Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future. - Robert H. Schuller
Many of us have hoped for the time when we could worship in person in the sanctuary. That hope can be partly realized tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. That is when Shaun, Sunny, John Foster (videographer) and I meet in the sanctuary to video record the worship service. And, it is my last Sunday in the pulpit. We will be celebrating the Lord’s Last Supper. You are invited to join us. But the session and worship committee invites you to follow these guidelines.
Hope in God is the only certainty people of faith have in times of uncertainty. May your hope be rekindled every morning and throughout the day.
One more thing. Like most ministers I bought a lot of books over the years. Some I am keeping. Some I am giving away. If anyone wants to sift through my library (history, theology, Bible commentary, fiction) I want to take what you would like. Let me know soon, ok? I will make sure the church and my office is open.
Perhaps it is the confluence of my retirement and Father’s Day, but I have been thinking about my father a lot recently. We had 57 years together and he liked me to call him Dad. No matter how young or old I was. We went through the various stages of our lives together although we were not able to talk about them much. I have loved my dad beyond words, and I have honored, feared, admired, resented, pitied, encouraged, and counseled him. My relationship and feelings toward him changed over our years together. No matter what stage of life we were in – he was always “Dad” to me.
I am thinking today, as I enter retirement, that God has always been God for me. I have gone through all the stages of my life with God, and, like my dad, not always able to articulate what I was feeling. I have loved, criticized, feared, delighted, resented, obeyed, disobeyed, praised, and complained to God. But God was always God to me.
The lesson – it is always important to at least hang around God during the days and nights of our lives. I know, “hang around” God sounds not-so-holy. But when we hang around God, it is amazing the places he will lead us, the people we meet, the trials we endure and the days we will rejoice and be glad. Do not fear, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (Is. 43: 1)
No matter what stage of life you find yourself in, no matter what emotion you are experiencing, no matter how strong or weak your faith my be. Do not fear. Open your day with the simple prayer, “God, I want to hang out with you today…” and then pay attention to your day – we are being redeemed through it all.
Grace and peace,
Good afternoon brothers and sisters,
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.
And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying,
“This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Lk. 15: 1-2)
Look through the New Testament. Many are the times
Jesus stood with the common Jewish people – the forgotten, rejected, unclean outsiders
meanwhile the Jewish leadership looked on in judgement.
Jesus always…always stood with the common people, the poor, the unclean, the ones who were not accepted.
It is likely the Palm Sunday processional was a kind of protest march.
Earlier this week a member of our church asked my why there has not been mention of joining a protest gathering here in Pittsburgh. The person pointed to other nearby Presbyterian churches that are planning to attend one. The staff and some of the elders at Beulah Presbyterian did go to a prayerful and peaceful protest held front of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church a couple of weeks ago. I am embarrassed to admit I have never mentioned it. I would have gone myself, but being 67 with a tendency to develop deep chest colds decided that I would not march. Then I simply put it aside. How self-centered of me. I apologize.
On the other hand I hear others ask (voices tinged with anger and dismay) “Why all the protests? Why won’t people just go home? They made their point!” Clearly, Black Lives Matter protesters have been in the street many times before, gone home, and discovered that their voices were not heard.
Why are they out there? Consider this very uncomfortable reality. Five years ago a white supremacist walked into an African American church, entered into a room where primarily elderly black men and women were studying the Bible. Dylann Roof brazenly shot nine people to death. After the police apprehended him, they drove a hungry Dylann to a Burger King and bought him a meal. After the police threw George Floyd to the ground on the suspicion of using a counterfeit $20.00 bill – the arresting officer murdered George Floyd in public.
Racial injustice is alive and well in America. That is why people are in the street protesting. WWJD? What would Jesus do?
I know, and uncomfortable question during a very uncomfortable time. Christians can not look the other way.
Have a restful evening – and pray for our country.
Good late morning everyone,
Our cups runneth over… I don’t believe it is the same cup referred to in Psalm 23, as in “thou anointest my head with oil, my cup over flows.” We are holding a cup of bitter brew. It is the cup of trial, pain, and hurt. It is the cup Jesus refers to when he asks the two over-aspiring disciples, James and John, when they ask to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in his coming kingdom. “Are you able to drink from the cup I drink from?” answers Jesus, referring to his impending trial and execution.
These days reveal the wisdom of the Apostle Paul (Romans 5): “…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into our hearts…” OK. So, God’s love is on the way. But right now the way is rocky, pot-holed, and deceiving.
Brothers and sisters, this will not last. Let’s keep our heads up and eyes forward. Heather posted a quote from a unique, creative, non-conventional thinker named Clarissa Pinkola Estes; “There will always be times in the midst of ‘success right around the corner but as yet unseen’ when you feel discouraged. I, too, have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.”
“We hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance.” (Romans 8:25) Keep on keepin’ on, people! Stay the course.
Grace, peace, and love to all,
Pastor Michael (with a big assist from Heather)
Good morning brothers and sisters of faith,
In the midst of the chaos and confusion, we feel overwhelmed, overrun by events too big for us to manage or understand….
“What does the Lord require of us? the prophet Micah asks. God answers –
What does the Lord require, but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”
Did you notice?
When raging waters are rising and hot flames are ignited, every little act of justice, every small word of kindness, and gentle step matters. A lot.
Our nation is shaken to the core. We are looking at a steep uphill climb to get out of this. Keep the faith people, we worship a God who is greater than all of this. A God who has some basic, doable advice for us: Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly.
Sisters and brothers, let us pray, heart-deep, insistent prayers for peace. Amen?