Our Redeemer's Blog

Circles of Connection – Digging Deeper after Sunday Morning

Many of you participate in our “Circles of Connection” – small groups on zoom that meet weekly to check in, study the Gospel, and pray for each other.  Pastor Kathy and I were thinking that this resource would also be great for individual devotion time.  As we are focusing on renovating our building AND our own spiritual selves, this is an excellent way to bring yourself closer to God, and reflect on your own journey.  You’ll find many backlogged weeks of guides here, and you’re welcome to find the sermons on our Facebook page – all our worship services since stay at home are logged there.  Find the Circle guides [here], and the worship services with the corresponding sermons [here].  Happy digging!

Backlog:

October 25, 2020

1. Check in.  
  • How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual? 
  • Here’s a WARM question: When you picture Jesus, what does he look like?

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Creator in heaven; for God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your sisters and brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Creator is perfect.


Here are the reflection questions:

1. The story of Jesus and who he is changed everything – he upended the way the world carries on by destroying death and bringing justice.  What do you think is the most significant thing the life and story of Jesus has impacted in the world?
2. “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” These are some tough words.  What does this imply in your life? What shift does this create in you?
3. “God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good.”  Why is God so unfair? Discuss.
4. Pray for each other.  Or, you can use this prayer below to pray:

Here’s a beautiful prayer for enemies by the 11th century Benedictine monk, Anselm of Canterbury.
 
A Prayer for Enemies
 
Almighty and tender Lord Jesus Christ,
Just as I have asked you to love my friends, 
so I ask the same for my enemies. 
You alone, Lord, are mighty.  
You alone are merciful. 
Whatever you make me desire for my enemies, 
give it to them and give the same back to me. 
If I ever ask for them anything which is outside your perfect rule of love, 
whether through ignorance, weakness or malice, 
good Lord, do not give it to them 
and do not give it back to me.
 
You who are the true light, lighten their darkness.  
You who are the whole truth, correct their errors.  
You who are the incarnate word, give life to their souls.
 
Tender Lord Jesus,
let me not be a stumbling block to them, 
nor a rock of offense. 
My sin is sufficient to me, without harming others.  
I, a slave to sin, beg your mercy on my fellow slaves.
Let them be reconciled with you, 
and through you reconciled to me.
 
~ written by Anselm of Canterbury ( (c.1033-1109).  Posted on Beauty and Branding. http://beautyandbranding.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/a-prayer-for-enemies-and-gods-perfect-rule-of-love-anselm-of-canterbury/

 

October 18, 2020

1. Check in.  

How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual? 

Here’s a WARM question: Can you think of a time that you were exiled, or felt exiled? What happened?

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 2:15-17

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

Here are the reflection questions:

1. In modern exposition, we talk about Jesus being an immigrant and a refugee.  This text from Matthew is often used to support this idea.  What feelings do you have about this claim? How does it relate to our world and our lives? 

 

2. Can you imagine what this would have been like, to travel with a toddler on foot (the donkey isn’t in the story, just our pretty manger scenes) for hundreds of miles? There are obvious parallels with refugees from all over the world, and particularly close to us with Latinx refugees and children at our own border. 

 

3. What are the stories of exile that you can think of in the Bible besides this one? What do you think about exile being a prevailing theme in our lives? What do you make of the idea that perhaps exile is one way of thinking about “the human condition” – that we are separated from God by our brokenness? 


3. Pray for each other.  

Here’s a prayer from re-worship that you are welcome to use:

Prayer for Immigrants

Our God, you have given us in your word 

the stories of persons who needed to leave their homelands—

Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, Moses. 

 

Help us to remember 

that when we speak of immigrants and refugees, 

we speak of Christ.

 

In the One who had no place to lay his head, 

and in the least of his brothers and sisters, 

you come to us again, a stranger seeking refuge. 

 

We confess that we often turn away. 

 

You have chosen that the life of Jesus be filled 

with events of unplanned travel and flight from enemies.

 

You have shown us through the modeling of Jesus 

how we are called to relate to persons from different nations and cultures. 

You have called us to be teachers of your word. 

 

We ask you, our God, to open our minds and hearts 

to the challenge and invitation 

to model your perfect example of love. 

Amen.

