Archive for April, 2012

Angels of Judgment

// April 28th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Everybody loves an apocalypse.  Whether it’s Left Behind or the latest zombie thriller, people like to imagine how it will all end.  How will the world and humanity finally be brought low?  Probably by some massive calamity that is of our own making.  The Christian version of this tale is the Revelation to John.  This book is filled with seals and serpents, blood and bowls, whores and horses.  And angels.

The angels in Revelation announce the judgment of the world.  In many cases they enact that judgment.  When they blow their trumpets, there is fire and blood and poison.  There are locusts the size of horses.  And more angels who kill a third of humankind.  These are not angels we want to see.

Don’t worry.  The story ends well.  One very special angel named Michael kills a dragon, which is great.  Then some more bad stuff happens.  But, finally, there is a new heaven and a new earth.  There is a new Jerusalem that is somehow made of gold, yet transparent like glass.  It is never night there and nothing bad ever happens.

Did I mention the list?  Yeah, there’s a list.  Anyone can live in New Jerusalem, except the people that were burned, diseased, poisoned or thrown into the lake fire.  They weren’t on the list.  Those people are just gone, which is probably why New Jerusalem is so nice.  All the bad people are gone.

I think the reason people like an apocalypse so much is because they imagine themselves as the hero, one of the ones on the list.  So let’s look at who gets on the list.  Are you living in Babylon?  Or building New Jerusalem?  Maybe, just maybe, Revelation isn’t really about some dystopian future, but about the choices that we make every day.

Please join us this Sunday, 11am at the Kessler, when we will talk about power, money, and the world we build around them.

Grace and Peace,
Scott

Guardian Angels (Program and Sermon)

// April 25th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Program

Sermon

Psalm 91

1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High,

in the shadow of the All-Sufficient One, lie at night –

2 I say to YHWH, “My refuge and my fortress;

my God, in whom I trust.”

3 For the One will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence;

4 The One will cover you with his pinions,

and under her wings you will find refuge;

her faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

5 You will not fear the terror of the night,

or the arrow that flies by day,

6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

8 You will only look with your eyes

and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 Because you have made YHWH your refuge,

the Most High your dwelling place,

10 no evil shall befall you,

no scourge come near your tent.

11 For the One will command her angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

12 On their hands they will bear you up,

so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,

the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;

I will protect those who know my name.

15 When they call to me, I will answer them;

I will be with them in trouble,

I will rescue them and honor them.

16 With long life I will satisfy them,

and show them my salvation.

For the Word of God in Scripture,

For the Word of God among us,

For the Word of God within us,

Thanks be to God.

Opening Comments

Natan Sharansky was a Jewish dissident held for nine years by the KGB.  Sharansky’s sole possession in prison was a book of Psalms given to him by his wife.  Though not particularly religious, he took to memorizing the Psalms, finding sympathetic voices of woe in its verses.  He inhabited the Psalms and they inhabited him, becoming a source of comfort during those long years of imprisonment.  In the words of Psalm scholar, Paul Anderson, “Their prayers of lament became his own and their hope of deliverance became a gleam of light in his cell.”

When Sharansky was finally released, he was taken to the airport to be paraded in front of the press.  However, presumably as a final cruel joke, the guards had kept his book of Psalms.  On realizing this, Sharansky collapsed in the snow and refused to move until it was returned.  Not exactly the image the Russians wanted to present to the press, they decided to return the book.

On the plane, Sharansky kept a promise he had made to himself: to recite Psalm 30 as a first act of freedom:

I extol You, O Lord,

for you have lifted me up,

and not let my enemies rejoice over me.

O Lord, my God,

I cried out to You,

and You healed me.

O Lord, You brought me up from Sheol,

preserved me from going down into the Pit.

It is a powerful story, a story of courage and perseverance and, finally, salvation, but there is a problem here.  It is unlikely that Natan Sharansky was the first imprisoned Jew to recite the Psalms.  Yet six million were killed in Germany and Poland and Russia, by firing squad and gas chamber.  They were torn from their homes, men, women, and children, and they were enslaved and they were killed.  Among them, there are probably plenty of stories of courage and perseverance, but relatively few of salvation.

