Sunday thoughts

One of my favorite blogs, Maggie’s Farm, publishes the gospel message from the lectionary each Sunday. I’ve always loved that. Maybe I should do that? At the very least, I can send you over to Maggie’s for the gospel lesson today. And stick around and read more from the group; for a bunch of Yankees they aren’t bad:

We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn’t pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does “try my best to be just like I am,” and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.

MaggiesFarm.anotherdotcom.com

Moving toward the Spirit, Part 4

This is the fourth in a multi-part series on how I grew in my Christian faith. See part 1, part 2, and part 3 to catch up.

Ah, the recycling. That and the fact I was pulled in so many directions, like most American teens, had a lot to do with my falling away from the faith for quite some time. I may have attended church during the college years, but it was a faith grown “lukewarm.” Yuck.

After graduation I moved to Savannah in early 1990 for my first job. Sad to say, part of my motivation for finding a church was 1) because the president of the place I interviewed at told me about important church was to him and 2) I was looking for one of those beautiful old churches in the historic district. Not too much on the actual faith part – more of a “looking good” type churchgoer. In a happy accident I wandered across one of the most spirit-filled churches of all, which just happened to be historic, beautiful, and blessed with a magnificent 60-rank Noack organ: Wesley Monumental Church. I was determined to go to a church with glorious music just once in my life!

Wesley Monumental at Christmas – I was lucky enough to sing in that choir
Continue reading “Moving toward the Spirit, Part 4”

Streaming church

Watch church from home?

If it weren’t for the COVID emergency, I’ve have never done such a thing as watch church over the computer. For the first 8-10 weeks of the “new normal” though it was the only option for going to my church, Church of the Apostles.

In the last month though, I have to admit laziness and the unusual cold weather has kept me home two Sundays out of the past four. And while at home I manufactured even better excuses to stay home. To wit: the first Sunday I stayed home due to “cold” was January 16. The Gospel of the day was John 2: 1-11, the story of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.

Dean Barr used an experience he had in the Louvre Museum to illustrate his homily. He said that after he had viewed the Mona Lisa, he turned around and was confronted with a 30-foot-wide masterpiece: the Wedding Feast at Cana by Veronese.

The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Veronese

Father Barr gave such beautiful descriptions of the magnificence of this work that I thought – I need to see this. I opened a new browser window and started searching. While he preached on the miracle, I was absorbed in the picture. It reminded me of my childhood, staring at the stained-glass windows of my home church during the sermon.

Sunday Lesson

Thanks, Kim, for posting these on our ABF class page! Because you send these out I get a chance to read through the lesson.

Series: Questions of Truth & Consequence?
Lesson Title: A Hill On Which To Stand
Date: Week of January 9
Lesson Passages: 1 Kings 18:20-21,37-39; 19:1-3,13-18

This lesson teaches us that we don’t have to try and convert people to Christians; however we should bring them to the point where they are ready to decide. For people to make no choice would mean they would go on with whatever it is they believe in.

That willingness to choose is a move toward faith because it shows an openness to allow God to work. The church has no greater task than to move people toward a willingness to choose. Then it must trust God and His grace with the rest. Continue reading “Sunday Lesson”

Up and at ’em

Hoorah – I finally get up early enough to make it to the 9 a.m. traditional service at my church. Instead of going later to Sunday School at 10:15 and then the contemporary service at 11:30 a.m. – which usually starts late – I’ll be out early by 11:30!!

Yes, kids, that’s what church services are all about, efficiency. (Editor: NOT!)

We’re studying questions of truth and consequence today. That link takes you to our class site, where Kim posts the Sunday lesson. Just in too much of a hurry to type today.

Sunday Lesson

Wow, I’ve really let posting go this past month. I’ve been working on some projects and doing a million things offline. Here we go with this timely reminder of what’s important.
Sunday Lesson provided by Kim Westbury. Thanks, Kim!
Series:                              What’s The Plan?
Lesson Title:               Being Respectful
Date:                                 Week of November 21
Lesson Passages:      Ephesians 6:1-9

Through this scripture Paul speaks to us about relationships with parents, children, and employers. When a person becomes a Christian, their relationship with Christ will begin to spill over into every relationship they have. Similarly, when parents submit and show respect to each other, their children will show respect to them and others. This pattern will be handed down throughout generations.
(My note: In the passage the Bible speaks about slavery. This was an accepted practice in the area Paul lived in at that time.)