 

~ adapted from Justice for Immigrants, “Prayer and Liturgy Suggestions,” originally posted on the Justice for Immigrants website. https://justiceforimmigrants.org/ 
Available now on the NC Council of Churches website.  
https://www.ncchurches.org/lectionary/httpwww-ncchurches-orgp19454/

 

Oct 11

1. Check in.
How are you doing? Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: How and where were you born? Hospital? House? Side of the road? C-Section? Natural birth? Breech? What’s your birth story?

2. Dig Deeper – Exodus 1:8-22

8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16“When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.” 17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, God gave them families. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

Reflection Questions:
1. What do you make of the response of the midwives in verse 19?
2. What do you think of Pharoah’s change between verse 16 and verse 22?
3. We often see ourselves siding with the oppressed people in Biblical stories. Alan Storey, our guest preacher on Sunday, encouraged us to see ourselves as everyone in this story, including Pharaoh. Does this challenge you? Why or why not?

3. Pray for each other. Here’s a prayer from Grace Church in London, England:

Almighty God,
we thank you for the witness of Shiphrah and Puah,
who disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders
in order to obey what they believed you wanted them to do.
Even today we as disciples of Christ may be called upon
to peacefully resist human-made laws
while being true to your commandments.
Give us courage and strength to live as you would have us to do.
In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

– From Alan Harvey, https://www.firstpreswh.org/daily-devotional/shiphrah-and-puah-two-god-fearing-midwives/

Have a great meeting, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help or would like someone to talk to about the process.

 

Oct 4

Check in.How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?Here’s a fun WARM question based on Pastor Kathy’s sermon: Denial is not just a river in Egypt!  What is something you are in denial about?

Dig Deeper – John 1:1-5

In In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through the Word, and without the Word not one thing came into being. What has come into being in the Word was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the deepest night, and the night did not overcome it.

Here are the reflection questions:

1. In Sprouts class, Mr. Dana taught the preschoolers about how important words are, especially for how we know ourselves and know others.  What does this Bible passage tell you about who God the Creator is?

This inclusive translation of this passage uses the words “deepest night” instead of the traditional translation “darkness.”  Why do you think that is? Hint: it is a big social issue in our country today!

This passage is often read on Christmas Eve.  Why?

Pray for each other.  Here’s a prayer from Grace Chuch in London, England:

Creator God
swirling, formless one,
hovering over creation and bringing new things to life
you speak new worlds into being with language that creates and liberates

Eternal God
living, limitless one
inhabiting the vast universe with the rich complexity of your being
you reveal yourself to your creatures and invite us to know you

Friendly God
nurturing, welcoming one
opening yourself wide to the joy and pain of loving your people
you place us in communities and families that echo your true nature

(pause to think about the language we instinctively use for God)

Holy God
We thank you for the ways in which

we have known and understood you;
We thank you for the metaphors

that have opened our eyes to more of who you are;
We thank you for the language that has brought

the transcendent, timeless, mysterious God within our grasp.

Holy God
We are hungry for more of you
We ask you to reveal more of yourself to us
to take us beyond the confines of familiar habits
to free us from the restrictions and distortions of our language
to expand our understanding of you
so that we can love you whole heartedly
we can communicate you faithfully
and we can reflect your full image to a world that needs you
Amen.

~ posted on the Fresh Worship website of Grace Church, an alternative congregation in London, England. http://www.freshworship.org/

Sept 27

Check in.How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?Here’s a fun WARM question: What was your first impression of Our Redeemer’s?  How long ago was it?2. Dig Deeper – Luke 12:35-38, 48b 

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”

Here are the reflection questions:

It seems that our lamps have been running low lately.  What are you doing to keep your lamps burning?

Have you thought about what it will be like when Jesus comes back?  What do you imagine?  If you close your eyes and picture it, what do you see?

In Pastor Kathy’s sermon, she suggested using this time out of our building as a time for reaching out to others – those in need, those who need encouragement, those who are grieving, etc.  What would be a healthy challenge for you in this way?

Pray for each other.  Here’s a prayer from hellohope.com:

 

A PRAYER FOR LIGHT

God, with you there is no darkness. Your character has no shadows, and you are pure and good. Yet in our broken world, we see so much darkness around us. Pain, sickness, and disease are in our community and in many of our homes.

Bring your light and restoring presence to the dark places in our lives. Bring your hope to hearts that feel defeated. Bring your love and compassion to those in pain.

