Happening Now Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pastor's Wednesday Messages

From Pastor Brian

Reflections on my birthday at SOV

First: THANK YOU! for the birthday party you threw for me last Sunday.  As I said then, I had no idea my birthday was on anyone's radar screen at SOV.  Even when Diane Lewis gave me a heads-up about the "vegetarian birthday cake" Julia Kotvis created for me, I still didn't realize that all the stuff on the big table at the back had anything to do with my birthday.  Was the pastor clueless or oblivious?  You decide!  But I finally got it when the band & choir broke into "Happy Birthday" at the end of the early service.  I'm grateful for all the gifts I received — a gift basket, over a dozen cards, the "birthday cake," and more.  Most of all, I am grateful for your generosity of spirit in all the recognition and affirmation you gave me on Sunday.  I receive it as an expression of the Holy Spirit's generosity for each and every one of us.  You have given me what you have first received from God.  I am so grateful that you've welcomed me into your community of holy love at SOV.

Second: the "vegetarian birthday cake" Julia created for me.  Wow.  In case you didn't see it — from a bowl of gloriously red tomatoes (grown in SOV's own garden), a white vase arose gracefully in the center, crowned by a beautiful white onion.  Julia's exquisite idea was born when she heard that I'm vegetarian and that I don't eat many sweets.  I felt amazed, amused, and so grateful to receive a gift of such loving creativity.  The tomatoes are tasty — the onion waits patiently to be cooked.  This is the healthiest and best birthday cake I've ever had.  Thank you, Julia!!

Finally, Pastor Randy has a birthday coming up, too.  I'm told it's September 16.  He'll join the 60 year club, too!  The Fellowship Committee is planning a birthday party for Pastor Randy on Sunday, September 21 at 5:00 p.m. — a pizza party at SOV.  Please look for more news about this in weeks to come.

* * * * * * *

From Pastor Randy


"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Fools despise wisdom and instruction."    Proverbs 1:7


          We are blessed to have a hand full of doves that have taken up residence around our home and can often be seen beneath our bird feeders, cleaning up it seems.  I love to watch how they bop around and to listen to their evening cooing.  Most entertaining may be the sound they make when they flitter away, almost like a giggle.  They may pay no attention on the way out, but when we walk past they flutter away, as if we offer threat in only one direction. It is this fear that causes their flight.  Neighborhood cats provide plentiful reason for fear.

          I am a fool if I focus more on fear than anything else.  The stroke I suffered did not make me fear God, but has given me the chance, all the more to be sustained by the beauty that surrounds me.

          Not fear but awe, which sometimes are equated.  In awe of the Creator of all things, because of those doves and so much more.  Like seeing a hummingbird seemingly hanging in mid air, and a lone sunflower reaching up where none was planted.  That hopefully provides sources of wisdom and instruction.

In Praise of the Creator,

Striving not to be a fool,

Pastor Randy
           
Lessons for Sunday, August 31, 2014
Exodus 3:1-15
Romans 12:9-21
Matthew 16:21-28

THIS WEEK

Wednesday   10:00 a Bible Study with Pastor Brian
                     7:00 - 8:30 p  SOV Choir Rehearsal

Thursday      12:00 p All Church Luncheon

Friday          1:00 - 9:00 p Palmeter Piano Studio

Reminder
Sunday, August 31, 2014
One service at 10:30 a


Notes:
ANOINTING FOR HEALING CANCELLED.  Due to an unexpected lack of anointing ministers (vacations and funerals), we've had to cancel the anointing for healing that was to take place at the worship service on August 31.  We plan to offer opportunities for anointing for healing on a regular basis once the new fall-spring cycle starts up.

TWO STATIONS FOR COMMUNION.  Beginning this Sunday we'll have two stations for communion, one for each side of the congregation.  Pastor Brian will give the bread on one side; Pastor Randy will do so on the other.  We'll continue having two stations for communion every Sunday at the late worship service, which is when Pastor Randy usually attends.  This is Pastor Randy's re-entry into administering communion at SOV.  We thank God for Randy's help with holy communion!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wednesday Messages

from Pastor Brian

We have a dandy Bible study group at SOV. We meet Wednesday mornings at 10. I love this group. We usually have about half a dozen folks. They are retired; women, mostly, plus often one man. Sharing their eagerness to learn, to grow, to deepen their understanding of Scripture has been very satisfying.

