Monday, April 30, 2007

May Newsletter

May Flowers

This Spring Kendra and I have been working in the garden of the Camas Parsonage. We are very blessed to have a wonderful house with lots of yard to enjoy. (Although there is a LOT of grass to mow.) We have weeded the front flowerbeds, put beauty bark around the bushes and even begun wondering about working on some of the lumps and bumps in the lawn. With the help of one of the Camas trustees we have tilled a nice plot to plant a vegetable garden. The corn, pumpkin, carrots, lettuce and radishes are planted and there is more to do still. We have another area where we have planted strawberries and raspberries. The berries might not bear fruit this year, but it is fun to imagine the harvest next summer!

Working in this garden has been a spiritual exercise for me. There is something holy about caring for living things. Whether it is to enhance the look of a Rhododendron bush or to pull weeds so another plant can flourish, God seems to be present in this care giving.

What are your simple pleasures where you find God to be present? Do you like to take walks and talk with God? Do you have some music that lifts your soul? Does the sound of children playing bring a prayer of thanks?

Each of us has some weeding to do in our life, to rid ourselves of those things that deplete our life. Sometimes to see the beauty in another all we need to do is to highlight the gifts they have. Some of us appear pretty lumpy and rough around the edges, all we need is someone to care. Some of us are ready soil to provide nourishment for new life. Some of us are new to the faith, with questions and struggles and will take time to bear fruit.

Where ever you are in the Garden may you be able to appreciate the simple beauty of life.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sermon Notes April 22, 2007

Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord

As I came into work on Monday I began hearing news of a shooting at a college in Virginia. Soon it became apparent that this shooting was yet another terrible tragedy of gun violence. 33 students died. One of whom was the killer of the other 32, a young man whose serious mental health problems led to this tragedy.

Humans live with conflict, each and every day. Each day where our self will doesn’t match the will of another we face conflict, from whose turn is it to wash the dishes, what color to paint the church or how we are going to understand scripture. Our self will leads us into conflict all the time.

Saul was on his way to pursue more people of this group who were claiming Jesus as the Messiah, when he was blinded with a vision from God. Thank God for that vision. For in that Vision Paul’s eyes were opened to the horror of the violence he was perpetrating. Saul’s vision led him to the house of Ananias. Some sympathy here please for Ananias. He is being asked to do a very hard thing. He is asked to take in this murderer, to forgive him, to restore his sight, and to introduce him to the disciples of Jesus.

Each of these two are being asked to give up their desires, their will and to seek God’s vision for what can be. In being blind Paul is dependent upon the mercy of others. In being merciful Ananias is setting aside his fears, and his grief so that God can act.

It is easy for us to condemn the violence of others today. It is easy to look at how others might be responsible for violence today. We are good at finding fault with others. That is not the prayer we say today, it is not the song we sing today. Today we ask that God open the eyes of our hearts.

Too often we have decided that it was our will be done, our kingdom come. Are you willing today to give up some of your will, so that God’s desires can come forward? Never mind what your judgments are, but to consider how your neighbor looks in the eyes of Jesus? May God’s grace open the eyes of our hearts.

Devotions for the Third week of Easter

This week I will share my devotions with ______________.

Monday Jeremiah 23:1-8

Pray for those who are lost

Tuesday Ezekiel 11:14-21

Pray for those with hardened hearts.

Wednesday Jeremiah 31:10-18

Thank God, there is hope for the future.

Thursday John 10:1-18

Pray for understanding, to follow the good shepherd.

Friday 1st Peter 5:1-11

Pray casting all your anxieties to God.

Saturday Acts 20:17-38

Pray for Pastor Bruce and other leaders of the church.

Monday, April 16, 2007

2nd Sunday of Easter 2007

On the Way

Our mission statement proclaims that “we support each individual in their spiritual journey as they become a Disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Part of this statement is to acknowledge that we each have our own spiritual path. My spiritual life is not the same as yours. We also believe that the goal of the Christian spiritual journey is to grow deeper in our discipleship. That is, to grow in our life as a follower of the servant Messiah.

The path to Christ is not a singular moment in life, it is our whole life. If you were to create a timeline of your life, where would you say that you knew God was with you? Consider the formative events in your life, childhood events in your family, your discoveries in young adulthood, your adult life events. It is usually true in the tragic and in the joyful that those were the moments when we knew God was with us.