Give us faith to say with the psalmist, “Lord, you light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness.” May your light of hope shine in the darkness for families today. Show us glimpses of your presence with us and the comfort you bring.

In the busyness of today, help us to take a moment to be still and sit with you. To slow down, breathe deeply, and release our burdens to your strong hand. You are trustworthy, good, and true, and we thank you for caring for us so deeply and beautifully. Open our eyes to see you at work today. Give us your light.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Sept 20

Check in.

How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: What was the first job you ever had?  What was it like?

2. Dig Deeper

Matthew 20:1-16

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Here are the reflection questions:

Who are you in this story? Who do you relate to?

What do you think Jesus means, that the first will be last?  What does that mean for us?

From a social justice bent: Do you think the last workers hired were different from the first?  What if they were black? Latinx? Female?  What if they weren’t hired because they were less appealing than the first group?  What then? Does that change this parable for you?

Pray for each other.

I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).

Or, you can pray this prayer, from Nadia Bolz-Weber:

God of all beings,

A lot of us feel less safe than we did a few days ago and a few days ago we weren’t feeling that secure to begin with. Help us draw upon you, our Divine Source, when what we have just isn’t enough to get through the day.

A lot of us are grieving. Actually, all of us are grieving: lost friends, lost kin, lost homes, lost income, lost connection to others, lost health.  Help us not also lose hope. We can lose a lot and still survive, but not that.

A lot of us are so angry. Angry that our inherent worth and dignity seems up for debate by those who have never had their worth and dignity questioned in courts of law. Angry that love of power seems to trump love of neighbor. Repurpose our anger into righteous action, Lord.

(Personal note: My fear is turning to anger and I am afraid that my anger can turn so easily to hate and hate is the thing I say I am against. Turn me away from hate. My heart can’t take that kind of brittleness because I need it to give and to receive love. Remind me that my heart is spoken for.)

A lot of us are ashamed of how numb we feel, but honestly we’ve run out of emotional bandwidth and the system needs to re-boot before it comes back on-line. Give us rest and self-compassion.

A lot of us are joyous and feel like we have to shield that joy from others, lest it seem like we are callous toward those who are hurting. Help us see and celebrate what good there is in our lives and the lives of those around us.

I don’t think you created us to be able to metabolize such a constant stream of bad news everyday, Lord. But I do know that you created us to metabolize cookies. And for that I give you thanks and praise. They are helping. But they are not enough.

So if you could show the hell up right now, that would be great. And if you are already showing up, give us new eyes to notice you.

Amen.

 

Sept 13

Check in.

How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: What was the first job you ever had?  What was it like?

2. Dig Deeper : Matthew 20:1-16

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Here are the reflection questions:

Who are you in this story? Who do you relate to?

What do you think Jesus means, that the first will be last?  What does that mean for us?

From a social justice bent: Do you think the last workers hired were different from the first?  What if they were black? Latinx? Female?  What if they weren’t hired because they were less appealing than the first group?  What then? Does that change this parable for you?

 

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or, you can pray this prayer, from Nadia Bolz-Weber:

God of all beings,

A lot of us feel less safe than we did a few days ago and a few days ago we weren’t feeling that secure to begin with. Help us draw upon you, our Divine Source, when what we have just isn’t enough to get through the day.

A lot of us are grieving. Actually, all of us are grieving: lost friends, lost kin, lost homes, lost income, lost connection to others, lost health.  Help us not also lose hope. We can lose a lot and still survive, but not that.

A lot of us are so angry. Angry that our inherent worth and dignity seems up for debate by those who have never had their worth and dignity questioned in courts of law. Angry that love of power seems to trump love of neighbor. Repurpose our anger into righteous action, Lord.

(Personal note: My fear is turning to anger and I am afraid that my anger can turn so easily to hate and hate is the thing I say I am against. Turn me away from hate. My heart can’t take that kind of brittleness because I need it to give and to receive love. Remind me that my heart is spoken for.)

A lot of us are ashamed of how numb we feel, but honestly we’ve run out of emotional bandwidth and the system needs to re-boot before it comes back on-line. Give us rest and self-compassion.

A lot of us are joyous and feel like we have to shield that joy from others, lest it seem like we are callous toward those who are hurting. Help us see and celebrate what good there is in our lives and the lives of those around us.