We've been studying the Gospel lesson for the coming Sunday. Today, that was Matthew 16:13-20. It's Peter's confession that Jesus is "the Son of the Living God." We discovered that is an important title for Jesus. It alludes to a passage from the prophet Hosea:

Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the Living God." (Hosea 1:10)

This oracle reverses an earlier rejection pronounced because God's people strayed from the path of righteousness and justice. It's an oracle of blessing. It's also a prophesy of reconciliation – the verse following foretells that God's people, once scattered and conflicted, would be gathered in the promised land to dwell in unity. The Apostle Paul quotes this same passage (Romans 9:25-26) to proclaim the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles in Jesus Christ – which itself is a preview of God's plan to heal all creation.

So to call Jesus "Son of the Living God" is to say that Jesus is all about healing and reconciliation. This is a promise of hope for humans living in a strife-torn world. It's also a promise of blessing for the whole Earth community. We live by these promises. And we reject the notion, so widespread now, that the Lord Jesus is a warlord who will come again to destroy the human race and demolish the Earth.

Our Bible study group talked about these things today — eagerly, deeply, and with enthusiasm. If you're free on Wednesdays at 10, please come, taste, and see that studying the word of God is good!

* * * * * * *

"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 6:6

      What some refer to as the most joyous book in the Bible, deals a lot with struggle and worry, to which I often think "thank goodness!"  Because I often worry and know I'm in good company there.  Sometimes I just think too long about things I can no longer affect, at least not worrying?  Or am I just splitting hairs? Like last week, in this space I mentioned a couple of folks by name, a taboo, an invasion of privacy. My apologies, my intent was simply to tell of a moment of God's surprising presence.

      I've been thinking about how long I've been gone from SOV. Has damage been done, irreparable damage? It worries me.  Wondering if I'll ever walk again, ride bikes with my grandkids again?

 Yet Thanksgiving is there too as well.  Looking at the collage of pictures near me, my kids and grandkids, and thinking of all the ways Choice has cared for me. All of your good wishes and prayers of one our newest and youngest and sometimes  most vocal members of SOV. Who had inspired me with personal artwork on Sunday mornings.  My name scrawled on the back.  Such beauty, thank you little one.  Worries yes, but for that reason, prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving!

In the Peace and Power of Christ,

Pastor Randy

Lessons for Sunday, August 24, 2014
Exodus 1:8-14, 1:22-2:10
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20

THIS WEEK

Wednesday      7:00 - 8:30 p Choir Rehearsal

Thursday        10:00 a La Leche League (LLL)
                       7:00 p Council Meeting

Friday            1:00 - 9:00 p Palmeter Piano Studio

Saturday        10:00 - 11:30 a Choir Rehearsal

>All Church Luncheon Thursday, August 28th at 12:00 p, this is open to every one, no RSVP needed and nothing to bring.

>Rally Sunday, September 7, 2014 Asking all Grandparents and Great Grandparents to help with this festive event by bringing balloons and/or fellowship treats. If you have further questions please be in touch with Corrine.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wednesday Messages

from Pastor Brian

"I think God is falling down on the job."  "I think God should get more personally involved."  I've heard people at SOV say things like this as they reflect on the dreadful situation in Iraq and Syria with the "Islamic State" driving to dominate territory in both nations. Understandably, we are concerned about crimes against humanity being committed there — and puzzled about why God doesn't intervene to end the atrocities.  Comments like these, critical of God, signal lively faith and healthy moral conscience.

 "Why does God permit so much evil in the world?"  It's a perennial question — the Achilles heel of our religion.  It looks like God can't be both all-powerful and all-loving — though that's we teach.  Given widespread evil in our world, God could be all-powerful but would then have a nasty cruel streak.  Or if God is love, then God must also be weak.  There's no obvious way out of this dilemma.  No wonder we question God! 

We don't know why God allows evil, but we do know God calls us to stand against evil.  The Prophet Amos wrote, "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." (5:24)  But those who follow Jesus are careful how they take that stand.  St. Paul tells us to "overcome evil with good." (Rom. 12:21)  Paul's words summarize Jesus' response to evil in the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the reign of heaven.

