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November 10, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


When we come to the communion table on this weekend honoring the sacrifice made by the men and women who serve our country we have a special opportunity to ask ourselves the question,

 

“What would it take to move us to lay down our lives?”

 

Veteran’s Day gives me a regular opportunity to remember the veteran who is closest to my heart.  Dad served in World War II and in Korea. In World War II he was a dive bomber, which meant that he was close enough to his targets to see the damage his plane delivered. When Korea rolled around he decided he’d had enough of that, and volunteered to fly an unarmed high altitude reconnaissance plane that took the pictures necessary for other more deadly missions to be successful.

 

On the tenth anniversary of my ordination, in 1993, my Dad wrote me a wonderful note of congratulations. But it was a note that was brimming with the remorse he felt more than forty years later from having had to take the lives of other people.

 

That is the burden our veterans carry. The hidden cost of war. And it is a burden that is never fully lifted.

 

Sometimes I wonder what motivated Dad to accept the burden of service.

 

He wanted to be a pilot so badly that he memorized the letters on the eye test after failing it twice so he could pass it on his third try. But it wasn’t his love of flying that prompted him to accept that burden.

 

We have the pictures to prove that he loved his fellow soldiers. But I don’t think it was the band of brothers that moved him to accept the burden of being a soldier himself.

 

He loved his country to be sure.  But I don’t think it was even his love for his country that finally moved him to make this great sacrifice.

 

No, I’m pretty sure that it was the life, and health, and future of his family that, in the end, motivated my dad to risk his life, and to accept the terrible burden of taking the lives of others. Like so many other veterans he rarely gave us a glimpse into his wartime experience. But he never shook it either.

 

On this Veteran’s Day, let’s remember that all of us have the lives we have because of the sacrifice of others. If nothing else, our time around the communion table reminds us to give thanks for all of those who have made that sacrifice. And to wonder how we can live to best honor that sacrifice.

 

 

Welcome to worship.

 




October 27, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


Yesterday in Battery Park, New York, a couple dozen people started walking- south. They will arrive in Philadelphia on Friday. And they plan to get to Baltimore on the following Thursday, November 7th.

These walkers (or marchers, I guess) are sure to enjoy the beautiful autumn scenery along the way of their very long walk. But that’s not the primary reason for their adventure. The plan is to for the walkers to arrive in Washington DC, gathering travelers along the way, on November 12th so that they’ll be able to stand on the steps of the Supreme Court.

Why November 12th? This is the day when the Supreme Court will hear the case involving DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The fate of an estimated 700,000 people who were brought to this country as children could be determined by the arguments and deliberations in the Supreme Court on this day. Also, this fall, lower courts around the country are deliberating the status of the TPS (Temporary Protective Status) Program through which over 300,000 have been granted permission to stay in this country due to the likelihood of danger back home. Many who are here on TPS have lived in the country their entire lives, and have children who are now US citizens. Their deportation will mean separating them from their parents.

So what does all of this have to do with us? Well, there is that pesky call God has given to those of us who are part of the Abrahamic faith traditions to welcome the stranger. And, there are those words on the Statue of Liberty that asks us to welcome “the homeless, tempests tossed, to our shores.” But, in addition to both of these mandates, we have a very specific interest in these marchers and their cause.

They need a place to sleep on Thursday and Friday, November 7th and 8th. The group will arrive here on Thursday evening. While they are here they will stay overnight on our floors, clean up in our showers, and rest up for the last leg of their journey. In addition to these offerings, we would like to provide them with some food for Friday and Saturday breakfast and Friday lunch.

Anyone who is interested and able to contribute something toward this effort is urged to let Vaughn Ouellette know. We’ll need things like pastries, fruit, bread, lunchmeat, and cheese- those kind of things. Food items may be brought to the church anytime on Thursday, November 7th.

And, in the meantime, check out “March for DACA and TPS- Home is Here” at www.homeisheremarch.org to learn more about this effort. At a time when people who have fled the lives they have loved and lost to find new life in this country- which is true for most all of us in one way or another- it is a good thing to be in the business of hospitality. If not for the immigrants themselves, then for the ones who are making this offering on their behalf.

Welcome to Worship!




October 6, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


Here’s something kind of cool. Little Free Pantries.

They look like those house-shaped boxes with Plexiglas doors that stand in front of people’s homes and at the edge of city parks.

“Take a book; Leave a book”.

We have one right here in the Christian Temple playground that sprung up like a wildflower around the time we painted the mural on the sidewalk. A few people keep track of the box, making sure the books are appropriate and that nothing other than books sneaks in. Otherwise it works all by itself.

