Friday, February 27, 2009

Wanderings for March 1, 2009

Good morning everyone. I pray you have all had a good and safe week. I enjoyed my vacation, spending time in GR and visiting a classmate and her husband in Aurora, IL (a suburb of Chicago). I give thanks to Chris J who lead this week's Bible Study.
This Sunday we will read and hear from Psalm 25. The sermon title that the UCC suggests is "God's Loving Paths." And I think that is a great title to go with, for as you probably know, I am all about the journey.
The Bible is full of stories of journey. Many of our best loved movies/books are all about journey ("Alice in Wonderland", "Wizard of Oz", the Star Wars series). And then there are the personal, emotional, journeys we go on. From a pop culture point of view, Americans have watched superstar Britney Spears go on a journey that has been filled with many emotional valleys and peaks. As much as we love to knock people down, we also love it when they get back up.
Today, I invite you to think of your own personal journey. Then I invite you to read Psalm 25. Pay attention to vs 1-3 and vs. 16-20. See how they are filled with references to enemies, shame, treachery, troubles, distress, affliction and sins? I like to think of theses verses as two sides of a dangerous wilderness. I see vs. 1-3 and 16-20 as danger on the left and danger on the right.
But verses 4-15? A pathway through the forest. A roadway of love. A safe clearing in which the way has been paved with bricks made out of words like teach, truth, salvation, mercy, steadfast love, remember me, goodness' sake, good, upright, humble, covenant, sake, pardon, teach, prosperity.
Isn't that cool! It is as if the writer of the Psalm is purposely using the set up of the poem to say "Hey, on either side of you there will be enemies and adversity. But stick with God, for in the middle of all that fuss and gunk, God is making a path, God is a clearing a way for you, and look at all the good things it is made with: truth and love, humility and pardoning of sins.
And what is the outcome? Where does such a path lead? To verses 21 and 22 "May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all its troubles."
The path that God cuts out of adversity and enemies is one that ultimately leads to redemption and preservation.
As Christians, we would say the path lead to the Cross (where we are redeemed) and then beyond to the Resurrection.
May God bless you on your journey today and ever more,Pastor G

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wanderings for Feb 22, 2009

Greetings everyone. I go on vacation Thursday; Rev. Mayor George Heartwell will be here to preach on Matthew 6:1-18 and 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2. I invite you to take a look at these texts, but today I wish to leave you with a laugh. This was sent to me by a seminary classmate. It's the Bible as told from a kid's point of view, including mistakes, mispronounced words and humorous insights. This had me smiling from start to finish. Enjoy, be blessed, In God's abundant grace and love, Pastor George

> The Children's Bible in a Nutshell > > In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that. > > Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did. Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet. > > Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars. Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something. > > One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check. > > After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat. > > Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable. > > God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff. Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother. > > One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town. > > After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me. > > After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them. > > After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.') > > During his life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him. > > Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead. > > Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to heaven but will be back at the end of the aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Daemon" by Daniel Suerez

"Daemon" is the kind of book one can not put down. I just finished the last 200 pages. Too bad it is also a book that does not end: part two comes out in 2010. Boo: I was waiting for a pay-off that never came.

Great plot, fun characters, scary bad guy, far-fetched and hard to believe, but terrifying if this could actually come true.

Matthew Sobol is a computer game engineer. When he dies, the news of his death sets off a computer daemon that begins to wreak havoc all over the place and begins to control the world.

It's like Saw III and IV but instead with radical computer programs.

The books explores issues of intelligence, democracy and even resurrection and faith.

Check out pg. 171: the good guys to to Sobol's funeral, expecting to feel deep hatred for the man. But but the character Sebeck is unprepared for his reaction when he first sees Sobol's corpse. He is shocked to see the man's body, wasted away and destroyed by cancer, the scar from surgery, his sunken cheeks, his one open eye. Unprepared for this, Sobol feels pity for the man, even though in his death he is responsible for the death of many policemen. "surely Sebeck wanted to see Sobol burn in Hell-but he'd never considered Sobol had been living in hell for some time already."

On page 343 there is mention of disruptive innovation: change was good; painful perhaps, but good. It made you stronger. When you stop changing, you star dying.