Our spiritual lives need attention. As we participate in prayer, worship, reading the bible we become more aware of the spiritual connections. The deepening of those connections leads to spiritual and emotional health. We can learn to not be afraid, we can learn to love the simple beauty of life, we can learn the joy of knowing that we are God’s children.

I have become particularly frustrated with American spirituality. The classic example for my life is September 16th 2001. That was the first Sunday after 9-11. Churches were full on that day, a little less full on September 23, and pretty much back to normal by September 30th. Seemingly saying, “we’ll turn to God when we need something.”

When we are “On the Way” we recognize that our spiritual life is not something we only want to pull out for emergencies, we realize that our relationship with Jesus Christ helps us to live fuller lives right now. It is my relationship with Jesus that encourages me to forgive my neighbors when we can’t agree. It is my relationship with Jesus that reminds me to serve others. It is my relationship with Jesus that helps me to become as healthy and happy a person as I can be.

Devotions for the 2nd week of Easter.

This week I will spend time with ______________________
to read scripture and pray with this week.

Monday Read Ezekiel 36:22-30

God promises to act on Israel’s behalf. Pray for God’s activity in the world today.

Tuesday Read Genesis 17:1-8

God makes a generous promise to Abraham. Pray for understanding God’s generosity in your life.

Wednesday Read Genesis 39:19-23

Joseph seems to be in a horrible situation, yet God makes use of it. Pray for God’s ability to show you how to make the most of your life right now.

Thursday Read Philippians 4:1-9

Rejoice is a holy word for Paul. Pray with Joy this day.

Friday Read Colossians 2:6-15

Paul encourages people to keep rooted in faith. Pray for those who struggle staying rooted in faith.

Saturday Read Acts 4:23-37

Facing a world of opposition the first believers act with radical faith. Pray for a faith of radical action.

Sunday LUMC worship 10:00 A.M.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter 2007

Don’t be afraid

Imagine the anxiety in the disciples in this past week. They began having to deal with a crowd seemingly celebrating the arrival of their teacher, yet there were others who were not so happy watching these events take place. They witnessed Jesus seemingly going crazy in the Temple, overturning the tables, and ranting about abuses of the people. Then there was his arrest and unusually quick execution.

The Disciples have every reason to be afraid for their life and anxious about the future. It is no wonder that they are hiding waiting for their opportunity to get on with their lives. It would be perfectly reasonable for them to dismiss the word of the women as they came making a claim that the tomb was empty.

Then something amazing happens, they experience the risen Christ. The women run reporting that the tomb is empty, Peter sees the tomb and is amazed, soon the two walking to Emmaus will encounter the Christ in breaking bread for an evening meal, Jesus will meet with the disciples and show them his wounds, their encounters with Jesus will lift their fear and anxiety.

Soon these who were hiding will be preaching in the streets and the synagogues that Jesus is the Messiah. They will face the opposition from the religious authorities, they will face ridicule from the majority of people, some will even face death and they are not afraid. Their encounter with the risen Christ has taken away fear.

You cannot serve the Kingdom of God out of fear. You might be able to support a church, follow some rules, or “live a good life” while you are afraid of judgment. But, you cannot serve the Kingdom of God. You cannot serve your neighbor if you are worried about yourself. You cannot visit the sick if you are afraid of becoming ill. You cannot feed the hungry if you are afraid of having your possessions taken. You cannot listen to the grieving if you are anxious about what you are supposed to say.

So today, live with purpose. Admire the biological miracles that surround us. See the beauty in each person. Consider the wonder of the cosmos. Live in the fullness of the kingdom of God. And quit worrying about yourself so much.

I will meet with _____________________________ to read Scripture and pray with this week.

Monday April 9, Easter day 2
Read Romans 6:1-11
Pray that you may celebrate life and sin no more.

Tuesday April 10, Easter day 3
Read Ephesians 2:1-10
Pray for people you love.

Wednesday April 11, Easter day 4
Read Galatians 2:11-21
Pray for those who are foreign to you.

Thursday April 12, Easter day 5
Read John 17:1-5
Hear Jesus’ prayer as a prayer for you, give thanks.

Friday April 13, Easter day 6
Read Romans 6:15-23
Pray for those you might be able to serve.

Saturday April 14, Easter day 7
Read Romans 8:18-30
Pray with hope.

Sunday April 15, Easter day 8
Worship at LUMC 10:00 A.M. “CAMP SUNDAY” come casual.
Theme: “On the Way”
Luke 24:13-36