Just a reminder that American Red Cross will be having a blood drive st St. Andrew's this Friday July 31 from 2 - 7 PM downstairs in St. Andrew's Hall. You can also make an appointment by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or by signing up online at redcrossblood.org. You may contact Rod Horton at 610-728-5679 with questions or to get more information. The blood supply tends to be particularly challenging during the summer months. As you are able, please take some time out of your schedule on Friday to give this precious gift.
Thursday, July 23
Open unto me - light for my darkness
Open unto me - courage for my fear
Open unto me - hope for my despair
Open unto me - peace for my turmoil
Open unto me - joy for my sorrow
Open unto me - strength for my weakness
Open unto me - wisdom for my confession
Open unto me - forgiveness for my sins
Open unto me - love for my hates
Open unto me - thy self for my self
Lord, Lord open unto me!
Howard Thurman (1900-1981)
Tuesday, July 21
As I return from an exhausting, exciting, and deeply renewing week with our youth in Detroit (National Youth Gathering), I want to thank you for all of your prayers and support. This was an experience of a lifetime for many of our youth and we are so grateful.
I also returned to discover that many of you are away on vacation and many of you have weekend travel plans in the weeks to come. Enjoy!
As we get into the heart of vacation season and as more of our St. Andrew's community will be away over weekends, we will be offering occasional mid-week services of Holy Communion in our outdoor chapel (and inside if weather conditions are not favorable). Worship will have a more casual feel outside and will be less than an hour in length (It does get dark!). Also, these services will not be recycled versions of Sunday worship. They will have their own simple music, a spoken liturgy and different readings and message from Sunday. This summer, we will be focusing on key figures and promises in the Old Testament. So even if you are here on Sunday, here's another opportunity to gather again to grow in faith.
Tomorrow Evening (Wednesday) "Noah: Weathering the Storms" – July 22 @ 7PM
As we gather around the Word, we will move beyond the Sunday School version of this story to explore it's context in world religions and what the story says about God, our lives and our future together. See you in church (even outside!)
Friday, July 3
What a remarkable couple of weeks we have experienced as a nation. I was not with you in worship with you last Sunday and if I had been there, I'm still not sure what I would have said. I generally do not use the sermon as a place for political conversation or dialogue on social issues. I have often said that to do so amounts to a verbal hit and run, a ten to twelve minute message where you have no opportunity to ask questions, respond, or give your own testimony (By the way, adult education, meals, and home visits can provide an opportunity for such dialogue). That having been said, weaving throughout the current events of these past weeks has been an emphasis on love and God's amazing grace. So with Independence Day approaching (and likely here or passed by the time some of you read this!), let us give thanks as God's children for:
- A nation where we enjoy the kind of freedom that many people in other nations can only dream of and can barely comprehend. Free speech, free enterprise, and many other human rights are a result of the vision of our founding fathers and the sacrifice of many lives. We are so grateful for those whose lives have guided and protected the freedom we enjoy.
- A church where we can freely worship, pray, learn, serve, and invite others to be a part of our life and mission together. There is much talk about how American Christians are losing their rights and are being persecuted. In my view, this could not be further from the truth. While the church once enjoyed a much more privileged place in our culture,still today the government does not prevent us from assembling and in fact our freedom to confess our faith is protected by our government. We do not suffer from widespread threats and taking of lives for being a Christian, something that far too many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe experience. (Which is why we should be ever mindful of the persecuted church and keep them in our prayers)
- A faith community where we can agree to disagree on some issues and continue to work together to lift up Jesus to the community on worship, education, and service. Unfortunately, American media thrives on examples of Christians with a protest mentality as opposed to the millions of faithful people who are far too busy embodying the Gospel in words and actions with people who are hungry or hurting, lonely or filled with despair. As a people of faith, we need to continue to look at our words and actions and ask if they build up communities or tear them down. Are we a voice of judgment and division or a voice of compassion and understanding? Jesus held laws, traditions, and piety up to this lens quite often as he tightened the law or loosened it. He discerned what was needed for God's love to be known and his kingdom to be revealed.
If you are away this weekend, I wish you safe travels, If you are celebrating on the 4th, may it be a blessed day of giving thanks and enjoying the good gifts of God and our nation. I also look forward to seeing many of you in worship on Sunday as we celebrate God's amazing grace in our lives, In times of dramatic change for our communities, our nation, and our church, we are blessed and truly have what we need to see God's presence and promises in the days ahead.
Giving thanks for you - grace and peace,
Friday, June 19
In following this tragic news for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we have seen both terrible evil and amazing grace, heartbreak and hope, profound brokenness and awesome strength. Please pray for the people of Emanuel AME Church, for family and friends who mourn such tragic and senseless deaths, and the people of Charleston in the aftermath of this shocking event. May this serve as a reminder of how central it is to our faith to love our neighbors, help each other through the deepest of valleys, live with grief and anger, and wait for joy in the morning. It is clear from the testimonies coming out of Charleston that the Gospel that gives life to Emanuel AME Church is swallowing hatred and proclaiming Christ in the midst of sorrow. May the church throughout the world continue to rise up and show that love wins.
Holy God, you do not distance yourself from the pain of your people but in Jesus you bear that pain with all who suffer at the hands of others. With your powerful love, bring healing and strength to all who have been impacted by the murders at Emanuel AME Church. And may your church continue to be empowered in our voice against violence and hatred. In Jesus' name. Amen.