Then on 417, this take on resurrection: "Christ is a recurring motif in many cultures; death and rebirth; symbolic turning of the seasons...Wyle E. Coyote was a... Christ figure...and Acme Company was Rome..."

Great read, I'm just upset it did not end but left me hanging on.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Animals Make up Human" by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

OK, so I didn't finish this book. But I read over 100 pages; certainly that counts for something.

If there is one thing I got from this book is that according to the author, animals have some basic emotions: seeking, rage, fear, panic, lust, care and play.

Seeking is listed as emotion number 1. Who would've thunk seeking as an emotion, but as Dr. Grandin explains, it makes sense. Seeking is "the basic impulse to search, investigate and make sense of the environment." It combines different emotions: wanting something good, looking for something really good, curiosity. The wanting part of seeking gives one energy to go after goals. She says the looking-forward aspect of seeking is the Christmas emotion in which kids see presents under the tree. Seeking is an anticipation of what is not yet. (pp 6-7)

According to Dr. Grandin, seeking is major emotion for house cats and dogs, and something they need to be able to do to lead happy lives.

Cats, as natural predators, need to be able to seek. They also can not be trained by negative reinforcement, but through positive reinforcement.

Since reading this, I have been more mindful about my cat. We used to have a bird feeder and he's spend hours a day watching and "stalking" the outside birds and squirrels that came to our sliding door. But the feeder is long gone.

So now I make sure every day he has something to play or seek. I am no longer quick to chase him out of the pantry when I open the door. In fact, I now will keep the pantry door open for a short while. or I may open up a kitchen cabinet. Or open up one of the doors on my coffee table. Or fill a box with cat nip and toys and close it and put it on the floor to give my cat a chance to seek.

It seems to make him happier, as it does me.

It also makes me think how the seeking emotion can be used in sermons about Jesus. If seeking is an emotion, then seeking out Jesus becomes an emotional experience.

