Anticipating worship (4/2/2017)
During Jesus' death the people mocked him by saying, "Come down from the cross that we may see and believe." But during Jesus' life he said, "If you want to be my follower, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me."
Text: Mark 15:1-32
Worship Reflection (3/28/2017)
Sunday we questioned why Christ would remain silent at accusations and not simply not show his power to his accusers. Mark is showing us that God does not view nor use power like humanity...
"The death of Jesus is the price paid to abolish and uproot that fantasy. It does not only destroy the fantasy that God's power is like ours; it also uproots the corresponding notion that whatever power we attain must be valued and clung to at all costs because it is power endorsed by God." -Rowan Williams
(From "Meeting God in Mark)
Worship Anticipation (3/19/17)
This Sunday in worship we will focus on the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane (Mark 14). Why did Jesus pray? Why do we pray? In the same way we talked about letting the Table shape our lives last week, so this week we will explore how prayer must shape our lives. In prayer a transformation takes place in our lives over time, moving us from self-centeredness to a place of faithful response to the calling of God.
Worship reflection (3/12/17)
worship text: Mark 14:12 - 25
Eat this bread and drink this cup. Every week this action shapes our worship. It is a symbol that calls us to remember, but it is more than that. It is an act that calls us to action. How does the Meal shape your life? Rabbi Abraham Heschel said, "The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty but all are responsible." May the Meal we share together each week call us out of our indifference and into action on behalf of the God who calls us all.
Worship preparation (2/26/2017)
Worship Text: Mark 13
Context: As the disciples marvel at the beauty of the temple (v. 1), Jesus announces that the temple will be destroyed! The disciples (who are probably shocked!) ask Jesus to tell them more. As much as anything this complicated passage is a challenge to complacency. God’s presence cannot be confined to a temple, or any building.
Our experience of God is full of paradox: Out of defeat, comes victory. Out of the destruction of the temple, will come a new presence of God. Out of suffering and death will come resurrection.
Define: Paradox: a proposition that, despite sound reasoning, leads to a conclusion that seems self-contradictory
Questions to consider:
Where do we look for God?
Where do you see God at work redeeming humanity?
How does this shape your story?
Worship preparation: (2/5/2017)
Worship Text: Mark 12:28-34
This Sunday in worship we will have a time of blessing for ministries. We will do two things.
First, we will pray for our church leadership - elders and diaconates and Leadership Team - as they give themselves to the task of discerning vision and leading our congregation.
Second, we will pray for individuals who are involved in ministry outside our church. Many of you are involved in caring for friends, volunteering in the schools, visiting the prison, and many other types of ministry. I invite you to come in a spirit of joyful expectation as we share with each other the calling God gives to each of us.
I look forward to being with you on Sunday as we celebrate the ministries to which God calls us.
Worship preparation: (01/22/2017)
Hello friends! This Sunday, as we continue to work our way through the book of Mark, we will be examining Mark 11:27-33. I would challenge each of you to contemplate on the following text. The passage reads:
"They came to Jerusalem again, and as Jesus was walking through the Temple, the chief priests, the religious scholars and the elders asked, "On what authority are you doing these things? Who has given you the power to do them?"
"I will ask you a question-only one," Jesus replied. "If you give me an answer I will tell you on what authority I do the things I do. Tell me, was John's baptism of divine origin, or merely human?"
They thought to themselves, "If we say 'divine' he will ask, 'Then why did you not put your faith in it? But can we say 'merely human'? -for they had reason to fear the people, who regarded John as a true prophet. So their answer to Jesus was, "We do not know."
In turn, Jesus said to them, "Then neither will I tell you on what authority I do the things I do." (Mark 11:27-33, The Inclusive Bible)
Worship Reflection: (01/01/17)
(Mark 11:12-25) As Jesus cleared the temple of corruption and thievery he did so with righteous anger in defense of the poor and vulnerable of his time. I wonder.... How often does the mistreatment of the vulnerable in our own time cause us to experience righteous anger that leads to action in our lives? Following Jesus means being able to identify those who are the most vulnerable in our community and then decide how we can use our power for justice and wholeness for these individuals and/or groups. All the while remembering that sometimes it is us who must be humble enough to receive the advocacy of others and sometimes it is us who are called to advocate for, and encourage others.
