Is faith just part of a good life? Do churches exist to reinforce our civic and economic systems? Weighty Thursday thoughts ahead!
Is faith just strong belief, or is there something more to our relationship with God? Pastor Dave and Trish discuss the world beyond our horizons.
Join us for our very first children’s service! Jesus reassured his disciples when they were afraid in the night. Does God still do the same for us?
As we get closer and closer to the election in November my soul is grieving deeply the division and lack of respect for others that politics seems to exude. How we have let ourselves become so divided by party lines that we cannot even have civil conversations with those we disagree with, if we can even talk to them at all. This divisive politics isn’t new, I always dread the TV ads where opponents just seem to disparage each other and not talk about themselves or their ideas/policies. However, it feels like we are farther and deeper into this mess than ever before. I worry where this path of division and divisiveness is leading us. I worry if we can we learn the art of listening not in order to respond or change someone’s opinions, but listening to share space together in dialogue.
As I have been sitting in this space, I have been wondering how we can uplift the model of those like the late Justices Ginsburg and Scalia who though they disagreed on many issues were still good friends because they respected each other as people and treated each other with kindness and dignity. How do we learn to treat our neighbors with kindness, dignity, and respect? This brought me to thinking about the parable of the Good Samaritan and the question of who is our neighbor. This story starts with a lawyer asking Jesus how to inherit eternal life. As often happened when Jesus is asked a question he responds with a question, “What is written in the law?” The answer being to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus tells the lawyer to do this. The lawyer then asks the follow up questions “well, who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with a parable. The story of how a man is robbed, beaten, and left for dead and when a priest and Levite come along they pass by being too busy or making some excuse why they cannot stop to help the injured man. When a Samaritan comes along, he is moved to help the injured man and treats him with mercy and kindness. Our distance from the culture of the time of this texts can take away from our understanding of what is happening here. In the context of Jesus’ time Jews and Samaritans hated each other. I imagine it similar to how democrats and republicans act toward each other these days. They came out of something similar, but due to exile and separation the Samaritans had been disconnected from Jerusalem and the Temple so the Jews saw them as other and different. So it was very counter cultural, even in a story, for a Samaritan to help a Jew was basically unheard of. After telling the story Jesus ask the lawyer “Who do you think was a neighbor to the man who had been beaten?” The Lawyer responds “the one who showed him mercy.” This parable helps us expand our limited idea of neighbor from just being someone we live near, to being all of humanity (and I would argue all of creation). This parable tells us that loving our neighbor means seeing the humanity in the other, and caring for them when they are in need. Loving our neighbor means treating them with kindness, dignity, and respect.
What I think this parable has to tell us today is that we can build up our walls and create division based on our opinions (political or other) like the priest and the Levite do. Or we can hold on to our opinions while also holding tighter to the fact that loving our neighbor is one of the two greatest commandments. Following in that call to treat others with dignity, respect, and kindness. It can be a hard journey but it is an important journey if we are going to take steps in learning to love our neighbor. In the midst of such division and hate that we are seeing today, what things can you do to love your neighbor? Where do we need to focus on leading with kindness, respect, and dignity?
Ever notice how the people who talk loudest about how great they are are just the worst? Turns out that happened thousands of years ago too. Take one last look at Matthew 23 with Pastor Dave.
Want to know how to spot an unhealthy or manipulative church quickly? Dave and Trish have you covered!
I don’t know about you, but I feel like 2020 just keeps throwing punches and I don’t know how many more I can take. This year has been unprecedented in so many ways, with a Global pandemic, historic number of fires and hurricanes/tropical storms around the world, and the growing political division in our country, where it feels we have lost the ability to see beyond differing opinions and treat one another with dignity, respect, and kindness. There is so much more that I am struggling to even find the words to express. Like the way we still treat those we label as “other” as though their lives do not matter, whether that be immigrants, indigenous peoples, or people of color. I find myself wanting to throw my hands up in the air and cry out “How long, O Lord, how long?” and “Kyrie eleison.” Not having many words beyond these to express all that I am feeling inside as things keep seeming to happen or come to light that deal another blow to my heart about our climate or how we treat each other as human beings.
This past week I have been feeling this again after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday. The weight of the loss of someone who championed fighting for justice and equality for so many marginalized groups of people. The wonderings of how we can follow in the footsteps of the notorious RBG and of John Lewis (a great leader for civil rights who died this year too), and continue to get into good trouble as we work for a tomorrow where we all treat one another with dignity, respect, and kindness.
As all of these things were, and still are, swirling inside of me struggling to find the words to get out, I realized I was swimming in a pool of lament. Lament is a form of prayer that we find all throughout scripture, particularly in the book of Psalms, the book of Lamentations, and even in the words of Jesus on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” If you read through some of the Psalms of lament you will see that lament is not just about complaining or crying out to God.
Here is an example: Psalm 13
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Laments tend to have four core pieces, those being: Addressing God, Raising the Complaint, Asking God for help, and Choosing Trust. What I find helpful about these core pieces of lament is that they remind us that God is big enough to handle all of our complaints, questions, anger, and frustrations no matter how big they may feel to us. Second, that we are invited to hope in God’s promise to hear us when we ask for help, though God’s answer often looks different than we think it should. And lastly the cycle of a lament moves us to remember that even as we navigate the brokenness of life that God is there with us through it all. Trusting in the promise that God remembers us and abides with us always. This cycle comes to us in the psalms, but is also something we can use to pray or to help process our own feelings and experiences. If you look I am sure you will see this cycle show up in music and poetry, and in other places too where others have used it to express what is on their hearts.
Whether you find a psalm that speaks to what you are feeling or you use the cycle of lament to write out what is on your heart, I pray that you can use this form of prayer to raise your cry of lament, and to connect deeper with yourself and with God.
God isn't reducible. Love doesn't come in limited quantities. Faith isn't a system, code, or set of behaviors. Pastor Dave wraps up the parable of the vineyard workers here.
A look at the Sacrament of Baptism. How does God work through it, how do we participate, and what does it really do?