Sermon for Feb 15, 2009 Mark 1:40-45

Feb 15, 2009
Scripture: Mark 1:40-45
Sermon Title: "Out of the Woods"
Rev. George N. Miller
A few weeks ago Jesus told Nathanael how he saw him sitting underneath the fig tree. Last week Jesus unblocked Peter’s mother-in-law from her fever. And today we witness Jesus choosing to make clean a man with leprosy. But first, a story:
It was the one of the driest seasons in memory. For over a month it had not rained. The crops were dying, the cows stopped giving milk and the streams were long gone.
Last week, six year old Billy was given a stern talking to when he was caught playing with the garden hose. To make sure it didn’t happen again, his parents disconnected the hose from the spigot.
One day, Billy’s Mom saw him walking towards the woods. Not moving in his usual carefree way, he had a sense of serious purpose, as if all of him was focused on his task.
Minutes after disappearing into the woods, Billy came running out towards the house, then moments later he was again walking slowly towards the woods.
His Mom noted this cycle happened several times: run out of the woods, walk slowly in. Just what was he doing?
She crept out of the house and quietly followed her son who was cupping his hands in front of him, careful not to drop whatever was in them.
Branches and leaves slapped his face, but he did nothing to stop them: he was focused on a higher purpose.
That’s when the mother saw the most amazing sight: several deer stood in front of Billy. He walked right up to them, knelt down, and there lay a tiny fawn, suffering from dehydration. Billy lowered his cupped hands, the fawn lifted its head and lapped up what Billy was offering it: water. Cool, refreshing water.
When the fawn was done, Billy leapt up and ran back to the house, up to the spigot. Turning it so only a small trickle of water crept out, he stood there, letting it slowly drip into his cupped hands. He had learned his lesson about being wasteful.
After a few minutes his hands were filled with water and he made the slow walk back to the dehydrated baby fawn. That’s when he saw his Mom. His eyes filled with tears. "I’m not wasting," was all he said.
As he walked into the woods, she went into the house, filled up a pot with water, gave it to Billy, then stood away, letting him tend to the fawn. It was his job. She observed her son working so hard to save another life.
As tears rolled down her face, other, larger drops began to hit the ground. She looked up at the sky: it was raining. It was as if God, moved by Billy’s healing actions, had begun weeping as well.
...A touching story, isn’t it? In many ways, it could be a Disney telling of the gospels, complete with unselfish love and abundant sharing. We could say the boy represents Christ, the fawn represents someone in need of healing and the Mom represents us, observing Christ’s actions.
Yes, this would make a delightful Disney tale. But here’s the thing: there’s nothing Disney about the Bible or about Jesus, although we may try our best to clean things up and sanitize them.
The Bible is raw, brutal at times. It addresses life’s issues head on, with no apologies or shying away from the messiness that comes with living.
The Bible is where real life meets the holy, and where things are never the same again. And this tale in Mark is no different.
A man with a leprous disease comes to Jesus, begging him on his knees, "Please, if you choose, you can make me clean." And Jesus, overcome with emotion, touches him and says "I do choose. Be made clean."
If Disney had made this into a cartoon, the man with leprosy may have been portrayed by a cute little fawn. But leprosy is far from cute. It is a series of skin conditions, be it a swelling, a spot or raw flesh. Leprosy could result from a boil, a bad burn, it could affect hair, by itchy and cover a person from head to toe.
As bad as the symptoms were, much worse was the way one was treated. Considered unclean, you were symbolically placed in the backyard woods, living on the outskirts of town, separated from family, friends and place of worship.
And there were specific instructions on how to act in public. Just take a look at Leviticus 13:45-46. Not very Disney-like is it?
So try to picture this man with leprosy. Imagine him living outside of town, away from all the other folk. No one to touch, no one to hold.
Imagine the sores covering his body, the intense itching. Imagine him in his ripped clothing, his mussed up hair.
Imagine the humiliation of walking though the crowd announcing himself as "unclean". See him begging on his knees, the look in his eyes as he says "If you choose you can make me clean."
What feelings does this invoke in you? For me, I can’t help but to feel anger: anger at Jesus, anger at God.
I am mad that this man has this illness. I’m mad the law dictates that he has to act a certain way.
But most of all, I am mad that he has to leave the woods to go to Jesus to be healed.
Why, if God is all-knowing, does the man have to come to Jesus to be healed? Why if Jesus is so good, does the man have to ask to be healed?
Why doesn’t Jesus just save him and all those like him the trouble by just going to where they’re at and healing them instantly like Billy did with the sick fawn?
I’m mad because as far as I know, there’s not one story in which Jesus goes to where the sick and hurting are without being first asked to go there.
If Jesus saw Nathanael under the fig tree why didn’t he make himself known there and then? Why couldn’t Jesus heal Peter’s mother-in-law without having to be escorted into her room?
Why did the man with leprosy have to endure that walk of shame and fall to his knees to be restored, transformed and unblocked?
Yet as mad as I may be, I realize I must temper it by realizing Jesus had his reasons for not doing things the easy way. And when I stop and think things over, one of the reasons becomes a bit clearer: often times for a person to experience the total benefit of healing, they have to truly want it.
Yes, Jesus could have walked to the outskirts of town and instantly cured the people, but would they have fully understood and appreciated it?
If Jesus unexpectedly cured the folk, would it have provided any true healing at all or just enabled them? For a person to receive healing, must they first get to the point of admitting that something is wrong?
Don’t we witness people who have horrible things going on in their life? Their health isn’t good, their relationship is unhealthy. Their fiances are not solid, or their job is not making them happy.
But instead of admitting it they fall into denial: "This cough? Oh its nothing." "He only hits me when he’s drunk." "I’m just two months behind on rent." "Work only stresses me out on the days ending with ‘y’."
Such people go on and on, saying everything is fine or hiding themselves from the world when it gets too hard to act. But nothing changes, nothing improves. It usually only gets worse.
The cough gets deeper. The slaps sting more. The landlord posts the eviction notice. A heart attack happens on the job.
And that’s when the reality hits. When a person realizes they can not do it alone, that they need help and the support of another.
For some it creates a moment of faith. For those who process their need this way, they look around at the symbolic woods they’ve been in, and realize just how much they need the Lord.
Some will fall to their knees, praying and begging for the healing to come, and perhaps that’s the step that creates a path for true healing.
For you see, today’s tale is not about a man in denial. These are the actions of a person who’s sick and tired of being sick and tired. His actions reflect someone who has endured his situation for far too long, who has tried every other way, who knows he can no longer do it alone.
These are the actions of someone of complete faith who realizes he can only achieve true healing by calling upon the living Lord to extend his hand and touch him with his abundant grace and love.
These are the actions of a man who realizes in Christ he not only has an advocate, but a doctor, a teacher, and a high priest. And the healing becomes real.
Thanks to Psalm 130 we know there is no place where God is not. John 1 reminds us that Jesus sees us even when we sit under our fig trees of loneliness.
Perhaps what Mark is trying to teach us is that like the leper, to be healed we need to come out of our woods, to come clean with whatever it is that is damaging us, and we need to move towards Jesus unafraid to ask for help and healing
Just as we have to be willing to journey to the cross and kneel before the crucified Lord in order to realize just how abundant his grace and love is.
Just as we need to go to the garden to meet the resurrected Christ to realize there is nothing that can separate us from that abundant grace and love, where we are called to learn, live and share God’s Word.
I am still mad at Jesus for making the man with leprosy work so hard for his healing, but at least now I have come to a place in which I think I understand why it is so.
And in understanding, perhaps we can look upon ourselves and ask what it is we need healing from, and how we can approach Jesus, asking to be healed, knowing that Jesus can and that Jesus will.
All thanks be to God who places in us a clean heart, to Jesus who is our living water and for the Spirit that stirs us from our hiding places.
Amen and amen.

