July 21st Weekly E-votional

As many of you know, I spent the last week in Mars Hill with Heather, Hannah, Gene, Jan, Sue and my Dad on the mission trip.  At my site, we were repairing the floors of a trailer that had a busted water pipe soaking the floors.  You literally could not walk in a couple of rooms without falling through the floor.  We had to first pull up the carpet and the old floor.  We then cleaned off the joists and then got sheets of wood (OSB) to lay down as the new floor.

Todd, the pastor from Shadyside Presbyterian, and I talked several times during the week.  At one point, he shared one of his favorite things about the week.  We buy sheets of wood and they aren’t anything but raw materials.  It’s not until we measure the wood, cut it (sometimes more than once), and put it in place that they are able to serve the purpose we bought it for.  Until then it is just raw material, it does not have a specific purpose.

We are like that wood.  We are full of potential, but we are nothing but raw material until God shapes us for our purpose.  God shapes us and molds us.  Sometimes we can feel God working, but most times we are completely unaware.  Often times, we don’t see God’s hand until after the fact.

This should be a comfort to us.  The Creator of the seas and skies and everything we can and can’t see has a purpose for us!  Like the sheets of OSB that are now someone’s floor, like the 2 x 4s at a different site that are now someone’s steps, we have a purpose! God is working in our lives through the Holy Spirit, shaping us and preparing us for this reason.

Jeremiah 18:6  “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

Advertisements

July 7th Weekly E-votional

It’s funny the things that stick out in your mind.  When I first started regularly attending church, I was in fifth or sixth grade.  I don’t remember any sermons or what hymns were sung regularly. I remember being amazed that one of my classmates was able to recite the Apostles’ Creed in worship.  I also remember the Communion Bread.

At the church I grew up in, someone baked the bread every time we had Communion.  It was a sweet bread that tasted incredible.  After worship, I would go with some other kids down to the kitchen and try to get what was left over.  Some people frowned on it, some people dismissed it as “kids will be kids”.  We just wanted the bread, we just couldn’t get enough!

While we just wanted the bread because it tasted so good, I think it is a wonderful image for Communion.  What if we all approached the Lord’s Table with the attitude that we just can’t get enough?  We can’t get enough spiritual nourishment.  We can’t get enough of a visible sign of God’s invisible Grace.  We can’t get enough of the reconciliation with God that came through Christ’s death and resurrection.  We can’t get enough of the communion of all believers in all places in all time.  We can’t get enough of the presence of Christ!

Next time you gather around the Lord’s Table, take a big hunk of bread.  Eat and drink as if you can not get enough because we can never have enough Jesus in our lives!

Luke 22:19: “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

 

July 6th News and Notes

Liturgist

We do not have a liturgist signed up for this Sunday (the 10th).  As we have a guest preacher, it is important that we have a liturgist.  Please email ckdeacon@yahoo.com if you are willing to serve as liturgist.

Mars Hill

This weekend, several members will be traveling on a mission trip to Mars Hill, North Carolina.  Attending will be Gene Barbato, Jan Barbato, Chris Deacon, Hannah Deacon, Heather Deacon, Russ Doughty, Sue Kennedy, as well as Chris’s dad, Dave Deacon.  Please keep them in your prayers.

Pulpit Supply

The Rev. Dr. Karen Brown will be filling the pulpit on July 10th.  She will be bringing some youth from the Jubilee Arts program she works with and they will have t-shirts for sale after the service.

 Committee Chairs

We are looking for people to chair the Children, Youth, and Family committee as well as the Christian Spiritual Formation committee.  If you are interested in chairing one of these committees, please see Chris Deacon.

 Two Week Outlook

Sunday, July 10th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Rev. Dr. Karen Brown filling the pulpit
  • Chat & Chew following worship

Thursday, July 14th

  • Men’s Breakfast, 7:45 am, Nautilus Diner, Crofton

Sunday, July 17th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Family Crisis Center meal

Looking Ahead

  • July 10th-16th: Mars Hill Mission Trip
  • July 25th-29th: Art and Music Camp
  • August 20th, Baysox Game
  • September 17th, Bowie Houses of Worship Tour
  • September 22nd: Watoto

June 22nd Weekly E-votional

For the E-votional this week, I am sharing the response from the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland.  This was written by faith leaders from the Muslim, Jewish, Unitarian, and Protestant communities from Bowie and the surrounding areas.

