Tag Archives: Sunday

children_laughing

Life Cinematic Sermon Series Continues

So far we’ve heard from the pulpit in this summer sermon series, references to Zombieland, The Matrix, The Truman Show and now this Sunday, August 16, we’ll refer to O Brother, Where Art Thou in an effort to understand how the Gospel connects to comedy and humor.  The sermon title:  ”O, Brother Where Art Thou? or, Slapstick and Comedy in the Gospels.”

We are familiar with “the shortest verse” in the bible:  Jesus wept.  But where is Christ depicted as laughing?  Does religion and the bible have to be all seriousness all the time?  Why do we have this emotional range in our lives, from weeping to laughing, from joy to sorrow?  And if humor is part of being human, then why are churches so deadly boring so much of the time?

Anyway, those are just some of the questions that come to mind with a topic like this.  It’s summer, folks are away (laughing and enjoying themselves, I hope) but if you’re in town, join us on Sunday at 10 a.m.  ~ See you Sunday.

 

Sunday Morning Refuge

sanctuarySunday Morning Quiet, light softly propelled through blue stained glass windows, pews lined up like soldiers on parade, a pulpit and table and the symbols of faith ornamented along lamps, walls, windows… these are some of the things awaiting you on Sunday morning, these are some of the things you miss by not being here.
A refuge of peace,  a place of acceptance, a sanctuary of grace and sacred words read from a holy book, prayers offered on your behalf, prayers uttered for the healing of the world, music interlaced with all of it, sacred chords, devoted voices, all of it speaking, speaking, speaking to your heart, to your mind and your body in rhythm with holy time….these are some of the things awaiting you on a Sunday morning, these are some of the things you miss by not being here.
Presence of God, presence of Spirit, presence of the Good Shepherd, the tangible presences of others who gather together to bear witness, who stand together to stand for each other, who share burdens and joys and pass the cup of grace.  Carved out of a week of work, fashioned from the clay of our every day, this presence embraces us and fills us, stirs us and inspires us…these are some of the things you miss and when you miss, we miss your presence.
Sunday Morning Refuge.  Claim it as that one moment in your week of hours. Place yourself within it so for a little while, you commune with God, are tenderly cared for by the Good Shepherd and are one with this place we call church.
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100: The Tipping Point

Cleaning up the ledge
Perhaps you read or have heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s book and idea called, “The Tipping Point.”  I want to bring it to your attention for one purpose:  to tip our worship community on Sundays over the 100 mark. For a church of about 125 souls, having 70 in worship is not a bad percentage.  But what would happen if we consistently had one hundred in worship?  Our experience singing would improve.  Our giving and sharing of financial burdens would improve.  Our collegiality and sense of being a congregation–improved.  The ability to build off one another’s efforts and extend our influence for the Gospel and Grace of our Lord, expanded.
Here is how Gladwell’s website describes the tipping point:
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.
We experienced such a tipping point recently with my “Open Letter to White Christians in Florida.”  The first day it was posted, we had a little over one thousand views. The next day, five thousand views. By day three, 28,000 views. And now at this moment, 70,000 views.  Thus, a “little” but brave church spoke to an issue of justice to tens of thousands.  Let’s work together toward the tipping point of one hundred in worship, shall we?  Everyone now, Push.  Row.   Tip. Worship!
See you Sunday, because  The People of God gathered in worship is a beautiful and powerful experience.

 

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The Point Is NOT To Stay Here

Desert Oasis

Having grown up in a Southern Baptist context in the 1950s and 1960s, I recall being at church all day Sunday (well, we had a lunch break and then came back in the evening for “training union” and a warmed over sermon left on the back burner a little too long so it was crusty and well, . . .burnt. The saving grace of that was, the preacher was so tired by the time he entered the pulpit that he ended up preaching maybe 20 minutes instead of 45).

Anyway, we also had a midweek service. And once I became a teen/adult and served on a committee then I realized that when I signed up to love God and neighbor I had apparently also signed up to be at church as many days as possible.

