Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blogging toward Sunday

This Sunday marks the end of our summer sermon series "God's Grace in the Life of ____." I hope you have enjoyed this look back through the Old Testament as we have examined God’s grace in the lives of Jeremiah, Esther, Rahab, Daniel, Hannah, Joseph and Enoch. This week we get up close and personal as we consider God’s Grace in YOUR life.  Where have you seen the hand of God working in your life, providing unmerited favor? Where is God working now? To what acts of faith is God calling you?

Our first Scripture reading for Sunday is Psalm 23: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long” (NRSV).

When I read this beloved psalm, I imagine the Good Shepherd caring for me even before I call out, even before I say a word.  Yahweh is the shepherd that watches over the flock, over us. What strength can we gain from such knowledge? What difference does it make in our lives?  I invite you to read Psalm 23 each day this week.  Read it and then sit quietly meditating on the words.  How does it speak to you? What words strike you as important to your faith journey? How does it speak of God’s grace?

Then take a few minutes to look at our reading from Hebrews 11:1-16 and 12:1-2.  Chapter 11 is often called the Hall of Faith. If you read the entire chapter, you will certainly see why. Here the story of our ancestors is told through the lens of their faith.  They believed in what they could not see, which is, of course, the very definition of faith. In the end, even those for whom things did not turn as expected on this side of eternity, still they looked toward the good that God had promised. They held tightly onto their faith in God who is greater than any human expectation.

The interplay of grace and faith continues. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NRSV).

God’s grace is evident throughout Scripture beginning in the beginning when God’s creation, Adam and Eve, reject God’s love and God’s plan for their lives. Yet God takes out a needle and thread and becomes God the Tailor, making clothes to hide their shame. God’s grace is woven in and out of Hebrew Scriptures and into the New Testament, which tells the story of Jesus and the redemption and hope he provides. The story lives on through Revelation that ends with words of hope: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.” 

The story continues in the lives of each of us who have been called for kingdom service. As Presbyterians we believe that it is not just the Pastor or the Elders who “work” in the Body of Christ. It’s all of us and it’s all kinds of work. So, dear Saints of God, I hope you will be able to attend church this Sunday for the Blessing of the Hands. During our worship service, as a symbol of hands in service to Christ, there will be an opportunity (for those who choose) to receive an anointing of oil on their hands. The anointing will serve as a symbol of God’s grace poured out upon us, blessing us as we continue in service to Christ.

I hope to see you Sunday. Grace and Peace, Glenda.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blogging toward Sunday

This Sunday, in the sermon series "God's Grace in the Life of ____," we examine our final Old Testament character and what a character he is.  Of all people in the Hebrew Scriptures, Moses seems larger than life.  At the time of his birth the people of Israel have become slaves in Egypt, but even with increased oppression their numbers grow.  So much so that Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives to kill all Hebrew boys when they are born. But the midwives fear God more than Pharaoh so they do not obey the king. When Moses is born his mother takes great pains to protect him, hiding him for 3 months and then setting him afloat in a basket on the river. So, as a baby, Moses sets out on a journey that will take him to alarming depths and amazing heights.

When you think of Moses, what comes to mind?  Do you imagine the baby on the bank of the river being saved by none other than the daughter of Pharaoh?  Do you imagine him as he is described in our reading for Sunday from Exodus 3:1-22?  It’s the scene of the burning bush when Moses is commanded to stand barefooted before Yahweh, on holy ground. Perhaps you remember Moses making a few house calls to Pharaoh that result in plagues and miracles but no release for God’s people, until things get so bad Pharaoh is eager to see them go. Or what about the parting of the Red Sea when, at God’s command, Moses raises his staff, stretches out his hand over the sea, and the water is divided so that the Israelites pass over on dry ground?  When you think of Moses, what comes to mind? Do you think of him as a man on a journey?  

Moses has quite a life walking with his God, but he isn’t always a saint. Throughout Scripture, Moses’ humanity is displayed, particularly when, in anger, he murders an Egyptian who is beating one of his kinfolk. This crime causes Moses to make a run for it. He runs all the way to Midian where he becomes a shepherd. But out of a burning bush, God will call him to a new life as a shepherd of another flock, God’s people. It’s interesting to note that Moses is none too happy about this new vocation. He tries to bargain with God—five times!  No, Moses is not an easy recruit. But God has heard the cry of the people of Israel and God will respond to oppression and injustice.

God works in mysterious ways—in the life of Moses, in the life of the saints of Scripture and in the life of us all.  As I journey toward Sunday, there are many ideas and questions that fill my mind. That day in the wilderness, God meets Moses where he is. How is that true in our faith story? If the burning bush represents that holy place where we meet God, where is the burning bush for each of us? The fact that God works in the world to right injustice is clearly displayed in Sunday’s text. How do we as individuals work to right injustice? How do we do so as a church?

Moses is a man who seems larger than life. Yet he has much to teach the people of the Way, Christians who continue this amazing journey. He has much to teach us about what is required of us—to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. 

I look forward to your comments and to seeing you in worship on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blogging toward Sunday

For many people the Old Testament seems too full of God's judgment to embrace.  Some might even say that while God's grace is woven through the New Testament, it is absent from the Old Testament. But a closer look reveals that God's grace is evident throughout Scripture, even from "In the beginning, God..." 

Our summer sermon series has been delving into God's grace writ large throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). We have examined God's grace in the lives of Esther, Jeremiah, Hannah, Joseph, Daniel, and Rahab. This Sunday we take a look at God's grace in the life of Enoch. You can read about Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24 and Hebrews 11:1-6. 

For some time I have been curious about Enoch.  Scripture doesn't tell us much.  It's as if we are given a little teaser that leaves us yearning for more of the story.  Enoch, the father of Methuselah, lived to be an old, old man.  He lived and he lived and he lived for, we are told, "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him" (Gen. 5:24, NRSV).  Enoch walked with God and then he was no more.  Amazing!  Truly amazing!  The wording here indicates that Enoch did not taste death.  In fact, Hebrews chapter 11, often referred to as the "Hall of Faith,"  states that Enoch didn't experience death because God took him.  Yes, truly amazing!

As I am praying toward Sunday, questions crowd my mind.  What was it about Enoch that made walking with God a way of life?  How did Enoch journey through his days?  Exactly how did his life please God? 

These days walking is considered more of an aerobic exercise than anything else.  I don't know about you, but seldom do I take long, meandering walks to no where.  I generally walk with a purpose.  I have places to go, people to see, and things to do. But walking serves more than a mode of aerobic exercise.  Could it be that spiritual exercise is even more important?  And maybe that is something Enoch knew well.  Walking with God is good for the heart and good for the soul. 

See you Sunday.


Friday, August 12, 2011


Welcome to the blog for Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church located in Colonial Heights, Virginia.  We are on several social network sites including facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Colonial-Heights-Presbyterian-Church/272641882749188?ref=ts and twitter www.twitter.com/chpcva.  Also check us out at www.colonialheightspres.org.