Monday, November 25, 2013

We Are Thankful

This last Sunday I asked our congregation to write down something(s) that you are grateful for this year. I then read these things out loud to the congregation. I thought it would be appropriate to share these things with the world!

1) Family- 71 Times (particularly the health of family members)
2) Home- 12 Times (filled with love)
3) Plenty of Food- 12 Times (including Skittles, M&Ms, KitKats)
4)  Sense of unity that is coming back- 3 Times
5) Church- 14 Times
6) Great Harvest-13 Times (Even with the hail) (Safety)
7) Job-7 Times (the ability to put food on the table)
8) Kids-2 Times
9) Sunday school volunteers
10) New Pastor-12 Times
11) Health-21 Times
12) Friends- 35 Times (Old and New)
13) Love of God-6 Times
14) For Military (current and past) preserving our Freedom-3 Times
15) Spouse-8 Times (some of many years)
16) Peace
17) Transportation-2 Times
18) Grades
19) Neighbors
20) Birth of a Grandson
21) Jesus-4 Times
22) Teaching Sunday School
23) Rain-2 Times
24) School-2 Times
25) Doctors who Save Lives (God's healing power through the work of Doctors)
26) Safety- 5 Times
27) Loving Community
28) Still Alive
29) Clothes-3 Times
30) My best friend Paul watching over me!
31) Spending time with family during the Holidays
32) Good Employees
33) The care shown by people when the times are hard and feeling God's hand of grace in those times.
34) Moving of the Spirit in Salem
35) Music in the church
36) Salvation-2 Times
37) Grandchildren-3 Times
38) Sun
39) Sky
40) Grass
41) Dirt
42) The World
43) Almost Done with Nursing School
44) Unconditional Love
45) God's Grace
46) The strength to get healthier
47) God always providing whatever my family needs
48) Nature
49) Holiday Festivities
50) Pastor's Husband-2 Times
51) All the time able to spend with loved ones
52) All I was able to achieve through God
53) God strengthening my belief in Him
54) My Godly husband, loyal and true to his family & God's purpose in his life. He's enjoying good health & renewed strength to do his work. For all my spouse is and does.
55) Adult Sunday School
56) God's Blessing for ALL things!
57) Animals-2 Times
58) Mom
59) Siblings
60) Teachers and Coaches
61) Everything Else
62) God's protection- 3 Times
63) New Nephew

A Family Sized Outreach

Sunday, November 3 was another normal Sunday morning. Salem UCC gathered together for worship together. We shared in communion where we proclaimed together the Death of Jesus Christ. We went home to eat lunch.  Many then gathered together in the afternoon was for an event that defined the word "koinonia" or fellowship. Thirty people spaning seven different generations gathered together to "Rake the Town."

 It was an event that reached out to those who may not be able to rake their own yards. It was an event that allowed each to serve with the gifts that they have. It was an event that was fun!

After spending three hours raking the yards of 7 families, the group joined together for a meal of chili. Those families whose yards were raked were invited to join. There was then an option of two movies offered at the church.

Rake the Town was different, it was fun, it was family sized!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sermon: Worship Through Confession

Something went wrong in the recording of the sermon this last week. We have everything from the entire service, but the sound from the sermon. 

So here are my notes. They aren't exactly how I shared everything.

WHAT IS CONFESSION?    From Dictionary

1.   a formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime.

a.   an admission or acknowledgment that one has done something that one is ashamed or embarrassed about.

b.   a formal admission of one's sins with repentance and desire of absolution, esp. privately to a priest as a religious duty.

2.   a statement setting out essential religious doctrine.


Today we are going to look at 1 John chapters 1 and 2 and what they say about confession

1 John 1: 1-10

Verses 1-4 There are a few things that we can discover in the first four verses of this book. 

-         There is more than one person who is writing this book. John is the main author, but there are others this book is written on behalf of. You can see this by the use of the word “we” in each of these four verses.

-         They are writing to tell the people about Jesus Christ and what he has done.

