ANNOUNCEMENTS

Next Sun. June 24               10 am     Sunday School;             11 am     Worship

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Sun. July 1            10 am     Sunday School;             11 am    Worship, potluck after

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CONNECTING TO THE KINGDOM

(Mark 4:26-34)              Pastor Carol Weist

The work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, includes connecting us to the kingdom of God. God scatters the seed.  God even lets us help scatter the seed just as earthly parents have taught their children to scatter the seed and plant the seed in gardens and fields for centuries.

A child may not scatter the seed very evenly.  A child may not know the right timing for planting the seed.  The hard cold of winter is not planting season, except perhaps indoors.  A child may not know the right depth for planting the seed.

God, the Father, can help us learn how to wait through the hardened winters of people’s souls so that the seed can sprout in the warmth of summer and spring.  Some of those seeds may be already there.  Some plants re-seed themselves from year to year.  Other times new seed needs to be planted, after the danger of frost has likely passed.  It may be worth the risk of planting seeds of grace that could still be nipped by frosty deeply hurt or hardened souls.  God continues to risk planting seed that will sprout and be nipped in the bud. Continue reading

GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES

(2 Peter 1:1-11)              Pastor Carol Weist

God’s will for our lives.  Too often we focus on whether it is God’s will that we have this color car or that color car, that we have this color shirt or that color shirt, that we work at this or work at that.

God’s deepest concern for us is shared throughout scripture including 2 Peter 1.   God deeply desires that we receive faith, precious faith “through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 1:1).

Do you have faith in Jesus?  That is God’s will for your life.

Grace and peace are also part of God’s will for our lives.  As 2 Peter 1:2 prays: “May grace and peace be yours in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”   It is God’s will for our lives that we have knowledge of God which includes knowledge of Jesus. Such a knowledge is not a knowledge that leaves us cringing in fear and uncertainty, but a knowledge abundant in grace and peace.  That does not mean that every moment of every day on this earth we feel overflowing grace and peace.  It does mean that even when we do not feel at peace we can lean on and rest in the grace of Jesus.  God will give us peace with grace.  God will give us grace and peace to share with others. Continue reading

THE GIFT OF SABBATH

(Mark 2:23-3:6)           Pastor Carol Weist

Sabbath is a gift.  Sabbath is rest.  Sabbath is to stop.  Sabbath is to pause.

When God finished creating the heavens and the earth he took a rest.  Sabbath is the Hebrew word for rest.  When God finished creating the heavens and the earth he took a sabbath. Yet God still works.

Exodus 32:16 says the tablets the Ten Commandments were written on were the work of God and the writing on them was the writing of God.  This took place centuries after creation.

Jeremiah 31:3 tells us that the Lord’s commandments are to be written on our hearts.  That is the ongoing work of the Lord.  Sabbath, a time of rest, is a gift.   Sabbath time, a time to reflect on the word, of the Lord is a gift.    Hebrews 10:16-17 reminds us of what Jeremiah said centuries earlier, that the work of the Lord includes writing his teaching upon our hearts.

The plural is important.  We are meant to be connected even if individuals think it is just fine or better off to be alone with God.  There is a real risk that will turn into “Here a me, there a me, everywhere a me, me.” That is why Hebrews 10:23-25 says “Let us” rather than “Let me.”  We grow in Christ when we have to deal with working with each other.  We help each other stand firm and hold fast.  As it says:  23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering,  for he who has promised is faithful.  24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but  encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Sabbath is a gift.  Sabbath is a rest.  Sabbath is a time to pause daily toils if even for a few hours or moments. Sabbath is a gift for us.  It is an opportunity. Sabbath is a break from regrets for not doing more or having worked harder. Sabbath time is a time to seek to put an end to regrets and fretting. Sabbath is a gift, a time to let God pick up that burden to heavy for us, a time to take a heavenly fly swatter to those pesky concerns buzzing around in our heads and all around, and shoo them off to God.  Continue reading

BORN FROM ABOVE

(John 3:1-17)           Pastor Carol Weist

Do you remember being born? Do you remember saying your first word?  Do you remember taking your first step on your own?  Perhaps you have seen videos or pictures, but that is not the same as actually remembering those moments.

We cannot get into this world without being born. We cannot see the kingdom of God without being born from above. Nicodemus sees that Jesus is a teacher who has come from God.  He addresses Jesus as “Rabbi,” which means “my great.”  Rabbis were those recognized to be great teachers of the faith.  Nicodemus recognizes Jesus as a great teacher of the faith.  It is not only Jesus’ teaching that helps Nicodemus see that Jesus is from God, it is also the miraculous signs he had done.

Not everybody saw Jesus’ teaching and the miraculous signs he did as indicators of the presence of God being with Jesus.  There were those who thought what Jesus taught and did opposed God.  But not Nicodemus.  Nicodemus came to see Jesus under the cover of night.  Nicodemus came to see more of what Jesus was all about.

How does it come to us that what Jesus teaches is part of the presence of God?  Can you remember the very first time you experienced it?  Do you remember the very first time you saw another person experience it? Did you grow up in a household of faith?  Do you remember the first time you saw your parents praying?  Do you remember the first time you began to understand what that praying was all about?

Where do you first remember seeing the kingdom of God? Not everybody grows up in a household where people lean on Jesus in times of trouble and rejoice with thanksgiving to the Lord as blessings come.  Continue reading

TRUE SPIRIT

(John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15)           Pastor Carol Weist

True spirit.  Those who cheer for their team may receive the spirit award.  People have good fun and put a lot of work and energy into cheering on the team with great spirit. The greatest spirit of all is the Holy Spirit.   The most true, the most real spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does more than sit on the sidelines and cheer us on with vigor.

The Holy Spirit is our Advocate.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth.  The Holy Spirit does not advocate for our wrong-doing. Nor does the Holy Spirit advocate our excuses for wrong-doing.  The Holy Spirit advocates for our repentance, for our telling the truth about what we have done right and what we have done wrong.  The Holy Spirit does not leave us wallowing in our wrong-doing.  Others may put us down and leave us in the mud.  The Holy Spirit pulls us out of the mud, cleans us up, and gives us renewed life and purpose.  Continue reading

GIVEN

(John 17:6-19)             Pastor Carol Weist

Jesus prayed, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.”  (John 17:6)  Jesus is praying this to his Father in heaven who is also our Father in heaven. This prayer can also be a mother’s prayer, a parent’s prayer, a grandparent’s prayer, an aunt’s or uncle’s prayer, a teacher’s prayer, a neighbor’s prayer.

Today is Mother’s Day, a day we remember those given children to care for. For believers in Christ, caring for children means making God’s name known to them. Today’s scripture passage is not the only one that is a model and guide for us. There are many passages we could reflect on.

Today we are thankful for the mothers and others who have made Jesus’ name known to those in their care. We are thankful for those mothers and others who acknowledge that those children given to them to care for are our God’s first of all. We are thankful for those who raise children keeping in mind that those children are God’s first of all and let that reflect in how they treat and tend to those children.

God is attentive.  God leans his ear toward us.  God does not approve of wrong-doing.  He frowns on it.  Yet with God all things are possible, and God is willing to work with his children, including us, even when we are impossible.

God persists.  God does not give up.  God knows when to step back and give us space to learn the hard way and when to rush in and rescue us.

We are thankful for the mothers and others who lean mightily on God to help raise those children.  Neither parents nor children always get it right.  We are thankful for the mothers and others who give it another try with God beside them when they stumble and fumble so that children learn that God will be with them likewise. Continue reading