Note from Pastor Rick (3/15/2017)

As we  move further into this Lenten season, along with Jesus, we encounter the Samaritan Woman at the Well. Hers is one of the richly developed stories in John’s gospel through which the writer lays out his view of Jesus’ ministry. Especially important in this meeting is the significant breaking down of barriers. In the most improbable of encounters, we find Jesus talking not only to a woman but to a Samaritan. Boundaries of gender and race, of politics and culture are crossed as he shares with her deep insights into eternal life (John’s image for God’s Beloved Community.) The disciples are astonished but the people of Sychar come quickly to see him as the “Savior of the World.”

In Adult Spiritual Formation last Sunday, we will continue our exploration of some of the most challenging of Jesus’ Parables. This week we will focus on “The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31), “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant,” Matthew 18:23-35, and “The Parable of the Talents,” Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27. This study has led to some fascinating discovery and very spirited conversation. Everyone is invited to share this exploration. You won’t find it difficult to “plug in.”

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick (3/8/2017)

On this International Women’s Day, we celebrate all the incredible hands and hearts that hold up half the sky and we pray that we will hear women’s wisdom, letting it shape our lives. Thanks also to Pastor Gregory for his leadership in worship last Sunday and for his stimulating sermon on “Temptation and Resistance.”

As we continue our Lenten journey, we will focus on several key texts, familiar stories from the gospel of John. This Sunday’s text includes one of the best known verses in the Bible – John 3:16. What is it that Jesus is trying to get across to Nicodemus, who secretly seeks him out under the cover of darkness? “What has come into being in [the Word] was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:4-6). “Open your eyes, Nicodemus. No skulking around. Can’t you see, you teacher of Israel, that God loves the world? In such love, creation is continually renewed. You, too, must be born again, Nicodemus, renewed every day, as we move toward the fulfillment of God’s Beloved Community.”

In Adult Spiritual Formation last Sunday, we had a good look at the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 10:1-16). There was spirited discussion and we decided to spend the next few weeks looking specifically at some of the more challenging parables Jesus told. This week we will focus on two – “The Parable of the Wicked Tenants” (Mark 12:1-12) and “The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31). Everyone is invited to share this exploration with us.

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick (3/1/2017)

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. Tonight some of us will gather at Covenant Presbyterian Church for a simple supper and service that includes the imposition of ashes. Commemorating Ash Wednesday was not a part of the Baptist tradition in which I was raised. It was considered a “Catholic” practice and therefore not a good thing. I have grown some since those days, as I trust we all grow over time. There’s nothing I know of that’s fundamentally un-Baptist about a service of penitence that includes a significant symbol of personal repentance as we begin a time of preparation for Easter. I am grateful for this time to reflect on the significance of Easter and all that leads up to it, both in my own life and in that of our congregation. What does it mean for us to be a repentant people when called for so that we can honestly claim to be Easter people all the time?

Sunday, Pastor Gregory will be leading us in Worship for the Whole Family, which will include Communion. The texts for the day are ones that treat the subject of temptation. What are the things that draw us away from intimate relationship with God and a willingness to walk God’s way? Even Jesus had to wrestle with very real temptations to take an easier path than the one God opened to him. What can we learn from his experience and our own reflection that will help us along the way?

In Adult Spiritual Formation, we will continue our exploration of the Parables. This week we will begin to look at some specific Parables, especially the more challenging ones, to see what they might have meant to Jesus and his audience and what the might mean to u us.

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Communion, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.
Pastor Rick

Note from Pastor Rick (2/15/2017)

More time this week with the Sermon on the Mount. The lectionary also gives us material form the Torah (Leviticus) and the Psalms. This week we find Jesus instructing his followers to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to love enemies, and to “be perfect as God is perfect.” It’s a challenging set of assignments. Clearly we need disciplined spiritual practice to be able to live into this reality Jesus envisions. But it is important, part of the law or life-giving guidelines God lays out for those who want to claim their membership in God’s Beloved Community.

In our Adult Spiritual Formation we will continue our study of the Parables of Jesus. Some of us been engaged in provocative reading on this topic that we will share on Sunday. You don’t have to have participated in the first session to join in the conversation. We’d be delighted to share with you.

So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.
Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick (2/8/2017)

Come Sunday we will continue our exploration of the Sermon on the Mount. This week we have some of Jesus more challenging words on what it means to hold a clean heart and practice right living. “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” Yes, we know what it means to obey the law, to follow the rules, to do what is expected of us, but Jesus asks more of us. He asks that we turn our attention fully to God and to walk God’s ways. The demands of righteousness are more than any legal or social system can sustain. To ground our lives in deepest love for God and neighbor is both a challenging and rewarding way to live – especially in these days when love is needed more than ever.

In our Adult Spiritual Formation we began our study to the Parables of Jesus with a spirited conversation about what parables are and what function they serve in Jesus’ ministry. We also talked about how each of us, whether scholar, preacher, lay person, comes to this material with a point of view that helps (or hinders) how we read the texts. In the next couple of weeks we will look at some specific parables, both the beloved and the problematic to see if we might cultivate a new and enlivening perspective on this familiar material. Feel free to join us. I’m sure you will fit right in.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship and Sunday School. Invite someone to share the time with you.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick (2/1/2017)

Thanks to everyone who has sent well-wishes on this my 70th birthday. I used to think 70 was old but you all have given me a new perspective on aging as I watch you live life to its fullest. It was a delight to have Thelma Parodi in church Sunday and to hear her words of greeting and affection for her church home.

Sunday we continue exploring the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus encourages his followers to be salt for the earth and light for the world. Clearly he thought his followers should have something to say and do about the inbreaking Beloved Community of God. He trusted that their witness – and ours – would be able to turn the world right side up and bring it back in line with God’s original creation. What would it mean for us to seasoning and light for our world in these troubling and needful times? What will be our witness to the love of God as the world cries for justice, peace and righteousness?

Continue reading Note from Pastor Rick (2/1/2017)