Showing posts from September, 2017

God is present

Daily reading: Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17 Saturday, September 30, 2017
Just when we think we know where we will encounter God, and how God will respond to us when we show up, Jacob’s story throws us a curve ball.  We cannot fence God in, we cannot control our encounters with God by simply carving out time in our busy schedule. We run and find God outside of the places that we have conveniently placed God.  God will show up when God wants to show up, the question is will we be open to see God when God arrives? 

Prayer: Faithful God, help me to see you in the ordinary moments of my day, guide my words and my actions.  Amen.


Daily reading: Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17 Friday, September 29, 2017
Jacob is able to hear God’s blessing that his father had given him on behalf of his family and God.  In that moment, Jacob is given the certainty of the future, of children, of land, and of God’s presence.  Jacob sees in this moment that God is present in his life, even out in the middle of nowhere, even when he is running away, even when he is running toward, even when he is in the in-between space in his life, God is present.
The miracles is not so much that God showed up in Jacob’s dream so much as it is that Jacob stopped running long enough to experience God’s presence in his life.
When he wakes up he is surprised to realize that God was present.  After all, he did not camp out in a sanctuary for the night.  There are no ruins of an ancient Canaan temple, no markers in the ground indicating that the place is religious site, no pilgrims making their way toward the same destination, no there is nothing about this…

The threshold

Daily reading: Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17 Thursday, September 28, 2017
Jacob is in the in-between, a place that does not need a name.  He is away from the conflict in Beer-sheba and not yet at his destination in Haran.   He is away from the familiar and the named and in the unknown.   He is on the threshold, which is a place of excitement and fear.  It is in this in-between space that transformation happens. 
Jacob runs until he can run no further, the sun is setting, his body is fatigued and so he stops, finds a rock for a pillow and surrenders to sleep.  It is in this moment, when Jacob is no longer running away, or running toward that God is able to get his attention.  God is able in the darkness to illuminate Jacob’s mind and to show him something that he would have missed had he continued to run.

Prayer: Faithful God, help me to see you in the ordinary moments of my day, guide my words and my actions.  Amen.

On the run

Daily reading: Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17 Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Jacob heads out, leaving behind the mess that he has created.  Most of us probably know what it is like to live life on the run.  We cram more things into our calendar than there are hours in the day.  We over schedule ourselves and our children because we have somehow come to equate success and control with activity; which at times causes us to make quick decisions without taking the time to realize the full implications of our choices.  We run past conversations and moments with family and friend or perhaps with co-workers as our minds race onto the next appointment or task at hand.
And we may find that we hide in our busy-ness so that we do not have to face or address the mess we have made in all of running around.  Some of us run away from past mistakes, from regret, from guilt, from brokenness, from fear, from failure.  We may know all too well how it feels to be Jacob.
So we convince ourselves that we are r…

God's faithfulness

Daily reading: Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17 Tuesday, September 26, 2017
God has already committed Godself to this family, and we have seen how this family has struggled and grabbed and tried to live into the covenant and have failed in some pretty epic ways.  What we also can see is what it looks like for God to remain faithful when the situation is less than ideal.
Trust that God is faithful to you in every moment of your life.  Take time today to seek God’s presence, even in the moments when you make mistakes.

Prayer: Faithful God, help me to see you in the ordinary moments of my day, guide my words and my actions.  Amen.

The trick

Daily reading: Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17 Monday, September 25, 2017
The plan is set, Esau is set out to hunt game and make his father’s favorite stew and offer it to him and receive the blessing.  While Esau is out hunting, Rebekah already has the stew ready and has a costume for Jacob to wear and some of his brother’s things to put on so he feels and smells like his older brother.  And as absurd as the plan sounds, it works. Jacob and his mother act out of a belief that there just isn’t enough to go around so they don’t weigh the cost of their decision and how it will ultimately affect every member of their family.  Siblings often feel this way and are keen to point out how unfair any given situation is if they get a slightly smaller piece of dessert, or allowance, or time with a parent.  We somehow convince ourselves that there are limits on love and attention. 
Take time today to consider that God has enough love for you and for everyone.  As you live into that belief, see how t…

Jacob the Grabber

Daily reading: Genesis 27:1-4, 15-23; 28:10-17 Sunday, September 24, 2017
Our story begins today in the waning years of their father’s life, when Isaac’s eyesight was failing, when the expectation is that the oldest will receive the father’s blessing and the patriarchal baton if you will is passed, containing the promise that God will bless that family, make it numerous, protect it and give it land.  It is the continuance of the covenant that God had made with Abraham that then was passed to Isaac, and then onto the first born in the family, to Esau.  Grabby Jacob desired this blessing so much that he goes along with his mother Rebekah’s plan to grab it right out from under Esau. 
The rest of the story as it unfolds reveals how we create brokenness in our families and our communities when we seek gain for ourselves at the expense of others.  Join us this morning in worship as we explore this story that reveals God’s faithfulness despite all of the mess we make.

