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Closing the Distance

David Hilfiker

May 14, 2017
Text: Matthew 25:31-46

Over the last several months since the election, many of us have been exploring, in one way or another, how best to respond to our new political reality.  Our many teachings here on the subject may have seemed like beating a dead horse; some of us are thinking maybe it's time to move on, but I want to suggest that this unprecedented political and social situation is complex enough a moral issue with so many spiritual dimensions that it's important to continue our explorations of possibilities.  I hope these next twenty minutes can help.

Let me begin, somewhat paradoxically, by looking at the term "holiness," which Fred brought to our attention several weeks ago and continued to look at during the retreat last week.

The Search

Betsy Edmonds

May 7, 2017

For her teaching Betsy read the following story by John Gleason.

It happened years ago, but the incident sticks in mind and memory.  Perhaps I can make you see why.

It was October 1938.  I had just graduated from Northwestern University and wanted to see something of the world before settling into a career.  With $350 saved from a summer job—quite a lot in those days—I was heading for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, places that seemed romantic to me.

The Road to Emmaus

Carol Bullard-Bates

April 30, 2017

     Luke 24: 13-35
     Acts 2: 4a, 36-41

Luke, a Gentile, is sharing his account of Jesus’ life and death and has just described how the women had seen the tomb with the stone rolled away and two men with clothes that gleamed like lightening were there and told them that Jesus had risen. When they faithfully return to the apostles and tell them what they have seen and heard, in typical sexist perspective of men at that time, the men do not believe the women. “Their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Peter who must have wondered if it was a possibility that Jesus was raised from the dead, runs to the tomb but only sees the cloths rolled up that had wrapped Jesus’ body. Does his lack of faith cause him to not see any messengers or hear what has happened to Jesus, as the women had? He has to wonder what has happened.

I’m in a Resurrection State of Mind

Kate Lasso

April 16, 2017

Text: John 20:1-18[i]

When I accepted the invitation to share this morning, a phrase kept coming to me, to the tune of a Billy Joel song:  "I'm in a Resurrection State of Mind."[ii]  At first I was amused at my own silliness.  But then I started to wonder what does that mean? What is a Resurrection State of Mind anyway?  1 Corinthians 2:16, tells us that, as believers, we "have the mind of Christ,” meaning that we are to order our thinking, our inner lives, according to Christ's example.  In turn, putting on the mind of Christ leads to actions that are also ordered in accordance with Christ’s example, and God's desire.  If we submit ourselves to the lordship of Christ, both Romans 6:4 and Colossians tells us that we are both buried and raised with Christ.  Here's what Colossians 2:12-13 says:

12  And having been buried with Christ in baptism, you were raised with Christ through your faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. 13When you were dead in your trespasses and ... your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.

Servants of Christ in Relationship

Kent Beduhn

Philippians 2:1-10[i]
Isaiah 53:10-12[ii]
Ps 31:15-17[iii]

What do we really NEED from one another?  When you come right down to it—and this comes up again and again in our Servants mission group as we care for one another in the Body and Mind of Christ—what we NEED from one another is relationship.  Connection and attachment to one another for the highest and best purposes but also for ordinary and extraordinary purposes.  Friends, I encourage you today to do this!  To be with and for one another in this kind of unity would make all of our joy complete.

In all the highs and lows life brings, may we hold one another, esteem and value one another in such a way that wonderfully keeps us mindful of how others are, in fact, better.  How often do we actually SEE one another in our totality as "better"?  Jesus did.  Even his disciples, as he took leave, were left with many gifts of his presence and poise in the center of the most traumatic situations one can imagine.  Jesus found ways to, directly and indirectly, relate to others for their relational responses, their connection to him and to his life's—and death's—ultimate meaning.

Deep Listening

Margaret Benefiel

Text: I Samuel 3:1-18

“The word of the Lord was rare.”  The word of the Lord was rare when Samuel was a child.  This was a time of dry bones.  Eli had been Israel’s priest for many years.  Just before this passage, the author painted a picture of Eli’s sons’ unfaithfulness.  They, the priests, weren’t listening.  The people weren’t being offered God’s word.  In the I Samuel reading, Eli, who was rusty at listening to God, realizes at last (on God’s third try) that it is the Lord who is speaking to Samuel, and he tells Samuel how to respond.  In this passage, the mantle of God passes from Eli to Samuel when Samuel listens and responds faithfully.  The first message that God gives Samuel, immediately after this passage, is a word of rebuke to Eli and a prophecy of devastation to him and his family.  Samuel is afraid to speak the message.  What a challenging first message from God to have to deliver!   Rebuking and announcing devastation to your mentor and senior priest, when you are still a boy.  If I had been Samuel, I might have questioned whether this was the vocation I wanted.

Becoming Deeply Anchored in Our Faith Story

Ann Barnet

March 26, 2017

Texts: Psalm 23  “Goodness And Mercy”
Samuel 16:1-13  “Anointing Of Young David; God Sees The Heart”
John 9: 1-41  “Jesus The Light Of The World; Healing Of The Blind Man”
Ephesians 5: 8-14  “Christians Now You Are Light”


I confess to feeling off balance since the election. Maybe you’ve felt uneasy too--out of control, transfixed by the news, outraged at the latest tweet; worried sick about our  immigrant friends and neighbors; attention distracted: captured by the  three-ring circus of Washington, by the pounding of the news cycle. The immediate is king. But at some level, we know better. Outraged, fascinated, obsessive attention does not get the world or my spirit to a better place.

The Wildness of God

Wmily Owlsley

March 5, 2017

Texts: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
     Psalm 32
     Romans 5:12-19
     Matthew 4:1-11

Good morning. It’s a gift to be able to share with you all here on the first Sunday of Lent.

In reading and thinking about this week’s lectionary scriptures what stood out to me is the sheer extremeness of the stories and reflections. There is significant drama, deception, tragedy, and amazement in the story of the fall of man, in Jesus’ fasting and temptation, and Paul’s summary to the Romans of sin and grace.

This morning I will reflect on the physical and spiritual habitat described in these stories, what we can learn from that as we begin the season of Lent, and how this connects with our current times. Throughout this teaching I will refer to God as “God” and would like to say that to me that is an open name that can mean different things to different people. Please be free to replace the name in your mind with the name you might find closer describes who or what you think of as ‘God’ - The Life Force, Holy One, Great Spirit, etc.

Walking Toward Lent with Our Immigrant Brothers and Sisters

Paul Fitch

February 26, 2017

A translation of this teaching into Spanish follows this English version

Good morning. I am pleased share with you all today and honored that my friends here accepted my invitation to help broaden, and make more visible, the message I will attempt to convey. I will seek to make my sharing somewhat brief, so that they might also direct a few words to us.

The Gospel reading of today places us on the cusp, on the transition point, between the epiphany and lent. It presents a scene of beauty, of grandeur and intimacy, and coming together in a profound way that unites the past with the present with the future, both within and beyond history.