Monday, October 31, 2016

All Saints Sunday November 6, 2016

My friends, we enter into a series of Festival Sundays … Reformation, ALL SAINTS, and Christ the King!  Here at the completion of the church liturgical year, we look back in honoring the past and we look forward to all that God is doing as the future stretches broad before us.

╬  Feast of All Saints

The Christian Testament describes all the people of God as “saints” – deriving from the Latin sancire, “consecrated,” and sanctus, “holy.”  Not just particular, especially virtuous people … but all of us!  Claimed by God in our baptism, God sanctifies us for a life of faith.  Here on the Feast of All Saints, we celebrate the lives and the witness of all who have gone before us, our heritage of saints stretching back over untold generations.  And we celebrate the saints of our time – the people of God, the Body of Christ, in the world today – even as we look forward in hope to generations of saints to come. We remember the saints of God “who from their labors rest.”  And we lift up and celebrate each other, as saints of God, who carry forward in the great calling we share:  to bless God’s world, now and in the future.

We are blessed on Nov. 6 to have as our visiting pastor and preacher, Rev. Brad Fuerst, Pastor of Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Texas in Austin!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Semper Reformanda

╬ Semper Reformanda!

We are called to be the church in our time and place.  The calling of the Body of Christ – God’s church in the midst of the world -- is to faithfully live out the Gospel in context, in a given place and time. An obvious challenge is the variety of contexts and circumstances in which that life takes place:  urban, rural, in times of war or times of peace, amid social revolutions and periods of retrenchment, among the rich and the poor, the powerful and the oppressed.  And an even greater challenge is the fluidity of it all.  Our world is not static and predictable, but dynamic, ever-changing.  Our Reformation heritage teaches us to continually be reforming to engage a changing culture in new ways.  And to paraphrase the Prophet, “That ain’t easy!”

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Blessed are You

╬ Blessed are You!

“You will be hated because of my name.”  (Mark 13:13)  To the ones who are being transformed:  to his followers who have embraced the way and the truth and the life of Jesus, he gives this warning.  The world will resist – even violently – this way of being that calls forth love in the face of fear, that celebrates generosity in the face of greed, that honors God above empire. Who knows better than Jesus the consequences of speaking truth to power when power does not want to hear.  And yet, Jesus encourages us that even in the face of persecution we can know the “beatus,” the blessing of God, the joy of the Lord!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Blessed are the Peacemakers

LOOKING AHEAD … to Worship on Sunday, October 16:

As we continue in our Beatitudes series, we begin to see the profound movement of Jesus’ teaching in this discourse on blessings. 

╬ Blessed are the Peacemakers

We begin to discover a grander purpose underlying Jesus’ teaching of the Beatitudes.  He has been talking in paradoxical terms that challenge us to experience real blessing in the hardest circumstances of life.  He moves on to talk about Kingdom attributes that God is blessing and calling forth from us.  And we discover that all the while he has been leading us on the path of transformation, toward embracing our true identity and calling as God’s people.  The children of God are the peacemakers:  the ones who are actively working to bring about the great Shalom that God intends for humanity and all creation.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Blessed are the Merciful and Pure in Heart

Worship on Sunday, October 9 …

As we continue with our exploration of the Beatitudes.  As we move into October, we prepare to renew our commitment to support the mission and ministries of Abiding Love.  And in our study, we begin to fold in the vital consideration of “Blessed for …”

╬  Blessed are the Merciful and Pure in Heart
There is a palpable progression in Jesus’ teaching of the Beatitudes.  He begins with the blessing that is experienced even (or especially) when our spirits are famished and grieving.  He then moves to the way God blesses us when we are humbled by circumstance, hungry for change and open to God’s leading.  He moves on, into more positivistic places of blessing:  experienced when we can approach others and the world with compassion and mercy, and when we operate from the purest sense of who we are in God.  All the while, Jesus is expanding our focus, from the ways in which God is blessing us, to the ways God is seeking to bless the world through us.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Meek and Hungry

Sunday, October 2:  “Meek and Hungry”    We continue in our Beatitudes series

╬  “Only the Meek and Hungry Need Apply.”  Employers today are looking for the accomplished and successful.  Only the best and brightest people with a proven track record need apply. Yet the One who calls us to action, in actualizing the Kingdom of Heaven – the rule and reign of God in the world – is looking for a different skill set, a different attitude toward life and the world.  God is calling forth the conviction that righteousness – right relationship between God and people and creation – as the central priority in life.  We rarely hear “meekness” lifted up as a positive qualification or attribute … until we understand it as the ability to be led and guided in the will and ways of God.  We open ourselves to true blessing when we begin to understand and embrace this way of being, God’s way of being. The Beatitudes.