-         This is not certainly a letter, although it is generally classified as one. It does not contain the greeting that other letters bear even 2 John and 3 John.  However it has language like a letter does, and so we read this book as a letter, but also as we would any proclamation of theology as well. 

-         The first four verses give a brief synopsis of the rest of the book. They are writing these things as a confession (to testify to it and proclaim it to you as seen in verse 2 and 3) to others. 

Verses 5-10

-         I have am terrified of the darkness. 
When I was a child, I disobeyed my parents. I was over at a friends house and watched a show that I wasn't allowed to watch at home. It was "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" In the episode I saw, there was a clown chasing the story tellers through a fun house. They escaped and went home. One of the story tellers was getting ready for bed, and the clown reached out from under the bed to grab his/her(?) leg. 
Because of this I became terrified of the dark and my bed. I had a bed downstairs in the main family room while we were finishing the rest of the basement. The light switch was on one side, while my bed was on the other. As I was turning off the light, I would get anxious. I would then proceed to run and launch myself 4-5 feet across the room into my bed. Now I would check underneath my bed before I turned out the lights, but I still found myself anxious. Even to this day I find myself anxious when the lights go out and I am not in bed. 
Perhaps you could say that I am not afraid of what is in the dark, but rather what hides in the dark. I am fine being in the dark when I know I am safe and my feet aren't touching the floor.

-         When we read these verses as part of the Confirmation retreat last week, the students asked me what verses 5-7 meant.

Light/Darkness- Imagine a building with its lights on like our church. There is something beautiful about a church whose lights are on shining in the darkness. The light pours out the windows and illuminates part of the darkness. However if you are standing inside the church, the darkness does not shine into the building. Imagine that. That is what it means for Christ to be the light, and in Him there is no darkness. The darkness cannot permeate the light. 

-         “If we say we have no sins, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If we keep sin in the darkness, that is where Satan works. It is not the darkness that we should fear, but rather what is in the darkness. Satan. The Evil One. That is what hides in the darkness.

-         However if we bring our sin into the light, then Jesus can work with those who confess their sins. Remember my friend Pastor Al? He used to do terrible things to require a presidential pardon. But after confessing his sins and letting Jesus Christ take care of them, Satan cannot use those any longer for darkness instead they are redeemed for the work of the light.

So this morning we are going to take a moment of silence. We are going to take a moment to bring our sins to Jesus Christ who is the light. 

Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, 
we confess that we have sinned against you 
in thought, word and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone. 
We have not love you
with our whole heart and mind and strength;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

In your mercy forgive what we have been, 
help us amend what we are, 
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name.

It isn’t enough that our sins are just admitted. That isn’t what brings them into the light. It is because of Jesus Christ that any of our sins are able to be forgiven. The price for those sins has already been paid. We don’t do a single thing.

Chapter 2: 1-11- Assurance of Forgiveness

We find assurance because Jesus Christ the righteous advocates for us with the father. Not just us but rather the whole world.

We also find assurance as we proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ. 
We confess together that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the confession that is the profession

Hear these words from chapter 2 verses 12-14 (after removing the noun so that you hear them for you)
I am writing to you... because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.
I am writing to you... because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you... because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you... because you know the Father.
I write to you... because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you... because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

John is writing these things because he believes these things. He finds it imperative to write these things because these things are an outpouring of his joy.

There are several places in scripture that echo a verse in Philippians 2- That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Did you catch that? Every knee will CONFESS that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Today we have Apostles Creed to help us confess together our basic beliefs throughout the generations. The earliest form began in 150 AD in Rome. It was used to proclaim faith together as part of membership of the church. It was and is important to confess where we have our trust, our faith, and our hope.

So this morning…Together with generations of Christians we stand together with the Apostles Creed (found as #716 in our Hymnal) and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. 

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hades; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. 