Wanderings for Feb 15, 2009

Wanderings for Feb 15, 2009
This Sunday our Scripture is taken from Mark 1:40-45. Today I want to spend some time talking about word usage.
Each Bible is different and each Bible translates their words differently, and these translations can affect how we view Jesus, approach Scripture and think about ourselves.
Take for example today’s readings. First we are told a man approaches Jesus. Some translations says he is a "leper." Other translations say he is "a man with leprosy." Do they mean the same thing? Is a person defined by their condition or is their condition just part of who they are?
In verse 41 we are told Jesus is moved with compassion. Some translations use the word "pity." But if you look at the little notations in your Bible (if you Bible happens to have footnotes), you’ll see other translations use the word "anger."
Again, is there a difference in being moved with compassion, being moved with pity or being moved with anger? Do you ever imagine Jesus angry? And if Jesus was actually angry, what do you think Jesus would have been angry about? That the man was bothering him? That the man was sick? That society treated people with leprosy in such a way?
Then look at verse 43. Jesus sternly warns the man not to say anything. Jesus as stern? How does that sound. Can one have compassion or pity and still be stern? And why tell the man to not tell anyone?
As you can see, although this scripture is only 5 sentences long, it opens itself up to numerous possibilities. And in those possibilities we have the chance to step up, step in, and wrestle a bit with who Jesus really is and how that matches how we have been thinking about him.
I pray you all have a blessed night and an enjoyable Valentine’s Day.
Peace, Pastor G

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sermon for Feb 8, 2009 Mark 1:29-39

Feb 8, 2009
Scripture: Mark 1:29-39
Sermon Title: “Unblocking the Gospel”
Rev. George N. Miller

Having a fishtank is one of life’s joys. From Dad’s 20 gallon tank in the basement to the 10 gallon tank in my office, a community of multi-colored fish is a beautiful thing.

The office tank was a gift from Ruth, the fish were purchased by me and various parishioners, and every Sunday the children get to feed the fish.

The tank has required a lot of work and there has been some problems. There’s been overfeeding, overcrowding, algae blooming up and the occasional finned friend who has died and been ceremoniously flushed down the toilet.

One of the biggest responsibilities is maintaining the filter which keeps the water fresh and clean so the fish stay healthy, active and alive. If the filter is faulty the water gets dirty, diseases spread, resulting in death and a poor community life.

For the last few weeks the water wasn’t looking so healthy. The bio-wheel that’s supposed to spin around and around was stuck in place. And there was all this green and brown algae. Not good.

So what to do, what to do? I cleaned the entire filter. Each and every piece was taken apart, rinsed out, algae was scraped away.

Then an idea emerged: I took the filter tube, a u-shaped object like the piping under your sink, took a knife and jabbed it in and ran the tube under the water and glup! A piece of snotty looking stuff came right on out.