Worship Reflection (11/13/16)
Worship Reflection (10/916)
Mark 9:14 -29 "A Dad, A Son, and an Evil Spirit"
This text from the gospel of Mark caused me to reflect on the nature of evil. Following the lead of the gospel writer, I encouraged the congregation to think of evil NOT in terms of a person (!), but in terms of "a spirit or attitude that oppresses, demoralizes or destroys God's Creation." Since we as humans are the "very good" of God's creation, then I would take as evil any spirit or attitude that oppresses, demoralizes or is destructive to any member of the human race. The congregational response for naming evil included the spirit of anger and revenge, the spirit of bullying, the attitude toward women which views them as property and results in sexual violence, a spirit of racism which sees cultures and skin colors and languages as less important or valid when they are unlike our own. The list could go on.
What to do about it? The disciples tried to cast out the evil spirit which was oppressing and threatening to destroy this little boy, but they failed. "Why couldn't we cast it out?" they asked Jesus. It is a burning question for the Church today. Are we powerless in the face of evil? Are we powerless to address and confront spirits or attitudes that oppress, demoralize or are destructive to people? According to Jesus there is only one way to approach this type of evil in our world - start with prayer (Mark 9:29)
May we take seriously the call to prayer in our daily lives and in our community of faith.
Anticipating worship (9/11/16)
As we continue to think about Spiritual Renewal, our focus in worship this week will be on the difference between practices (traditions!) that are shaped by our culture, and practices that transform our hearts to be in God for the sake of the world. Our text for this Sunday (Mark 7:1-23) describes a time when Jesus was pretty clear about the difference!
Our world is hungry for changed people. Let us be a people focused on practices that transform our hearts to be in God for the sake of the world.
First Challenge is Prayer.
I invite you to take the challenge of finding a time for daily prayer. On Sunday, I suggested either 10AM or 10PM (whichever works for you!) The goal is to set aside the time daily to acknowledge God in your day, to seek God, and to rest in God.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
May God soften our hearts to receive the grace God longs to give.
Worship anticipation: September 5, 2016
Mark 6:45 - 56, How's Your Heart?
Spiritual renewal is a necessary part of our lives. We get busy, frustrated, disappointed, tired. Even when things are going well, we can feel down, but when life gets bumpy some days can be hard. During the month of September we will focus on spiritual renewal. I invite you to join me in three practices this month that are intended to help us open our lives to the movement of God.
I will say more about each of these as the week goes on, but for now, join me in this prayer from Psalm 42:1:
As the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
Summer Worship Conversations
As we gather for worship this summer, it is our goal to create an experience which deepens our community. We will use the gospel of Mark as our Story. The question “What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?” will be our focus. Follow our Summer Worship Conversations on facebook or on email as the summer unfolds.
Worship Reflection (August 21, 2016)
Mark 6:30 - 44
Sometimes I think I have to make a BIG, COURAGEOUS decision to follow God, but following God is most often about the little things in life. Jesus asked the disciples a simple question, "How many loaves do you have?" and then gave a simple direction, "Go and see." If we are to be followers of Jesus, we must hear Jesus ask us the same question, "What do you have that you can give?" a talent, some time, being present to someone in need, making a phone call, responding financially.... Jesus fed over 5,000 people with 5 simple loaves and 2 fish. Imagine what God can do with what we have to offer!
Anticipating Worship (August 7, 2016)
Anticipating Worship (July 17, 2016)
Mark 4:35-41 "Faith and Fear"
Can you be afraid and still have faith? This question puzzles me as I read this text. Was Jesus saying the disciples had no faith because they were afraid - or is there something else I am missing? Is it not possible for fear and faith to co-exist? What does this story say about Jesus? What does this story say about what it means to be a follower of Jesus?
Creating God, we come with open hearts and minds to hear what you would say to us through your word. Amen
Anticipating Worship (July 10, 2016)
Anticipating Worship (June 26, 2016)
Mark 2:1-12 Cultivating the Confidence of Christ
Worship Reflection (June 19, 2016)
Worship Reflection (June 12, 2016)
Each Sunday this summer, we are praying a new "version" of the Lord's Prayer. Our hope is to bring this prayer to LIFE in our midst and to challenge us to hear it in new ways. Here is my favorite line from the prayer we prayed this past Sunday:
"Untie the knots of failure binding us, as we release the strands we hold of others' faults."
Anticipating Worship (June 12, 2016)
Guest preacher: Bill Rose-Heim, Regional Minister for Greater KC Region
Text: Isaiah 43:18-19 Title: "How New is New?"
Anticipating Worship (June 5, 2016)