Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weekly Bibliography

I'm a couple of days late on this one, but here is what I've been reading lately.

Outgoing UCC Leader: Greatest Challenge Facing Church is Leadership
The greatest challenge the United Church of Christ is facing and will face over the next decades is leadership, according to our outgoing General Minister and President John Thomas.

Our Churches Wider Mission
A felt board, a goofy voice over, some worthy attempts at humor. Here is a YouTube clip that explains Our Churches Wider Mission in plain talk.

The Drum Major Instinct
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s historical Drum Major Instinct sermon preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on February 4, 1968. It deals with the same sermon text we wrestled with this past Sunday (Mark 10:35-45) and got a shout out in the sermon.

UCC General Minister and President: I am excited about this church
In his first address to the UCC's Executive Council, new General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black commended the body Oct. 16, saying, "The UCC is an important voice in the church and society."

Wants and Needs

This week we talk prayer. James and John the sons of Zebedee turn to Jesus and tell him, "We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." Which is a trick my three-year-old tries on me all the time. And, is something we try all to often with our prayer life too.

For the full sermon manuscript go to the church website by clicking here. To see the full version of the Wordle click on the image below.

I've been thinking about...

...Wendell Berry.

His poem Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front is a favorite of mine that I can't get out of my head this week. Here is an excerpt that I keep coming back to; still as powerful as ever.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Yours in the journey,
Rev. Brian

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Three Things from Church Council

Church Council met on Wednesday October 14, 2009 for their regular monthly meeting. Here are the three things you need to know from that meeting:

  1. Church Council reviewed the Congregational Profile diligently prepared by the Search Committee. It is a 17-page document that details the life, history, ministry, and hopes of the Encanto Community Church as we search for the next settled pastor. The Search Committee will be meeting with our Conference Minister, Rev. John Dorhauer, to finalize and submit the profile on Thursday October 22.

  2. Church Council and Trustees will meet on Wednesday October 21 for a special joint meeting to talk about finances and the future.

  3. Rev. Brian will host a New Members Interest Session on Sunday October 18 immediately after the worship service.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordle: Stewardship of Everything

Based on the Gospel story of the Rich Young Ruler, this week's sermon takes on the big themes of stewardship and grace.

You can find the full sermon manuscript on the church's website by clicking here. Or to view the full version of the Wordle just click on the picture below.

I've been thinking about...


Today we pick up the story of the Rich Young Ruler as our sermon text, and so I’ve been thinking a lot about giving, and all the things that we give. Money. Time. Love. Commitment. Talents. Prayers.

For whatever reason, I keep coming back to the start of Sharon Daloz Parks’ essay on Household Economics (you can find it in the excellent collection edited by Dorothy Bass called Practicing Our Faith). It starts like this:

Whatever the form of our household — an urban apartment, an upscale residence in the “burbs,” a farmhouse, a nursing home, a trailer, a brownstone, or the office where we find ourselves “living” — our homeplaces define basic ways of life. We count on the predictable motion of moving into, through, and from “our space.” The way we routinely approach our home and fumble for key or doorbell is coupled with a sometimes surprisingly fierce sense that it matters to us whether or not we have a Christmas tree in our window in December or candles on the table on Friday evening and food — indeed, the food we particularly like — in the fridge and cupboard. Home is where we let down and rest well — or fitfully. Home is where we figure out primary patterns of nurture and productivity, habits of need and desire, forms of rage and forgiveness, ways of “taking time” and discovering the people who “count” for us. Our households are anchoring places where, over time, we craft the practices by which we prosper or fail to prosper.

We pray that this place we call church, can be a home. A place of inspiration, spiritual practice, generosity, and love.

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Welcome Wordle

World Communion Sunday is one of my absolute favorite times in the life of the church. We celebrate our Christian unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. Different languages, different cultures, different traditions, different geographies; but one in Christ. And we do it by breaking the bread and sharing the cup.

Here is a Wordle rendering of my World Communion Sunday homily. For the full text, go to the church website here. Or to see the full-sized image, just click on the pic below. Oh, and if you don't recognize some of the words in Wordle or the manuscript, it is because they are the words for "Welcome" in 15 different languages.

I've been thinking about...

...Neighbors in Need.

It is the UCC-wide Special Offering that we will receive today. Here is the official description of the Neighbors in Need Offering that we read in worship last Sunday.

The Neighbors in Need offering, which we will receive today, supports the UCC’s ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. Two-thirds of the offering is used by the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries to fund a wide array of local and national justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects. Through, our national Justice and Witness Ministries office offers resources, news updates, and action alerts on a broad spectrum of justice issues.

Working with members of the UCC Justice and Peace Action Network (a network of thousands of UCC justice and peace advocates), Justice and Witness continues its strong policy advocacy work on issues such as the federal budget, voting rights, immigration, health care, hate crimes, civil liberties, and environmental justice. Neighbors in Need also supports our American Indian neighbors in the UCC. One-third of the offering supports the UCC’s Council for American Indian Ministries (CAIM). Historically, forebears of the UCC established churches and worked with Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arickara, and Hocak in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and northern Nebraska. Today there are 20 UCC congregations on reservations and one urban, multi-tribal UCC congregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. These churches and their pastors are supported by CAIM. CAIM is also an invaluable resource for more than 1,000 individuals from dozens of other tribes and nations who are members of other UCC congregations in the U.S.

Please give generously to support this important ministry!

Yours in the journey, Rev. Brian