It’s easy to read Psalm 91 as a tale of God, our magical friend.  The diseases that ravage the earth will not touch us.  God will act as a shield for our enemies’ arrows.  We can fight lions and poisonous snakes without consequence.  We won’t even stub our toes on rocky ground.  No evil will befall us at all.  It is hard to say this because I know many do not want to hear it: it’s not true.  We will get sick.  We will stub our toes and twist our ankles.  We should definitely not try to fight lions and poisonous snakes.  It will end badly.  Evil befalls us all, no matter how much we pray or sing to God.  I have never been attacked by an army, but have I have felt the sting of insult and the fear of rejection.  I have never been imprisoned, but I have felt desperate isolation.  But I was born with a dark turn of mind.  I can take the sunshine and cover it with rain.  And I will like it that way.  When things go badly, when the good that I long for, that I have imagined in my head, turns out not to be, it is a quick trip down a shadowy path.  The negativity reinforces itself, spirals back on itself.  I can no longer see the good in anything.  I just want to stop.  I just need a rest.  Psalm 91 is that rest.

Psalm 91 is not a simple explanation that God can be trusted.  No, God is a mother bird that shelters us under her wings.  God is a shield that protects us from the arrows that fly at us by day.  Poetry is hyperbole.  The emotion is amped up, all human sorrow and joy is distilled, concentrated.  Maybe I’m just having a bad day, but the Psalms take that frustration, that anger, that sorrow and they raise the stakes.  They elevate our concerns into matters of the cosmic battle between good and evil.  They take all that and lay it at the feet of God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s last work, completed while in prison for attempting to assassinate Adolph Hitler, was a book on the Psalms.  The question that drove Bonhoeffer’s inquiry was, “How … can these prayers to God be, at the same time, God’s word to the people?”  What is it that God is saying to us in our words to God?  It’s a curious question.  It reflects back on itself.  In speaking to God, how does God speak to us?

Conversation Questions

Does anyone read the Psalms?  What is your experience?

What are the angels doing here?  It’s more than just a message.

Who is speaking here?

Where do you feel safe?  What do you do with that safety?

What is God’s name?

Closing Comments

The mystics speak of demons that whisper evil thoughts to us.  Those voices incite us to sadness and anger, to gluttony and lust.  But their real goal is to distract us from the voice of God.  The purgation the mystics undergo on their path to union with God is intended to quiet those voices, to remove the fear of knowing God.  There is a spark of the divine in each of us, the image of God.  That image hears God calling to it and desperately wants to respond if we can just get out of the way.  This is a somewhat banal illustration, but I used to be an active person.  I used to mountain bike a lot.  Occasionally, I wrecked.  But most of my wrecks happened when I was scared.  When I approached a trail with confidence, no matter how steep it was or how rocky, I came through.  When I was scared and tentative and distracted by all the forces arrayed against me, I was guaranteed to fail.  This is how the demons work on us.  They sing songs to us, songs of failure and misery.

But when we rest in the secret place of the Most High, we see the world as God sees it.  We peek out from that rocky outcrop from between God’s wings and we see a world filled, not with enemies but with friends, not with pestilence but with vitality, not with lions but with lambs.  In speaking from the spark of God within, I hear the call of God from without.  When I answer that call, I am transformed.

Prayer transforms us.  It makes us into the sort of people that remain hopeful in dire circumstances, the sort of people who remain courageous in the face of unlikely odds.  Natan Sharansky’s freedom was not affected by God.  At least, not in the sense that God changed someone’s mind and made them release him.  It was brought about by shifts in world politics, wherein the Soviet Union had more to gain by publicly releasing him than keeping him in prison.  Nevertheless, Natan Sharansky may not have made it that far without the Psalms.  There are lots of ways to meet one’s end in prison and he could have found them at any time.  But in rehearsing the pain and joy of these ancient songs, he found strength to continue on.  He found hope.  For at least the brief moment of speaking that Psalm, he was no longer in a Russian prison.  For that brief moment, he found the secret place of the Most High.  He rested in the shadow of Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One.  In that place, he was nourished by the word of God.  He made YHWH, the One Who Is, his refuge.  In peeking out from behind God’s wings, Natan Sharansky saw salvation.

And, though we are not in a Russian prison, we too can find rest in the secret place of God.  In Psalm 91, we have a prayer of trust.  In prayer, we can quiet the fears that make us see enemies and disease at every turn, wild beasts waiting to devour us.  Those things may be out there.  But from behind the wings of God, we need not react in fear.  Instead, we can see the world as God sees it.  When confronted with disease, we can bring comfort.  When assailed by enemies, we can be peacemakers.  God gives us strength and confidence because we know God’s name.  And, like Jesus, Jesu, Yeshuah, Our Rescuer, we can show the world salvation.

