How long? Not long.

February 2, 2023

An ancient prophet wrote words we could, or perhaps do, pray today:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?

Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble?

Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.

So the law becomes slack, and justice never prevails.

The wicked surround the righteous; therefore judgment comes forth perverted.

It’s Groundhog Day. The shadows are long for us and the winter of our discontent seems unending.

Like Phil in the movie, we are caught in a time loop that seems inescapable. Even Habakkuk felt stuck in cycles of injustice and destruction.

God’s creation needs people who have been captured by the vision of peace Christ proclaims and embodies. The session of St. Andrew, through the Holy Spirit working in the voice of this congregation, your voice, has adopted a statement i
nviting us to become a walking billboard for that vision.
 

What will it take for you to shine the light of peace and love so we never have to say another name, with the shame of inexplicable violence upon a Black man during a traffic stop? What will it take for you to shine such that we can learn our nation’s history with the conviction that truth is the foundation of reconciliation? What will it take for you to shine such that the spiritual quest for life becomes a common ground for common goodness, regardless of the religion providing the north star for its followers?

May the light of Christ shine in you this week, even if you are praying the words of the prophet, or because you are willing to pray those words, “How long.”  Jesus says, “Not long–You are the light of the world.”


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Practice, Practice, Practice

Training. Years ago I walked into a hospital with my mom and she stopped in the hallway with her eyes wide and a bit of delight and bewilderment on her face. “That’s me!” She pointed to the large mural on the wall ahead of us in the newly renovated wing of the hospital. There she was, photographed as a nursing student during a fire drill, carrying a patient down the stairs and out of the building. Even now it makes me smile to remember that moment with her.
Today there was a fire drill at the NLC. I remembered other adults talking about nuclear bomb drills, and my own school’s tornado drills, and my grandkid’s comments about intruder drills. I remembered that one of the interim tasks I usually ask for is an emergency drill on a Sunday morning.

I also thought of batting practice, putting greens and driving ranges, speaking in front of a mirror, all kinds of practice sessions people use to get ready for the big event. Church life in the gathered community is sometimes called “orthopraxis.” Being “orthodox,” means having right beliefs. Orthopraxy is doing right action—practicing faith.
 
But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.  James 1: 22
When we share the peace of Christ, this is practice session for being people full of grace throughout the week. It is not a “hi, how are you.” The passing of the peace follows the prayer of confession and proclamation of grace and forgiveness specifically so that we can look the person next to us in the eye, someone who just heard and received the same good news we did, and say to them, as Christ forgives and frees you from your sins, so do I—may we live together in peace, or in the ritualized words of the moment: “Peace be with you!”
Let this word settle in your heart more fully as we practice every Sunday sharing the peace here so that you can share peace beyond this community.
Peace be with you!
Rev Bev

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Becoming Light

Is minimalism a part of your life? I began developing an interest in it when I first thought about downsizing. I had a revelation before moving to VA. In our home, we actually lived in about half of the space. And within that 50%, some of the rooms were much larger than necessary, though it made things feel open and very comfortable. We had a moderately sized home. I liked it.
 
What was the other 50% — a very large closet. These spaces, dining room or bedroom, served as usable space when company came, but were more like storage areas. There was/is a lot of stuff in every drawer, under beds, on bookshelves, in actual closets. All full of meaning and purpose yet useful only for highly specific reasons, like decorating for Christmas.
 
We are packing up those beloved Christmas decorations and asking, do we need this/want this enough to move it again so we can look at it for a few weeks next year?
 
January is great time to enter the wilderness with Jesus and ask ourselves, what are we carrying spiritually that does not serve our baptismal call. Some of the things we carry forward year after year, moving it from one internal room to another in our lives, helps us remember the ways God walked this journey with us, in good times and others. Some of it just keeps us prisoners of unhappy situations and does nothing to build our faith. Some of the so-called junk we haul around inside is actually the very center of our faithfulness and the seed we need to nurture, not junk at all, but treasures that need to be opened and used.
Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works. (Mt 5: 16)
If you are looking for the best of yourself to offer to the world, in school, at work, doing family things, or being with friends, the best of you to make the best of life, join us on Sundays to learn more about “becoming light” in the darkness. You were made and chosen to make a difference for goodness sake.
See you soon, peace—
Rev Bev

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New You or More Yourself?

How’s that new year-new you thing working out? Are you enjoying a dry January, meatless Mondays, or reading more, playing

 phone games less, talking to friends more frequently than “liking” their FB posts? Why do we feel such a need to constantly remake ourselves into something better?

Perhaps it is the number of advertisements we are subjected to that pressure us to create lives “they” tell us others will envy. (P.S.: Envy is one of the forbidden zones of the Ten Commandments.)

Do we have areas of improvement we need to attend to live our best life? Of course. Does it require a constant barrage of self-deprecation, self-denial, and self-flagellation? No! Martin Luther’s gift to us, the thing that kicked off the Reformation of the church, was his recognition that beating ourselves up in order to be acceptable was the opposite of grace.

The prayer of confession during worship is part of our religious tradition.

Repentance is turning away from the world’s faults-for-profit schemes

and turning toward God’s assets-of-prophets design.

Sunday worship includes a repentance. Offering this confession as an affirmation of the gift of grace helps us be more ourselves, not because we are deficient, but because we are graced with Christ’s blessing and bear the image of God . The ability to learn new things, about ourselves and our neighbors and our God is a confession of faith. Let us proudly proclaim that God loves us and we love God enough to use our God-given brains to continue growing in grace and gratitude.
Peace,
Rev Bev
 
image credit: “New Year’s Resolution Coasters by Lucky Bee Press” by BazaarBizarreSF is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Our Joy Continues

January 5, 2023

Today is going to be a great day! And so will tomorrow. And the day after…. Some of this greatness will happen to you. Rejoice!

Nothing of note is going to happen today. Or tomorrow. Or the day after…. Just routine, this is how it goes. Rejoice anyway!

Terrible things are going to happen today. And tomorrow. And the day after…. Some of them will happen to you. Rejoice anyway!
Life Happens!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Phil 4: 4

In everything, we are called to find joy in our relationship with God. In this way, knowing that we are never separated from God’s love and presence, we can find a peace that sustains us through the highs and lows of life’s journey. Read more…


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