generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high
Don't hoard your goods; spread them around.
Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.
When the clouds are full of water, it rains.
When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls.
Don't sit there watching the wind. Do your own work.
Don't stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.
Just as you'll never
the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman,
So you'll never understand the mystery at work in all that
Go to work in the
morning and stick to it until evening without watching the
never know from moment to moment how your work will turn out in
sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.
You who are young, make the most of your youth.
Relish your youthful vigor.
Follow the impulses of your heart.
If something looks good to you, pursue it.
But know also that not just anything goes;
You have to answer to God for every last bit of it.
the layers of
uncertainty and worry is an openness to the power of joy – a
trust in the way of the world.
future is unknown, unrevealed. God’s role and activity in the
world is debatable. But though we may never understand we do
not give up trying. And even though have no assurance that
there is future reward for doing good or consequence for doing
bad. It is in the present that we live and the teacher’s
conclusion is to do good now – be a blessing to others. That is
how you make a difference. And yes, He still believes that at
the end God will be there to judge us for our actions.
That is an
image of God that was very active this weekend, no? (The
impending rapture…) On your minds, no doubt.
happens. And more evident everyday in our culture is how
wishing life’s circumstances to be different than they are will
not make it so. You can, however, adjust how you relate to life
circumstances– and maybe then you have a hand in shaping the
life is constantly moving, changing, morphing. What you know
about yourself today and how you tell your story of faith will
change over time. Our religious community is also constantly
changing. Isn’t it funny how church is still a place that we
depend on deeply to help keep constancy, steadiness – but we too
are always new. Life on earth is a continuously evolving
organism. It is the way of life, it is the Way of God:
changing, wrestling, seeking to understand as to be understood.
This is another way that we have a place of deep connection with
resonance. But not the same. We have the advantage of more
time – Thank you Quoholet, for your tedious work and for writing
down all your observations and wisdom and here, thank you. But
you might want to see what we’ve written down since your
time…(cue the library, Web MD, National Geographic)
We now have a
greater understanding of the mystery of life the teacher
refers to in v. 4 - how life grows inside a woman’s body. This
translation says we will NEVER understand – oops – never say
never - but I think we can say it would have stretched his
imagination to think we could have miniscule cameras to go
inside a woman’s body and observe.
We know a
great deal more than you, teacher, but we can’t say we know it
all. Maybe we could just update the text to be more relevant to
us like “Just as you will never understand…how matter travels
through a black hole, so too… ”
So the future
is unrevealed – now what?
wisdom: You can get up every morning, and go to work. You can
count on not knowing the outcome of that work. But you can take
delight in each hour of your work. Pursue goodness, listen for
the impulses of your heart and go for it.
the Oregon Disciples Regional event “Why Reinvent the Wheel”? –
a pilot program where on the off years of assembly (the business
end of things) we gather the congregations and listen to the
communal wisdom – bring worship and wonder communities together
and here what’s working, what’s not. Gather the global missions
churches and share how we are partnered with various other
communities. What happens when you put all the food ministry
programs of Silverton, Eugene, Salem, and others together and
share ideas? And add to the mix not only the wise but the
curious. Good things happen is the answer. Two things I
will share this morning:
We were lucky
to have Bob Shebeck from Global Ministries with us at the event
– he had been travelling all month through Central America –
Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador he is an executive at GM in
Mission Interpretation and Education- And his message was one of
joy. He celebrated our partnership as a region with FEDICE and
all other global ministries partners. We prayed in French,
Spanish, Congolese dialects I do not know the name of, English
too. He recognized 4 new congregations in the region, including
ours, as new Global Missions Partners.
His joy was
in being with us – celebrating what we are, what we are hoping
to be, what we are working towards. Not trying to change us or
fix us - And he pointed out how 5 of the 7 markers of a global
missions church are in the being with one another – not the
doing. And Global Ministries is in the business of doing
things. Changing lives. Making a difference. But to
be a mission partner we first pray, seek knowledge, share our
vision, build relationships and then Give. Never a more
poignant example than the
Ecuadorian community of Guanando, that lives in the volcanic
ash, still spewing out – because this is where they live.
Have work. Have families. Have homes. We are
not going to make that volcano stop but we can stand in
solidarity with that community. He brought us that joy.
The joy of being.
Oh There were
many good things that came from the event yesterday but
the other one that touched me was when Steve Knox, pastor at
Silverton FCC, addressed the group and reflected upon his
learning curve as Silverton congregation launched this new
ministry of weekly dinner. Short background: the congregation
saw a growing need n their community – 3 families in the church
lost their jobs in 2008 and in the search for the new one...what
can we do? Let’s feed em, said the church. Well then the
invitation grew to bring their friends. That turned into 37.
Which turned into 60 the following week – they have been going
now for 2 ½ years and they feed 450 a week.
This is a
pastor’s dream, right? Well Steve humbly told the assembly that
when first approached about a weekly dinner he thought – “well
I’m not doing this by myself – I can’t run a food program once a
week – but the people want to do it. Step in the right
direction,” – but he admitted that he NEVER believed it would
last. “I know ministry” he says, “especially in a small town,
this will last a few months, we’ll mostly feed our own church
members, they will feel good about it but that’s not church,
it’s no big deal.”
foundation was laid – with the intention of bringing a little
joy. The reality was there wasn’t much more they could do -
Can’t hire these out of work church members, can’t afford to
support these families finances while they look for work but
what could they do? We can feed them dinner once a week. Let
them know we love them.
And I asked
him afterwards – what now? How long can this go on? He laughed
and threw his hands up in a completely joyful way – he said “we
are feeling their way through together – I never would have
thought it would work, I was wrong. And we don’t really ask why
it’s working right now – and who knows about tomorrow?
And I said,
Thank you, Steve, you sage. You just wrote my sermon.
people this morning who woke up and felt lost: woke up and
asked, in earnest, “Why did my faith fail today? Why god?” (I’m
specifically referring to those who feel Left Behind but
honestly there are others, who woke up, rapture aside and had
the same questions).
very far from God right now, very confused – and are desperate
to find something – a reason, mathematical error– to make
the old world-view fit. To make it go back. But the truth is
the world has changed and so has the person. And the growing
edge is to find joy, find God, beneath the layers of worry, find
joy in the unrevealed, and in the constantly changing.
So I ask,
Will you pray with me?
guide our hearts. We give ourselves permission in this time to
reveal the true longing in our hearts – to be connected to you,
to one another, to build a kingdom of heaven right here on this
earth. We allow ourselves now to reach out for your Spirit to
risk opening ourselves fully - and feel the joy, love, and peace
of your presence.
And now we
send our joy, love, and peace, now to all those persons who
cannot feel the joy for fear that you have abandoned them. Do
not experience joy in the present because of the effort put into
changing the past or assuring the future. We pray that the veil
be lifted from their eyes, from their hearts, that what is
revealed is your constant presence no matter the circumstances.
We pray that
will continue building a community of believers who are open to
joy in a world filled with invitations to fear, hate, destroy
one another. As each are on a journey we commit to being as
present in our joy as possible that it may be a light to