Holy Week

Holy Week 2020

This Lenten Season 2020 has taken on new meaning for us in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Disbelief, sadness, anger, doubt, fear, apprehension –these are a few of the feelings we have all undoubtedly had during these days. But underneath all of these feelings is a feeling of profound hope.

Nothing can separate us from the Love of God. Will hardship, or distress, or persecution,or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8:37-39)

We are experiencing Holy Week now –a different time than we have ever had before!!! But also a memorable time for we will remember the depth of love that we feel as a Community of Faith at Dayspring during these days. Although we are not one in body, we are truly one in Spirit. We are here for and with each other in different ways and the bond is very present. New ways of worshipping have deeper meaning. Livestream offers us the opportunity to worship together on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and on Easter Sunday.Weekly phone calls keep us in relationship with each other. Weekly prayer concerns are published. God is very present. May this be a renewal time for you in your spiritual journey. May you take advantage of this time to feel refreshed in your life journey. May this Week become even more Holy for you.

~Pastor Shirley


The Church

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

Each day I receive a devotional message from Frederick Buechner on my phone. For a long time he has been one of my favorite spiritual authors. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and the author of more than thirty published books. I first met him through his book, “Telling Secrets”, which is an autobiography of his life growing up in the home with an alcoholic father who committed suicide. His life experiences influence his ability to make God’s truth come alive in the midst of challenges.

Recently his devotion was titled “Church” and he talked about the visible church and the invisible church. “The visible church is all the people who get together from time to time in God’s name. Anybody can find out who they are by going to church to look.

“The invisible church is all the people God uses as hands and feet in this world. Nobody can find out who they are except God.”

We are experiencing a time like no other in our world. We are filled with fear and anxiety and turmoil. I am comforted during these days to know that we still are the church even though we cannot meet together face to face. Instead we use Zoom and FaceTime and the phone and messaging and email. How grateful I am for all of these ways because I know I am not alone. I am inspired by the mom who encouraged her children to make red paper hearts and then take a walk and drop them along the way so others could come along and find them and know they are not alone. I am inspired by those who send inspirational messages and prayers. I am inspired by the impromptu quarantine singalongs and the pianist playing a hymn everyday on her piano. I am inspired by ways we encourage each other through humor like the recent one of the talking dog! I am inspired through the Livestream Service held on Sunday mornings. I am inspired by the many acts of kindness people are doing for each other every day. We are the church together! You are the church and I am the church. We are the visible church and the invisible church serving together and God knows who we are! And others will know we are Christ followers by the way we reach out to each other. This is our opportunity to truly be THE CHURCH.

Continue to share God’s Love as Dayspring People!!!!!

-Pastor Shirley


Hope

Hope in Uncertain Times

In a recent sermon, I shared how the Bible can be seen as a manual for hope. We took a short walk through the Hebrew Scriptures, and saw how they abound with hope. If ever a people have endured one extreme circumstance after another it has been our Jewish forebears. When they weren’t slaves of Egyptians they were dominated by Assyrians, held captive by the Babylonians, controlled by the Persians, and though they were treated fairly well under the Greeks and later the Romans, rarely were they regarded as equals. And since the death of Jesus, they have been maltreated as a people more often than not, in the last centuries suffering persecutions and pogroms and of course, genocide under Hitler’s regime.

Yet despite such oppression, the Jews have endured. Against overwhelming odds they have retained their identity through their traditions and faith. Their intense devotion to God. Faith in the God who is involved in the affairs of the world. A participatory God. A compassionate God. Not a divine but disinterested bystander. The God who, in Moses’ day, “heard the cries of the people” held captive in Egypt, and delivered them from their oppression. “I know their sufferings,” God declared (Ex. 3:7, NRSV). In all their affliction, we read, God was afflicted. So the message, it seems to me, is twofold: God is with us and God cares. God will see us through and, if we have eyes to see, we will see God through the work of our hands and the work people are doing for the common good. We discover that God is working in everyone.

For those who are overwhelmed and paralyzed with fright, God is there with comfort. For our medical providers, God is there with courage. For those who shop only for themselves or those in need without hoarding, God with there with generosity. For those who see an opening through this challenge for systematic change, God is alongside them with a prophetic voice. And God is in all the space between us pulling us together as we support each other through this.