On the morning of June 12th, our nation awoke to the horrific news of yet another mass shooting.  A 29 year old man entered Pulse, a well-known gay nightclub, and took the lives of 49 people and injured many more.   Even before information was readily available, blame was assigned.   It was a terrorist attack.  It was the LBGTQ community’s fault.  It was ISIS.  It was Muslims.  It was immigrants.  The truth is that this is multi-faceted and there is enough blame to go around.

In the shadow of this tragic event, the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland came together.  We came together to pray, we came together to mourn, and we came together to say “ENOUGH.”   Enough of the culture of hate that permeates our society where we vilify the LBGTQ community.  Enough of assuming that anyone with an Arabic name is foreign born or a terrorist.  Enough of believing that ISIS is representative of all Muslim people.  Enough of the demonization of immigrants coming to our country seeking a safe haven and a new start.  Enough of groups of people being blamed or demonized for the actions of a few.  Enough innocent lives lost.

This is a hate crime, above all else.  It was birthed by the same culture of mistrust, misunderstanding, and hatred towards the LGBTQ community shown by  North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (aka “the bathroom bill”) and the many laws passed like it.  It was created by the states that refuse to recognize same gender marriages even after the highest court in the land ruled that it was a constitutional right.  It was created by the 100+ anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation proposed across 22 states that declare LGBTQ people are less than human.  It was created by the reckless rhetoric of too many politicians seeking to make a headline or pandering to their perceived audience.

We write this as we remember the one year anniversary of the Charleston shooting at Mother Emmanuel.   We write this as we approach the anniversary of the murders of James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman in Mississippi, for daring to work for voting rights for others. The horrible events at Pulse in Orlando are yet another manifestation of this lethal mixture of guns and hatred that has plagued those most vulnerable in our society for half a century.

We must do better.  As we mourn those lives lost in Orlando, we must not let our mourning lead us to despair.  Instead we should let it serve as a call to action and a call to solidarity.  As people of faith, the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland, comes together focusing not on what divides us, but on what unites us.  We affirm that we are all created by our Creator.  As such, we all have value: all ethnicities, all sexual orientations and gender identities, all levels of ability, and all faiths.  For this reason the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland chooses to stand with the LGBTQ community, the Muslim community, and the immigrant community.  We choose to stand with each other, and with you.  We, as a society, must learn to love and respect one another.  Not despite our differences, but because of our differences.    As such, we are working with elected and community leaders to create a communal event, coming together to honor the memories of the victims in Orlando, to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters here, to celebrate our diversity and our community, to do all that we can to be the change we hope to see in our world.

We leave you with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Choosing love means standing up against hatred and discrimination and standing up for life.  We must continue to talk with one another to grow in our understanding of each other, so we can end the harm we pass on to other people.  We, the Interfaith Council of Suburban Maryland, choose light.  We choose love.  We invite our entire to community to join with us.

June 18th News and Notes

Church in the Park

Church in the Park will be June 27th.  We will worship at 10:00 in the Gazebo at Allen Pond.  We will have a potluck picnic following worship.  You can sign up here or in the Narthex.  Come prepared to worship, to be creative, and to have a great time!

Appreciation

This is the last Sunday that the choir will be singing before taking a break for the summer.  If you talk to a choir member, be to thank them.  Especially thank Diane Eades for leading them!  They add so much to our worship service.

SMA Walk

Thank you to everyone who participated in the SMA walk.  We raised over $5000 and counting!

 Mars Hill

We are sending 8 people to Mars Hill this year to do mission work the week of July 10th – 16th.  Please keep these people and the work they will be doing in prayer.

Baysox Game

Mark your calendars.  We will be going to see a Baysox game on August 20th.  The game starts at 6:05 and there will be fireworks after the game!