Hmmmm.....Again with the knife, digging in side to side, ran it under the faucet. Glup-glop! More pieces of green stuff came whooshing out.

Again and again this was done and more and more of that stuff whooshed out.

Had this been the problem all along? Why the water wheel was stuck, why the tank was looking so dirty, why the fish have been so lethargic?

Was it because for years the filter tube had been clogged with snotty green gunk and no amount of cleaning or new parts would do anything until what was in the tube was unblocked?

Once the filter was reassembled and turned on, suck suck suck went the dirty water up into the filter, around and around the wheel went and the happy sound of fresh running-water filled the room. The tank’s community of was given a new chance of life.

Clean, unblocked life has returned to the fishtank and its inhabitants. All the tank needed for transformation and restoration was the chance to be unblocked of the waste and decay that was trapped inside of it for all these years.

Church: let me hear you say unblocked.

Those present at our Tuesday Bible Study will tell you that “unblocked” was the word of the day. When we gathered to discuss today’s scripture, the obvious topics came up. Do demons really exist? Do we believe in miraculous healings? Is healing less physical and more psychological?

Someone spoke up and said “Jesus unblocks”, giving us a unique way of approaching the healing stories.

Instead of saying Jesus cast out demons, cured the sick, or rid Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, perhaps what Jesus really did was unblock them much the same way the fishtank filter had been unblocked.

And in the case of Peter’s mother-in-law, being unblocked freed her up to do the work that was needed to get done.

Being or feeling blocked is not a good thing, is it? There are many ways one can be blocked. Got a stuffed nose? You’re blocked from breathing.

Got blocked arteries there’s a chance a heart attack will come your way. Constipated? Now that’s a blockage no one wants.

Writers face what is known as writers block. Kurt Warner was blocked Superbowl Sunday from successfully completing his final throw.

Not too long ago women were blocked from voting and blacks were blocked from lunch counters.

We as a country are experiencing blockage. The flow of money has been blocked by a decrease in purchases, rising unemployment, and everyone fearful of being fired.

I myself have been blocked. Keeping information from you about my health blocked my energy level, creativity and how I interacted with you.

Being blocked is not good. It limits how we deal with the outside world, what our day is like and what we’re able to do.

Take for instance Peter’s mother-in-law. For fun, let’s call her Sunny. As today’s reading tells us, Sunny is not well. She’s got a fever and it’s blocking her.

The fever blocks Sunny from interacting with others as she’s stuck in bed all day. The fever has blocked her possibilities. She can’t enjoy the sunrise, go to market, join the ladies for lunch, or attend worship.

But something wonderful happens to our Sunny. When Peter leaves worship, he brings with him Jesus. Jesus visits Sunny in her room, he takes her hand, lifts her up...and Jesus unblocks her.

Whatever was clogging her filter, whatever was keeping freshness from flowing within her, was somehow, someway, unblocked due to her interaction with the living Christ.

Sunny goes from laying down in bed to becoming Sunny-side UP!

And her response is to serve Jesus and the disciples. God’s Abundance and Grace found in Christ is matched by Sunny sharing Grace and Abundance with her family and friends!

Can I get an amen?

Now some would say that we as a church have been blocked. Our records with pastors haven’t been the greatest. Our infighting and disputes are legendary. And the good kind of green we need to stay in operation is not easily flowing in.

And that has created its own blockage. Blockage that has stunted church growth. Blockage that has pushed people away. Blockage that has limited the service we’re able to provide the community.

But over the last few weeks, hasn’t it seemed that there’s been an unblocking of our church? It’s as if Jesus has brought in a spirit of unblockedness that is motivating a whole bunch of people to get up and to serve.

Have you noticed that people sharing testimonies and prayers during worship has gone up? I have. Attendance for Bible study, field trips and Men’s Breakfast had increased.

Thanks to Leah we have a new mission program. Thanks to Jen we have a great after school program. And Marge has created a beautiful new song celebrating the gifts of women.

Thanks to the grace and love of you, I have a new energy and insight. And I don’t know about you, but I am ready to serve.

Whatever has blocked us is being unblocked. Whatever has been caught up in the filter has been whooshed out, through fresh water and hard work.

Mark tells us Jesus healed, cast out, and lifted up. Our Bible study folk say Jesus unblocks.

