Sermon Homework: Sept. 9, 2019

Sermon Homework: Sept. 9, 2019
Pastor Stephanie Kimec Parker

The Enneagram is a helpful tool as we seek to learn about ourselves and our motivations and ways the Holy Spirit can help us to be better people. This week we looked at the Enneagram type 1, the need to be perfect. Who do you think is a type 1 Enneagram in your life? How can you better love them and understand them?   Enneagram type 1 people have a strong sense of duty to make the world a better place and have a hard time shutting off the need to improve things. How can you love the people in your life who are like this and help them to find moments of just joy and fun? How can you join them in making the world a better place?

Sermon Homework: Sept. 1, 2019

Sermon Homework: Sept. 1, 2019
Pastor Stephanie Kimec Parker 
Peter was blessed to be with Jesus as one of his disciples, and as we see in Matthew 14, he begins to doubt as he notices the wind and waves around him as he is walking on water.
Some of us are like Peter and we doubt and we don’t have the honor of seeing Jesus’ ministry in person.  How does Peter’s doubt bring you comfort as you doubt?
Peter models what to do when we doubt as he quotes Psalm 69 crying out “Lord save me.” When we doubt we can turn to scripture and lean on others. What scriptures bring you comfort?

Sermon Homework: Aug. 4, 2019

Sermon Homework: Aug. 4, 2019
Pastor Stephanie Kimec Parker 

During worship we were given post-it notes to write down the name of someone or people we need to pray about one day forgiving. Have you been praying about forgiving that person one day? 

Dr. Tibbits in his book “Forgive to Live: How Forgiveness Can Save Your Life” writes how forgiveness is a choice, and to refuse to forgive is a choice too. Forgiveness does not mean what was done against you was ok, and does not always mean reconciliation should occur, have you put the option of choosing to forgive on the table?

Sermon Homework: July 28, 2019

Sermon Homework: July 28, 2019
Joseph’s story of forgiveness that we find in Genesis is a powerful example of how Joseph reframed his story. After years he was able to forgive his brothers for their horrible actions. We see how Joseph has let go of his anger and resentment and is reconciled. Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation and sometimes reconciliation is not healthy. Is there someone in your life God is stirring you to forgive?  Joseph did not forget what his brothers did and forgiveness does not mean you forget, it is about letting go of your anger and resentment and being on the path to peace.  
Dr. Tibbits in his book “Forgive to Live” lays out three phases of forgiveness- phase 1 How I handle the memories of painful things said and done to me in the past. Phase 2 How I overcome the negative emotions I feel right now and Phase 3 How I free myself from a hurtful past to achieve my desired future. Where are you on the phases of forgiveness? How can you work through the phases?

Sermon Reflection June 2, 2019

Nadia Bolz Weber’s amplified beatitudes for encouragement this week:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised. Blessed are they who are spiritually impoverished and therefore not so certain about everything that they no longer take in new information. Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are they for whom nothing seems to be working. Blessed are the pre-schoolers who cut in line at communion. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction. Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears are as real as an ocean. Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like. Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried. Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted any more. Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else. Blessed are the motherless, the alone, the ones from whom so much has been taken. Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet” Blessed are they who laughed again when for so long they thought they never would. Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you .  
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex-workers and the night shift street sweepers. Blessed are the losers and the babies and the parts of ourselves that are so small. The parts of ourselves that don’t want to make eye contact with a world that only loves the winners. Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closeted. Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the underrepresented. Blessed are the teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the wrongly accused, the ones who never catch a break, the ones for whom life is hard – for they are those with whom Jesus chose to surround himself. Blessed are those without documentation. Blessed are the ones without lobbyists. Blessed are foster kids and trophy kids and special ed kids and every other kid who just wants to feel safe and loved and never does. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are they who know there has to be more than this. Because they are right.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are those who make terrible business decisions for the sake of people. Blessed are the burnt-out social workers and the over worked teachers and the pro-bono case takers. Blessed are the kids who step between the bullies and the weak. Blessed are they who delete hateful, homophobic comments off their friend’s Facebook page. Blessed are the ones who have received such real grace that they are no longer in the position of ever deciding who the “deserving poor[2]” are. Blessed is everyone who has ever forgiven me when I didn’t deserve it. Blessed are the merciful for they totally get it.

Sermon Reflection: May 19, 2019

Sermon Reflection- May 19, 2019
By Herk Stokely
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! – Matthew 6: 22 
The situation when the Master said this begins in Chapter 5 where Jesus, seeing the large crowds, goes up onto a mountain side.  His disciples follow Him and sit with Him and He begins to teach them.  This section of Matthew is usually called “The Sermon on the Mount.”  It’s not completely clear from the text whether He is teaching just His disciples, or the crowds that followed or both.  Regardless, the whole teaching takes up chapters 5, 6, and 7.  It is in this narrative that we find His teaching of the Lord’s Prayer and His description of the critical need to forgive in order to be forgiven. 
When I interpret this eye passage I feel that replacing “eye” with the word “vision” is appropriate.  So if one’s vision is healthy or clear, then the person is en-lightened in a way.  I think of it the way that turning on a light in a dark room can fill the room with light. 
Turning this around a bit: what a person sees in the World around them, and the way that they see it, is very much a reflection of what is going on inside of them.  If a person is faithful, loving, caring, peaceful, patient and kind, what they see in the world will be shaded and colored by this inner light.
In many ways life is like a mirror.  
If on the other had a person is lustful, fearful, angry, resentful, impatient, selfish and greedy, what they see in the World will just reinforce that inner darkness. 
And “How great is that darkness”
A good metaphor is a window.  I imagine myself as a window into a dark room (the World) with the sunlight (Son-light? 🙂 shining through.  Dirt on the window, hatred, anger, aversions, selfishness, dominance, control, lack of Love – all dim the light and darken the room.  Because I don’t like to deal with these things in myself, I see the shadows of these things on the opposite wall and convince myself that the dirt is on the wall (on all those other people).  When the window has been cleaned, by its very nature the light comes through clearly, illuminates the room, and surprisingly that dirt is gone from the wall.  