We trust that Jesus is right somehow.  We stand against evil with the power of God's love.  We protect the innocent while trying to open a path for reconciliation between warring parties.  And if we think God needs to get more personally involved in the fray, well — aren't we just the people God calls to make that happen?

~~

"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, everlasting joy shall be upon their heads." Isaiah 35:10

A few times this past week, because of the heat and stagnant air, the smell of the dairy farm down the road has settled in around us. It brought to
mind my youth on a farm. I'm guessing that all of us have scents, sounds or sights that may take us back to a time long since believed to be forgotten.
That was brought to mind by the experience of a week ago, when much of our choir and band went to Avamere of Hillsboro to see Bob McFall and Mert
Warneking. When the music began Bob and Mert, and some of the folks who had gathered, began to sing along .We shared communion as well. The words of institution about the blood and body of the Christ brought faith, a familiarity to folks as well, altogether bringing real life to the prophet's words in "singing, everlasting joy shall be upon their heads."

In the Peace and Power of the Christ,

Pastor Randy

Lessons for Sunday August, 17, 2014
Genesis 45:1-15
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28  

THIS WEEK

Wednesday        7:00 - 8:30 p SOV Choir rehearsal

Thursday           10:00 a  LLL
                          7:00 p  Social Media meeting (if you are interested or have knowledge regarding "online presence and social media" please plan to attend this meeting.)

Friday               1:00 - 9:00 p Palmeter Piano Studio

Saturday           10:00 - 11:30 a SOV Choir Rehearsal

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wednesday Messages

from Pastor Brian

Today I talked with someone from SOV about a report on OPB radio.  It concerned the consequences of allowing ourselves to be interrupted persistently by electronic media and distracted incessantly by instant access to digital information.  The upshot: our thinking and moral character grow shallower as we are tempted to attend to trivia rather than to explore depths of wisdom and spirit.

I think the report is accurate.  I have felt the ill effects of too much information coming too frequently.  I've tried to respond by carefully regulating my use of electronic devices and media.  But that negative strategy needs a complementary positive approach.  For me, that's prayer. 

For 40 years I've kept a daily discipline of prayer and meditation.  I can't claim miracles for it but I can say it's helped me a lot as I deal with the daily pressures and occasional idiocy (mostly my own) of ordinary life.

The words of Henry French, in his book Prayer: A Primer, ring true:

"The distractions and worries of modern life are too many to mention.  The many duties, demands and obligations that we assume or that are forced on us seem to control our lives and blur our focus.  … Like a deer in danger, we can be distracted from and forget our longing for God.  But the longing is still there — beneath the level of immediate, conscious awareness perhaps… but there, ready to turn us toward God.  Prayer… is a way of dealing with these distractions and worries; it gives us new perspective on them."

"Over time, the path of prayer will change the way you see things, will change the way you experience things, will change the way you experience yourself and God.  The path of prayer will teach you what the Psalmist meant when he or she wrote: 'For with you, O God, is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.'"


Over the next few months, I'll keep on writing about prayer.  As I do, I encourage you to keep on looking for a path of prayer that you and your family can walk together.  May God bless the steps you take.

~~

"After he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray . . . when evening came he was there alone".  Matthew 14:23

We have had a series of days that for many have been too hot.  But I have enjoyed them in truth, not having to work outside and having air conditioning to retreat to.

And the evenings of those days have been particularly blessed. Things have cooled down nicely. The noise of the day has slipped away, the birds themselves becoming hushed being replaced by the crickets chorus and the gentle rustling of the trees as a sweet breeze picks up once again.  The bats are out in great numbers, offering help in pesky insect control.  Their presence is silent and barely noticeable.  It is a pleasant way to try to gain perspective of the day.  Visually considering therapy efforts and whether recovery from the stroke is really continuing.  The peaceful evening outdoors is grandly appreciated.  Blessings at any and all times.

In praise of the Creator,

Pastor Randy

Lessons for Sunday, August 10, 2014

Genesis   37:1-4, 12-28
Romans   10:5-15
Matthew 14:22-33

THIS WEEK

Wednesday    10:30 a Bible Study w/Pastor Brian (30 minute delay start today)
                       5:30 p Worship Meeting
                       7:00 - 8:30 p SOV Choir rehearsal

Thursday       6:30 p Men's Night at Lil' Cooperstown,  all men invited for food and fellowship

Friday           1:00 - 9:00 p  Palmeter Piano Studio