Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drop Your Ego, Pick Up Your Cross

Dear Water's Edge Worshipers!

We are coming upon our second Sunday in Lent and I hope you've had time to follow along in the church-wide devotional, The Way of the Cross. This project was so meaningful to experience and my hope is that we can do it every year, with new writers and new perspectives.

This Sunday we'll concentrate on a couple key passages as we follow the way of Jesus' path... the way of the cross... toward Maundy Thursday. A question, perhaps THE question: are you willing to take up His cross and face death in the name of what you believe?

I think "willing" is the key word here. Rev. Molly brought up a point that I had not considered: when Jesus said to his disciples that they needed to be willing to 'take up the cross' and follow Him to death, the "cross" did not mean to them what it means to us. It was not a symbol widely used as a symbol in sanctuaries or on shoulders. The cross was a means of execution. I wonder what ran through the minds of the disciples when He first said that? Surely it would have been a different reaction than what a modern Christian might feel if asked the same question.

And, our children's minister, Miss Beckie, proposed a useful way to get into that mindset... what are you willing to "let die" for Christ? Your ego? Ambition? Can you honestly put yourself "out there" in a position to live the life that Christ described, not fighting for your own self-interest?

Something to ponder, which is perfect for our Lenten journey!

See you soon...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent: Self-help Opportunity or True Sacrifice?

Dearest Water's Edge Worshipers,

Wednesday (February 22) begins our Lenten Journey, 2012 and we have a wonderful "tool" for guidance along this path of penitence and reflection. The Way of the Cross is a daily Lenten devotional book published by FUMCSD, featuring some of our very own Water's Edge members. If you are looking for inspiration or aif more structured path, this devotional book may be your answer.

On Ash Wednesday, we will offer ashes, communion and prayer to mark the beginning of Lent. All are welcome.

In preparing for this Sunday's service, we discussed what it means to "give up" something for Lent. As Rev. Molly explained, Lent is a time to recognize God's role in everything, that human kind is truly not able to exist on bread alone. So, does giving up chocolate really represent sacrifice when -- in the end -- it's actually better for you? What to you would mean true sacrifice and provide the opportunity to be in reflection, remembering God in your words and deeds?

I was thinking that for Lent I would ADD a responsibility (instead of subtracting swearing, chocolate or Diet Coke) such as daily exercise. But even that, really, in the end, seems more of a benefit to me than sacrifice. Perhaps walking while in a constant state of prayer each morning would bring out more of an awareness of God in everything. I'm still working on it.

Meanwhile, we are also looking for those willing to share aloud - during 9:30 service - their personal God-moments or testimonies. When were you radically aware of your dependence on God? Respond here or send me an email at kedwards@fumcsd.org

Have a blessed week and we'll talk Sunday!

Monday, February 13, 2012

God Moments: Roaring Campfires, Snowy Blankets and Tecalote Canyon

Let's start this week with a quick read of the scriptures. Notice anything similar between the OT and NT readings? Spiritual Moments on a grand scale: Elijah's ascension and Christ's transfiguration.

From 2 Kings:As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.

From Mark:And He was transfigured before them, and His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.

Whether they are quietly meaningful or grandly mystical, chances are, we've all experienced some kind of God Moment: a time when all else seems to stop or fade out and it's just you and God in a great moment.

It can happen alone. It can happen with others. It's likely hard to describe. But you know it when you're in it.

When I was in middle and high school (1980s), the best bible camp around was Campus By the Sea on Catalina Island. No doors on the shack-like sleeping quarters, wild animals roaming through camp, no electricity in the cabins (shacks), biodegradable soap for washing your hair in the ocean! Revved up senior counselors always provided plenty of study and food for thought... and lots of kids re-dedicated their lives to Christ or got baptized for the first time. But the most magical "moment" was usually the camp fire on our last night together.

The shyest kids would get up and talk about their heart's transformation; the super popular, tough-guy jock would tear up explaining his love for Christ... and everyone got a chance to talk. The night did not end until everyone had their opportunity. Then, we would say a prayer and thank God with a round of applause... But, when do you stop clapping for God?

The noise would go on and on and on and no one wanted to be the first one to stop clapping. Usually, a responsible adult would have to shut it down... but 15 minutes of clapping and yelling and hugging and crying was not unusual... all while the camp fire popped and crackled and leaped into the midnight sky.

Whew, it was dramatic! But some God moments are absolutely quiet and still and just as powerful: driving alone, in the dark, only your headlights to guide you down a snow-covered lane, the blanket of fresh snow muffling everything except your heart beat and God's voice; running through Tecalote Canyon, deep breaths of fresh air pumping in and out of your lungs, your feet pounding on the crunching sand below, a crispness to the blue-sky day as you pass clear through the "runner's high" into the "God high;" or standing with your entire family, watching the sunset, and seeing the infamous, illusive "Green Flash" together, some for the first time ever.

Maybe your favorite God moment was more like Field of Dreams. In this clip, if you jump ahead to 1:20, that's when James Earl Jones admits to Kevin Costner that he saw the message too.

Whatever your moment(s), big or small, group or private, please share on Sunday. As we celebrate and recognize Transfiguration Sunday, we are hoping to share those moments when your life felt transfigured, even if just for a moment.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Why God's Love Prevails (and why words are important)

Dear ones!

Well, we've made it through the tough discussions and now get to receive a little dessert. Chapter 4 in the WHY? series by Adam Hamilton focuses on why God's love prevails... and it couldn't come any sooner!

The first three chapters were a bit rough, at least among the folks with whom I spoke. Not rough in that we turned on each other; rough in that it sparked heavy discussion that demanded serious consideration.

Why does God allow suffering? Why do some prayers go unanswered? What is God's will for my life? See. Not easily covered in a quick conversation.

But this week, we'll discuss a subject that might just feel like putting on our favorite sweatshirt or grabbing a favorite pillow or blanket, (a snuggie or slanket if you must). We'll snuggle up in the knowledge that God is always with us and no one and nothing can separate us from God's love.

As Adam Hamilton says, "God does not take from us our freedom, nor does God miraculously deliver us from the consequences of our actions or the actions of others. But, God does promise to deliver us, and God promises to sustain us and force good to come from the painful things we experience in this life."

I like that idea. But I got hung up on one word. And as Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

Something about the word "force" bothers me in that sentence above. Seems to me, God doesn't have to force anything. If He decides it shall be, it shall be. No forcing need be done. But Rev. Hamilton also wrote this:

"God takes the pain and the grief and the wounds of our past, and transforms them into objects of beauty." I love the use of the word "transform." That seems very fitting and Godly.

But no worries. I'm not picking on Rev. Hamilton! Afterall, if there's anything we've learned from this series, it's that we can disagree on issues and phrasing and even theology, but we can do it in an agreeable way. Learning and growing together without fear of feeling small or silly. That reminds me of some other words... some of my favorite words:

Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.

See you (and your favortite sweatshirt) on Sunday!


PS- More Mark Twain quotes here