We are in for some hard weeks, or maybe months ahead. There will be a time each of us is tired or grief-stricken, frustrated or scared. When we tire, that is when our connections to those around us will keep us going – the letters and notes and phone calls. So think about the people you know, how we can hold each other together.

Like the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament abounds with hope. I think of Paul, who always had a word of encouragement to offer, despite his circumstances – why it seems when he wasn’t ill, he was shipwrecked or writing from prison. Our God will see us through, he wrote, time and again. And of course, the Resurrection, which we will celebrate remotely this year – when God has the last word over death and evil itself. As Paul writes, “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus, neither life, nor death, angels or principalities, nor heights nor depths, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God.”

God is with us. God cares. Thanks be to God!

~Pastor Jeff


Tide Pools

When I was a boy, long before high-rise condos lined its beaches, my family would visit Rocky Point. At low tide I’d scuttle across the rocks like a crab, looking for wonders left by the sea. Then and now I’m fascinated by the microcosm of life that is a tide pool. At once serene and then, with the return of the waves, turbulent and chaotic. There can be found the starfish and sea urchin. The graceful anemones continue to capture my imagination. And the hermit crab. Who isn’t fascinated by the hermit crab?

Like the tide pool, life is always changing. That is why an apt metaphor for human life is a journey. We are always on a journey, moving and changing. If we don’t change, life will do it for us! That’s when it especially hurts. To be wrenched out of the life we have grown accustomed to. For some it’s easier than others. I just love how hermit crabs know when it’s time to find a new home. They literally cast away the comforts of home for a shell that will give them room to grow.

John Gardner was asked why he had so many jobs in his life. “I believe in re-potting,” he said. “I am an amateur gardener, and I noticed that when a plant reaches a certain growth, the pot becomes too confining for it. If you don’t re-pot it, it will stunt its growth, and maybe even die.” He said that he looked at life that way. There would come a time when he would see a broader vista, bigger challenge in his life, and he would re-pot himself. In Bob Dylan’s famous words, “If you are not busy being born, you are busy dying.”

We are on a journey and the Spirit blows where it will. Life is a journey and sometimes it’s mild, and other times we feel uprooted. In his spiritual autobiography, Robert McAfee Brown writes how, in retrospect, the times of significant growth in his life were times of great upheaval, what he has come to call “creative dislocation.” The Spirit isn’t going to let us stay where we are — either as individuals or as a church. May we be open, responsive, courageous and hopeful on this adventurous journey of faith!

Pastor Jeff


Painting the Stars

Vincent van Gogh was a P.K. (preacher’s kid) who reckoned he would follow in his father’s footsteps. A missionary stint among the working poor in Belgium occasioned a crisis of faith. He also grew disillusioned with the Church, which seemed to him cold and uncaring toward the hungry and despairing.

Van Gogh found solace in painting. And in the immersion of oneself in Creation. He would write, “Whenever I have need of – dare I say, religion? – I go outside at night and paint the stars.”

A few years ago my friend and colleague David Felten and I produced a video curriculum that celebrates the communion of science and faith and contemplates what a meaningful faith might look like today. Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith explores the promise of an evolutionary Christian spirituality that offers direction and purpose for 21st century pilgrims. Featuring over a dozen leading theologians and progressive thinkers, the seven-session program includes a participant reader by evolutionary theologian Bruce Sanguin, author of If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics. The session titles are:

Toward Healing the Rift
A Renaissance of Wonder
Getting Genesis Wrong
An Evolving Faith
Evolutionary Christianity
Imagining a Future . . .
An Evolving Spirituality: Mysticism

Dayspring member and biologist David Harbster and I will co-facilitate the study at Dayspring and Friendship Village beginning the week of September 11. It will be offered at three different times during the week: Mondays 6:30-7:30pm (in the Adult Room), Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm (at Friendship Village) & Thursdays 10-11am (in the Adult Room). I hope you’ll consider joining us!

Learn more at paintingthestars.com

Blessings,

Pastor Jeff


The Table banner


The Nature of Joy

The Nature of Joy

I’m reading a wonderful book called The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was recommended by Bishop Bob Hoshibata at Annual Conference. These spiritual giants have encountered incredible hardships throughout their lives. Yet both have been able to find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering. They have much to teach us. Worlds apart and from different faith traditions, they have met several times and are said to share a special bond. Tutu visited the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his 80th birthday. They met to work on a gift they would offer the world: secrets to finding true joy.

