Thoughts and Ideas from Rev. Diane R. Ford
“9 November 2019”
“Snarky with Jesus”
Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Last week during worship we looked at a fundamental practice of discernment – prayer. Specifically a form of Christian meditation called “Centering Prayer.” This Sunday we will look at steps of discernment. As we look forward to another year, it is in these months that we can dream and plan, making decisions and discern where God is calling to next. Our Scripture is a story that is told in two different Gospels. Religious leaders are quizzing Jesus, trying to make him look foolish. As usual, Jesus flips the question and reveals his perspective of reality. The very questions we ask reveals what we have discerned. These questioners didn’t believe in life after death. If there was such a thing, they imagined it would be a continuation of earthly life. Jesus gives a window into the mystic, that is, the realm of beings that are invisible to us. The concepts of heaven and resurrection certainly challenge our earth-based thinking. Yet Jesus and the writers of the New Testament have an understanding that is much wider than this beautiful marble we live on.
“3 November 2019”
“Discernment and Centering Prayer “
1 Samuel 3:1-10
We celebrate All Saints Day, when we celebrate someone we know who has passed away. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is now timely, as it is at the sacrament that we join ALL the “saints” (that is, believers) who have lived before us and who have yet to be born. The resurrection is our foundation, even as we grieve.
The story of a young boy hearing God’s voice and not recognizing it is our Scripture that will invite us into the topic of discerning God’s voice. To prepare yourself for this topic, I invite you to google “centering prayer.”
“27 October 2019”
“A Like-Jesus Church”
The American Church has had its moments of great love, supporting people and communities, and building hospitals and orphanages. Locally when disasters have struck, Christians have banded together to rebuild homes, honor the dead and speak out against violence and hatred. The church has also been faithful in many ways in their education and worship, giving to a point of sacrifice, and standing by the most vulnerable in our neighborhoods. In all these ways the church reflects the life and teachings of Jesus. We all know that the church has also made a mockery of Christ, and Christians have done damaging and what seems to be “unforgivable” things. This Sunday we look at what it looks like for the church to be like Jesus Christ. Specifically as we look at the story of Jesus calling out to a hated citizen who had climbed a tree to get a better look at this traveling teacher and healer, Jesus.
20 October 2019
“Wrestling With God”
The struggle at the Jabbok River is one of the more well-known stories of the Old Testament. Jacob has tricked his older brother twice, and fled for his life. Years later he returns and their relationship is actually reconciled. Before crossing the river to go meet his brother, Jacob prays God would protect him so that Esau would not kill him. As it turns out it wasn’t Esau Jacob had to come to terms with – it was God. When we sin against any person we are sinning against God. This moment in Jacob’s life changes everything for him. He no longer is plagued by broken relationships and people who are furious with him. Wrestling with God proves to be the best fight of his life. And the message it give us indicates the cost we pay when we negotiate relationships without first wrestling with the Divine.
6 October 2019
This Sunday is World Communion Sunday. Churches all over the world recognize this day as we gather for the Lord’s Supper. We will look at the story of manna in the desert — when God provided bread for the Israelites on their 40-year journey. This mysterious substance appeared on the ground every morning. Bread from Heaven!
There was a hitch. They could gather only one day’s supply every morning. No hoarding. No getting ahead of the game. And if you did hold on to some, the next day it went foul.
Interesting practice to apply to our lives. What are we holding on to that no longer serves us? What are we clinging to that is not meant for us?
26 September 2019
“Christ Wants the Table Filled!”
Jeremiah 32:2-3, 6-15
Empty places at the table. That is what the master of the house had in the parable we will look at this Sunday. So he sent out his servants to invite and compel people to come to the banquet, until all of the seats were full.
In recent decades, as American churches have shrunk in size, most have looked at this parable and thought it affirms that God wants all of our pews filled on Sunday mornings. But we need to look deeper into the parable and the New Testament to see something that can guide and inspire us — even as pews and church buildings are being sold off for other purposes.
