Paul’s Message: Exploring Our Faith

faithI am excited about 2015.

It’s going to start out with a couple of parties. We will have an all-church potluck at the Epiphany meal on the evening of January 4. Our annual meeting will not be your average church business meeting. We are going to party as we celebrate paying off the debt from our building renewal (we sent the final payment out last week!).

And we will explore our faith.

As the new year gets underway, we will be focusing on some faith basics, and where the foundations of faith might be calling us to go and grow as individuals, as families, and as a church. We will be asking the question, Faith is…?

In worship, in our small group and other gatherings, in our Sunday school classes, we will explore our common faith and invite you to reflect and discover your own personal faith more deeply. For those who are newer to our congregation, and for those who are thinking about taking the next step of discipleship and joining our church, we will be offering an inquirer’s class. These are always fun times of conversation and getting to know some of you better.

This will be a journey of learning, as we encounter the wisdom of our tradition, and what it teaches us.

It will also be a journey of exploration. You will be invited to enter into conversation with our faith tradition, the larger church, those around you who are also seeking, your own inner voice, and the Holy Spirit, to discover what your faith is…and what it can be.

We believe this journey will be a blessing for you. You will discover more deeply the person you are, and who God calls you to be. You will discover more deeply the abundant life God wants to share with you. You will discover more deeply the blessings of seeking and sharing. You will discover more deeply ways to connect with yourself, your neighbor, and the God who loves you.

We will focus on particular themes in worship and through the week (Faith is … Receiving, Caring, Giving, and Building) There will be chances to discuss and learn. There will be opportunities to share your wisdom and experiences. We hope you will be challenged and nurtured. Stay tuned for details and invitations. Bring your questions and your unique perspective and we will discover together.

Happy new year! May 2015 bring shalom.

Paul

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Breakfast Encounter

    Last Friday morning, I stopped by my GP’s office to let them draw some blood for a test and to get my flu vaccine for the year. Because of the blood test, I had to ‘fast,’ arriving for the blood draw without having any food that morning. When the phlebotomist had drawn the blood and given me the shot, I went to a nearby diner to get some breakfast. Little did I know I was about to witness something extraordinary.

    While I was eating my pancake, egg, and piece of sausage and reading a book about Oscar Romero, a young man went up to the counter to pay. I didn’t notice any of this, of course (occupied as I was with not only Oscar Romero’s life and ministry to the poor of El Salvador, but also all that butter and syrup…) until the young man started yelling at the woman behind the counter.

    “Swipe it again!” is what drew my attention.

    She did, and the card must have been denied a second time. She ran it again, and the look on her face told me the same thing happened. Denied.

    The young man was getting more agitated and saying things to her under his breath. I was paying more attention now, and she asked if he had another card she could try.

    “No! I don’t have another bleeping card!” he yelled at her. Except he didn’t say bleeping.

    Now I’m not a stranger to harsh words. I’ve said them myself. Usually when I’m trying to get a rusted bolt off an old machine and it finally comes loose, taking some of my knuckle skin with it. And I think I quietly swore under my breath in January of 1988 when the Washington football team beat my beloved Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, 42-10. There have been other times too. But never, ever at a person.

    Upon being sworn at, the young woman stared at the man like she didn’t know what to do (how could she?). Tears were about to appear. And the air in the room went real still. Like in the movies. I’m sure the background music was still playing, but it seemed deathly quiet at that moment.

    I was about to get up and walk over to the counter—not exactly sure what I was going to do once I got there—when another man who had been eating nearby wandered up real slow, eyes staring at the young man. He was a tall guy, with white hair under his old IFA ball cap, probably in his sixties. He asked the young woman, “What seems to be the problem here?”

    And that’s when the young man made what I thought was a fatal mistake: he answered when he hadn’t been spoken to. “It’s nothin’. My card won’t work,” he spat back.

    I thought a fight was about to break out, but the older man, his eyes searing into the young disgruntled one’s face, reached for his wallet and said to the cashier, “Aubrey, I’d like to pay for this young man’s meal, if that’s okay with him.” And after getting out some cash, he put his hand on the young man’s shoulder, not one of those friendly pats on the shoulder, but one of those firm grips that, well, made me think he was making sure the lesson was going to stick.

    I’ve had those kinds of hands on my shoulders a few times over the years. Perhaps from a coach, maybe from my dad once or twice; they happen when a boy or young man really needs to start paying attention.

    And after staring at him for what seemed like an eternity, the old guy said, “Be kind.” And then walked away.

    The young man left the restaurant and climbed into an oversize truck that was parked right out front, cranked up the volume on his radio, and left some rubber on the road as he departed.

    I went into the church office sometime later to finish my sermon, but I kept thinking about angry people and hurt people and kind people and people who teach lessons to those who could use them. I also thought about people who have a head full of kind words who refuse to tolerate ugliness.

    I hope I can be someone like that.

    I have a feeling Aubrey earned a whole lot of tips that morning. She deserved them.

    Be kind.

    That’s all for now.

    —Pastor Derek

  • Pages