Guardian Angels

// April 21st, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

When Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted, he and the devil had a Scripture memory contest.  Any Baptist Sunday School teacher would be proud.  The curious thing is that they both accurately quote Scripture, but they come to very different conclusions about what it means for Jesus’ life.  Specifically, the devil seems to think that, according to Psalm 91:11-12, Jesus should jump off a tall building because angels will bear him up.  Jesus, of course, responds by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, “Do not put YHWH your God to the test.”

To be sure, this is not proof-texting, the use of a single verse to support the agenda of the speaker.  In each volley of verses there is a web of references that a faithful Jew would quickly call to mind.  Jesus’ quote of Deuteronomy refers to Exodus 17:1-7, where the newly liberated Hebrews are complaining to Moses because they are thirsty. The specific question on their minds is whether God is with them or not and, by implication, what God’s presence should mean for them.  This, it turns out, is precisely the concern of Psalm 91.

Many Psalms begin with a lament wherein the Psalmist complains bitterly about God, especially God’s abandonment.  There is often a sudden shift when God hears the call and makes right all that was wrong.  Not so with Psalm 91; it only shows the happily ever after.  In fact, it is such a rosy picture (“no evil shall befall you”) that it is hard to trust it.  We all know good people, faithful people, to whom harm eventually comes.  Jesus was one of those people, but perhaps you are, too.  Perhaps, in Jesus dismissal of the devil’s temptation, there is the possibility of a different kind of hope for all of us.

Join us this Sunday, 11am at the Kessler, as we discuss what it might mean to be in the presence of God, borne up on the wings of angels.

Grace and Peace,
Scott

Angels: Resurrection Stories

// April 12th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Since we talked demons for Lent and it was all depressing, we thought we would turn those frowns upside down for Eastertide and talk about angels. As I’m sure we all remember, demons are the voices in our heads that tell us we are not good enough and the world is not abundant enough for peace and justice. These voices distract us from the voice of God calling out to us. Angels are those voices of God.

We will start the series off by looking at angels in the resurrection stories. All the gospels differ in their accounts of what exactly happened in the tomb when the women showed up to prepare Jesus’ body. The number of angels differs. What they say differs. Who is present differs. Please join us this Sunday at 11am at the Kessler Theater as we discuss what difference these differences make.

In the coming weeks, we will look at angels throughout Scripture as messengers from God. We will talk about the kinds of messages they bring – good news, judgment, protection – and what else they might do. We hope to see you during the seven Sundays of Eastertide.

Grace and Peace,
Scott

Easter Sunday (Sermon and Program)

// April 9th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Program

Sermon: “Go Back to Galilee”

A reading from the Gospel According to Mark, chapter 16, verses 1 through 8:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought perfumed oils so that they could anoint Jesus.  Very early, just after sunrise on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.

They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”  When they looked, they found that the huge stone had been rolled back.

On entering the tomb, they saw a young person sitting at the right, dressed in a white robe.  They were very frightened, but the youth reassured them: “Do not be amazed!  You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the One who was crucified.  He has risen; he is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  Now go and tell the disciples and Peter, ‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see him just as he told you.’”

They made their way out and fled from the tomb bewildered and trembling; but they said nothing to anyone, because they were so afraid.

For the Word of God in Scripture,
For the Word of God among us,
For the Word of God within us,
Thanks be to God.

Our friend Christina Holdiness, on reading the e-mails about the series on demons, said they reminded her of the five stages of grief.  Many of the sins – gluttony, lust, pride – represent denial.  Some people are angry.  The fearful person will bargain with whatever authority she thinks can prolong life.  I, of course, get sad.  And, if you successfully dispatch all the demons, putting them under the right order of reason, you have acceptance.  Christina further suggested that this might be the whole function of religion: a way of coping with the fact that we are going to die.  For Christians, Easter, the resurrection, is the highest and most direct means of confronting that reality.