A Little Free Pantry (www.littlefreepantry.org) works the same way providing a different kind of sustenance. Once it’s built and initially stocked with non-perishable food, toiletries and information about more formal ways to seek assistance, people are welcome to come and visit. Take a tube of toothpaste. Leave a can of corn. Take a flyer with community assistance information (without having to ask someone for it). Leave that shampoo bottle that’s been in your basement for a while. People who patronize the Little Free Pantry are able to do so without the stigma that can sometimes accompany a visit to the local food bank. While there, they are free to grab something out of need or convenience. But they are also free to leave something the next time. And to enjoy the feeling that comes from being part of a neighborhood that cares.

Maybe the best thing about this? Like our playground lending library, this idea came to us from one of our neighbors, who is interested in building the box and wonders if there might be a few of us in the church and community who might like to join the fun.

What do you think? This could be a great way to deepen our neighborhood welcome while providing an on-ramp to more formal assistance for people who are understandably reluctant to ask for help. A Little Free Pantry box on our grounds would be a great way to live out those opening sentences we say every Sunday. “As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to God’s table, as God has welcomed us.”

Not a bad thought to ponder on World Communion Sunday.

Welcome to worship!




September 29, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


Who in the world is Divies?

In the anthem the choir is about to sing (and we are all about to really enjoy) based on Luke 16, there is a name that was new to me. Divies. Pronounced Dive-ee, like, “Little lambsy Divey”.

Many of us know the other names in this story of the man dressed in purple and fine linen, right? We know about Lazarus, the man laying at the gate of the big house, covered with oozing sores, too weak to shoo away the dogs that were drawn by his wounds.  Lazarus is the Latin translation for the Hebrew Eleazar which means “God has helped”. Lazarus never speaks but he is at the heart of the story. When he dies the angels gently lift him by his swollen hands and useless feet, and carry him straight into the bosom of Abraham. Lazarus. Eleazar. God has helped.

The other role in this story is played by Abraham himself who gathers in Lazarus and immediately tends to his wounds.

But until this week I had never heard the name of the character who had the good life on earth and wasn’t so lucky after he died. To me, he was always just the rich man. As it turns out, ‘rich man’ in Latin is translated as ‘dives” pronounced more like ‘diva’ than ‘dive’. When the Bible was translated into Latin, ‘rich man’ became ‘dives’. And as time went on, the word that initially described the man, became his name. You know how a person short of stature might become Shorty? Dives became Divies.

When Jester Hairston arranged this old spiritual as a four part choir anthem a few years ago, he carried on the African American tradition of naming the rich man Divies. I wonder if this tradition stayed alive during the days of slavery because it allowed the rich man to be named cautiously enough to keep the singers from getting in trouble. I wonder but I don’t know. I just know that Divies is nowhere to be found in most English translations of the Bibles.

But maybe it’s right for the rich man to have a name. Too often we might think of the rich as an abstract concept or a “them” we don’t really know. The troubling truth is that if Jesus was telling us this story today, we would all be among the rich. Every one of us has a name, and maybe even a Lazarus within our field of vision and influence we find it far too easy not to see.

Welcome to worship!

 




September 22, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


We know that a congregation is more than just what it “does”. We know that the center of any congregation is the opportunity it offers to connect with the God we have come to know in Jesus Christ.  Still it remains true that “staying” has a lot to do with finding a satisfying way of “doing”.

We have a variety of things to do around here. Here is a weekly sampling for your consideration!

Those whose only day to do church stuff is Sunday might be interested in helping to set up communion, hand out bulletins, greet people at the door, read scripture, or be a helper in Children at Worship.

Those who have Monday free every now and then may want to come over to the church in the morning to help count money, or in the evening on the first Monday of the month to help make casseroles that get delivered to the Westside Men’s Shelter.

Those who could spare a little time on Tuesdays are welcome to join the Bell Choir- a little knowledge about music is helpful but one does NOT need to be able to sing.

Free on Wednesdays? If it’s during the day we have a study group that meets at 9:30. During the afternoon once a month we have a book club. And in the evening every other month we have a board meeting.

How about Thursday? A prayer and study group is always open to newcomers at 6:15. And our great Chancel choir is waiting for YOU at 7:30.

Free on Fridays? Then you might want to get a sitter and make Theology on Tap your once a month date night.

And on Saturdays, every now and then we offer days for community service, and days to help set up for a Thanksgiving dinner or decorate for Christmas and Easter. Or even dig in the garden to make our grounds beautiful.

See, we have a little something for almost every day of the week. This is really just the tip of the iceberg.  And our deepest hope is that through one or more of these activities, we might not only be a place to worship, but also a place to belong.

Welcome to worship!


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