may 18, 2022

There has always been something special to me about coming forward for communion.  I really missed that when our worship practices were so drastically by covid.   The act of coming forward represents being part of the body of Christ together.  The act of other people come forward for communion is symbolic for me that I am not the only member of the Body of Christ.  This reminds me and assures me that I work alongside others and I travel this Christian journey with others who follow Jesus. 

 

On Sundays after the prayer and the Words of Institution, I go over to one of the communion stations.  It has become a habit to take communion myself after all the other people on my side have taken.  However, I have company taking communion last.  I wait and take communion when Irv Comstock comes up to the table.  I couldn’t tell you just when this started.  I do know that taking communion when Irv arrives began after we started coming forward for communion again.  I especially enjoy those moments.  

 

I have recently been remembering times where we came forward for communion before covid.  I remember shaking a hand or reaching out and putting my hand on the shoulder of the person in front of me in line to go up. I would look at the people in attendance that day.  I would remember special moments I shared with this person or some memory of being together with that person.  I would lift up prayers and thanksgivings for the people I served alongside.  

 

One reason communion is such a special time for me is that quite a few things make it very personal.  Very uplifting.  Very renewing.  The grace and love of God given to us in Jesus Christ will do that to a person.  And I am filled with a sense of gratitude to be a part of how God is working through us together at Coolwater.  

  

 

 Blessings,

Pastor Rick

may 4, 2022

May 1 was a Sunday this year.  Yes, we are already in the month of May. May is a packed month full of significant days for a variety of reasons.  Next Sunday, May 8, is the second Sunday of the month.  The second Sunday of the May is…Mother’s Day!  This year Mother’s Day falls on the earliest day in May that special observation can occur.  This is a day for remembering and giving thanks for special women and families who have shaped us in some way.  


Star Wars Day is today, May 4.  You have to say the whole date for it to have any meaning.  May the Fourth.  May the Fourth be with you! In other words, you get the famous line from the Star Wars movies – “May the Force with you!”   I thoroughly enjoyed dressing up as Darth Vader and helping with the morning announcements at school.  


Next up is a day some people regard with a little trepidation.   When a month begins on a Sunday there will be a Friday the 13th happening.  This is just another day for most people, but I will be watching out for black cats, throwing salt over my shoulder, avoiding mirrors, not walking under any ladders…just to be on the safe side. 


May brings the end of school for students in most of Arizona. (HOORAY!)  With the ending of school comes graduations, which as special for the graduates and their families.

At the end of May is Memorial Day.  This sis a day to honor those who have served our country and also those who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, have given “the last full measure of their devotion.”


These are some ways we mark the passage of time.  Remembering special days.  Milestones along the way.  Significant occurrences.  Some with deserved seriousness and some with light-hearted fun.  Birthdays and anniversaries also make that list.


How do we mark the passage of time as Christians?  Thomas the disciple of Jesus was not with the other disciples on Easter evening when Jesus suddenly appeared to them.  The other disciples told him but he Thomas refused to believe this news unless he saw this for himself.  How did Thomas mark the passage of time that week when he was struggling with what to believe?  What did he do to help make some sense of this unimaginable situation?  What would you do?  Perhaps you would talk to family members or friends.  Perhaps you would pray.  Perhaps you would read some scriptures or meditations that bring you comfort, strength, hope or peace.  Perhaps you would spend time reflecting and sorting through your thoughts and emotions. 


I think Thomas did some of those thigs. Praying, reflecting, talking with friends and family.  I don’t think he hid away for days on end.  I think that he may have found comfort in continuing to live the way Jesus had taught his disciples.   He knew then what we know today.  Routines, structure, and purpose in our daily lives help us make something of our days.  What do we do as Christians helps give structure to our day.  Giving of ourselves in some way.  Caring for others. 

I think that Thomas did some of these things as he wrestled with the unexpected and stunning news of the resurrection of Christ.  Was it true?  What did it mean?  And because he marked that time with purpose, he was ready, when it was right for him, for that news to make a profound difference in his life. 


But a wise Christian person will tell you, that there is sone conscious thought.  Quiet prayer, reading of scripture, involvement in some activity that helps you live out your faith, being a part of a church community, giving life to a church community.  Being in worship.  Consciously giving of youraself… 

As we mark the time  


Have a great week!

Pastor Rick

 

april 27, 2022

According to the Gospel of Mark, on Easter morning three women went to the tomb with burial spices.  They wanted to anoint the body of Jesus and properly wrap the body for burial. However, instead of finding the dead body of Jesus, they encountered a young man clothed in white.  He gave them the message that Jesus was risen and instructed them to share that news.


How did those three women respond?  They were traumatized as a result of encountering the Resurrection of Christ. Mark tells us that the women fled and said nothing to anyone. That is how the gospel of Mark originally ends.  When those three early Christian Disciples encountered Resurrection, they got more than they bargained for.  