In the church of my youth, Christmas and Easter were the only holidays.  We zip along from birth to rebirth with not much in between but our own degradation.  We are all bad and God is all good, always triumphing over sin and death.  Only high points.  Now we spend Advent anxiously awaiting the time when God will come in and finally, finally fix everything.  All the injustice, all the oppression, all the pain and suffering, will finally go away.  At Christmas, God comes into the world, incarnate, as a real, embodied human being.  Jesus shows up, lives his life, and dies.  In fact, he dies in a horrifying act of injustice, the victim of the very thing he was supposed to fix.  But it’s okay because we have Easter.  Yay, Easter!  Jesus is risen indeed!  In the resurrection, we learn that God ultimately wins, that good ultimately triumphs over evil.  Now, everything will finally, finally be made right.  How’s that working out?  In focusing on Christmas and Easter we forget what we all really know: the beginning of one thing marks the end of something else.

The Christian calendar is arranged like a Mobius strip, the twisted strip of paper that creates an endless loop.  We trace the same ground every year passing through Christmas and Easter, but also passing through Advent and Lent.  People often forget that Advent is not only the time of expectation for the birth of Jesus, but a celebration of the return of Jesus as the eschatological judge, the one who, according to Jewish apocalyptic tradition, will separate the righteous from the unrighteous.  The righteous will inherit a new earth, restored to God’s intentions for justice and peace.  Advent, as much as it is anticipation of the beginning of things, is also the end of all things.

Lent, too, is a meditation on endings.  This Lent, we told fanciful tales of demons that whisper evil thoughts in our moments of weakness.  We mindlessly react to our passions, alternately ignoring them or indulging them.  Instead, it was suggested, we should put what the ancients called reason, but we might call God, in charge.  What ought to die with Christ is the personality, the ego that is only concerned with sustaining itself.  In this death the real person, the spark of the divine within, can come out.  This is the Easter for which we have longed during Lent: the raising of the true self.  Death begets new life.

The early authors of Scripture had this same sense of time.  Perhaps owing to the largely illiterate culture of the day and the rarity of the written word, they expected these texts to be read aloud, over and over again.  John is a great example of this, using internal references that point backward and forward in the text to infuse it with a looping, interweaving structure.  Readers of the Gospel of John are rewarded for continually rereading, plumbing its depths over and over again.  Although Mark has for a long time been considered rustic and unsophisticated, recent scholarship has exposed the brilliant simplicity of the text.

Mark, like John, expects that this text will be read over and over again, though the author handles it slightly differently.  Instead of focusing on repeated internal references, the author of Mark makes use of an inclusio, an envelope structure wherein sections of text and, in fact, the entire book, begin and end with the same wording.  The envelope frames what is contained within.  The text begins in chapter 1, verse 1, by telling us that it is the “The beginning of the good new of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  From there, the only people who ever use the phrase “Son of God” are demons, supposed outsiders.  The disciples have no idea.  At the end, a centurion makes the proclamation, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”  The effect is to wrap the whole of Jesus life and death in this envelope that infuses meaning – that this is the Son of God – into the rest of the text.  Whatever Jesus was doing, it was with God’s authority.

Mark employs a similar strategy in handling the resurrection.  There are no resurrection stories in Mark, no further miracles, no further instructions.  In fact, Mark claims that the women who found the empty tomb did not tell anyone because they were terrified.  The book just ends with instructions to go back to Galilee.  A very smart person, Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, told us in class that geography is theology.  Though he famously dies on a cross in Jerusalem, Jesus’ mission is in Galilee.  Galilee is a collection of villages around the Sea of Galilee where Jesus grew up.  It was a Jewish stronghold after the Maccabean revolt.  In Jesus’ youth in Nazareth, he might have seen honest, hard labor in the face of poverty and some memory of independence from oppressive occupiers.  In Galilee, he saw the needs of the poor and rose to meet those needs.  And then, as we learn during Holy Week, Jesus travels from Galilee to Jerusalem and gets killed. It should not seem odd that, in the first Gospel, when Jesus dies and rises again, his disciples are told to go back to Galilee.

Like the Christian calendar, Mark loops us back around to the beginning, to Galilee.  When his disciples are scattered, when everyone has given up and the women who were faithful to him are looking for answers, the angel tells them to go back to Galilee.  If you want to understand Jesus’ death and resurrection, Mark tells us to go back to Galilee.  The meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection can be found in Jesus life and mission in Galilee.

