How familiar are you with the Bible?

Is it an old friend or a mysterious book that you never find time to read?

Those who regularly turn to the Bible for comfort and guidance testify to us of the great spiritual power contained within our sacred scripture.  Reading the Bible can help us connect with God, grow as spiritual people, and be comforted.

If you find reading the Bible a daunting prospect, perhaps you don’t know where to start, so let me make a suggestion:  The Gospel According to Matthew.  I invite you to join in a congregational reading of Matthew September 7 – April 5 (Easter).  We will read one chapter a week and the Sunday sermon will be on a passage from that chapter. (See reading schedule below or pick up a bookmark at church)

My hope is that doing this together will provide the support and encouragement to overcome any obstacles to reading the Bible making it less mysterious and daunting so that we may each come to know this book as a dear old friend.

Week of Chapter
9/7 1
9/14 2
9/21 3
9/28 4
10/5 5
10/12 6
10/19 7
10/26 8
11/2 9
11/9 10
11/16 11
11/23 12
11/30 13
12/7 14
12/14 1(re-read)
12/21 2(re-read)
12/28 Break
1/4 15
1/11 16
1/18 17
1/25 18
2/1 19
2/8 20
2/15 21
2/22 22
3/1 23
3/8 24
3/15 25
3/22 26
3/29 27
4/5 28

 

Sunday School this Fall

It is with great excitement that I write this article in preparation for our new Sunday school year.  Our Sunday school numbers continue to grow, we have exciting and fresh curriculum ideas, and we anticipate breaking ground in 2015 on our new building that will create better space for Sunday school.  In addition Elder Doug Morrin has stepped up to chair the Christian Education Committee.

Our fall plans are the culmination of many years of vision and hard work on the part of a handful of church volunteers.  Our current head teacher, Ann Reppun, has kept this vision alive for fourteen years; sometimes single-handedly.  With an expanding program, temporary classroom space, and energetic children our church needs to rise up and lend a hand to Ann.  We will be seeking support for our Sunday school program in a variety of ways and if you are approached to lend a hand I hope you will prayerfully consider answering the call to this ministry.

Our vision for next year includes

2 classes, preschool – fifth grade

2 adults per class

1 helper

Developing our own curriculum on the Matthew

Starting Sunday school September 14, 2014

Forming a Christian Education Committee

Two things you can do now

1. Pray for our children, their parents, our teachers, our CE Committee, and our vision.

2. Give to the building fund because our children and teachers need new space now.

God says to us from Psalm 78:

               Give ear, O my people, to my teaching

               I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

               Things that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have told us.

               We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation

               The glorious deeds of the Lord, and God’s might,

               and the wonders that God has done

May God guide and inspire us as we seek to tell our children about God.

 

 

“Grace is not something God gives.

Grace is who God is.

 Grace is God’s official job description.

 Grace is what God does to keep all things that God created in Love alive – forever.

 If we are to believe the primary witnesses –

the mystics, the saints, the transformed people –

an unexplainable goodness is at work in the universe

(some of us call this phenomenon God),

but that word is not necessary.

 In fact, sometimes it gets in the way of the experience, because too many have named God something other than Grace.”

                                         ….by Richard Rohr

The Illusion of Time

Time is what keeps the light from reaching us. 
There is no greater obstacle to God than time. 

Meister Eckhart 13th century Christian Mystic

Matthew 6 is a great, great example of how time; how worry about the future creates problems we can’t cope with.  If you worry about food, drink and clothing and if you don’t have these things Now then you are going to take action Now, until you resolve this problem.  If you do have these things, you can’t cope with the illusion of what might happen in the future because it isn’t real.  You can only cope with what is happening Now.  So if you don’t have the problem Now Jesus invites you to be like the flowers which live in the present moment, enjoying it not some future worry.

Eckhart Tolle (modern spiritual teacher) invites us to imagine the Earth devoid of human life and inhabited only by plants and animals.  Would it still have a past and a future? Could we still speak of time in any meaningful way? If anybody were around to ask: What time is it? What’s the date today?  It would be meaningless. The oak tree or eagle would be bemused by such a question: “What time is it?” they would ask, “Well, or course, it’s now.” The time is now, “What else is there?” This is what Jesus is saying when he says consider the lilies of the field they neither toil nor spin but God takes care of them.

But wait a minute!  We can’t live like the oak tree or eagle.  We’ll lose our jobs.  We won’t be able to feed and clothe ourselves. Time is how we make appointments, set goals, make plans, and learn from the past.  True.  But there is a big difference between attending to the practical matters of life and living in the future, outside of Now.  And there is a big difference between learning from the past and living in it, outside of Now.

To move away from the illusion of time, and embrace the Now, Tolle says we need to make Now the primary focus of our lives.  And we do this by just noticing our thoughts.  When our mind wanders away from the Now, we notice it.  We say, “that’s interesting, I’ve wandered away again.”  It helps if you can chuckle when you say this so you don’t add a layer of judgment to your notice.

What will this do for us? It will transform our relationship with time and we will find ourselves more often in the Now.  It will also bring us peace, calm, and joy, like the lilies of the field.  It will allow the light to shine in our darkness, removing the obstacles that block our vision of God.  This is the power of Now.