Sermon Homework for Oct. 14, 2018

Sermon Homework for Oct. 14, 2018
Homelessness Awareness Sunday 

1 John 3:17-18

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Put your faith to action!  Click options below to see how you can help!
Get involved and help our brothers & sisters experiencing homelessness right here in our community! 

Sermon Homework for Oct. 7, 2018

Sermon Homework for Sermon Oct. 7, 2018
Think about what your greatest struggle is:  Being unselfconscious, receptive, or dependent of God for help and take a step towards growing in that area. 

Good Friday

Journey to the Cross for Good Friday: AN INVITATION TO ALL
– Andy Gilstrap


Our Good Friday activity this year is a “Journey To The Cross”, consisting of 12 interactive stations.  This is a self-guided activity that is open from 6 pm -8 pm, this Friday.  You may come and start, moving at your pace, whenever you are able.  


Each station will have a scripture and a thought (e.g. a quote or two) that you read to yourself to orient you to that station.  Following,  there will be a guided reflection and an action.  These will be printed out for you to read and respond.  The action may be something like, writing a thought on a post-it note and placing it on a map.  You may take however long you’d like to complete a station, or move through the whole journey.


ALL ARE WELCOME.  You may work through this “journey” on your own, or as a group. (e.g. family, friends, etc.). We are not concerned with keeping the building completely silent by any means, but the posture is reflective and quiet, in nature.  With that being said, if you want to keep the atmosphere focused for yourself, I suggest bringing earbuds and playing meditative music for yourself as you move through.


Childcare is provided.  Stations for kids that are able, will be located upstairs.


The starting point for the journey is located at the south-facing double doors, located on your right as you enter from the parking lot, and just before the covered drop-off area.  From there station #1 is located by the choir room.  Proceed accordingly, working your way through the hallway and a few rooms.


The sanctuary will be open and available for prayer and reflection, before and after.  The back part of the sanctuary will be reserved for gathering and mingling.  


This is a very non-threatening exercise that can be very meaningful.  It is a great way to get into the rhythm of Easter weekend, to center yourself, and find the movement of God from the cross, to the empty tomb.  


Come, enjoy, reflect, move at your pace, and walk a journey to the cross with us.  



Have you been “phubbed”?

Have you been “phubbed”? 
Relearning to give our FULL attention to others
– Pastor Rachel Gilmore 
     I was reading an article today from the Atlantic on “phubbing” or using your phone to snub someone during conversation.  It’s happened to all of us, right?  We are catching up with a friend and they glance down at their phone and send a quick text or tweet, perhaps looking up to sheepishly say, “Sorry, I really had to get back to that person.”  Ironically, the more you “phub” others, the more likely you are to be “phubbed”?  I was at a restaurant last week with my family and the table next to us had a family of four and ALL of them were on their phones from the moment they ordered until their food arrived, just scrolling through facebook feeds or snap chatting with friends.   It makes me wonder if we struggle more in our relationships with God, others, and ourselves because we don’t know how to give something our full attention and be complete present in the moment. 
     We live with this perpetual fear of missing out (FOMO) and while our attention is constantly diverted to who is having fun, we aren’t able to see what is right in front of us. Have you ever been talking to someone that you care about, a friend, a family member or spouse, and they have had to ask, “Are you listening to me?”  Do we give the people that matter most in our lives 100% of our attention and listen to them when they are talking to us?  There are these small slivers of time, little windows where our kids will open up and try to share their fears or anxieties with us, there are moments when our significant other is having a really terrible day and just wants someone to understand what they are going through and we will let down the ones we love most if we can’t stop what we are doing and listen.


     We serve a God who gives us God’s full attention and sees what we are going through, even when no one else does.  Do you know that the first few books of the Bible are FULL of examples of God giving things a name like “light, dark, stars, moon, plants, animals” but the first person in Scripture to give God a name was a woman named Hagar?  She was a servant in Abraham’s home and became pregnant with his child after Sarah forced her into Abraham’s bed.  Sarah became jealous of her servant Hagar and began to mistreat her.  So Hagar was a single, unwed mother fleeing an abusive situation and found herself in the wilderness, unsure of what to do next.  It was there, by a spring in the desert that the Lord comes to her and asks the powerful question, “Hagar, slave of Sarah, where have you come from and where are you going?”  God is showing that God knows her, knows her situation and is listening.  At the end of their conversation, Hagar calls God El Roi- the One who Sees me, because in her distress, God was the one who gave her attention, who saw what she was really going through. 

     So, I’m not sure what you are facing right now.  Maybe you are having a Hagar moment as you try to figure out where you are coming from and where you are going or maybe there is a Hagar in your midst.  Maybe there is someone who just wants to be seen and heard, someone who is struggling and feels alone in the wilderness.  May you follow in the footsteps of the One who created you in the divine image and give your full attention to SEE the ones you love.  For at least a few minutes, put down your phone, put down your work or chores or to-do lists and give them attention, give them your support, give them hope.  It just might change their life and yours too!