I don’t think you created us to be able to metabolize such a constant stream of bad news everyday, Lord. But I do know that you created us to metabolize cookies. And for that I give you thanks and praise. They are helping. But they are not enough.

So if you could show the hell up right now, that would be great. And if you are already showing up, give us new eyes to notice you.

Amen.

 

Sept 6

Check in: Talk about a time when you were tended to when you were sick, other than your mom when you were a kid.  Who took care of you?

Dig Deeper: Matthew 16:21-28

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? 27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

What does Jesus mean when he says “What will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit they life?”

What does it mean to you to get behind Jesus, or to follow Jesus?  How do you do that?

Have you ever been a stumbling block for someone else? How did you recognize it?

Pray for each other:

Gracious God, take my life, and my habits of stumbling and making a mess, and turn them into stepping stones so that I myself, and everyone I encounter, can find the path clear to you.  Amen.

 

August 30

Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual? Here’s a fun WARM question: Have you ever climbed a mountain?  What’s the highest place you’ve ever been?2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 18:15-20

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Here are the reflection questions:
– People like to quote that where two or three are gathered, God is there with them.  However, I like to think that God is with us when we are alone also. What do you think this is about?
– Does it seem like this teaching of Jesus conflicts with the “turn the other cheek” teaching?  Why or why not?
– I love that Jesus tells us to deal with our problems directly first.  As humans, many of us have a hard time with this.  What do you think that is about?

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or, you can pray this prayer from St. Alban’s Anglican Church:Oh God, our Father,In a world turn apart by fear and suspicion,Teach us your children that Love is the only means to conquer fear:

The Love we encounter as we search you out,

The Love we encounter as we accept your embrace.

Oh God, the Son,

In a world full of anger and frustration,

Teach us, your servants, your friends, your sisters and your brothers,

To overturn the tables and tear down the fences

Which turn away the hungry and homeless:

To feed and house the disciple that knocks on our door

In the guise of the stranger,

And to find the Love we seek in loving others.

Oh God, the Holy Spirit,

Mother of Wisdom,

Teach us, your children, to be caring of one another,

To protect one another,

As you gather the nations under the feathers of your wings.

Help us to know peace that steals gently in through quiet acts of kindness.

Amen

 

August 23

1. Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: When was a time that you had to stretch to make ends meet?

Dig Deeper – Matthew 14:13-21

13Now when Jesus heard [about the beheading of John the Baptist], he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Here are the reflection questions:

– This is often recalled as the feeding of the 5,000.  But there were probably more like 20,000.  Was it a miracle that there was enough?  What do you think?

– The disciples say that the place was deserted.  With all those people?  What do you think they meant?

– Jesus, in this story, is mourning his cousin John.  Yet, he still has compassion for others.  What can we learn from this?  What is the takeaway for us?

Pray for each other.I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or, you can pray this prayer:

Prayer of Confession

We come believing in our emptiness,
believing that we will never have enough,
believing that what we have is unworthy.

We come fearful of sharing,
fearful of losing our tenuous grip on security,
fearful of touching and knowing the pain of others.

We come overwhelmed by the hunger,
overwhelmed by the suffering of children near and far,
overwhelmed by the endless tales of senseless violence, greed, and death.

We come aching from the weight of the responsibility,
aching from the chilling challenge of knowing our abundance,
aching from the gnawing awareness that we have much to share.

We come clinging to our meager lunches;
bless them, and us.
break them, and us.
share them, and us.

~ written by Katherine Hawker, on Liturgy Outside.
http://liturgyoutside.net/

 

August 16

1. Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: Tell about a time that you had to be persistent.

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 15:[10-20] 21-28

10[Jesus] called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 15But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”
21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Here are the reflection questions:
– When you think of the word “defile,” what does it imply to you? What do you associate with it?

– This woman is often seen as persistent, or impertinent.  Jesus seems to think that that makes her faithful. What do you make of that?

– The blind leading the blind. Where do you see this kind of leadership today? Think about social media.  What could we do differently, so we do not fall into the pit?

Pray for each other.I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or, you can pray this prayer,

O Christ our Lord,
as the Canaanite woman brought her daughter’s need to you,
overcoming stigma and rejection to do so,
confident of your healing in her life,
we bring the needs of others in prayer:

Those for whom pain is a constant companion
Those who daily live with chronic illness or ill-health
Those who struggle with the confusion and distress

of mental illness
Those who care for and treat people who are ill

and sometimes have agonizing decisions to face
Those for whom treatment is not available or affordable
And for ourselves in our own weakness

To all your children everywhere,
Lord Jesus Christ,

bring healing,

bring peace. Amen.