ReBlog: Storming the Castle- Preparing for Worship

Every Sunday we take a moment to prepare our hearts for worship. This is intentional. Worship is something that takes preparation. One of the blogs that I follow touched on this earlier this week.
Find it HERE: Storming the Castle- Preparing for Worship

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sermon: Worship Through Prayer Alone

Sermon from Sunday, November 3, 2013
Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46

ReBlog: 7 Sabbath Killers (Resurgence)

What is Sabbath? It comes from one of the 10 Commandments.
Exodus 20:8
"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the ear, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

Do you Sabbath? Really Sabbath?
Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church shares 7 Sabbath Killers with you.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sermon: Worship Through Prayer Together

Sermon from Sunday, October 27, 2013
Scritpure: Philippians 1:1-9 and 4:2-9

Sermon: Worship Through "Going"

From Sunday, October 20, 2013
Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8 and Matthew 28:18-20

The Gift of God's Smile

From Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado October 18

We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Daniel 9:18

  If only, when God smiles and says we are saved, we'd salute him, thank him, and live like those who have just received a gift from the commander in chief.
   We seldom do that, though. We prefer to get salvation the old-fashioned way: We earn it. To accept grace is to admit failure, a step we are hesitant to take. We opt to impress God with how good we are rather than confessing how great he is. We dizzy ourselves with doctrine. Burden ourselves with rules. Think that God will smile on our efforts.
   He doesn't.
   God's smile is not for the healthy hiker who boasts that he made the journey alone. It is, instead, for the crippled leper who begs God for a back on which to ride.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Clergy Corner: Kicking the Can

Kicking the Can
Last Wednesday sitting in a hotel restaurant having dinner with my husband, I noticed a TV tuned into CNN broadcasting the vote to end the government shut down. What caught my attention was a man waving a tin can around. They were talking about how this vote by our senate and house just kicks the can a few months down the road. How many of us just kick the can down the road? 

One of my favorite books in the bible is Joshua. If you get a chance, ask me about it. However a verse at the end of the chapter where it says “Choose this day whom you will serve…” is what I want to focus on. Joshua is telling the people it is time to choose.  

How many of us kick the can down the road when it comes to following God? Do you put off choosing to follow God because it is inconvenient? Do you put off choosing to follow God because it is costly of money, of time, of pride, etc? Do you put off choosing to follow God because it isn’t the popular thing to do? Do you put off choosing to follow God because you aren’t sure? 

Revelation 3:15-16 says “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are look warm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” God wants us to make a decision of whether to follow or not. A colleague of mine puts it this way “A man with a foot in two boats splits his pants or gets wet.” We are to stop kicking the can down the road, and choose.
I ask you to make the same decision that Joshua asked the Israelites. Joshua 24: 14-15 “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, We will serve the LORD.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jesus Gives Himself to Us

From Henri Nouwen Society

Jesus Gives Himself to Us

When we invite friends for a meal, we do much more than offer them food for their bodies.  We offer friendship, fellowship, good conversation, intimacy, and closeness.   When we say:  "Help yourself ... take some more ... don't be shy ... have another glass," we offer our guests not only our food and our drink but also ourselves.  A spiritual bond grows, and we become food and drink for one another other.

In the most complete and perfect way, this happens when Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist as food and drink.  By offering us his Body and Blood, Jesus offers us the most intimate communion possible.  It is a divine communion.

ReBlog: 9 lessons for New Christians... and Old Ones (Thom S. Rainer)

Some of these lessons this morning were a great reminder for me. Hopefully these lessons will help you too.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Power of Your Hands

From Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado

September 14
But those who do right will continue to do right, and those whose hands are not dirty with sin will grow stronger. Job 17:9

   What is someone were to film a documentary on your hands? What if a producer were to tell your story based on the life of your hands? What would we see? As with all of us, the film would begin with an infant's first, then a close-up of a tiny hand wrapped around mommy's finger. Then what? Holding on to a chair as you learned to walk?...
   Were you to show the documentary to your friends, you'd be proud of certain moments: your hands extending with a gift, placing a ring on another's finger, doctoring a wound, preparing a meal... And then there are other scenes... Hands taking more often than giving, demanding instead of offering...
   Oh, the power of our hands. Leave them unmanaged and they become weapons: clawing for power, strangling for survival, seducing for pleasure. But manage them and our hands become instruments of grace- not just tools in the hands of God, but God's very hands.