There are some obvious specifics about that mission that should be mentioned.  In Galilee, Jesus cast out demons, rebuked the voices of death and shame that divide people against themselves and others.  In Galilee, Jesus healed the sick, restoring them to full inclusion in their communities.  In Galilee, Jesus fed the hungry by the thousands.  In Galilee, Jesus confronted the powerful.  It is no wonder that this is how people remember Jesus.  Of course they remember the horrible death, but they can only remember it in the light of his life and they honor it by trying to live the same way.  As do we.

If it’s not apparent, I have had death on my mind lately.  My classes this semester are nuts-and-bolts ministry classes: Preaching and Word and Worship, which is a course on liturgy.  Recently we have been learning the one thing all ministers eventually have to do: funerals.  This is hard for me.  In the face of death, I feel completely inadequate.  There is nothing I can say that will make things better.  In the best of circumstances the deceased has live a long, full life surrounded by loved ones, but that is not always the case.  One of my classmates told a story of preaching at the funeral of an 8th grade girl that committed suicide.  It’s common in such situations to talk about heaven, to give families hope that she will find peace in the hereafter.  I’ll be honest and say that I find this inadequate.  If there is a heaven, I don’t think that is much comfort for the parent of a 12-year-old girl who has taken her own life.  What can anyone possibly say that makes that better?

Instead, I think Mark’s account of the resurrection calls us to something else.  Like the Christian calendar, it loops back around so that we pass through death and into life, again and again.  Jesus life was so meaningful, so compelling that Mark’s advice is to live it all again.  During Lent, we talked about casting out the demons that wear us down and distract us from being the person God made us to be.  Jesus did not have that problem.  He knew who he was and he knew what he had to do even unto death.  He loved the people of Galilee and he served them in his life and mission.  He loved the people of Galilee and so he went to Jerusalem to confront the people who held power over them.  He mocked them and challenged them and he was killed by them.  For the poor of Galilee, for the poor of Jerusalem, and for the all the poor that suffered under the thumb of Roman occupation, he gave his life.  If you want to know why he died, go back to Galilee.

In being the person that God has for us to be, life and death pass away.  When you have something to live for, you do not fear death.  And when you have something worth dying for, you can fully live. The new life is not merely an extension of the life that we have, but a turning inside out of the life we know.  The resurrection is not some distant hope, but a present reality, a new life that conquers death and limitation and scarcity and fear.  Who knows what drove that little girl to take her life?  It could be mental illness or shame over body image or sexuality.  It could have been abuse.  It could have been almost anything.  One thing seems certain: she could not have known the peace of God, the confidence in her own skin that comes with understanding oneself as God’s chosen.  Not in that moment.  This is not condemnation, but repentance.  The only thing that redeems her death is noting God’s presence with the sufferer and hearing God’s call in the suffering.  New life for her means our lives must be changed.  We must cast out the demons that distract us from the precious lives in peril around us.  New life for her means we must go back to Galilee.

In the rotting skin of the leper, Jesus saw the hand of God.  The leper had probably been ostracized by everyone, shunned out of fear.  More than fear, this culture thought that God caused such maladies because of sin.  Jesus might have reacted with revulsion or fear.  Instead, he chose to heal the leper.  And, as a jab to those in power, those who exclude the leper from the Temple and presumably the presence of God, Jesus sent the leper to the priest to show what he had done.  If you want to know what Jesus death was for, go back to Galilee.

As the first son, Jesus represented his family, carried their authority.  A person’s place in the world was defined by his or her place in the hierarchy from slave to emperor.  When his mother and his brothers and sisters came to him, concerned that he was upsetting the apple cart, he knew who is true family was.  “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  All those things our culture and society claim make us who we are, the status and power and security of familial relationships were nothing to Jesus in the face of God’s claim on his life.  If you want to know what Jesus’ death meant, go back to Galilee.

The Roman Empire promised prosperity to everyone.  According to Roman ideology, the emperor was the Savior of the World.  But those who fished the Sea of Galilee barely fed themselves.  This allowed Rome and their client rulers in Jerusalem to keep people in line, always on the edge of starvation.  Five thousand people followed Jesus into the wilderness to hear him teach, but they had nothing to eat.  He took what the disciples had, five loaves of bread and two fish, and he fed the multitude.  Who’s the Savior now?  If you want to know why Jesus died, go back to Galilee.

In the quest to find the meaning of our own lives, the purpose for which we are willing to live or die, we could do worse than reading about Jesus.  Like participating in the liturgical year, the repetition of Scripture forms us.  Sealing these stories in our minds, engraving them on our hearts, beats back the demonic voices that seek to pull us away from God.  In scripture, we traverse life and death and are reborn to return to the hills of Galilee.

