Monthly Archives: October 2019

LifeCycle of Giving: Encouraging Growth and Faith

Today we went from the seed to the sapling as we explore the LifeCycle of Giving. The gospel text from the lectionary was Luke 18: 1-8. This story of Jesus focuses on a widow looking for justice and an unjust judge who doesn’t care about anyone or anything. Jesus, we are told, shares this story to encourage us to pray and to hold fast, to hang on and not lose our faith.

Saplings, trees and plants need a little adversity to make their roots go deep. If the weather is too easy, the roots stay shallow and a strong storm or wind can uproot them. In so many ways the same is true for people. It seems to me, though I dislike it a lot, that it is through difficulties that I grow in my faith.

Today’s service spends some time looking at injustice, at suffering and how God never leaves us when life gets hard. In the sermon I spend some time pondering how we, how I can be like the unjust judge distancing myself from suffering that isn’t personal and as a culture, we do the same. You can find the whole service or just the sermon here.

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Year of Gratitude, October Week 2

Our year of gratitude is pairing well with our stewardship sermon series, “Lifecycle of Giving.” The image we are using is from seed to sapling to flowering and fruit bearing tree to the next generation of seeds from the tree. The fall is the time of the final harvest of the year and for some crops, planting for the spring.

In the first verse of Natalie Sleeth’s song, Hymn of Promise, it states,

“In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree, in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterlies will soon be free! In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

This hymn became popular across denomination lines after it was penned in the mid 1980’s. Sung often during Easter time and at funerals, Ms. Sleeth points to the deep mystery around life and the life hidden in seeds and bulbs and other places where we least expect it.

Gratitude seeds itself in our hearts, minds and spirits. This seed is nurtured by faith, and love and grace and is made real in who we are and how we express ourselves. Gratitude and thankfulness when allowed to sprout, can bring deep meaning to our words, our actions our lives.

Natalie Sleeth’s second verse says, “there’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; there’s dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.” Gratitude helps me and maybe you see past the darkness, to listen deeply into the silence and know that  we are not alone when the world seems to be cold and alien and uncaring. God is not outside of the darkness or the silence, gratitude helps me cling to to my faith that God will  not desert me or let me flounder in the depth of my fear or uncertainty.

 

Hymn of Promise, like many songsof the faith can provide the sound track to a life of gratitude. The words and melody sung to the tune of gratitude, allows us to participate in the mystery of God at work in the world. In this particular season of autumn, the shorter days and longer nights, the leaves turning colors and falling the ground reminds us that gratitude sown, nurtured and harvested brings hope and faith into the world.

During this month of gratitude, is there someone you can thank for the nurture and care you have received? In you moments of silence and darkness who was there for you? Who listened, who cared, who helped you find ways to be grateful? Write them a note, visit them or find a way to say thank you.

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LifeCycle of Giving: Nurturing the Seed of Faith

Today we began a new sermon series, “LifeCycle of Giving.” This is the time of year when Stewardship is the emphasis as we plan on how we will support and underwrite ministries for 2020. This year we will focus on the lifecycle of trees, from seed to sprout, to flowers to fruit to regeneration. We celebrate All Saints and the series ends not with our consecration Sunday, but with Confirmation as young people choose to proclaim their own faith in their own way.

This afternoon, several United Methodist Churches gathered to participate together in a National Coming Out Day Celebration Service. Reverend Elizabeth “Liz” Evans preached a powerful sermon. She grew up here in Wichita and shared her story and her challenge that all of us, whether we are LGBTQIA or allies need to find ways to live into the world that God has created and move out of the dark caves of death and despair. The music, the stories shared through poetry and Brian Sutton’s testimony were all deeply moving. I am deeply grateful to have experienced this gift of grace.

This morning we focused on gratitude as one of the seeds of faith that enables us to give thanks for every moment and to help us be witnesses to the God of love and grace. We were given leaves to write down the names of those who planted the seeds in our lives and/or how our faith is being nurtured now. Those leaves we placed in our offering plates and will be displayed. You can find today’s worship service here.

 

 

 

 

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Year of Gratitude: October

We are eleven months into our year of gratitude. Today, the temperature has plummeted from high sixties into high forties. Kansas can be a drama queen when it comes to weather. October’s focus is the harvest of our lives. Autumn is that time of planting somethings for the spring (think tulips and other bulb flowers, garlic and wheat to be harvested next year.)

October 2019

Harvest: This month the garden season is winding down and in many places the first frost hits. It is the season of autumn when reflecting on the harvest of our lives is possible. What seeds have been planted and grown and harvested in your life and spirit? This month we give thanks for the harvest of our words, actions and lives.

The harvest of our lives begins with those who planted the seeds of faith and of love and grace and acceptance in our lives. Who was the first person you remember in your life who made it absolutely clear you were loved and adored. For some of us, that person comes later in life, but for many that person is first part of our immediate family.

What person encouraged the seed of faith and confidence in you? Who nurtured those seeds that that might begin to take root and grow?

If any of those persons are still alive, this is a good time to write a thank you note and tell them exactly how much they mean to you. If they are not, think of a way to honor their life and legacy. Perhaps you can write a note of encouragement to someone who reminds you of them or perhaps you give a donation in their honor or do one random, beautiful act of kindness.

As the leaves begin to turn and the nights grow longer and the days colder, the season of harvest is an invitation to give thanks for the life and love of those who plant seeds of deep faith and gracious love in others.

 

 

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Connect: At the Table

We finished our sermon series, “Connect: Building Our Life Together,” on World Communion Sunday. Christians have connected through since the early days when the earliest followers of Jesus followed his command to remember him at the table.

World Communion Sunday began in 1933 at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, pastored by Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr. It was adopted by the US Presbyterian Church in 1936 and then by the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) in 1940. And has been celebrated throughout ecumenical circles ever since.

In some ways, every time we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion is world communion Sunday. No church celebrates alone, every hour of every day the sacrament is being shared. It does connect us across ethnic, religious, denominational, age, gender and every other line one can imagine.

The color of our block this week was yellow, the color of hope, of new ideas and thoughts. Eighty years ago, World Communion Sunday was a new idea. The idea represents the hope and leans into the prayer of Jesus, “that they may all be one.”

The sermon itself focused on the lectionary passage from Luke 17 and the expectation of Jesus that we forgive and we do the work of faith every day. You can find the worship service or the sermon itself here.

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