Looking Ahead: October 6 is World Communion Sunday. Please consider providing breads of different colors, shapes, textures and traditions to adorn our communion table. Call the church to let us know if you plan to bring a loaf.
22 September 2019
1 Timothy 1:12-17
This coming Sunday we look at two similar parables of Jesus, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. We all know what it is to feel lost, and the good news is that we have Someone who will find us. We also know what it is to lose something or someone. The Lost and Found drawers of our lives are full of interesting things. Sure, some socks and keys, but also relationships, jobs and health. To prepare for Sunday please read the scriptures and consider what God is assuring you of and challenging you about.
13 September 2019
“Drawing Our Attention to God”
Most are familiar with the American symbol for the medical field, two snakes intertwined. With some fun we’ll review the history of this symbol, and then the story of Moses healing the Children of Israel with a sculpture of a snake. In John we read, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Scholars cannot be certain about the origin of this thought — how Moses’ healing sculpture is connected with the spiritual healing gained in knowing the crucified Christ. Why do you suppose there is such a connection? And in today’s world, what message do they have in today’s world?
8 September 2019
“We Will Come and Make Our Home”
This Sunday we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as well as prepare the church for Family Promise guests. What is it like for you to be a guest? How have you felt, what have you anticipated or hoped for? What has ever made you uncomfortable, and have you ever developed a secret signal to go to your friend or spouse which means, “I want to leave now”?
Jesus was a guest in many homes in his ministry. When you and I come to communion, to receive the bread and cup, we are guests. In today’s scripture Jesus goes further to say that God comes to us and makes a home with us. That’s more than having God as a guest — that sounds like a permanent arrangement!
Labor Day Weekend, 30 August 2019
“Etiquette and Party Invitations”
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Luke 14:1, 7-14
Max Davis used to sing the funny song, “O Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” The humble attitudes of confident people is a strength in any endeavor. And most church-goers feel that we are humble. The scripture this Sunday gets confronting when we look more carefully at our social lives and the “types of people” we choose to spend time with. Jesus describes a guest list for a party and the implications go deep. Who we invite can become a habit that turns into a trend and then a norm. How can the church dismantle the social “norms” that breed bigotry, self-righteousness and blind hatred? Do some thinking about that — what actions can we take to develop and demonstrate the depth of hospitality Jesus teaches?
Labor Day Sunday, September 2016
“Integrating our Labor and Spirituality”
I spoke to a seasoned educator today who says she has lived by the academic calendar all her life. She spoke of the big push in early September to get prepared for the beginning of the school year. “No matter how long I’ve been at it, it’s still exciting and daunting.”
In Matthew 9 Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Sounds exciting and daunting. Integrating our labor with our spirituality is what increases the work force Jesus is talking about.
Whatever our work is — be it paid for, volunteered, or the type of work it takes to get ourselves out of bed and make breakfast — all of our labors can be offered as grateful responses to God. Gratefulness is never “not enough.” There is a spiritual quality to it which is whole and complete. Those kind of offerings to God don’t stay in some basket or heavenly ledger — not if we are talking about the God of Moses and Jesus. There is a release of miracles in such offerings. We hear it in the story of water coming out of the rock Moses struck, and the multitudes fed with two fish and a loaf of bread. Paul describes it as the “fruit of the Spirit,” and Jesus described it as “new life,” “living water,” and “the Kingdom of God.”
When you and I gratefully offer all that we are-and-be to the Divine, we are participating in God’s ongoing creation and salvation. We know not who, what or how many will be affected. This is the kind of worker Jesus is referring to when he goes on in Matthew 9, “Ask the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers into the harvest fields.”
What do you do when you are working? How do you see God using you there? As you and I integrate our spirituality and labor, we are the “more workers” being sent. And no matter how long you’ve been at it, working for the Lord of the Harvest is still both exciting and daunting.
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