 Two Week Outlook

Sunday, June 19th

  • Worship, 10:00
  • Family Crisis Center Meal

Thursday, June 23rd

  • Men’s Breakfast, 7:45 am, Nautilus Diner, Crofton
  • Ladies’ Night Out, 6:30

Sunday, June 26th

  • Church in the Park, 10:00, Allen Pond
  • Potluck following worship

Friday, July 1st

  • Book Club, 7:00

Looking Ahead

  • June 26th: Church in the Park
  • July 10th-16th: Mars Hill Mission Trip
  • July 25th-29th: Art and Music Camp
  • August 20th, Baysox Game
  • September 17th, Bowie Houses of Worship Tour
  • September 22nd: Watoto

June 16th Weekly E-votional

I have been staring at a blank screen for half the day.  Ever since Sunday, I have been trying how to respond to the deadly shooting that took place in Orlando last Saturday night.  The shooting where 50 people lost their lives and even more were injured raises so many issues.  It raises the issue of the treatment of LGBTQ people.  It raises the issue of mental illness.  Many overlook the fact that it was Latino/a night at Pulse and a majority of the victims were Latino/a.  The shooting raises the issue of gun safety and gun control.  Another facet is if it was a terrorist attack.  Yet another facet that has been raised is the vilification of immigrants and Muslims.

How are we, as Christians, how are we supposed to respond to a shooting that took place almost a thousand miles away from us?  How do we respond to a hate crime hurting so many people?  I have heard many people call for prayer and for moments of silence.

Prayer is a good place to start.  I believe the God hears our prayers and that there is power in prayer.  Please, pray.  Pray for the victims.  Pray for the families.  Pray for everyone affected.  Pray for peace.  Pray for an end to the violence.  But don’t stop there.

When we pray, we should also be acting on our prayers.  Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s prayer and it is obvious that prayer is not a passive action, but one that also requires action on our part.  In the Lord’s prayer, we pray “Thy kingdom come, on Earth as it is in heaven.”  We are claiming our responsibility to work towards bringing forth the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.  We also pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  Again, in order to receive God’s forgiveness, we are called, ourselves, to forgive.  Prayer is a good place to start, but we cannot stop there.

So how do we respond?  We respond with love.  After all, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. ” 1 John reminds us “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  In light of these scriptures, Martin Luther King Jr reminds us that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Utah’s lieutenant governor Spencer Cox said in response to the shooting, “May we leave today with a resolve to be a little kinder,” Cox said. “May we try to listen more and talk less. May we forgive someone that has wronged us. And perhaps, most importantly, try to love someone that is different than us.”

When we hear somebody say that the shooting was divine retribution, we should respond with love.  When we hear that the shooter is representative of all followers of Islam, we should respond with love.  When we encounter someone who disagrees with us on how to best protect ourselves from gun violence, we must respond with love.

In light of the violence and the hatred that this shooting has brought to the surface, we are to remember that we are called to be a light in the darkness.  We are called to love.  We cannot remain silent.  I proudly say that I stand with the LGBTQ community.  I stand with our brothers and sisters of Muslim faith.  And I choose love.  I hope you are willing to do the same.

 

Mark 12:30-31  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

June 9th Weekly E-votional

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began this week.  For those who are unfamiliar, Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims.  Muslims believe that it was during Ramadan that the Quran was revealed to Mohammed.  Ramadan is a month of deep contemplation of one’s relationship with God, extra prayer, increased charity, and intense study of the Quran.  It is also a time of fasting.  During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat, drink, or otherwise consume anything from Sunrise to Sunset.

There are many reasons why Muslims fast during Ramadan.  It is to remind you of your human frailty and dependence on God for sustenance.  It is to build compassion and are reminded to help the poor by showing what it feels like to go without food or water.  It is also to reduce distractions so that you can more clearly focus on your relationship with God.

While we may not believe the same things as followers of Islam, there is a lot to admire and learn from Ramadan.  I don’t think any person of faith, whatever that faith might be, would argue that learning greater dependence on God, learning compassion for the poor, and building a stronger relationship with God is a bad thing.  These are things we, as Christians, should strive for in our lives.

I am not saying that we should participate in the fasting of Ramadan, but we should take a look at our lives and our spiritual practices and what they accomplish.  We should look for areas where we could grow closer to God.  We should take the goals of Ramadan and apply them to our own lives, whether it is through Bible study, prayer, fasting, alms giving, or some other spiritual practice.

2 Peter 3:18  “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”