Sermon: Worship Through Offering

Sermon from Sunday, September 22, 2013
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Worship Through Communion

Sermon from Sunday, October 6, 2013
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11: 17-34

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sweeter After the Rest

From Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado

September 13
In six days the LORD made everything... On the seventh day he rested. Exodus 20:11

   Time has skyrocketed in value. The value of any commodity depends on its scarcity. And time that once was abundant now is going to the highest bidder...
   When I was ten years old, my mother enrolled me in piano lessons... Spending thirty minutes every afternoon tethered to a piano bench was a torture...
   Some of the music, though, I learned to enjoy. I hammered the staccatos. I belabored the crescendos... But there was one instruction in the music I could never obey to my teacher's satisfaction. The rest. The zigzagged command to do nothing. What sense does that make? Why sit at the piano and pause when you can pound? 
   "Because," my teacher patiently explained, "music is always sweeter after a rest."
   It didn't make sense to me at age ten. But now, a few decades later, the words ring with wisdom- divine wisdom.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reblog: Holy Infographics

Last week one of the blogs that I read posted to this like at the Guardian. It shows information in pictures regarding the Bible. I used it in my sermon this last week, and wanted to make sure that you had access to the picture(s) I was trying to describe.

Sermon: Worship through Scripture

Sermon from Sunday, September 15, 2013
Scripture: Hebrews 4: 9-13, Luke 24: 44, Acts 2: 42-47

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Acoustic on 5th: September 29, 6:30 pm

In two and a half weeks we will be launching our newest plan for worship.

Our church is blessed without a gap. What is a gap? It many churches across the country there is a gap of people in the 18-40 age range. Many people in this age range don't come to church unless they have children. They find themselves busy with other things. Our church is blessed! We have a large number of people in this age range. Some are single, some are married without children, and some are married with young children. By some I am talking about a group of 30 people in the church. This is 10% of our church membership.

We also have a fabulous youth group. Wednesday night we had 24 youth at our church for CYU. Did you know that if all of these youth showed up on Sunday 24 youth is more than 25% of the people in our church on any given Sunday? The youth are fun. The youth are excited. The youth are hungry for God.

These two groups, and a few others from other age groups have requested more contemporary music. As the pastor of the church, I have heard this cry. I am have also heard the disdain from several of the older generation in the church who only want to hear hymns on Sunday morning.

This is a problem. It is a condition of the heart of this church. We often look at church as how I want it and how it suits my needs and desires. We forget how God wants it.

So I am creating a service. A community-wide, contemporary service. It will take place 4 times a year. It will be held on the evening of a  5th Sunday in a month. Which is why it is called Acoustic on 5th. It is a choice. It isn't a requirement. It is a choice to worship God in a way that is understood by many in high school, college, and adulthood. It is a choice to worship God with music that is new, with instruments, with singing, with art, with dancing, and with all of our being. It is different from the church year ago. It is different in language, style, and involvement. It is different. It is worship.

So we are beginning September 29th at 6:30. This service will feature a worship band, a sermon, and a hands on way of understanding that "God is Good." The Scripture for this service is Psalm 34: 8

See our Facebook link here
Taste and see that the Lord is good
blessed is the one who
takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8 

 If this is the way that you find yourself worshipping before God. Please join us! Join us as we taste and see. Join us as we sing, dance, and celebrate what the Lord has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. 

September 29th
6:30 pm
Salem UCC 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sermon: Worship Through Gathering

Sermon from Sunday, September 8, 2013
Scripture from Hebrews 10: 19-25

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

I am currently working on the book The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith. It has been a book that I read chapter by chapter when I find the time. I am hoping to finish the three book "Good and Beautiful" series this year, but the way I am going it won't happen.

