Good Morning! Today we welcome Rev. Courtney Young Hickman as our guest preacher. This week starts the second week of our children’s Compassion Camp, a 5-week exploration of scripture that teaches us about showing the love and compassion of Christ with our whole lives. Last week, we talked about expanding the table to make sure all are invited. This week we read a story from Mark’s Gospel about a man whose friends carried him up onto a roof and then lowered him down so that he could be healed by Jesus. Reading the story reminds us of what compassion looks like when we show it to our neighbors – sometimes at great risk. Being a person of compassion takes courage!
The Scripture reading this morning is one most of us have read over and over again. Sometimes our familiarity can prevent us from seeing and hearing something new. When this happens, I find that art can help shed some new light on my own tired interpretations. This week as I prepared for our time together in worship, I found that to be true.
Dutch artist, Rembrandt, painted this piece called The Return of the Prodigal Son. Some have called it the mark of his own spiritual homecoming. He was fascinated by the hands of the father as they laid upon the back of the son who was returning home.
Spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen wrote a whole book about the parable (Luke’s Gospel) and the painting (Rembrandt), which also helps us find new ways to enter into the story. In that book he writes, “Rembrandt is as much the elder son of the parable as he is the younger. When, during the last years of his life, he painted both sons in his Return of the Prodigal Son, he had lived a life in which neither the lostness of the younger son nor the lostness of the elder son was alien to him. Both needed healing and forgiveness. Both needed to come home. Both needed the embrace of a forgiving father. But from the story itself, as well as from Rembrandt’s painting, it is clear that the hardest conversion to go through is the conversion of the one who stayed home.” (Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 65-66)
As we study scripture together today and consider how God is speaking to us through this oh so familiar parable, I wonder which child we are… and what kind of conversion awaits?
The scripture reading for today (Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30) opens with the question “To what shall I compare this generation?” It reminded us of the ways that we like to criticize members of other generations from our own saying things like: They’re afraid of change. Or They’re too young to understand, give them 20 years and they’ll see it the way I do… In this season of pandemic and social uncertainty there are so many reasons to divide ourselves up into groups of similarity. While the church is not yet gathered in person, it is natural for generational gaps to grow. So, in order to have an intergenerational approach to today’s sermon, Pastor Chrissy sat down with Roger Nix and Laura Nelson. Listen in, we think you might enjoy what they have to say!
Good morning and welcome to worship this first Sunday of July! As is our custom, on this first Sunday of the month we will engage in the practice of communion. If you haven’t yet, gather some elements from your kitchen and bring them into your worship space so you will be ready to share in this sacred meal as you worship this morning. In the video, you’ll see that Pastor Chrissy uses water and bread today, rather than using the juice that we would normally use at church. The water reminds us of Hagar’s journey into the wilderness, the water she took with her and the well that God provides when her provisions run out. How is God providing in our own times of thirst?
We are so glad you’re here. Today’s scripture readings reorient our focus to the edges and margins of society. In the most surprising of places from the most astonishing people, God’s word rings forth. Our hope is to greet the messengers of God with welcome and to create a space for even the most outlandish choices of God to grow and thrive and flourish. Let us listen for a word even today.
Today’s scripture reading from Genesis takes us to the Oaks of Mamre. Abraham welcomes three visitors, and Sarah can’t help but laugh. They have been waiting for this moment for a long, long time, but when the time finally comes will they be found ready? Let’s consider our own times of waiting and how we are being prepared to answer one of the great questions of our faith.
We are so glad you’re here. Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that no matter how careful we are in planting and caring for our gardens surprises always spring up. Then what? Do we leave it, or do we pull it up and perhaps damage the other plants? Let’s consider this text together and listen for the soft voice of the Spirit. Indeed, the Spirit might just be saying “Wait and See”.