Thursday, November 30, 2006

Advent#1: Waiting for the Potter

How we hate to wait! Yet waiting is the theme for the next four Sundays of Advent. The texts we will be going to each week are promises from Isaiah and II Samuel; all calling us to wait. This Sunday the text is from Isaiah 64:1-8 where the prophet proclaims that we are the clay and God is the potter, and our job is to wait for the potter's shaping hands on us. On the communion table is a half-made pot from the hands of Lori Coleman, a potter from the congregation. This pot is not done. It's been wedged, shaped and dried, but not fired nor glazed.
We are not yet done. We are all in various stages on the journey to completion. But the dominant truth for this clay-waiting comes from isaha 64:4 "God works with those who wait." Are you waiting? do you sense God's hands working you, shaping you, forming you, completing you? Just wait!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

M-4 success!

On Friday afternoon, Nov 17, I met with Jeff Witten from World Vision at El Montecito Presbyterian church about noon. "Bad news" Jeff said, "Only 1/2 our shipment is here. The other 1/2 is sitting in a shipping terminal in Oakland." What should have been unloaded and staged for the Saturday morning coopoerative event with World Vision did not arrive until 8:30 am and the event began at 9:00 am!
But the Body of Christ rallied! One guy called for a fork-lift, others broke into groups to off-load the truck, and separate the boxes into the staging areas in the Fellowship Hall of Elmo. By 9:30 the room was ready and we all gathered to watch a video on how the care kits would be used. Everett Steven, Bill Lindberg and Jim Prudden were the work-horses for MCC. Other members came and stepped into line to hand items to packers. Christine Groppe (95 yers old) packed kits along side Sarah (10 yrs old) and Nathan ( 7 yrs old) and all ages in between. About 200 came and we packed ALL 1000 kits. The picture above is the last packers (some had to leave early) laying their hands on the boxes containing the kits as Sister Kathleen Patrice from Mt Carmel Roman Catholic Church prayed over them.
Ginny Murray emailed me with the tally as of 8/18 $5185.00 and our goal was $5,000. It was a powerful experience for me to see members of the M-4 churches working together, packing the kits, then going off and writing individual prayers for the care givers who would receive these kits in a couple months in Rwanda.
How great it was to work together for Jesus.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Parable of Invitation

A great banquet was prepared. Tables were loaded with the best of the finest, way too much for the man who is hosting the party. Why the party? A wedding, a battle victory? a cause for thanksgiving? It doesn't matter. He wants his friends to join him at his expense

When all was ready, servants went out with the good news to come to the banquet. They were refused with the flimsiest of reasons: I need to look at dirt, watch my cows, stay home with my bride. But the owner was having a banquet and would not be rebuffed, so he sent out servants again to gather all around to come. And again they did not fill the banquet hall. So he told them to "comple" them in to the banquet feast. Free food of the finest quality...for all who will come.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


The theme for worship on Sunday, November 12 is Worry or Peace...Jesus' way. Worries are all around us, like brambles and thorns. We seem to bump into them wherever we go. No place, no station, no age or income bracket is immune from worry. And, in the words of a friend of mine; "Why pray when you can worry?"

But in the middle of the tangled mess of branches and vines sits a nest, made up of the same materials, but with coherence and pattern, design and strength, purpose and safety. It holds precious eggs safely and warmly. The nest is the hope in the weeds or worry. Seek first "the nest?" and its righteousness?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Jesus and Purity

Sunday November 5 will focus on Jesus' teaching about purity as found in Matthew 5:27-30. Jesus takes the 7th commandment prohibiting adultery and deepens it from the act to the attitude of lust. Adultery starts in the mind and works its way out. But, in translating the word "lust" I found that it is the same word used to translate the Hebrew word for "covet". To lust is to covet and to covet is to lust. The essence of coveting and lusting is wanting what is not mine and being dissatisfied with what God has given me; from spouse to house, from body image to community status. Is where you are good enough, or do you need a little bit more. Do you need God's love...and? Or is God's grace sufficient.
The flowers in the pure water are a simple display of elegant beauty, uncluttered and clean.

Operation Christmas Child

In the middle of all the bad news out there, of crime and scandal, of greed and violence, a light shined brightly last night. A group of 5th & 6th graders (Club 56) piled into the church vans and drove to a "dollar store" in Ventura where they spent the evening shopping. Each student had $15 to spend to fill a shoe-box for for a poor child in a third-world, developing country. They were supposed to get back to the church around 8pm to wrap uptheir boxes, but they arrived late, because their leader, Sandi Prather, told me they were having "way too much fun shopping for 'their' kids." It was a magic moment when the evening and the money was not about them, about what they could 'get' but what they could give away in Jesus' name. I snapped the picture of the few who were still around. Look at their faces and the joy. All worth it!