Turning toward Lent

Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. One that says ‘I am a speck of dust.’ And the other, ‘The world was created for me.'” -Rabbi Bunim of P’shiskha I was reminded of this treasure when I picked up a treasured book to re-read this season. Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life by Irwin Kula and Linda Loewenthal explores the humility of life and path that is God’s best dream for us. I found it a decade ago just when I needed some fresh ideas and companions on my own walk. As we turn toward Lent in the coming days, we’ll revisit a number of Gospel stories that hold together these ideas: our frail and broken humanity along with the glory of being reconciled and resurrected children of God. Blessed by Mardi Gras decadence, we’ll take on ashes to soberly focus us on our finite lives. And, we’ll continue on…with Christ’s guidance and one another. I pray the depths of renewal will unfold for you in just the ways you need. For the Good News,...

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EDEN CHURCH SURVEY

Dear Eden Members, I have created this brief survey of eight questions to help guide Eden to serve you better. You can be as detailed or brief as you would like. We will use these responses to guide our efforts in 2018 and make Eden better. Please return responses to the president’s mailbox at church, email responses back to me at ethomas@zebra.com, or mail them to church to the president’s attention. Thanks for all you do to make Eden the warm, caring and welcoming environment it is. Ed Thomas, Eden Council...

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A Disrupting Faith

This past week, we reflected on the healing story of the paralyzed man brought to Jesus by friends willing to have “A Disrupting Faith” (like, taking off the roof tiles and lowering their friend down into the crowded house). We don’t know their story, these advocates – or the story of the one on the bed… we only know he had a need. We don’t even know if he had hope, or if they had all the hope for him. We don’t know if they knew a soul in that house, or whether it was hard for them to decide to risk trying to get in. All we know is they had a disrupting faith. Whatever Jesus was selling INSIDE that place, whatever was going in there where Jesus was at work in the house, well it drove them to raise that roof, and take those tiles off to get there. For their loved one. For themselves and their duty to their loved one. This kind of bold, desperate action is usually rewarded and praised by our Jesus. We can guess, due to human nature, that some folks inside – say maybe the “owner” or those who got their first, were not happy. They were testy with Jesus, having their order and norms disrupted. But that was not Jesus’ take on the situation… He did not see this “disruption” as an interruption of God’s work, but an expansion of God’s work. And so he healed, he forgave, he taught. Join us this week as we meditate together on the promise of God’s restoring abundant life and feast (Isaiah 55), and the intimate words Jesus has with Martha and Mary. Together, we will lean into the Holy Invitation: “Listen and Live.” As we travel together toward Lent, perhaps there will be some things we discover need to be disrupted (including in ourselves…) For the Good News,...

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An Invitation to Abundant Life (Yes, even for Lent.)

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. –Isaiah 55:1-3 Our Lenten theme throughout worship and special events this year will be “Listen and Live.” This is inspired by the above Isaiah text, a long-time personal anchor and inspiration. This passage has brought me both comfort and challenge over the years. It’s been an aid for personal growth as well as professionally led retreats and consulting work, such as the “FeastFirst: Church Growth from the Inside Out” material I brought to Eden during Lent four years ago. It tells of an abundant God and His gracious invitation. This One really cares that I discern what is truly satisfying and nourishing, and set aside the false foods, habits, or whatever that are keeping me from truly living. Why? Because our God wants us to “eat what is good and delight in rich food.” Elsewhere in this issue, our friend Jan Rizzo recaps the institutional church’s journey of developing the practices of the Lenten season. I hope that our journey this year will renew our sense of wonder at Christ’s pilgrimage in ministry, his heart for sharing abundant life, and his obedience even unto the cross. May we even feel God’s delight break in as we travel the life-giving path – and share God’s life-giving table — together. For the Good News,...

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Claiming Our Call, Together

Last Sunday, we remembered a story of Jesus, early in his ministry as told in Luke 4. He’s just back from temptation in the wilderness, where the Accuser tempts him every which way to forget his baptismal blessing. There he stands to read an Isaiah scroll which tells of God’s anointing to share the Good News with the suffering. Our Lord reads, and shares the news that this text is fulfilled in him. He’s claiming God’s affirmation and anointing, not just for himself but in order to serve. This is what it means to claim his call, and for us to claim the call he places on us. Claiming our Call. I think this is related to the work of God within us at Eden right now. Some of us need to more deeply claim the blessing of God’s call (like, “this is my beloved Child, in whom I am well-pleased” at Jesus’ baptism). And, to defend and guard this affirmation in difficult and tempting wildernesses. Others have gone through some wildernesses and more Spirit-empowered than ever to look for ways to share and care with others. We may need strengthening and encouragement as we remember that just as Christ faced opposition for his truth-telling in compassion, so might we. Finally, it strikes me that Eden as a whole is claiming a call. Building on our long traditions, as well as more recent experiments, the Holy Spirit is helping us to sort out the call we can choose to claim together. For this, we need all the richness of your listening, your sharing, and your tending. We are searching and learning together. We hope to see a strong crowd for this Sunday’s semi-annual Hymn Sing, which will transition right into the fellowship hour lunch provided by the Lorenty’s and then the business meeting Ed Thomas describes here. For the Good News,...

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Healing

Last Sunday we reflected on “Healing in the Light of Christ.” For our sermon time, my heart was focused on healing–of all kinds. We were reminded from Scriptures that the One the magi welcomed was also the One the Holy Spirit blessed at baptism. We took in the reminders of Psalm 139, where the Psalmist delights in sharing the intimate knowledge our God has of us. When we take in the trust of God’s blessing, we can face whatever wildernesses we must, and the temptations we find there. Just like Christ, in whose Light we live. Our special time of anointing oil at the altar reminded us of this. Whatever we’re facing, whatever healing we need or our loved ones need, may we take refuge again in this Good News. And may walking together help us remember… This week, we’ll ponder more about Christ’s anointing–and ours–on the weekend on which many honor the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. For the Good News,...

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