Prayer: Faithful God, help…

In the beginning

Read: Genesis 1:1-2:4a Friday, September 15, 2017

In the beginning … God was present and brought our interconnected web of creation into existence.  We are more than our thoughts, we are complex, interconnected beings, who are humbled by our connection to creation and blessed by our connection to God.  When we disconnect ourselves from creation or from God the result is disaster. 
The Spirit in each of us helps us to realize what we already know, that we were born with this deep connection to God and to creation.  Our life’s journey is a continual revealing of this fundamental truth; we are designed to be connected. 

Prayer: Creator God, may I be mindful of your gracious invitation to partner with you in the unfolding of your creation today.  Amen.

Called to partner

Read: Genesis 1:1-2:4a Thursday, September 14, 2017

Nowhere does it say that after the day of rest that God checks out or that creation is complete and so the poem reflects a strong message of hope that we are all invited into the creative process of God.  Another way to say it is that God is not done with us and built within the fundamental nature of God’s relationship with us is room for growth and grace.
How might your community be called to actively participate in God’s good creation?

Prayer: Creator God, may I be mindful of your gracious invitation to partner with you in the unfolding of your creation today.  Amen.


Read: Genesis 1:1-2:4a Wednesday, September 13, 2017
This week I came across a theologian that suggests that it is a hymn, a song of praise, how differently we approach the words and their meaning, through this lens.   Like a good poem, the point isn’t how God did it all, the story isn’t about how but about who.
Take time to re-read the passage and make note of who this God is that is sung about in this passage of scripture.
Prayer: Creator God, may I be mindful of your gracious invitation to partner with you in the unfolding of your creation today.  Amen.


Read: Genesis 1:1-2:4a Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Poetically, we are led through a vast visualization of creation unfolding from very basic elements to more complex structures.  The one thing that drives the movement forward is God.
With the creation of light follows a separation of light from darkness; followed by a separation of waters from waters, then waters from dry land, then vegetation; the sun, the moon, the stars, sea creatures and winged creatures; creepy , crawling things and animals.  This poetic story is not meant to be understood literally, or scientifically, or historically but rather it is a song of praise to God and stands as a fundamental statement of faith that we believe that God was part of creation, is part of creation and will be part of creation. 
The counting of days and repetition of God’s response of seeing how good creation is; is the foundation of good oral tradition.  We can imagine parents telling the story to their young children, or communities gathered …

Chaos and order

Read: Genesis 1:1-2:4a Monday, September 11, 2017

This story isn’t buried within the pages of our bible but stands at the beginning of our canon of scripture. Some scholars say during the exile the Priests placed this creation story front and center, needing to know and be reminded when all that had been familiar and holy had been taken away that God takes the mess of our world and creates something good and beautiful.
Much like a housekeeper tending to the laundry separating the darks from the lights, then moving onto the mess in the kitchen rising off the remnants of breakfast, washing, drying and stacking things of similar shapes and sizes together, God is imagined to exist in the primordial chaos of pre-creation and speaks our world into existence. Take time this week, while cleaning, sorting or organizing to think of God’s presence in your work.  May your active meditation be a time of sorting out the chaos of your week.
Prayer: Creator God, may I be mindful of your gracious invitatio…

Our story

Read: Genesis 1:1-2:4a Sunday, September 10, 2017
We long to know our beginnings and to know we are connected; that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, we long to know that we are able to make a difference and that our lives matter and have meaning.  Our Genesis begins in the beginning with these words, “In the beginning.”  This is our story.  Join us today as we explore the story of Genesis 1, first in our education hour at 9:30 and then in worship at 10:40 a.m.
Prayer: Creator God, may I be mindful of your gracious invitation to partner with you in the unfolding of your creation today.  Amen.


Daily reading: Matthew 12:108 Friday, September 8, 2017
Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 when he questions the Pharisees’ condemnation of the disciples’ actions of taking a very meager meal for themselves on the Sabbath.  He says “I want mercy and not sacrifice.”    The Common English bible translates it this way, “I desire faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God instead of entirely burned offerings.”
The intention of Sabbath is liberation from enslavement.  At the core of the passage is Jesus’ defense of his disciples finding nourishment, which is grounded in the understanding that basic needs should be met.  Meeting those needs is then grounded in mercy and compassion.
Prayer:  Holy God, creator of all, center me today.  Help me to remember that you alone are God.  Guide my thoughts, my words and my actions today.  Amen.