When we encounter the Risen Christ today, and live a Christian life, we may also get more than we bargained for. Trauma is a part of the Easter story.  As a Christian there are times that we may face trauma in our lives.  After all, we follow the Crucified One. There are times when we are called to be servants or called to speak the message of knowing God through Christ or commanded to forgive our enemies or told to turn the other cheek, and it seems all too much. At times we may feel that as Christians in this world we are worn to a frazzle! We want to flee!  There are also times when the reality of the Christian faith seems overwhelmed by the illusions and powers of this age. Trauma at times can be a part of the Christian faith.  


So why then are we not overcome?  How do we keep going?  How we not lose hope?  The answer is that that unimaginable joy, and hope and new life are also part of the Easter story.  The answer is that Easter stands as God’s “yes” to Jesus, “yes” to the way he lived, “yes” to the way he loved, “yes” to his gifts of grace and forgiveness.  In Christ we are new creations!  Following the Risen Christ is to find the possibilities of new life and new beginnings blooming all around us. Jesus changes lives.  When your heart is filled with the grace and love that Jesus can give, there can be such amazing joy.  And last, in following our Risen Lord, we find that God is calling us to a life much bigger than the one we would carve out all by ourselves.

  

Blessings,

Pastor Rick

april 20, 2022

 

This coming Sunday we will hear the story of the resurrection of Jesus as told by Mark.  Wait a minute!  Isn’t that the same scripture we heard last Sunday on Easter? Yes.  Yes, it is.  Almost every Sunday across the globe, the scripture for that Sunday is different than the scripture from the week before.  Since last Sunday was Easter, the scripture was Mark 16:1-8, one of the resurrection accounts in the Gospels.  This scripture is worth another look!

  

It can be beneficial to take another look at a portion of scripture, especially one that tells of an event as momentous as the resurrection of Christ.  There are definitely parts I want to explore more and examine what meaning those might have for us today.  It will also be a different sermon because it will focus on some other ideas from that part of Mark.

 

Besides, are we in a rush to move on past Easter?  Is Easter just another holiday to cross off the list as we progress through the year?  I can understand wanting to get out beyond the empty tomb, but Easter is still going on. Both the Easter season in the church and the life-changing event.  Savor Easter. It is about amazing, life-changing news.  News to be shared with the women, with the disciples and Peter…and you. 


 Blessings,

Pastor Rick

 

april 13, 2022

Reflection 2022-04-13 

Holy Week is the most important week for the Christian faith and the followers of Jesus Christ.  The week begins with a grand entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  However, the week goes downhill fast, with tension and conflict building like a thunderhead.  Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are remembered as days of great surprise, tumultuous events, and unimaginable suffering.  Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are neither joyful nor feel-good days.

   

Holy Week focuses our attention on the events that transpired in the life of Jesus as he completed the mission and ministry of his earthly life.  Without the cross on Good Friday, there is no resurrection on Easter.  Without the agony of the cross there is no joy of Easter.

 

How will you remember the events of Holy Week?  Will you remember the cross on Good Friday?  Will that day slip your mind in the midst of everyday life and the anticipation of Easter?  Maundy Thursday and the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday and the cross, are what give meaning and hope to everyday life and make Easter a day of joy.  What Christ experienced and what Christ suffered, he did for us so that we might know the joy of resurrection faith in our everyday life. 

Next Sunday is Easter.


Next Sunday we will shout, “Alleluia, He is risen!”  But we can leap for joy only after we have truly been to the cross and been to the tomb.  When we do that, we can be ready to celebrate what Easter is all about.


Blessings, and Have a Wonderful Week!


Pastor Rick

april 6, 2022

Jesus enters Jerusalem on the day called Palm Sunday.  That week he goes to the temple area and teaches.  Jesus teaches about giving ourselves to humble devotion, not to empty rituals and showy appearances.  He speaks about what is really giving ourselves to God.  He teaches about what the behavior of people seeking the kingdom of God looks like.  Jesus calls people to faithful living.


For many people there is a an emptiness in secular society.  People feel they want something they’ve lost and they don’t remember what it is they have lost.  But it has left a gaping hole.  The seekers quest is to fill the hole with a new source of meaning.


The people of the church answer with the teachings of Jesus, one in particular.  The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.  WE are called to do the same. In serving, We serve the Lord and point the path to the kingdom of God.  Our gifts of service are expressions of gratitude towards God and trust and faith in God. These are the actions of people who know the grace of God has touched their lives.  It is God’s grace that can give new meaning to new, even new life itself.  We know that because of a table, a cross on a hill, and an empty tomb.

                                              

Have wonderful week! 

Pastor Rick