I am inspired to preach a series based on their book. By the time you read this, I will have done the first couple of sermons (which you can always watch after the fact on Livestream):

July 23                        The Nature of Joy

July 30                        Obstacles to Joy

Aug 20                        Pillars of Joy (Part One)

Aug 27                        Pillars of Joy (Part Two)

 

I hope you’ll join me on this journey with Tutu and the Dalai Lama as we discover lessons from their lives and how they have been able to maintain their own personal levels of joy.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Jeff


Banner 4

Watch


Summer Sabbath

“In the morning, long before dawn, Jesus got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” Mark 1:35

I remember tent camping with a friend on Mt. Lemon, just north of Tucson. We were at 8000 ft. The first day was so cold I couldn’t wait to get into my sleeping bag after dinner. I returned home from the outing rejuvenated after relaxed conversations with a colleague, exhilarating hikes, and lots of fresh air. I felt as though I was able to catch my breath for the first time in a great while. And as much as I loved the ponderosa, Douglas fir and aspen, along with picturesque boulders and melodious birdsong, you know what the best part of it was? No cell phone service. Oh, there were several towers atop the mountain. But evidently – happily — none belonged to AT&T. For 48 hrs. I was blissfully off-grid. Unplugged. Relaxed. How nice it was to catch my breath.

James Adams tells the story of an explorer on an urgent march through the jungles of the upper Amazon in South America. Good progress was made for about two days. Then, on the third morning, he found his native guides sitting solemnly on their haunches, making no preparations for further travel. “Why?” the explorer asked, and their foreman explained: “They are waiting; they cannot move farther until their souls catch up with their bodies.”

I wonder if we too sometimes get ahead of our souls? I wonder if we move so fast from here to there that sometimes we run off and leave our souls behind?

I hope you are able to find time during this summer season, when the pace generally slows a bit anyway, for your soul to have a chance to catch up. Call it summer Sabbath time. May we all find time to pause and catch our breath, and experience the grace and power of the Divine. And every now and then, feel free to power off your cell phone. Give it a rest, too!

Blessings, Pastor Jeff


Easter Reflections

I love Easter Resurrection Sunday. In fact, it’s my favorite Sunday of the year. I remember as a child, I could hardly wait for the egg hunt at my Nana’s home in Hutchinson, KS. My siblings and I would wake up early Easter morning and look high and low for Easter eggs scattered throughout Nana’s home. After exhausting our energies to find every single egg, we would gather around in a circle and celebrate what each of us had found. I still find great joy reflecting on this experience because it has helped shape my understanding of Easter Resurrection.
Easter Resurrection, for me, is playful. It’s hunting, finding, and celebrating. Easter Resurrection is discovering God at work in our world through the gifts of Creation, relationships, and the unexpected surprises of life. Easter Resurrection is the anticipation of the spring flowers getting ready to burst into miraculous works of art. Easter Resurrection is the call from an estranged family member who simply says, “I miss you, and I’m so glad I get to talk to you.” Easter Resurrection is the surprise gift of a beautiful desert plant from colleagues to celebrate an achievement. And ultimately, Easter
Resurrection is the mystery of Jesus’ spirit still among us and working in us to do good and to assure us that we are loved unconditionally.

After devouring chocolate bunnies and jelly beans from Nana’s egg hunt, the Bullock’s would get dressed up in outfits that mom spent all year making for us kids. We would load up in the car and attend Easter service at the local Methodist church. The aroma of Easter lilies and the welcome from the congregants made this family of visitors, feel so welcomed and loved. But the highlight of my childhood Easter Resurrection experience was when
the organist would pull out all of the stops on the B-3 Hammond Organ, and lead us into singing my favorite Easter hymn, “He Lives.” The last line of the chorus simply states why I can believe in Easter Resurrection, “You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart.”

I wonder where you will find Easter Resurrection this Easter? I wonder where you will discover God at work in Creation, relationships, the  unexpected, and even yourself? I pray you will be blessed by what you discover. I would love to hear what you find, please let me know.

Enjoy the hunt,
Pastor Joel