I am praying for you

I am praying for you. I have watched you over the years, and seen the sadness in your eyes sometimes. The downward slope of your shoulders and slight roll in your back, head tilted forward ever-so slightly. Not always of course. At other times your eyes truly sparkle with enthusiasm and even mischief. That child-like sense of awe at the beauty and mystery and fun of life just flows from you. “What are you thinking,” I wonder.

I pray for a knowing of sufficient depth that you have a safe space to share these things – your hopes and your burdens. What is it you seek, in the darkness and in the light? The same things, most likely – a home and hope; hospitality. Each of us needs a place of belonging, perhaps several, where we are known AND loved. Always understood and liked? Perhaps not. But always loved and welcome. One could argue that family is meant to provide that space – the dream often exceeds the waking reality. And what of those who have no family of which they might speak – what then? Where will this ‘community of knowing in common’ be? I pray that you form it and find it.

I pray for emerging awareness of your blessedness. Before action or even intention, as you simply present yourself to the world, know that you are precious to God and a source of divine pleasure and delight. I know you have stumbled a time or two – who among us hasn’t. God’s attention is elsewhere – focus is drawn in on YOUR Imago Dei – the Image-of-God in YOU. With the imagination and power to create, to bring order and form from chaos. The ability to name and thereby take responsibility. The ability to precede that which is about to be revealed – to ‘exist before’. And the ability to exist after, to out live, to survive. In all
of this, you are sacred, holy, blessed.

I pray for you renewal and resurrection. We have been corrupted, each of us; we are decaying as cloth in the sun or metal in water. God extends to us restoration and reconciliation with self, world, and God. “Be made clean!” “Rise up!” “Be healed!” “You are forgiven!” I pray that you hear these words spoken to you, for you, and through you to your world. Yes, there is entropy at work in you. Even so, God speaks to that which seems as good as dead, and says, “LIVE!” God says to you, “Live!”

I pray for you the Way of Jesus as your way. This way is not easy, in the conventional sense. It does not permit leisurely days after sleeping in. You will find challenge and struggle on this path. But then, what path is free of these? Is not all life fraught with difficulty and danger? The difference being in Christ our struggles become prayer. They become a means for us to enter into deeper communion with God – not by God’s design and purposing, but by God’s mercy and grace. God would certainly prefer that things were easier, but since they are not, God meets us in the valley of the shadow of death and shepherds us through, feeding us with plenty as we go. You will be called to die to self, so that you may truly live with Christ and as Christ in the world.

I pray for you eternal life, which is to know God, and the True and Living Way in the world. To know God is to live free. If you think you know God, but hate people, then you are wrong, and do not have life. If you think you know God, and think you are with out error, then you are wrong, and do not have life. If you think you know God, and possess great knowledge and insight, but let your neighbor suffer when you have the means to help, then you are wrong, and do not have life. To have life is to Love All of God with all of you, and to love God’s whole creation equally and fully. I pray for you eternal life.

Slippery Slopes

What if the slippery slope is

     where God calls you to dwell

The place between a static confidence and

     the oblivion of hell.

If Jesus says, “Get out of the

     boat,” knowing you may sink,

Are you willing to trust in what you

     believe beyond what you can think?

And when he says, “Get up! Take

     your mat! Dance!”

Will you stay with what you

     know, or will you risk the chance?

“It’s clear, settled, and I

     know what everything’s about.”

Then Jesus cries, “Lazarus, come

     out!” with a mighty holy shout.

What comes of thinking

     you know what’s true

More than all

     who disagree with you?

How lonely the life lived

     over there

At high altitude in

     pure thin air.

God calls us all to move

     beyond what we feel we

think we know

     To the place out

there, beyond, which

     only God can show

Sermon Study Notes – Communion, Receiving and Giving

1 Corinthians 11 vs 20-34 – Sunday 07242011

Season Theme Scripture – Acts 2 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Opening Sentence

1 O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Call to Worship – Psalm 25

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways,
O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.
Isaiah 7:10-14

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13 Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

Luke 1
35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. … 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he
has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Sermon Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11

20 When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. 22 What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. 30 For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation. About the other things I will give instructions when I come.

Reflection Questions for Sunday 07242011:

  • What does Paul mean when he tells the Corinthians (and us) to ‘discern the body’?
  • Isaiah speaks of “Emmanuel – God with us”. Mary sings of how this God has expressed loving relationship toward her, and through her toward the world. How do you experience the incarnation of God – “God with you”?
  • How is the giving and receiving of Gifts at Christmas related to the giving and receiving that we experience at communion?
  • How do you, as a ‘little christ’ (the literal meaning of Christian) fully realize our call as the presence of God in the world?
  • How do we, as the Body of Christ, fully realize our call as the presence of God in the world?
  • What do you receive at Communion?
  • What do you give at Communion?
  • In what ways are each of these important to you? How might you grow in this area?