This may come as  a shock to some but look, the point is not to stay here inside the church.  Some liken the church to an ark or ship that makes safe passage and I like that to some degree as long as you don’t press it so that we are literally stuck together at the church building more days than not and for hours at a time.  The point to the church, and I suppose I should capitalize it, so:  the point to the Church is actually to go out into the world and be salt and leaven.  By the way, you can look through the Gospels and will be hard pressed to find Jesus speak of the church more than once.  He did preach often about the Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God.

If that is a minimalist approach to the nature of the Church then so be it.  I think it a scriptural approach as well.  Don’t get me wrong, I want you here on Sunday and worshipping in the community of believers is essential.  But Riverside is an oasis.  Drive your camels in, park them, then sit under our shade tree, crank the bucket down into the cool-water-well we have, drink deeply and then fill your canteen and head back out there. Because you know what? The world needs healing and is in great need of people who love it and repair it.  See you Sunday.  If you don’t have a camel, just walk.  Either way, let’s be the Church.  ~PSTR

 

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The Gate Called Worship or, Three Things To Do Prior to Entering A Holy Place

English: Garden Gate All around Ballumbie Castle

Throughout the course of any given day in our lives, we find ourselves opening doors and following steps that will facilitate our movement through the labyrinth.  For example, think of how you prepare for something as routine as going to the store. Even if you do not make a list, you take a moment to consider why you’re entering the store and take steps to make sure you have cash or a credit card.  From the moment you exit your domicile or office to the moment you walk through the door of the store, how many doors have you opened? How many thresholds have you crossed?

When you cross the threshold into a holy place, like our church, you have opened doors, crossed boundaries, exited and entered a variety of doors.  Ponder this for a moment.  There is this experiential, bodily transition from one portal to another. We would do well to be mindful.  Be awake. Alert.  ”I am walking across the threshold into…”

Peace.  Translucency (blue stained glass, milky light powdered over walnut pews, symbol-adorned walls, table, glass). ” In the midst of others, I am positioning myself to…”

Come before the Holy, the Unutterable, the Fountain of Light.  What you have done is this: you have opened the gate called Worship. This is a series of actions from prayer to song to proclamation that weave you into a sacred tapestry of space and time and all in a singular effort to place one’s life before the Giver of Life.

There are secondary reasons we gather in the church and those reasons are fine as long as they remain secondary to the one great thing you do that day:  worship.  So we show up to socialize and network and accomplish some other secondary tasks.  What we want to do is show up in that holy place at least as mindful as we are when we enter the grocery store with our lists, our money and coupons.  Indeed, we enter sacred time with the small change of our lives seeking a treasure that far exceeds our expectations.

This is one reason I value so much the first gate we open on Sunday.  Have you noticed in your church bulletin that our order of service is a series of gates? And the first gate is “prayer.”  We begin our service without noise, practically in quiet and in prayerful repose. Think of that and how that might compare to your experiences in other churches.  We begin in quiet, contemplative prayer.  I don’t know how you experience that, but here is what I experience: the illusions of the world begin to crash like slags of ice into the sea; the noise of the world melts, dissipates and dissolves into quiet; I can feel my chest rise and fall to breath; eyes closed, I trade darkness for light. And I pray, Christe eleison, Christ have mercy.

Three things you might consider doing prior to entering a holy place:  be mindful of your thresholds; find the gate that opens into your heart, mind and soul; open that gate as you open the gate of worship.

I’ll end by quoting Augustine from Book XII of his Confessions:

O let the Light, the Truth, the Light of my heart, not mine own darkness, speak unto me. I fell off into that, and became darkened; but even thence, even thence I loved Thee. I went astray, and remembered Thee. I heard Thy voice behind me, calling to me to return, and scarcely heard it, through the tumultuousness of the enemies of peace. And now, behold, I return in distress and panting after Thy fountain.

There is a gate. Open it.  There is a fountain of light by which we see light.  See you Sunday.

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