waiting for the day of resurrection and their return. It felt as if we were beginning Lent before Lent itself was scheduled to begin.              

I sat in the bare sanctuary, unclothed for the first time since its creation. No more adornments, musical instruments, or even choir chairs. 
 

Yet, I was curiously moved by what happened next.  My eyes saw only two things—the communion table and the cross behind it–the message of the Gospel in its purest form.

 

As I sat there, I gasped.  This was the soul of the church, simple but beautifully real. The cross towered over the Table of Christ powered by a resurrection.

 

It was beautifully simple and refreshingly honest. 

I felt closer to Christ in this moment than at any time before.  In its emptiness, the fullness of Christ was unyielding.

And it was peaceful. Blessedly peaceful. The simplicity of the Good

News met me in this pared down space.

Before the symbols, there was only the table of Christ and the story of resurrection. This was the message that welcomed the empty and filled their soul.

 

Lent came early this year, and it was well with my soul. 

Friends, we are in a season of preparation that leads through a crucifixion and ends with a resurrection. We will return the symbols as they left, one by one, to bear witness to this resurrected space. On that day, you and I will celebrate a new creation, within our hearts as well as this space.

Lent came early this year. Praise God. A resurrection is ahead.

 

Pastor Terri

 

 


The Era of Awe and Wonder

“There must be always remaining in every life, some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful.”     Howard Thurman   There are moments in time when Heaven pierces the realm of Earth. The birth announcement of Jesus is one of them.

Beautiful heavenly angels shock the shepherds tending their sheep. Shepherds live on the periphery of life, working in conditions outside civilization. Compare this to the crew of an off-shore oil rig and you understand the loneliness of the Shepherds. But it is to the Shepherds that the angels come, not the priests or the religiously faithful.  In the presence of the Angels, they shivered with awe and wonder that transform their doubt.  But, who would believe them?    
 

Yet the Shepherds dropped everything to run and find the Christ-child face to face. When was the last time you dropped everything to experience the wonder of Jesus in your life?

 

This is the message of Christmas. When heaven pierces our world,  life is changed by Jesus Christ. It is a life that shivers with awe and wonder at meeting Christ face to face.   This January, we begin to change our church building to reflect the message of Christ for today’s generation of Shepherds looking for the Truth of Christ. While we change the outside, let us not forget to change the inside of our souls as well.  A church filled with changed lives is one in which the Christ’s Spirit thrives and grows.     Where will you find Heaven piercing Earth?   

  • Attend the 3-day Walk to Emmaus retreat in January 2019.
  • Gather regularly with others to study the message of Christ in the scriptures.
  • Form a prayer group and keep track of prayers answered.

Let heaven pierce your world in 2020. May you shiver with awe and wonder. Pastor Terri    



I Will Be With You

I Will Be With You

Exodus 3:12

‘I will be with you,‘ said God before the Exodus.

These words fill the ‘be still and know that I am God’ kind of moments.

They are our spiritual mantra, a gift from the great I AM who says, ‘I will be with you’ and means it.

Before Moses turned towards Egypt to liberate the people, ‘I will be with you’ was the game plan.

Before the disciples scattered to liberate the world, ‘I will be with you’ was the game plan.

I will be with you is God’s plan in a nutshell. Read the pages and hear the stories, I will be with you is the point of the game.

I will be with you in all the seasons of your life.

I will be with you in your fear and your doubt.

I will be with you in the planting of the new and the harvesting of old.

I will be with you in your darkness and in the desert of your existence.

I will be with you in your joys, all the weddings and births that reveal new life.

I will be with you when you are alone, whether you perceive me or not.

I will be with you before you know you need me, and when you are certain that you do not.

I will be with you as the Creator of the universe and know you within in it.

I will be with you as Jesus Christ who liberates your soul and transforms your life.

I will be with you as Holy Spirit putting ‘words in your mouth and teaching you what to speak.’

Be still and know that I am God…and you are not.

That is why I will be with you.



Searching for a Resurrection

“This is the church. Here she is. Lovely, irregular, sometimes sick and sometimes well. This is the body-like-no-other that God has shaped and placed in the world. Jesus lives here; this is his soul’s address. There is a lot to be thankful for, all things considered. She has taken a beating.   The church. Every day she meets the gates of hell and she prevails. Every day she serves, stumbles, injures and repairs. That she has healed is an underrated miracle. That she gives birth is beyond reckoning. Maybe it’s time to make peace with her. Maybe it’s time to embrace her, flawed as she is. Maybe it’s time to smile back. “–Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday  
 
There is a shift these days, from organized religion to personal spirituality. Gone is the mid-century era when church membership was a requirement to be a good person.  Our young people saw through that.
Embrace it. Welcome it.
 
The tomb of yesterday is the resurrection of tomorrow. The Church is transforming. Like a woman in labor, she is giving birth. She is prevailing.
 
She follows her groom, Jesus Christ, who is returning us to our roots, building upon a resurrection of broken people seeking a spiritual center with others just like them. Outside of the church, they find it in micro-breweries, meetup groups, and gyms.  
 
Inside the church, they turn to Holy Communion to heal and resurrect.  Through Communion, the soul of Christ meets the soul of the broken, in bread and wine.  
 
Yes, the Church has the one commodity that others do not— the presence of Christ found through the Mystery of Holy Communion. From the first Sunday when Christians met at dawn to remember Jesus, they celebrated Communion.   This is why we gather–to hear the word and share communion.
 
 Remember me…as often as you gather. 
Remember me when you break the bread.
Remember me when you sip the wine.  
Remember me through these means of grace.  
 
People searching for Sunday, search for Christ’s presence in Holy Communion.   
 
So don’t be stingy! Break the bread!  


The Antidote

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven…

The Antidote   Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven… Read the fine print. Our Lord’s prayer delivers a punch.
 
It begs God to bring about a new world order–out with hate and division; in with love and unity.  This is the antidote to save our world. It is not a prayer for those who treasure the status quo. Pray only if you dare for change to come!
 
Our country feels the weight of division. A veil of heaviness and depression smothers our sense of peace and stability. We are tense, irritable, unsettled, and looking for relief.
 
However, there is something easy and familiar in the status quo. Do we dare pray the prayer that Jesus gave his disciples…and mean it?
 
Because if we do, expect the Kingdom to come, expect heaven to break through and upset the norms of hate, racism, and apathy for the plight of others. In other words, expect the Lord’s prayer to change us, too.
 
Jesus gave these words to his disciples. They prayed 3 times per day. God changed the world. Yes, we hold the antidote to the world’s problems. Can we ethically only recite it once on a Sunday? 
 
We hold the power of Christ between our folded hands every time we utter the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
 
The Lord’s prayer is a potent antidote for what afflicts our world.
 
Just one question: do you have tennis shoes?
 
Prayer Walk
 
 There are families in our communities waiting for a slice of Heaven to change their lives, for the fruits of Heaven to fill their homes with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control(Galatians 5:22-23). All it takes is prayer and a walk:
  • Walk through your neighborhood.
  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer for people in the homes and business along your path.
  • Repeat daily.
The Lord’s Prayer packs a punch. Pray it freely and pray it often.


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