The chapter I read this morning sought to answer the question "Why did Jesus have to die?" In it, it tells the story of author and speaker Brennan Manning. Here is the few paragraphs I would like to share with you today:

     Author and speaker Brennan Manning has an amazing story about how he got the name "Brennan." While growing up, his best friend was Ray. The two did everything together: bought a car together as teenagers, double-dated together, went to school together and so forth. They even enlisted in the Army together, went to boot camp together and fought on the front lines together. One night while sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly a live grenade came into the foxhole. Ray looked at Brennan, smiled, dropped his chocolate bar and threw himself on the live grenade. It exploded, killing Ray, but Brennan's life was spared.
     When Brennan became a priest he was instructed to take on the name of a saint. he thought of his friend, Ray Brennan. So he took on the name Brennan. Years later he went to visit Ray's mother in Brooklyn. They sat up late one night having tea when Brennan asked her, "Do you think Ray loved me?" Mrs. Brennan got up off of the couch, shook her finger in front of Brennan's face and shouted, "Jesus Christ- What more could he have done for you?!" Brennan said that at that moment he experienced an epiphany. he imagine himself standing before the cross of Jesus wondering, Does God really love me? and Jesus' mother Mary pointing to her son, saying "Jesus Christ- what more could he have done for you?"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

God Makes Us Right Again

I spent an hour watching the news from various channels this morning. Their coverage on the conflict in Syria was wide and on different sides. It makes me anxious. I think of our soilders overseas, and I pray protection over them. I think of the Israelites in the Old Testament. I think of Moses as he held his hands up for victory, and was supported by others. I pray for the millions who have been displaced from their home, and for the thousands who have lost their lives.

I read this in my devotions on Sunday, but reread it this morning. I think it points to my feelings today.

Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again. Psalm 51:10

   We are thirsty.
   Not thirsty for fame, possessions, passion, or romance. We've drunk from those pools. They are salt water in the desert. They don't quench- they kill.
   "Blesses are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..."
   Righteousness. That's it. That's what we are thirsty for. We're thirsty for a clean conscience. We crave a clean slate. We yeartn for a fresh start. We pray for a hand that will enter the dark cavern of our world and do for us the one thing we can't do for ourselves- make us right again.

Sermon: Who's Invited

Sermon from September 1, 2013
Scripture: Luke 14: 1-24

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sermon: Jealous of a Generous God?

Sermon from August 18, 2013
Scripture Matthew 20: 1-16 and Luke 15: 11-32

Quotes used during the sermon:
1) "God hires labourers, not because he needs them or their services, but as some charitable generous householders keep poor men to work, in kindness to them, to save them from idleness and poverty, and pay them for working for themselves."
2) "Many who begin last, and promise little in religion, sometimes, by the blessing of God, arrive at greater attainments in knowledge, grace and usefulness, than others who entrance was more early, and who promised fairer."
3) "As the elder brother, in the parable of the prodigal, [complained] at the reception of his younger brother, and complained of his father's generosity to him; so these laborers quarreled with their master, and found fault, not because they had not enough, so much as because others were made equal with them."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sermon: Are You Ready With Your Treasures?

Sermon from August 11, 2013
Scripture: Luke 12: 13-40

Four Points:
1) DO NOT store up for yourself, instead DO invest in eternal matters.
- Eternal Matters= other people, justice, mercy, relationship with God.
- Micah 6:8- He has showed you, O man, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you? To seek justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

2) DO NOT be anxious about things, instead DO trust in God's provision
- life is about MORE than food- consider the Ravens
- the body is about MORE than clothes- consider the lilies
- trust in God's provision for enough. I am not saying be foolish with God's provisions.
- Proverbs 6:6-8 Go to the ant, you sluggard; cansider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in the summer and gathers its food at harvest.

3) DO NOT be greedy and store up possessions, instead DO store yoru treasures in heaven.
- The rich man stored up possessions, not provisions.
- Store up your treasures in heaven
   ~Play with your kids
   ~Spend time with your spouse
   ~Serve the least of these

4) DO NOT bee lazy in your preperation, instead DO be on guard for the Son of Man is coming.
- Don't get lazy while waiting
- Don't say you'll do it tomorrow
- Look for the signs of Jesus coming

Monday, August 12, 2013

Upcoming Happenings

There were many announcements of upcoming events yesterday. Here is a list of upcoming happenings at the church:

- There is a box in the entry of the church. If you have extra produce from your garden, feel free to leave it. See something in the box you would like? Feel free to take it.