When, like the Apostle Paul, we prefer neither life nor death, we have the courage to be who God made us to be.  In this new life beyond life and death, we stand with Jesus on the shores of Galilee.  In Galilee, we can cast out the demons that haunt this world, that lie to us, telling us we are not good enough and the world is not abundant enough to have peace and justice.  In Galilee, we can stand up to the principalities and powers of this world that divide people by race and class and gender and sexual orientation, that profit off of the sin of the world.  In Galilee, we can feed the hungry and house the homeless.  In Galilee, we can protect the vulnerable and fearful.  In Galilee, we can hear the cry of a child who sees no hope in the life she has.

When our loved ones are gathered around our graves, will they see our spirit in the world we left behind?  Will they see new life in the wake of our deaths?  Will they be inspired to go back to Galilee, to live life as we have?  Every day, we must, as Paul says in Philippians, be conformed to Christ’s death in order to know the power of the resurrection.  We must never forget that death and life are inextricably bound.  We live through the story of life and death, so that we can be free to hear the call of God.  We rehearse the beginnings and endings so that they no longer have power over us, so that we can always begin again.  We can find the meaning of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, as well as our own, in Galilee.  We live through the pain of Good Friday so that, on Easter Sunday, we can see Jesus in Galilee.  We can find new life in the hills of Galilee.

Easter Sunday at CitC

// April 6th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

I’ve seen them referred to as “the poinsettia and lily crowd,” those who show up to church for Christmas and Easter.  It’s crass, an insider’s jab at the allegedly less committed and less concerned.  But really, if you’re going to show up to church on any two days of the year, those are pretty good ones.  While faith and understanding certainly should be deepened and nuanced, there is a sense in which those two days tell you everything you need to know about the Christian faith.

Christmas, of course, is the birth of the little baby Jesus.  And, of course, it is so much more than that.  It is the time of incarnation, the time when God enters the world in a body of flesh and blood.  We learn from Christmas that, whatever God wants of this world, it can only be had with a body.  But bodies come with a price: they have to die.  One might say that all religion, all philosophy, perhaps all human endeavors, are to deal with that one tragic fact.

Easter is Christianity’s way of dealing with it.  After the long, hard slog of Lent, we finally come to the feast of new life.  Jesus is put in the tomb and, three days later, walks right back out.  And we are promised that we will receive the same!  Death is conquered and new life begins!

Of course, there is more to it.  More to the faith and more to life and death and the theology of resurrection.  What does Jesus’ death mean?  What does the resurrection mean?  Did it really happen?  Will it happen to us?  Does it really matter?  Most importantly, what is this new life for and when can we get started?

Whether you attend Church in the Cliff, or any church, every Sunday, or never at all, we welcome you to join us this Easter Sunday at 11am at the Kessler Theater as we celebrate life made new, the feast of Spring!

Grace and Peace,
Scott

Easter Egg Hunt

Bring the kids early this Sunday for an Easter egg hunt.  We’ll have breakfast snacks and coffee for the big people.

Relief for Victims of the Storms

Our friends at Cathedral of Hope are collecting gift cards for victims of this week’s tornadoes and we’d like to help out.  God does not cause these tragedies, but we are called by God to respond.  Bring gift cards for restaurants, hardware stores, grocery stores, drug stores, etc. to Church in the Cliff this Sunday and we will make sure they get to Cathedral.

Eat. Drink. Connect.

We don’t have a lot of programs at our small church, but we do have a lot of people working in non-profit service whose efforts we try to support.  Teri Walker, the Executive Director of the Aberg Center for Literacy is one such person as are the many people from Church in the Cliff who volunteer and serve on the board at Aberg.  In that spirit of support, this week we will forgo our usual Wednesday dinner to attend a happy hour and fundraiser for the Aberg Center at the Barley House from 6-8pm, April 11.

Palm Sunday (Program)

// April 2nd, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Palm Sunday was a little different, so there is no sermon or conversation notes.  However, I did want to share the program and one of the songs we did.

Program

The song was originally written by Florence Reese during the labor riots of the 1930s.  Ani DiFranco recently updated it.  We took her inspiration for the music and tweaked her lyrics for both Palm Sunday and current events.  I hope you like it.

“Which Side Are You On?”