Lectionary:  Read the Lessons Here

Coffee hour meets at 10:30!

Formation Corner

Here are some opportunities for group formation!

Small Groups – Timing TBD. With social distancing being our reality for awhile, we need to find new ways to build relationships and grow in faith together.  Enter small groups!  Please contact Jennifer V. if you would like to join a group!

Reconciliation Team (anti-racism) – Monday May 18, 7:30-8:00.  Join us on Zoom on the 1st and 3rd Mondays to talk about resources, current events, and action steps.  We will discuss the first 2 chapters of Ibram Kendi’s How To Be Anti-Racist, but come even if you don’t get a chance to read it!

Bible study continuesWednesday nights at 7 PM.  All are welcome any week!  We are studying Acts and stopped around chapter 6.

Walking with you on Jesus’ Way of Love,

Jennifer Vasquez

Attention families with children: Family Sunday School is now available!  Click here for a 14-minute video with Bible story, prayer, song, and activity suggestions especially for families.

Mother's Day in many circumstances

Mother’s Day is not an easy day for many.  If you’d like some prayers and litanies that lift up some of those situations, please click here.  May God give your spirit peace and comfort.

Environmental Stewardship Team

Let’s talk about a sustainable approach to food!  The Environmental Team will be providing ideas and tips.  Today’s video comes from Donna Dick, who shares a delicious vegetarian recipe to encourage more sustainable plant-based eating.  Thanks Donna!

Pentecost Photos Needed!!

It’s almost Pentecost, and we need YOU!  We are looking for pictures or short videos (10 seconds or less) of you: wearing red, blowing bubbles, speaking in different languages, strong winds, flames in your fire pit…any creative ideas!  Send them to Jennifer V. to be included in a montage on Pentecost.

A Sermon Meditation on the Fifth Sunday of Easter

By The Rev. Dr. J. Paul Board 

May 10, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day!

I wish you a good day and this is a good day to put lovin’ on your mother, whether she be deceased or living.  I encourage you to find healthy ways to put lovin’ on her.  

I imagine Mother’s Day will be a lot like Easter Sunday.  Easter was beautiful.  It was a wonderful day.  Lori and I went for a walk in the neighborhood.  There were a lot of cars parked in driveways that normally don’t have those cars.  It was fairly obvious there were family gatherings happening that probably shouldn’t have been happening.  I hope you will be smart and safe in the manner in which you put lovin’ on your mother. 

I can tell you that I want out of this Covid prison that we are in.  There have been blessings and there have been frustrations in this world that we live in now.  I want it to be gone.  But what I want and what is going to happen aren’t necessarily the same thing.  I understand this, so the question is how do you and I find God in our lives when we are living in an environment that is frustrating.  

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me.”  Well, my heart has been troubled, no doubt.  When I read that verse, I wake up.  Ok Jesus, what do you have to say about it?  

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 

This reminds me of a story from seminary.  It was in our first year and the first assignment.  We were all anxious to be in graduate school.  The first assignment came in systematic theology.  We were asked to write a paper on God the Father.  Also, we wrote on God the Son and another on God the Holy Spirit. But God the Father was the first assignment in any of our classes.  I didn’t pass.  The professor didn’t even grade my paper.  He returned the papers to everyone except me.  This was an invitation to visit him in his office.  

My problem was that I spent the bulk of my paper describing what God is not.  My professor explained I have no credibility talking about what God is not.  Everything we know about God comes from revelation in the Holy Scripture.  Yes, we have God moments and God experiences. We can speculate about how we experience God in our lives.  But we only know how God has revealed himself through scripture, specifically through Jesus Christ.

To take this point further, Christians know God through Jesus, but we do not know God through other faiths.  So our understanding and perspective is naturally biased through Christianity.  

Jesus is having this exact same conversation with the disciples.  Philip says, Show us the Father.  Jesus says, well, you have seen me.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.”

There are plenty of examples in the Old Testament of people interacting directly with God.  Moses is the first one who comes to mind.  Abraham is another.  All the prophets.  They had direct conversations with God.  But the disciples did not. Their interactions were always with Jesus.  It was their experience with Jesus that taught them who God was.  This is also how it works for us.  We can talk about God moments and God experiences.  We can speculate about where God is in our lives.  But as Christians, our focus is on Jesus.  We talk about our experience of God through Jesus.  We do not have credibility talking about God outside of that context.  

Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

So, here is the problem.  If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.  It sounds like a magic spell.  Just invoke Jesus in your prayer and you can have anything you want.  We both know it doesn’t work.  So, why did Jesus say it?  What was he teaching us?  

There is a deeper issue than what we want in our prayers.  This is about what God wants.  If we can go deep in our prayers, then we come to a place where we want the same thing God wants.  This is plainly obvious in the Lord’s Prayer.  Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.  

The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer for what God wants.  God gets what God wants in heaven.  Thy will be done.  But on earth, God doesn’t always get what God wants.  The prayer is for God’s will to be done on earth, as it is already done in heaven.  The Lord’s Prayer is basically: I want what you want, God.  

So when we ask Jesus for anything in his name, we are supposed to be asking what God wants for us, not necessarily what we want for ourselves.  And sure enough, Jesus makes it happen.  That’s very deep prayer.  

From the context of Christian faith, it is fairly obvious what God wants.  He wants us to put love on one another.  God wants peace and justice. 

My clergy colleagues and I have been in conversation about how to do church in the Covid environment.  What does it mean when we livestream the Eucharist when you are sitting at home and can’t receive the sacrament?  Does that have value?  It’s a thing called spiritual communion.  But as I listened to this conversation, I was struck by how invested we are in worship.

The scriptures are very clear on the point.  What does God want from our worship?  From the prophets to Jesus, they say the same thing.  God doesn’t want our sacrifices.  He wants peace and justice.  So there I was in the clergy meeting.  We were intensely engaged in a conversation about how to do worship in a world where God has told us we shouldn’t be worshipping together.  How ironic is that?  

We have to figure out how to be the church when we can’t worship together.  The answer is put love on our neighbor.  That’s what God wants from us. 

Happy Mother’s Day.  I wish you well.  And I pray you will be smart about how you celebrate Mother’s Day.   Be careful if you are planning to visit family.  Think about the difference between what God wants and what you want.  Stay safe and healthy.