~ posted on the Monthly Prayers page of the Christian Aid website. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/

 

August 9

Check in.How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?Here’s a fun WARM question: How do you feel about boats? About water? About swimming?  Why?2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 14:22-33

22[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowds.23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Here are the reflection questions:

Why do you think Peter began to sink? Why did Peter want to go out on the water anyway?

The boat is often a metaphor for the church – the body of Christ.  What does that imply for this story?

Where are you feeling called out onto the water these days?  Where is it overwhelming?  Where is it exciting?

Pray for each other.I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or, you can pray this prayer, from re:worship:

Gracious God,

You call us to let go of the things we cling to

and step out in faith,

trusting in Your love and provision.

Give us courage to step out boldly,

and sufficient faith to follow without fear.

Take our lives and our gifts.

Use them to accomplish more than we could possibly imagine,

so that, through us, Your kingdom might come

and Your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.

August 2

1. Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: How good are you at forgiving people?  Are you someone who holds on to things, or lets them go easily?

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 16:13-20

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do

people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others

Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say

that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And

Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed

this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build

my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the

kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever

you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell

anyone that he was the Messiah.

Here are the reflection questions:
– Who do you say that the Son of Man is?  What does this mean to you? What are the implications?

– The keys to the kingdom of heaven involve bondage and freedom, says Jesus.  What does this mean?  What does it mean if you have the power to loose and to bind?  Why would you choose to bind?

– What does it mean for Jesus to say that Peter is his rock?  I mean, Peter’s not a very consistent person, right?  What is Jesus thinking?  What does it mean for us today?

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or, you can pray this prayer, from a student at Asbury Seminary:

Champ Squires, student – 5/1/2020

Father, Son & Holy Spirit, in these days when everything around us, above us, and the ground beneath us seems to be unsettled and shaking, remind us that you are unchanging and the immovable rock. For Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. Lord Jesus, keep our eyes and mind ever fixed on you so that our gaze is directed upward. It’s so easy in times of trial and difficulty to feel like we’re walking through the wilderness. Lord in our humanness do not let us settle for the path of least resistance or for the waterholes that pigs wash themselves in but Lord, give us the strength and the endurance to keep moving forward to climb the mountain and give us the endurance that we need not just for the days ahead but for the here and now. It’s because of you, Lord Jesus, that we know better and brighter days are ahead of us and that the best is yet to come. All we have to do is take you at your word and trust in you with the confidence and the assurance that you’ve been faithful before and you’ll be faithful again. Lord, oh how we need you. Amen.

 

July 26

1. Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: What is the best treasure you have ever discovered?

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

31[Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
33He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Here are the reflection questions:
– Jesus is telling us that the kingdom of heaven is like many things of value.  What do you think the kingdom of heaven is like?

– The last line of this reading is often overlooked.  What do you think ti means to bring out of your treasure what is new, and what is old?

– Pastor Kathy told in her sermon that we seem to be in a time of waiting.  What are you the most impatient for right now?  Where are you finding patience?

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or, you can pray this prayer:

Prayer: Lord My God (St Anselm of Canterbury)

O Lord my God.
Teach my heart this day,
where and how to find you.

You have made me and remade me,
and you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess,
and still, I do not know you.
I have not yet done that for which I was made.
Teach me to seek you,
for I cannot seek you unless you teach me,
or find you unless you show yourself to me.

Let me seek you in my desire;
let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you;
let me love you when I find you. Amen.

 

July 12

Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: Who is the best gardener you’ve ever known? What made them great?

Dig Deeper – Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”

18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Here are the reflection questions:
– Which type of soil do you think you’re working with these days? Rock ground? Weedy? Good soil?
– We don’t always get to reap what we sow. What does it meant you to plant crops you may never harvest? How do you cope with that?
– Jesus got in a boat to get away from the crowd and gather his thoughts.  What do you do when you’re overwhelmed?

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).