Power of Now Sermon Series

Upcoming Sermons: (I hope you’ll join me)

10/6
The Illusion of Time
Matthew 6:25-34

10/27
The State of Presence: Fully Present and Aware of God’s Presence
Matthew 25:1-13, Revelation 21:1-6

11/10
Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness there is Peace:
The impermanence of all things
Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

11/17
The Meaning of Surrender: Full attention is surrender
The way we use the power of Now
Romans 6:1-11

Power of Now Feedback

After a recent sermon about the Power of Now, I received the following feedback.  Perhaps others have similar thoughts, so I will share my response here to the following comments.

“When people talk out about troubling moments it can be to find a fresh, positive perspective.  So we can let go of pain or perhaps solve things into a new and better direction.

Sometimes focusing on the moment requires extra energy when we are tired.  Wandering is sometimes a conscious, relaxing rest when the moment isn’t demanding our attention.

Sometimes when someone is talking to me an idea will strike a creative reflex in my mind.  That person and their subject is kind of left behind in the moment.  The moment is being taken over by a creative tangent.

I think all these are okay and important alternatives to living to an external, material moment.”

First, crying on someone’s shoulder or consulting with another person as a way to deal with problems or pain can do exactly what is described above.  Especially if done with that purpose in mind.  But I know in my own life that at times I like to tell my sad tales of woe to anyone who will listen.  When I do this, I’m more interested in reassuring or justifying myself than moving forward in a better direction.  We need to check in with our intentions: Am I really trying to heal this pain?  Or am I engaging in a pity party?  Multiple pity parties on the same subject just prove that they don’t work to heal our pain, otherwise one would be enough.

Second, of course conversation with another can spark all kinds of creative tangents.  I suggest you still take note of this.  That way you go off on that tangent conscious that you are doing it, making you aware of where you are in that moment – this is still the power of Now. (And if we are conscious of when this happens, we might even say to that person, “just a minute I’m going for a little mind walk right now, be back in a moment.”)  Again the point is to be conscious of where our mind goes, not to stifle creative stimulation

Third, let me repeat something that is extremely important when noticing where our minds wander off to: Please do so without judgment.  So my response to the final comment is: yes, it is okay.  I would also add that each person needs to decide for him/herself how much they want to live in the Now and how happy they are with where their mind wanders to.  For those who wander off habitually to pain, worry or anxiety, they may want to change their mind wandering habits and seek present moment healing.

The invitation to notice your thoughts is also an invitation (not to judge!) but to evaluate how you are living your life.  If you’re satisfied with it, make no changes.  If you find that you are frequently out of the present moment, then I am suggesting you are missing the opportunities for healing and peace that the power of now offers.  You are the only one who can decide what is right for you.  I’m only pointing out a pathway for healing if you find your life distressful or pain-filled.

Thanks for the feedback – I welcome more here on my blog!

I Did it Again!

Currently at Christ Presbyterian Church I am preaching a sermon series entitled The Power of Now.  This is the title of Eckhart Tolle’s book by the same title.  Often our mind wanders away from the Now.  The first step to discovering the power of Now is to bring your attention back to it.  To do this, just notice your thoughts.  Notice when they wander away and say (without judgment), “That’s interesting.”  You’ll know you are doing it without judgment if you can chuckle as you say, “That’s interesting…I did it again!”

What this will do for you is bring your attention back to the present moment.  Of course this could happen again and again in a very short time period, but so what…just notice it.  Think of your thoughts like waves crashing on a beach.  A thought about the past or future comes crashing in and you notice it, but then like the wave it will flow out.  So just watch the thoughts come in and watch them go out.  With this practice that brings you into the present moment, stress, worry, and anxiety will begin to less and dissolve and the joy of the present moment will be enhanced.  Try it and see if you don’t discover the power of Now through this practice.

 

 

New Bible Study Group Forming

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

Going Deeper Bible Study led by Rev. Linda Lane-Bortell

Creation, Adam & Eve, Noah – stories from the Book of Genesis – what do they mean?  Do they have anything to say to us today?  The Going Deeper Bible Study will look at these stories using the Interpretation Bible Study Book starting Wednesday, October 2nd.  New members are welcome.  See Linda for a Bible Study Book.  (Cost $13, donations accepted)  Bible Study meets every Wednesday noon – 1:30 p.m. at Christ Presbyterian Church.  Please join us and feel free to bring your lunch.  Group questions and reflections are welcome here.

The Power of Now

This summer I read the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  Tolle says that nothing ever happens in the past or the future.  Action only takes place in the now.  If we have a problem right now, we should take action.  If we don’t have a problem right now, why live as if we do?  Understanding the power of now is the key to our healing, wholeness, and joy.

I am so intrigued by what Tolle says I’ve developed a sermon series around it to start this Sunday.  Sermon podcast are available at cpcterralinda.org.  As we explore these ideas questions will arise, especially since I can only deal with a small portion of the material in each sermon.  So I’d like to invite folks to bring their questions here, so that we might have a lively discussion of the power of now on this blog.

The first 2 Sermons are:

9/22 Series Intro: What is Now and how is it healing? Luke 10:38-42

9/29  Consciousness:  Do we live our lives unconsciously? Can we wake up?       Ephesians 5:8-14, Matthew 6:25-34