So today, I’ll leave you the same way Tammy left us last week- with a question.

How has Jesus unblocked you? And how do we, who have been unblocked, get up and serve our Savior who is busy restoring and transforming us with a fresh spirit coursing through our souls?

All praise be to the Spirit that flows through each and every one of us, through Jesus who touches us right where we are and to God who shares with us Her abundant grace and love.

Amen and amen.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Finding Faith" by Andrew Barriger

Just finished what has to be one of the most frustrating, juvenile, annoying reads: "Finding Faith" by Andrew Barriger. From its gushing praise by a Ronald L. Donaghe of "Foreword Magazine"(?) to its pointless epilogue and so-unnecessary afterward (Really? "Faith might be the most mysterious force of all..."?) this is an amateurish, poorly over-written love story about two gay men living in an idyllic small town, in which the author feels the need to spell everything out and embarks on sappy sentiments and pointless asides.

For instance, Taylor is given a shopping list by his roommate, and Barringer gives us the entire shopping list: a paragraph worth of waste.

Or this piece if ultimate stupidity:
"Taylor took the slip and looked at at. In the man's handwriting was a phone number and the name, "Jen." Taylor was confused for a moment, until he realized it was a misspelling of "Gen." "

Really? I mean really? Taylor is a lawyer and doesn't realize Jen is another way of spelling Gen?

This is the type of book in which a character does something, then tells another character what they have done and then the second character repeats it back. For no plot reason at all, someone asks if they have A/C and the following dialogue occurs:
"I turned it off with the door open," Gen admitted.
"I'll get it," Tom said.
"I've got it," Taylor said, beating him off the couch.

Really? A tree died to for this?

Oh- and Faith? It's supposed to be personified by a pushy, female real estate agent who has no boundaries, falls in lust with Taylor and calls him a fairy once she discovers he's gay. And in reading the afterward, I got the impression the author was confusing faith with fate.

Put this book in the so bad its bad section, which is too bad because it could have been a good, light romantic escape of a book, instead it's page after page of needless droning. Stay away at all costs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wanderings for Feb 8, 2009

Good afternoon everyone! Today's Wanderings come earlier then usual. It's because I am so well rested from not having to read, read, read for research for Sunday's sermon. But also because Tammy's Sunday message has left me psyched and excited. Tammy took preaching to a whole 'notha level. Barb and I have some serious competition now! Tammy's sermon challenged us to think of how fear can be used to motivate us to do the right thing (or that's what I got out of it: each person probably heard something different). This Sunday's message is from Mark 1:29-39. For today's study you need to go and get your Bible and read it yourself. Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law and she serves them. Question: what kind of service does she do? Does the scripture say anything about cooking, sweeping, cleaning or baking? No. Then why does our mind automatically assume that kitchen work is what she does? The original Greek word used to describe what she does is akin to the word "deacons", from which we get the word "diaconate." Peter's mother-in-law is healed by Jesus and immediately goes to serve him. Have you ever been touched by Jesus, ever been healed by Jesus? If so, how did you go about serving Jesus to show your thanks? Well, this week, this month, this year we are all going to have the chance. Ron Bruinsma touched upon how Missions, through the wonderful idea of Leah, is setting up a Kids Corner where people can donate food to the food pantry that is along the line of what kids like to eat, because let's be honest: kids like different food then adults. And there are far too many kids in our community who are going hungry every night. So we at BCUCC are going to do what we do so well: step up to the need and meet the challenge. Anne Winkle has been working with the children of the church to make up a list of food children like to eat. That list has been compiled and on Sunday during the Children's Message we'll do a reverse offering. We'll ask you to take a slip of paper with a food item listed on it, purchase that item, bring it in between Feb 15-22, and on Feb 22, when the children take the offering, they will also bring forward all the donated food. Then, we will do this every month: asking people to bring in the selected food item, place it in the designated location throughout the month, then on the fourth Sunday of the month, have the children bring the food up to the altar. This is a chance for us all to be like Peter's mother-in-law. To serve Jesus in a unique and important way and to help, in our own style, in silencing the evil demons of hunger. May this Wanderings be a blessing to us all, may you continue to be a blessing to Christ and to our community. Grace and abundance, Pastor George