Or, you can pray this prayer, from Rev. Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia:

Jesus, you sow yourself
The Word of Truth, generously
The Word of Life, graciously

Defend us from the Evil One
Who seeks to snatch us away

Fortify us for hard times and costly discipleship
That we may endure

Deliver us from distraction
From worldly desires and
All that would lure us and choke us with false promises

Till us
Turn us
Enrich us with every blessing of your Spirit
That we may be good, good soil
Forever faithful and fruitful for you
Amen

 

July 5

1. Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: When was the last time you felt fully rested? What made that possible?

Dig Deeper – Matthew 11

[Jesus spoke to the crowd saying:] 16“To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,

17‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’

18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

25At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Here are the reflection questions:

– There seems to be a “Catch 22” feeling here in verse 18 and 19.  What is Jesus talking about?

– Wisdom seems to make some strange choices in v 25-27.  What infants is Jesus referring to?

– Pastor Kathy mentioned being yoked implies being tied to some kind of work, and Jesus’ yoke is different from other yokes we may put on.  What yokes are you currently carrying?  What would it be like to have Jesus’ yoke instead?

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).

Or, you can pray this prayer, from Nadia Bolz-Weber written July 3, 2020.

Dear God,

Everyone’s exhausted right now: parents, activists, cashiers, people who are just now actually learning about systemic racism, delivery drivers, the unemployed, the chronically sick, ER nurses, those who fear the police, the elderly, performers with no hope of an audience any time soon, clergy, social workers, those who can’t make their rent, and everyone who has to spray something down with disinfectant for the 1,000th time.

Teach us to rest, Lord. Help us dial back our obsession with productivity. Raise up more helpers for those who are over-extended Lord – stir up the desire to serve in those who only take. Remove barriers to napping. Quiet babies for an hour so those new mamas can sleep. Make us aware of any new binge-able NETFLIX shows that might help. Give employers the will to grant extra paid mental-health days. Quiet those voices that tell us we should be doing more right now, especially the ones that come from inside of us. Teach us not to confuse respite with laziness. Increase our compassion for one another. And while you’re at it, increase our compassion for ourselves.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

AMEN.

 

June 29

1. Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: Tell about a time in your life that you felt revolutionary! Happy fourth of July!

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 10:40-42

[Jesus said to the twelve:] 40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Here are the reflection questions:

Jesus seems to imply that there is a disciple’s reward.  What do you think that might be?

Welcome is a very general term in the English language.  How do you define welcome? How do you think Jesus might define it?

This past Sunday we celebrated Pride Sunday – celebrating our LGBTQIA+ siblings in the body of Christ.  Do you think we did well? Too much? Not enough? Why?

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or, you can use this prayer from Pastor Ruth Harvey that I found here:  https://www.spiritualityofconflict.com/readings/260/fourth-sunday-after-pentecost.Welcoming Godwhen we have rejectedyour wide open arms

forgive us.

Embracing God
when we have closed the door
on the homeless, the lost, the sick,
remind us

that your welcome at our birth,
and your radical hospitality at our death
are unconditional moments of grace
– of welcome and reward –

which in our turn we offer to
the ‘other’ always in our midst.

In the name of Jesus,
the reconciling Son and Christ we pray.
Amen

June 22

1. Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: Tell about a time in your life that you learned a truth that changed something significant in your life.

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 10:24-39

[Jesus said to the twelve:] 24“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
26“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Here are the reflection questions:

1. One of the ideas I talked about in my sermon was that God is both everywhere and omnipotent, creating mountains and oceans; and at the same time God is close in and focused, knowing the hairs on our heads.  Does this make you comfortable or uncomfortable?  Why?

2. Jesus says that acknowledging him may cause disruption in families.  In some families, conflict is not tolerated at all.  What do you do? Is it worth it to create the discord?

3. Jesus says that everything will be made known, or ’uncovered.’ What does this mean to you?  Is there a sense or relief, or a sense of anxiety? How does it feel?

4. Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).

Or, you can try this prayer together from the RevGalBlogPals website.

Dear God,

As on so many days in our world,

a lot of tragic things happened yesterday.

You have counted the hairs on the head

and know the names of each one who died

in the school shooting in Florida

and in the famine in the Yemen

and in the war torn cities of the world

and in the places with no medicine or clean water…

You know their names,

each one’s name,

and call them beloved.

Help us to live and to love

into the full truth of their belovedness;

working for a world

where children are treasured,

where life is honoured,

where peace is pursued,

where justice is done.

Confront us with your love,

confront us with your justice,

and, by your Spirit,

make us your living, loving people.

Amen.

