Horizons – April

It’s not often that Easter falls on April Fool’s Day.  It’s fun to play with the juxtaposition of the two.  Seems to me that the very least we can say is that both are days for laughter, merry-making and joy.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “the earth laughs in flowers.”  What a wonderful way to bring together the laughter and joy of Easter in light of our Lenten theme:  Love God/Love Creation.  For Easter is the Day of Resurrection, the day all life and all creation are restored to the fullness of their beauty through the love and power of God.  The tomb is empty.  The flowers bloom!
An early church father born around 625 A.D. in Syria, St. John of Damascus, wrote a poem for Easter that was translated and adapted into a hymn text by John Mason Neale.  Be sure to come and sing  “The Day of Resurrection” on Easter Day with congregation, choir, organ and brass.  It will lift your spirits and open your hearts to the laughter of the very flowers themselves:  Now let the heavens be joyful!  Let earth the song begin!  Let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein!  Let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend–for Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end.
Alleluia indeed!

March 2018

Love God/Love Creation. Our Lenten journey this year invites us to examine and re-examine our commitment to be faithful and passionate stewards of God’s creation. The challenge to each of us is put succinctly by essayist Wendell Berry: “If God loves the world, then how might any person of faith be excused for not loving it or be justified in destroying it?”

How, indeed?! The environmental crisis, or creation crisis as we might put it, is at heart a spiritual crisis. As one young adult, a high school science teacher and United Methodist, reflected: “Answering to God about what has happened to God’s creation should put most Christians, me included, into a spiritual crisis.”

Throughout Lent this year, we walk with Jesus from the wilderness to the Tree of Life and deep into the darkness of the earth towards the brilliant light of Easter morn. The worship and music of the church offer us space to listen and reflect. The art in the Fireside Room, titled “KNOW, LOVE, DO–Changing Nature and Us,” provides much to celebrate and ponder. The Blessing of the Bicycles on Palm Sunday and taking stock of the environmentally-sensitive practices we have in place here at the church inspire
us to go farther along the path of responsible living. Our new sign board out front invites passers-by to add their own word of testimony and hope for a healed creation. A new meal-time grace shared around our family tables in our congregation and Preschool families gives us pause each day to live as grateful stewards.

Our April Book Study author, UM Sharon Delgado, writes: “Love makes this possible…the experience of God’s love for us enables us to face the reality of climate change and our love of God and neighbor can motivate us to compassionate action as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.” For as the old hymn puts it: “Dear to God is the earth Christ trod. No place but is holy ground.”

Let’s walk this walk with the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

February 2018

Christmas is barely packed away yet Lent will soon be upon us. The calendar of the Christian year is like that sometimes, not in sync with our rhythms and expectations. But ready or not, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year. Never mind that Easter is April 1st—April Fool’s Day (no joke!)

Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day seem to have nothing in common. But the fact is—it’s really all about love. God’s love for us and all the ways that love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Thus our Advent/Christmas theme God So Loves the World segues into our Lenten theme: Love God/Love Creation.

We will draw on Scripture and the worship resources of the season, our United Methodist Bishops’ study God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action, Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, and our April Book Study Book Love in a Time of Climate Change: Honoring Creation, Establishing Justice by Sharon Delgado.

An old hymn sings: …dear to God is the earth Christ trod. No place but is holy ground. (From “This Is My Father’s World”) From Jesus’ Temptation in the wilderness where Lent begins to the Tree of Calvary where he dies, and down into the earth of the tomb from which he will be raised up, Christ’s life and mission hallow the Creation, lament its peril, and celebrate the day of restoration. Let us journey together through Lent 2018 and find ourselves on the other side of the grave with renewed dedication as stewards of the earth.

It’s really all about love. No joke!

January 2018

2018! Already?!? Do you feel that way, too? Another New Year begins and after a brief respite during the holidays, we’ll soon be off full speed ahead.

Time is measured by calendars, yes, by schedules and appointments, by the demands of work, family, doctor’s appointments, getting to the grocery store, and just plain living from day to day. On top of that, there’s all the things you didn’t count on, didn’t see coming, really don’t have time for yet have to be dealt with anyway.

Our faith offers an alternative framework for time. It’s grounded in worship and prayer, in sitting still in the presence of God, in remembering that all time is a gift, sacred and holy. How might we hallow the time in this New Year, the Year of our Lord 2018?

Rejoice, people of God! Our God is with us—in it all, through it all, above and beyond and underneath it all. Let’s all take some deep breaths and live into the joy, the promise, the potential of all that this year will bring.

Horizons – December

God so loves the world…

The season of Advent begins December 3rd this year, the day of our beautiful Christmas Concert. This is a season set aside for us to prepare our hearts and minds for God’s most amazing gift of the Christ Child. In love, God chooses to come and live with us as one of us, sharing our joys and sorrows, all the while teaching, healing, and encouraging us to become disciples of the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

In Christian parlance, this is called the “incarnation” which means “in the flesh.” It’s one of the fundamentals of Christian faith. It’s also one of the most challenging and mysterious truths about what we believe.

Just as in the time of Jesus’ birth, the world is beset by fear and violence. Like those first shepherds, we wait in the night to hear “good news” and “tidings of great joy.” Like the Magi, our hearts seek after light and truth.

As we journey through Advent this year, remember that it’s all about love–God’s love for the world and for each and every one of us, for the creation itself, and for all God’s children near and far. Hear the angels’ song assuring us that we need not be afraid.

Take heart! God comes in love, again and again, and everything is born anew.