Questions:
  1. Can a parent submit to his/her children and yet lead?
  2. How does our love for Christ reflect in our obedience?
  3. Should we submit to parents who don’t follow God’s laws?
Revelation:
To honor is to be obedience to God from the heart.  This means not speaking poorly about your parents, your children or your boss to your friends.
Be a good example to your children. Admit your mistakes, be consistent, be fair and give them choices that teach them responsibility.
Be a good example at work. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily obeying your real boss, God. Good work will get you good pay from your master.
Homework:
How do you honor your boss, parents, and children? How have you dishonored them? Pinpoint areas in which you need to improve. Think of how you can honor them with your words, actions and thoughts in the coming week.
Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for showing us how to build a closer relationship with you daily. Motivate us to share this relationship with others through submission. We understand how resistance shuts the door to learning and growing. Change our attitudes and remind us to treat others with honor and respect. Amen

Sunday lesson (on time for studying this week)

Series:                            What’s The Plan?
Lesson Title:             God’s Power Strengthens
Date:                               Week of October 10
Lesson Passages:   Ephesians 3:14-21


Through this scripture Paul’s shares his prayer for us. He prays that Christ will dwell at home in our hearts permanently and completely so that we may comprehend the fullness of His love for us. It is wide, long, high and deep. Continue reading “Sunday lesson (on time for studying this week)”

Sunday lesson

Sorry so behind! I’ve been playing hooky.

Series: What’s the Plan?
Lesson Title: God’s Power Comes By Grace
Date: Week of October 3
Lesson Passages: Ephesians 3:1-13

Through this scripture we are reminded that God’s grace is always miraculous. Too often we think we have to try hard to get close to God and only certain actions will make Him happy with our lives. But the Gospel message proclaims that God will make us the inheritors of all the promises given in Scripture.

Reading about the great work of Paul, and how much there was for God to forgive, we see there is hope for us.  Even God’s greatest enemy can be turned into a great missionary. The gospel is God’s grace, not God’s punishment.  Even those ignored, feared, and rejected by men have a place in God’s plan. His grace is sufficient for all humankind. Continue reading “Sunday lesson”

Sunday lesson by Kim Westbury

Lesson Title: God’s Power Changes People
Date: Week of September 19
Lesson Passages: Ephesians 2:1-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:5

Through this scripture God reminds us that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us; he already loves us. There is nothing we can do to get God’s grace, we already have it. All we have to do is believe Him. Continue reading “Sunday lesson by Kim Westbury”

Will be late for Sunday School…

…and that’s another blog. But while I’m waiting for the bread to finish in the oven I’ll post this week’s lesson.

Series: What’s a New Testament Church Like?
Lesson Title: Relationships: The Improvement Factor
Date: Week of August 29
Lesson Passages: 2 Corinthians 10:1-3,15-18 12:14-21

Through this scripture God reminds us that when we deal with difficult relationships, we must act out of love; with patience and humility.   We should confront disagreements, not in an inflammatory way, but as Paul did; lay out the facts, without embellishment. Then, stand ready to forgive; willing to bury the hatchet and let go of the grievance.

Why spend energy to win an argument or prove a point, just to lose the relationship?

Questions:

  1. What sorts of things about Paul were questioned by those challenging his apostolic authority?
  2. How do authorities in our life help to build us up?
  3. How do you feel Paul’s straightforward criticism of Corinth can strengthen them?

Revelation:
Life is full of sticky situations, at work, in family life and with friends — people annoy us, betray us and hurt us. When these situations arise, difficult conversations need to be had, but many times we let the relationship languish rather than confront the issues.

When Paul faced difficulty with the church at Corinth, he didn’t clam up. He refused to give up.  He remained engaged with the Corinthians despite the difficulty. He believed their relationship was more important than his pride or his comfort level.

Some in Corinth accused Paul of being a coward, saying he was only bold in his letters and that he didn’t have a powerful enough presence to be an apostle. Paul directed their attention to Christ’s similar qualities of meekness and gentleness reminding them that what they saw as a liability was evidence that Paul was like Christ.

Homework:
Have you ever seen yourself as a spiritual parent to new Christians as Paul did with the Corinthians? Where the more you showed love, the less they return that love?  Make a special effort to start over with this relationship, maybe first with an encouraging letter, then an outing. Use that time to have the hard conversations, but to let them see your love in the process.

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for reminding us what’s important in our relationship building. Help us to show love in the most difficult situations. We pray for all those we are in conflict with. Give us patience and courage to confront them and offer guidance with grace. Let us grow into a living example of you. Amen