June 15

1. Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?
Here’s a fun WARM question: Tell about a time in your life that felt like you needed to shake the dust from your shoes and move on.

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 9:35-10:8

35Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming

the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36When he saw

the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep

without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are

few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10:1Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits,

to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of

the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son

of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax

collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the

one who betrayed him.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the

Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of

Israel. 7As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8Cure the

sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give

without payment.  [9Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10no bag for your journey,

or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11Whatever town or village

you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12As you enter the house,

greet it. 13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your

peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust

from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the

land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and

innocent as doves. 17Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in

their synagogues; 18and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a

testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19When they hand you over, do not worry about how you

are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time;

20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21Brother will

betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have

them put to death; 22and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures

to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell

you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”]

Here are the reflection questions:

1. What does it mean to be a disciple?  What do disciples do?

Why would Jesus ask us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves? What does that mean?

What does gathering lost sheep look like these days? Who would Jesus says is lost in our world?

 

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).Or you can pray this prayer from Henri Nouwen:

Dear Lord, you have sent us into this world to preach your word. So often the problems of the world seem so complex and intricate that your word strikes us as embarrassingly simple. Many times we feel tongue-tied in the company of people who are dealing with the world’s social and economic problems.

But you, O Lord, said, “Be clever as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Let us retain innocence and simplicity in the midst of this complex world.

We realize that we have to be informed, that we have to study the many aspects of the problems facing the world, and that we have to try to understand as well as possible the dynamics of our contemporary society. But what really counts is that all this information, knowledge, and insight allows us to speak more clearly and unambiguously your truthful word.

Do not allow evil powers to seduce us with the complexities of the world’s problems, but give us strength to think clearly, speak freely, and act boldly in your service. Give us the courage to show the dove in a world so full of serpents. Amen.

June 8

Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual?

Here’s a fun WARM question: If you had to pick just one member of the trinity to hang out with, who would you choose?

2. Dig Deeper – Matthew 28:16-20 – Trinity Sunday Reflection

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Here are the reflection questions:

What is the Trinity?  What is a doctrine?

Why do we baptize people?  What’s the point?

This is one of two things Jesus actually tells us to DO – to baptize.  What’s the other one?

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.).

Here’s a thoughtful prayer about the trinity from Steve Collins.

three is the magic number
three is the magic number
calling us out of individualism
insisting on relationship
i to you
we to another
trinity seeding networks
until all the cosmos joins in

one to create
one to save
one to sustain

one to author
one to fight
one to enliven

one to conceive
one to die
one to resurrect

one to plan
one to act
one to explain

one’s sufficient
two’s company
three’s community

trinity expose our self-reliance
trinity break open our exclusivity
trinity seed our joining tonight

amen

June 1

Check in.  How are you doing?  Physical, mental, and spiritual? Here’s a fun WARM question: Who was the first person of a race different than your own that you were close to?  How did you meet?

 

Digging Deeper: Acts 2:1-21

What do you think that the story of Pentecost holds for us today? I mentioned that I hope that the gift of deeper understanding between each other might be a continuing gift.  Perhaps that we could understand the prophesying of our black sisters and brothers more clearly and deeply.  What do you see in it for us today?

Pray for each other.  I love to ask people for joys and concerns – if you’re concerned about remembering them all, you can ask them to type them in the chat window on zoom.  (This is what I do with the confirmands.). If that’s too uncomfortable, here’s a prayer from the ELCA that is great to pray in these days:

Save us, O God, from ourselves,

from racism often cloaked in pious words,

from the machinations of white supremacy hidden in calls for civility,

from micro aggressions thinly veiled in arrogance,

from apologies when they don’t give way to action,

from forgiveness without facing the truth,

from reconciliation without reparation.

Deliver us, O God, from expecting siblings of color to continue to bear this emotional work,

which is not theirs to do.

Grateful for the long arc that bends toward justice, we pray:

Grant us wisdom,

give us courage for the facing of these days,

by the power of the Spirit, all for the sake of the kin-dom that we share in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

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Along with our calendar, our blog is a great place to see what we’re up to. Read the posts below to hear musings from Pastor Kathy, ministry leaders and folks in our community. You can use a filter to read updates on our high school youth activities, Kids’ Church and much more. There’s a lot happening around here. Feel free to leave a comment, email the author, share things on facebook, and join the conversation.

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