Announcing Spirit of Life “WORKship” on Pentecost Sunday, June 9! As a congregation we are going to have a morning of WORKship together. A short worship service will be held beginning at 10am to bless the youth on their upcoming Mission Trip and then WORK around Spirit of Life will begin. Please do not wear your Sunday best, as we will be doing various Spring cleaning jobs. We’ll plan to work until 1:30/2pm and also have a potluck lunch of sandwiches, chips, salads, fruits & dessert. Please go to sign up genius https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090949ada829abf85-workship and sign up for the job(s) you’d like to do! Please help in any way you are able.
Loving enemies? How’s that working for you?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?…”
Recently, we have been confronted in the news with reports of our country justifying the use of torture. In short, we call it something else (enhanced interrogation techniques) and then defend because the end justifies the means. Pastor Rob Bell writes concerning torture, “There’s a debate about this? The issue isn’t just what torture does to the person being tortured, it’s what torturing does to the person doing it. We’re already in trouble when people debate the use of torture as if it’s only about what it does to the enemy. Our own humanity is at stake.”
No doubt, we are in trouble. As Christians who seek to follow in the way of Jesus, I would like to think that we would be bothered by our country’s use of torture, but recent polls suggest otherwise. In a Washington Post/ABC Poll, 69% of white evangelicals supported the use of torture. In contrast, 53% of those who do not identify as religious opposed the use of torture. This is troublesome and a direct reflection on why Millenials want nothing to do with organized religion. How can we better live in the way of Jesus?
From yesterday’s reading, Jesus says that he didn’t come to replace the law, but to fulfill it. Jesus radically transformed from a worldview of retribution and ‘eye for an eye’ ideology by suggesting we change our hearts. Fulfillment of the law is love. He changes the system from retribution to restoration. Love can break the chain of violence. I would suggest we could look at the inverse of the quote above and say, “The issue isn’t just what love does to the person being loved, it’s what love does to the person doing it.” As much as our influence has the capacity to change those around us, the change starts with me.
And then Jesus continues to provide the street credit to this crazy philosophy by loving all the way to a cross. It’s not easy. Perhaps this is why we still wrestle with this as Christians 2000 years later.
I would love to hear from you. Let’s keep on walking.
From a mom at SOLPC:
This is my son. He loves to play with Transformers, trains and Hot Wheels. He loves the color orange. He loves to eat anything sweet. There is nothing he likes more than swimming or going to the park. He likes church and Sunday school. He is so excited to start kindergarten. We think he is the smartest kid we know.
He’s funny and tries to make friends with every kid he meets. He loves his family and his cousin Jacob. In 8 years he will be a teenager and, here in America, that means he will start to be seen as a threat and dangerous just because of his skin color. Don’t let that happen to my son. He deserves so much more. This has to stop.
Hope! A most excellent week one for Surprised By Hope. Our reading and video helped wind us through the streets in our community. As we look out the window, we see that everyone is busy. Production is high, success is often the focus, our married couples are both facing challenging demands in trying to get ahead…and this is just the day job. Our kids are over-programmed as we face our fears of failure in the pressure that they have to commit now, in third grade, or they are going to get passed by. Meanwhile, an economy that has pressured middle class families with stagnated wages that have not kept up with inflation, all the while trying to balance monthly expenses that did not even exist 15 years ago just to try to keep up. For our young people, entry level is much different than 20 years ago while student loans have skyrocketed making mom and dad’s basement not a luxury–but a present day reality. Our loved ones are getting older and best decisions for all are complicated?
So our study starts out–“What are we waiting for? And what are we going to do about it in the meantime?”(p. 6, study guide). What is our ultimate hope? Then we are challenged from what is so common in the church with either: 1. The “Secret Code” approach to Scripture-if only we can crack the code–then we are in; or 2. The “Escape the World” approach–that if our concern is our ticket to often–then we will be leaving this all behind–so who cares about this place anyway? But then we are challenged that God’s purpose is to restore all of creation. (Read Psalm 96) To add my favorite translation/definition of righteousness that God’s purpose is ‘restorative justice’. To vindicate the oppressed, the poor, and those on the margins. And so we are challenged with how are we living as people of hope? Individually and as a community? And how are we expanding this into the margins so that at least in our corner–by standing on the margins, hope is helping to eliminate them altogether. When we are living into hope that is not removed, but present now–that we live into being a church that is made of people gathering to share hope with one another and sharing this out in our world.
From our first meeting, most excellent questions were raised at the end. I encourage you to help respond.
1. What is God waiting for?
2. What would the world be like if there were no Christians? (The video helped share the nuance of the terrible things that have happened in the name of Christianity such as Crusades, Inquisition…, and great things with references to the earliest Christians, abolitionist William Wilberforce, etc…)
3. Why this planet? Of all the planets in the cosmos, are we the only creatures made in God’s image?
4. Looking at the beauty of creation and the hummingbirds that gather at the feeder, there is one that always drives the others away?” When we say we see God in nature, what about the realities such as this?
Great questions. For those that missed the first session, Tony Winter will be leading another group starting this next week, Wednesday night at the church at 7:00 pm. Join us on Wednesday nights at 7:00, or Thursday mornings at 7:00 am as we enter into being surprised by hope.
In the promises we make, remember your baptism.
Saturday we begin our Week of Community Service by participating in the Spirit of Life Outdoor Clean-Up. We have several other opportunities available, concluding with joining in the first annual South of the River CROP Hunger Walk to help fight hunger. Go to http://hunger.cwsglobal.org/site/TR/2013FallCROPHungerWalk/TR-Fall2013;jsessionid=D5E1CCCA7BC43C186CE49C48EDBC1703.app260b?pg=entry&fr_id=17911 for details.
This Sunday our youth will be filling many of the leadership roles for our 10:00 a.m. Worship Service. We also we welcome our guest musician Classical Guitarist, James Falbo. As a classical guitarist, he has played in many churches for weddings, and various other events throughout Minnesota. With over 18 years experience, his repertoire varies from typical composers such as Bach, Mozart, Schubert, to Latin American and Spanish music. To hear a sample of his music go to http://www.jimfalboguitar.com/ . Prelude music will begin at 9:45 a.m.