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.

All my life I’ve wanted to be called Michael. But growing up, everyone defaulted to Mike. I guess “Michael” felt to formal for kids on the playground.

After college, I tried once again to be called Michael, and this time it worked. However, I do get those occasions when I introduce myself as Michael, and the person responds, “Nice to meet you Mike.” I must admit I’m annoyed by this.

This prompts me to consider, if I could choose any name to label my religious commitment, what would it be? Would I use “Christian,” or does it have too much baggage? Would I opt for something more generic, say “a person of faith.” Perhaps that doesn’t say enough.

Most of us don’t know that the early Christians were known as followers of “the Way.” I like this designation. It implies movement, purpose, and direction. It also invites our imaginations to explore what “the way” is for each of us. This Sunday we begin the series “Finding Your Way,” exploring how faith helps us find our way forward.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Thursday, February 4, 2016

Now that Christmas is past, I’m doing a little survey that has two parts. Part 1: How many of us have Christmas presents under the tree that we’ve yet to open? I await your responses, but I’m absolutely certain the answer is NONE! Unless it’s the package from Aunt Edna that you know contains a fruitcake!

We don’t have post-Christmas conversations that go something like this: “Oh that’s right. There are still a few gifts under the tree that I forgot to open.” Or “My kids put presents under the tree, but I just wasn’t I the mood to see what’s in them.” When someone takes the time, thought, and money to give us a special gift, we always open it.  We know that the gift represents something we may really want or need. And more importantly, someone is expressing our value to them by giving us the gift.

I started thinking about this when reading our scripture passage for this Sunday. It describes how each of us has spiritual gifts. It says, “these gifts… are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 12:11, The Message). So here’s part 2 of the survey: How many of us have spiritual gifts that we have yet to open? The answer is probably many of us.

Just as it would be sad to see unopened gifts still under the tree, it is even more so to think that we have spiritual gifts from God that we have yet to “open” and use. When we discover and use these gifts, it’s only then we begin to experience what it means to flourish in life.  Join us this Sunday or listen to the podcast as we explore how we open our spiritual gifts.

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Several years ago, I made a visit on Christmas morning to a parishioner who was in an assisted living home. He had a debilitating neurological disease that gradually impaired his speech. In his youth he sang professionally. Now he struggled to speak a single word.

As I entered his little room, I saw him sitting alone in his wheelchair. It was such a sad sight. I put on my best smile, wished him a Merry Christmas, and pulled a chair by his side. I then asked him, “How are you doing this Christmas morning?” And with this, he began the work of forming a word. As I sat waiting for his response, I wondered what he’d say and if I’d be able to understand it.  Finally, he was able to give me his reply, and he simply said, “Blessed.”

The disease finally took its toll, and he is no longer with us. But I often think of this morning with him and ponder what it means to be blessed. I’m realizing that too often we think of being blessed as a time when everything is going great. Instead, being blessed is more about the state of our hearts, minds, and souls, regardless of what is going on around us.

As we near Christmas, we read in scripture of an unwed girl who will soon bear a child, and it says that she is “blessed.” This doesn’t sound like the pathway to blessing! But Mary’s faith helped her feel blessed in the midst of this hardship, just as it had with the man I visited one Christmas morning.

 

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I know some say that life is about the journey, not the destination. But as I read this week’s passage in Luke (3:1-6), I begin to question this. The passage says, “the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” It points to an end, a destination, a state of arrival.

This has me thinking about the importance of destinations. When we’re traveling somewhere, most of us can handle detours. But we hate to be lost! I think the same is true in life. We can handle unexpected twists and turns, but we don’t like the sensation of drifting through life without a destination.

Unfortunately, some of us have been on detours so long that we have forgotten the destination. We’ve lost our way and are now drifting through life. It can happen without us realizing it.

As we move into Advent, a season of expectation and introspection, it’s a perfect time to ask if we know where we’re going in life. This week take some time to consider the question, where do I sense God is leading me in my relationships, my work, my health, and in my spiritual journey? 

Posted by Rev Michael Bos, Tuesday, December 1, 2015

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

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