Daily reading: Matthew 12:1-8 Thursday, September 7, 2017
We are called to keep the Sabbath holy.  Holy means set apart or dedicated to God.  Holiness isn’t just reserved for church.  Holiness is everywhere; it happens specifically in times when we choose to love God and love neighbor. 
Sabbath practice is set apart; it is a reset for us all.  It is grounded in the unconditional love and mercy and of our God.  It is not just resting, but intentionally resting in God’s presence so God can work on us.  It is about realigning ourselves with this belief that Milton Brasher – Cunningham puts quiet succinctly, “The call of the Sabbath is to remember the fundamental core of our faith: there is a God and we are not it.” 

Prayer:  Holy God, creator of all, center me today.  Help me to remember that you alone are God.  Guide my thoughts, my words and my actions today.  Amen.


Daily reading: Matthew 12:108 Wednesday, September 6, 2017
What the Hebrew people find at Mount Sinai is that the emancipation that God has in store for them is much larger and holistic than simply being freed from the tyranny of Pharaoh.  
Their emancipation is set within the context of new rules of governance for how they will now live as God’s people. The struggle is real.  As we follow their story through the wilderness, we find that the scope of slavery was larger than they or we could have ever imagined.  Because, breaking old patterns, even patterns that are life destroying, are hard to break; even when we are offered something new and life giving to hold onto. 
The gift of Sabbath is part of the entire package.  God imagines the day when they will reside in the Promised Land and they will be able to farm their own land and provide for their families and be part of a community network that protects and cares for one another and that takes a day a week to rest.

Prayer:  Holy God, c…


Daily reading: Matthew 12:1-8 Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Rather than something that is placed upon us, Sabbath, in its truest form, is about offering freedom and it is deeply grounded in the story of the Exodus, when God freed God’s people from slavery in Egypt and led them to the Promised Land. 
Sabbath is rooted in a regime change from suffering under the oppressive rule of Pharaoh to thriving under the liberating rule of God.
Sabbath then is all about pushing back against a culture and world that tells us that our worth is based on what we can produce and what we can accomplish.  It is about stepping back from living in a world that demands our output and participation 24/7.

Prayer:  Holy God, creator of all, center me today.  Help me to remember that you alone are God.  Guide my thoughts, my words and my actions today.  Amen.


Daily reading: Matthew 12:1-8 Monday, September 4, 2017
Jesus’ response to the Pharisees is this, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and those with him were hungry?  He went into God’s house and broke the law by eating the bread of the presence, which only the priests were allowed to eat.”
In good rabbinic tradition, when Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees as to why he allowed his disciples to pluck and eat grain on the Sabbath; he reminds them of the story of David and how he and his hungry soldiers ate the bread reserved for the priests while they were being hunted by King Saul and famished.  In short, the Sabbath was created to serve humanity, not for humanity to serve the Sabbath. What Jesus is arguing is that legalism isn’t the end goal of faithfulness because it can blind us. 

Prayer:  Holy God, creator of all, center me today.  Help me to remember that you alone are God.  Guide my thoughts, my words and my actions today.  Amen.


Daily reading: Matthew 12:1-8 Sunday, September 3, 2017
It is important to know that Sabbath is a concept that is widely revisited and tweaked throughout the scriptures. 
In today’s passage, Jesus and his disciples are walking through wheat fields on the Sabbath.  The disciples are hungry and so they begin to pick the heads of wheat and eat them.  The Pharisees see what the disciples are doing and are concerned that the disciples are breaking Sabbath law. 
It should not surprise us that the Pharisees come at the law this way.  They function as the legalistic guardians of tradition.  The problem with this is that they have, in essence, thrown the baby out with the bath water.   Allow me to explain. Yes, following Sabbath is one of the 10 commandments; however when it is followed blindly and becomes too enmeshed in legalism, the essential life giving intention of the gift of Sabbath is lost.  This week we will take time exploring Sabbath.  Join us at 901 Arizona Ave. Sunday morning for wo…

The radical act of Communion

Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Saturday, September 2, 2017
In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul reminds us that there is something fundamentally broken and out of alignment in society that goes against the nature of God’s relationship with us and with one another.  When we participate in Communion, it is an act of prophetic proclamation.  It is a moment to proclaim the liberation we find in God through Christ Jesus, it is a moment in enact our fundamental belief that nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus. 

Prayer: God, help me to be mindful of your presence in my life: help me to see your presence in everyone I encounter today.  May my words and actions embody your radical welcome and love for Your creation.  Amen.

All are welcomed

Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Friday, September 1, 2017
Four summers ago, at the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, we voted to affirm our collective practice of having an open communion table. Our unique Christian movement, born on the frontier of our budding nation, sought to unify Christians. 
At that time, creeds and doctrine were used as tests of faith and our founders saw them as a means to divide the Christian body.  These tests of faith were also made known when congregations celebrated communion.  Those who were “in” were allowed at the table and those who were “not in” were denied bread and cup.  The founders of our movement sought ways to break down the barriers that had fractured the Christian community and began the process of practicing and open table.  Throughout our relatively short history the definition of an open table has had its own parameters around it, from congregation to congregation. 
The reso…