Reformation 500 Celebration!

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Loving Prayer – God in the World

 

Our focus in this class is to talk about ways we can live in a world that hurts, is not often kind, and be a representative of our vision of a loving God. The way we are approaching this topic is through study and conversation about the history and practices of the Spiritual Disciplines. Before going on to study the early church mothers and fathers, it became clear that our group wanted to spend more time on prayer first.

Our conversation for this week is about the power of love in our intentional prayers. Each week we start our conversation with a prayer chosen from the church’s history, the LBW, or the Psalms that address our particular topic of the day. The topic in prayer this week is love. How do we choose to love our enemy and do good to those that hate us when it’s hard sometimes to love and do good to those that annoy us?

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As we think about our world today, everything seems overwhelming. Martin Luther said that the busier he was, the more he prayed. In our busy lives, our prayer time is often the first to suffer. Yet, when we take time to pray we are given more than time because our understanding of our own needs as well as the needs of others becomes clearer. Often we can also begin to better discern the things/events which we need to let go of and allow God to be the one in control.

For this week, our prayer exercise will be to use the worksheet  The Power of Intention in our Prayers to pray about love. How is it that we recognize the love of God, the love of others, and the love of self in the coming week? Write your answers down in the columns. Which column has fewer entries? What does it mean to recognize the love around you?

If you cannot join our wonderful group on Sundays, we would be blessed to hear from you. You can comment below or send your information to our church. Please pray for us. We are praying for you.

prayer beads

 

 

St. Francis of Assisi

I13012884_10154145581121255_9200037945927277488_nn our class, God in the World, we are talking about the ways in which we see God in the world. Always our question returns to “Where is God in all of this?” As a result, we also look at the spiritual disciplines and people who best lived those disciplines in the past or represent the life of a loving God in today’s society.

Our church member, Bonnie Steckleburg shared information with us last week about ways we can conserve energy. As a result, this Sunday, April – 24, 2016, we will be looking at St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is one of the best known and best loved saints of all time because of his love of creation. We started last Sunday’s class with this well-known poem.

THE CANTICLE OF BROTHER SUN   by Francis of Assisi

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
through which You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

From Francis and Ciare: The Complete Works, translated and introduced by Regis Armstrong and Ignatius Brady. © 1982 The Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle in the State of New York. Used by permission of Paulist Press.

 

For more information on St. Francis, please visit these sites:

The Christian History Institute

Christianity Today – moversandshakers

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Losing

Please join us for Ash Wednesday Worship with Holy Communion and the Imposition of Ashes at 6:30pm. Come early for soup supper at 5:30.

Here we begin our Lenten journey, the 40 days of preparation for Easter. It is the beginning of our journey to the cross. Seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the coming of the wise men to see the new born king. Lent comes early this year and we are barely beyond the start of the new calendar before it is upon us.

ash

Ash Wednesday

Lent really is an odd season. I’ve heard some people compare it to off season training for an athletic sport. Like baseball players who go away to spring training to work on the fundamentals of the game, we take time during our Lenten spring training to work on the fundamentals of our faith; the skills of what it means to be a Christian. Many take Lent to be a somber, serious time intended for self-reflection, repentance and returning to God humbly to ask for forgiveness. Some fast during Lent and some add a practice like additional daily prayer or bible study. Some might perceive Lent as that time when we determine which addictions we may still have some sort of control over. And some Christian denominations find it too problematic and skip Lent altogether, opting to begin the celebration of the resurrection as early as possible, well before Easter Sunday actually arrives.

A friend of mine seriously questions the practice of giving up something for Lent and said, “I don’t get what fasting is going to do for you. God gave us good things! God does not want us to suffer and we can’t earn God’s love by doing anything like that, so what’s the point? Makes no sense to me!” Well, he has a point. No amount of sacrifice could ever earn us God’s love that is already freely given to us. So, what IS the point of Lent?

In many ways, Lent is about losing. I know that is not a popular idea; losing. We avoid it desperately. But Lent won’t let us forget it. The big symbol of the beginning of Lent is a cross made of ashes, an unmistakable image of loss. But it isn’t that we are supposed to make a sacrifice or perform an act to appease God during Lent. We cannot out-sacrifice God. Lent teaches us that regardless of what we lose, give up, or give away, God has given us all that we need. No matter how much of a loser we are, in God all our needs are fulfilled.

It seems like we panic when we think we can’t have something. It can sometimes even make us think that God wants to punish us when something is taken away. Our culture is very good at teaching us how to win, acquire, obtain, maintain, and horde, but not so good at teaching us how to lose graciously, how to give up, release, surrender, or grieve.

There has been much made over Cam Newton this week, the Carolina Panther’s quarterback, and his behavior at an interview just following the SuperBowl. So many people judging him as a poor sport for abruptly leaving a post game interview, calling him a pouting adolescent. Others pointing out the loud conversation going on behind him, which included the boasting words of a Broncos player, mitigated his behavior. Regardless of the hows and whys, Cam Newton had lost. A really big, really public loss, perhaps the most public of losses possible these days, and did not know what to do or how to escape this loss.

He has no doubt spent his career focusing on winning. Professional athletes do not get paid to lose, they get paid to win. That is really all there is. But he and his fellow celebrity athletes are not alone. We in this constant consumption, moderation-is-for-idiots, “winning”, desperately searching for a perfect hero to worship, shame driven American culture are just like this. Even if we have a stoic and less emotional response, most of us do not know how to stand in the presence of loss and still know it is well with our souls. Even though it is.

For most of us at best, the practice of being a good loser is nostalgic, a remnant of a bygone era and while we expect our heroes to know how to lose gracefully, the truth of it is that none of us know how to do it.* We don’t know how to do it because it is a practice and when we are faced with losing, the suffocating shame of losing, we too will do nearly everything to avoid it.

We blame others. We get angry; angry with them, angry with those people who did this to us, angry with God. We resist it. We fill the holes in our soul with anything we can to staunch the emotional bleeding, usually with things that make us feel like winners anyway, illusions that make us feel like we were wronged or new ways to win at any cost.

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

………. the remainder of this sermon can be found here

OR join us for worship at 6:30pm Wednesday, February 10th.