- Did you know you can find sermons on THIS BLOG? Look on the right side. You can find all of the previous posts there. All of the sermons are labeled as such.

- Our church has a Facebook page. See Here

- Aug 17 (Saturday) at 9:00 am there will be a painting day at the parsonage. Contact Max Leischner if you would like to help, or just show up.

- There is an event at the church THIS WEDNESDAY the 14th. You can check out the flyer here at FOLLOW ME. It will start at 5pm at the church. The time cannot be adjusted as this is a live worldwide event.

- There will be a confirmation parent meeting Aug 21 at 7pm.

- Sunday School starts Sept 8th with our Kick-Off Sunday. We need volunteers! We need teachers, greeters, and others who would be interested in helping. If you are interested contact Stacy Thury by e-mail at or by call/text at 605-270-0397.

- Mark your calendar for Acoustic on 5th -Sept 29th at 7pm. We will spend a night in worship with Contemporary Music. This will continue on the 5th Sunday night of a month. There will be 4 nights a year.

To See the Unseen

From Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado from August 11

He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak. -Isaiah 40:29

    An example of faith was found on the wall of a concentration camp. On it a prisoner had carved these words:
I believe in the sun, even though it doesn't shine,
I believe in love, even when it isn't shown,
I believe in God, even when he doesn't speak.

    I try to imagine the person who etched those words. I try to envision his skeletal hand gripping the broken glass or stone that cut into the wall. I try to imagine his eyes squinting through the darkness as he carved each letter. What hand could cut such a conviction? What eyes could have seen good in such horror?
   There is only one answer: Eyes that chose to see the unseen.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Truth in Love

From Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado on August 7

Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Love and truth are in all you do. Psalm 89:14

   The single most difficult pursuit is truth and love.
   That sentence is grammatically correct. I know every English teacher would like to pluralize it to read: The most difficult pursuits are those of truth and love. But that's not what I mean to say.
   Love is a difficult pursuit
   Truth is a tough one, too.
   But put them together, pursue truth and love at the same time and hang on baby, you're in for the ride of your life.
   Love in truth. Truth in love. Never one at the expense of the other. Never the embrace of love without the torch of truth. Never the heat of truth without the warmth of love...
   To pursue both is our singular task.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Clergy Corner: Grace

Christians often think we “know” what grace is, but do we often take the time to ponder what it really means? This week I read online: “The grace of God is so vast and amazing that if the thief on the cross and the Apostle Paul were to ever bump into each other in heaven, and the question were asked, ‘What did you do to get here?’ both would reply, ‘Nothing.’ That, my friends, is what we mean by grace alone.” 

A friend described grace as that feeling when you put on lotion. If you have a moment, put a dab of lotion on your fingers and rub them together. Do you feel that? That space between your fingers that allow the roughness of your work and life to glide smoothly over the other? Grace is that space between two relationships that allows the cracks, roughness, and sin to smoothly glide. There is grace when you forgot to buy milk, and there is none for breakfast. There is grace in the fumbling words while another grieves the death of a loved one. There is grace when we mess up and hurt one another. Grace is what allows the relationship to be maintained. 

Our country is divided over so many issues today. It is easy to hurt another. It is easy to say “everyone who doesn’t think like me is wrong, and I shouldn’t talk to them any longer.” However, that isn’t the example God gave us. If God did not show grace there would be no hope, and God’s back would be turned against humans. If God did not show grace, there would be no need for Jesus or the crucifixion. If God did not show grace, we would be left to disaster and ruin. We do not earn this grace. It is free. 

This does not mean that we go on sinning and hurting others (Romans 6:15). Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” Grace transforms. 

This week, as you go on your way, may you find God’s grace, may you find gracious space in your relationships, and may you extend grace to those in desperate need of it.