Blog: Random Thoughts on Sunday's Sermon

Below are some random thoughts on this coming Sunday's message.  We hope they create a little time in your day to reflect on the journey of faith and life.  If they spur any thoughts, quotes, or experiences, please share them.  God moves among us as we share with each other.

Life can become hard, and then can become even harder. When trouble upon trouble come our way, we easily begin to expect that more trouble is just around the corner. We slowly lose hope that things can be different, so we keep our heads down and try to make it through another day.

This week’s text, Luke 21:25-36, was written to people who knew what hard times looked like. When Jesus speaks of distress among nations and people fainting from fear, this wasn’t new information for them. It was their reality. What was new was the news that amidst this mess, if you raise your head you will see that redemption is near.

Sometimes we stop raising our heads and looking for signs of hope and change. We become conditioned to accept things the way they are. As I think about “raising our heads” and looking for signs of hope, I wonder how many signs we miss while we keep our heads down. Signs of hope and seeds of change may be right in front of us. But the words of Jesus remind us that it’s hard to find something we’re not looking for!

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Monday, November 23, 2015

The old saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” It’s easy to look back and know what we should have done. Now we know that we should have bought Apple stock when it went public in 1980. Or that we should have accepted the invitation to join the research project “BackRub,” which today is known as Google.  When we look in the rearview mirror at our lives, we see things with a clarity that is not possible when we look to the future.

The same holds true when we look for God in our lives. It’s much easier to look back and see God’s presence than it is to know what it will look like in the future. Yet rarely do we look back and ask ourselves, “Where was God in this?” We like to be forward-looking, never dwelling on the past. However, in doing so we’re missing an opportunity to grow in our faith.

When we take the time to consider how God has been present in our past, we develop the confidence and hope that God will be present in our future. We don’t know how God will be present, just that God will be present. And sometimes, knowing this is the difference between giving up or going forward.

This week take some time to look in the rearview mirror at your life and ask yourself, “Where do I see God?” Doing this has the potential to change how you live into your future.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Thursday, November 19, 2015

Memoirs and autobiographies are now perennially best-sellers. This is probably because people use them as a way to spin their life stories into entertaining and positive tales. I love Bill Clinton’s line: "A lot of presidential memoirs are dull and self-serving. I hope mine is interesting and self-serving."

As this genre becomes less about fact and more about artistic fabrication, Jill Ker Conway ponders, “Why is autobiography the most popular form of fiction for modern readers?”

I think it’s because the way we remember our lives says something significant about us. A memoir may not faithfully convey the details of our lives, but it does speak to what we hope our lives could be. This is why I cut David some slack in the way he presents his life in 2 Samuel 23:1-7. The passage presents him as remembering his life in grandiose terms, but perhaps we should read this as conveying the hopes and dreams he had for himself.

We all should spend time thinking about how we would write our memoirs. This week, spend some time thinking about the course of your life. What would you highlight? What do you wish you could spin another way? And what do you hope no one ever knows?! A little “memoir time” may be the very thing God uses to help us get into touch with the hopes and dreams we have for our lives.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This week we read David’s last words in 1 Samuel 23:1-7. Actually, there are ten “last words of David” recorded in the Bible, each contributing to the story in its own way.

If these words are interpreted as what David is saying about himself, it seems he had a very large ego! He is introduced as the anointed of God and God’s favorite. David goes on to say of himself that “the spirit of the Lord speaks through me” (v. 2), and he is “One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God” (v. 3). These are grandiose self-acclamations for someone who had an affair, and rather than “fess up” to what he’d done, David sent her husband to the frontlines so he would be killed in battle. This makes the text sound like his chance to spin his legacy so that it seems more positive than it was.

There is another way to view this passage. Perhaps in completing the narrative about David, others have placed these words on his lips to describe what they hoped their king could be and what they believed God could do through their kingdom. It is not a statement about what was. It evinces a sense of who God is calling them to be.

The truth is that sometimes we need to see people through the lens of who they can be, not viewing them solely by what they’ve done. We tend to do this naturally with those we love. We view them with generous eyes that allow us to see the possibilities within them. It’s not that we forget past decisions and acts, but we don’t confine their futures to them. 

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Monday, November 16, 2015

When I was a small child, I wasn’t quite sure how to pray. In our family, my dad prayed out loud before all meals, but when we were in restaurants, we bowed our heads and prayed silently. I was never quite sure what to pray in those circumstances. So I would close my eyes and silently say the following words, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven”-- I discovered that the count of seven was the length of my parents’ prayers.

As I look back, I don’t think I did this because I thought I couldn’t talk to God. I think it was because I wasn’t sure how to choose the right words for God. After all, this is THE God we’re talking about! I think the sacredness of the moment overwhelmed me.

What I now realize is that the sacredness of prayer is created through our honest sharing with God. It’s not a time to hide who we are or pretend everything is ok. It is a time to express whatever is on our hearts and mind. The Bible is filled with prayers that express sorrow, anger, disappointment, frustration (even with God!), hopelessness, etc. Prayer is an opportunity to open ourselves to God so that God can meet us wherever we are. Nothing is out of bounds in our prayers.


Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis is on his third day here in the states. It is customary for popes to name themselves after an immediate or distant predecessor, mentor, saint, or even family members. Francis has named himself after St. Francis of Assisi, who took a vow of poverty and is known for his kindness to animals. The fervor and excitement that Francis has engendered among the people seems to come from a real appreciation of his authentic humanity. What a refreshing idea that “what-you-see is what-you-get!” We’re not used to this - we expect to be disillusioned and misled by the leaders of the world, so we usually greet them with cynicism and mistrust.

Well, Francis has apparently broken our disillusionment bubble - this man is the real thing. From all I’ve read and heard he sincerely does respect and love people - especially the poor, disenfranchised - the least among us. His message is the essence of what’s important in this life: to care for each other, to protect our planet and to not allow greed and power to overcome us. He also transcends the barriers between the religions - I heard a Muslim woman tonight on the radio who sheepishly admitted that she’d prayed to Allah that she’d be able to catch a glimpse of Francis!

It’s heartening to see people of all faiths respond to the message of Pope Francis. And I can't wait for our Blessing of the Animals service on Oct. 18th, which is a tribute to St. Francis of Assisi and our creature friends!

Posted by Cynthia Powell, Monday, September 28, 2015

Yesterday we celebrated Recognition Sunday which was a way to thank you for the many ways you serve and volunteer. From Scripture Readers, to servers at soup kitchen, to consistory members, to ushers, to Sunday School teachers, to helping clean up, and the countless many other ways you serve we say THANK YOU!!

Church Thank you

Thank You cake

Posted by Rev. Jes Kast-Keat, Monday, June 8, 2015

I’m always on the lookout for prayers that are new to me. Old prayers that have been said in cathedrals around the world, new prayers freshly written by a devoted believer, and prayers pieced together trying to make sense of the greater reality of life. I recently discovered this prayer written by a sister in the Dominican order and I want to share it with you today.
Grace and Peace – Pastor Jes

A Blessing For You

May the God of the poor be with you, emptying you over and over again of all pretension, violence, or greed. May you come to recognize and reverence your empty spaces as dwelling places for God. Into the simplicity of your life may God pour all the riches of love and Divine Presence so that you in turn may be love and presence to those you meet. May the God of the poor, the God of Dependence, be with you. Written by -- ©Maxine Shonk, OP

Posted by Rev. Jes Kast-Keat, Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Last Sunday morning I told a story about spilling coffee on my son. I was a new parent with this breathtaking, precious child, and I had hurt him.  That day I was horrified with myself. I wish it were the last time I had done something stupid as a parent, but it was just the beginning of all the goof-ups, lost tempers, forgotten lunches, miss-matched socks, unreasonable expectations, and some (okay, plenty of) yelling. And my oldest is nine, so there will be more ways to mess up as my kids approach adolescence. I will mess up in ways that I haven’t even imagined yet. I have lots more “I’m sorry”s to say. 

When I told this story to the children on Sunday, my point was that we take care of those who have less power or control or strength. I was the mother, so my job was to take care of that baby. Today I bring you this story to talk to you, grown-ups. Yes, our job is to love and tend to our children. But we will fail again and again. We will lose our tempers. We will react selfishly, or out of fear, or embarrassment. We will have a harsh answer when a kind word would suffice. We will judge our children’s friends unfairly, or compare our children to others. We will leave hot coffee on a table within reach of a crawling ten-month-old baby.

But In the awareness of our collective propensity to fail, we find solace in knowing that no one has ever done it all right. We do what we can with the resources we have and we commit ourselves to growing ever more loving, but there will always be more “I’m sorry”s to say. And that’s the way it works.

Jesus brought a message of repentance when he first stepped onto the public scene in Israel. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This was not a voice of condemnation. This was good news. And if you have ever caused pain to a loved one, this is a salvation message. The burden of shame and guilt is too much to bear, but Jesus offers this simple expression, “Repent.” Just saying it out loud helps. 

"God, I yelled. I yelled AGAIN. I lost my temper and I hated what I saw in my child’s eyes."

And in repentance, Jesus is not calling us to hate ourselves, to grovel, to roll in the muck of our guilt and feel bad. He calls us to repent, to turn it around. 

"God, your mercies are new every morning. I will stand up and try again. Your kingdom is here in me."

And for a grown-up who makes fails regularly, that is good news.

Posted by Mandy Meisenheimer, Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I sometimes craft as a form of prayer. I know the Knitting Circle at West End understands the meditative quality of crafting. What’s alive in my spirit sometimes comes out in gluing, cutting, and of course, glitter. This was true for me a couple months ago when I bought a book that had hundreds of pictures of Jesus from many different cultures. In some pictures Jesus was wearing bright clothes, in some pictures Jesus was black, in some pictures Jesus was laughing, in some pictures Jesus was surrounded by people, and other pictures of Jesus were more abstract. When we say that Jesus is our guide in Christianity that might conjure up different pictures of who Jesus is. Is it the Jesus on the cross? Is it the Jesus who was angry in the temple and flipped the tables? Or is it the Jesus who said to the woman “I do not condemn”? Jesus, like us, was multifaceted.

Here is the product of my spiritual crafting I did. You can see the different images of Jesus (with my outlining in glitter!). Often I return to this little image to refocus me.

Jesus by Jes

This week, take a moment to ask yourself “Who is Jesus?” What images come to your mind? What stories from Scripture come to the surface? Who is Jesus to you?

Prayer: Dear God, help me to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Though I have many questions, by faith I will trust your leading. Through the love of Jesus, Amen.

Posted by Rev. Jes Kast-Keat, Wednesday, May 13, 2015