Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sermon: 03-28-2010

Palm/Passion Sunday, Last Sunday in Lent

Sermon - Pathways to Prayer: Focusing Our Spirits
By Pastor Cindy Watson

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Words Revisited

My very first blog, back in June was on the power of words. My reflections came after the murder of Dr. George Tiller in his church Reformation Lutheran on Pentecost Sunday. The basic premise was "words matter".

So here I am revisiting that idea. Words matter. Anyone who says differently is not thinking or behaving ethically or morally. I will be the first to say that each human being is responsible for their own behavior. However we can not pretend that peoples behavior can and often is influenced and motivated by another person or persons words.

People that have the power to influence: Teachers, Celebrities, Preachers, Politicians; have a responsibility to choose their words wisely. The words spoken and heard, the actions taken and observed can motivate others for good and for evil. Any person who states that "my words" or "my actions" don't matter is, if you will, a few fries short of a happy meal.

The current debate in this country around health care reform and in my state of Kansas around cuts in education and other services have become garbage heaps of lies and innuendos, half truths and name calling. I have been sickened by the violent words, the racial slurs, the pointing of fingers and the inflammatory ways opposing sides have engaged one another.

As a Christian I say, Enough! As a citizen of this country, I say, Enough! Disagreement, differing views are not bad. It is through the conflict that an open place for dialogue can form. What I will not tolerate is the bald faced lies, the shaving of the truth and the name calling that draws such deep lines in the sand that there is no room for compromise and for the creativity that will find a solution that might not make all happy, but at least widens the circle.

The loudest voices will always get attention, but perhaps it is time for those of us who don't scream and shout to make our wishes known. Now is the time to tone down the hateful rhetoric, to call out those who be divisive, to make a place and space for people to find their way into a deeper partnership on the things that matter.

Each one of us has the power of words. We can use them to make the world a better place, to add more and more peace and more justice. Each one of us can tone down the rhetoric and ask others to do the same. We must do it. For words matter and I choose for my words to create a better place and space for dialogue.

Graced to serve.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sermon: 03-21-2010

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Sermon - Pathways to Prayer: With All Of Me
By Pastor Cindy Watson

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sermon: 03-14-2010

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Sermon - Pathways to Prayer: Relating Anew with the Living God
By Associate Pastor Christopher Eshelman

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sermon: 03-07-2010

Third Sunday of Lent

Sermon - Pathways to Prayer: Experiencing God with the Whole Person
By Pastor Cindy Watson

Sermon: 02-28-2010

Second Sunday of Lent

Sermon - Pathways to Prayer: To Search and Seek
By Pastor Cindy Watson

Sermon: 02-21-2010

First Sunday of Lent

Sermon - Pathways to Prayer: The Invitation
By Pastor Cindy Watson

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some thoughts on Saint Patrick

Tomorrow, many will be "celebrating" Saint Patrick's Day with corned beef and cabbage, wearing green and drinking copious amounts of green brew. Not any thing wrong with that, I like corned beef and cabbage, green is one of my favorite colors, but I do draw the line on consuming anything that is artificially made green.

I celebrate Saint Patrick's Day being grateful for Celtic Spirituality and for the wholistic approach that they bring to faith. While it is difficult to separate the man from the myth, Patrick was at the very least a diamond in the rough. His education was lacking and haunted his ministry as evidenced in his Confessions. He was a slave and ran away only to be called back by God to his place of enslavement.

Celtic Spirituality has a blessing for everything: for the fire that provides warmth and energy for cooking, for the home, for the hearth, for the field, for the plow, for all aspects of life: sickness and health, life and death, seasons as they come and go. From the moment one awakens, to the moment one falls asleep there are blessings and prayers to be said and shared.

In the book Celtic Blessings and Prayers, Making All Things Sacred, Brendan O'Malley writes, "The purpose and effect of a blessing over any object or activity, person or circumstance is not so much to alter the symbol or inner life of its reality: it is to thank God for the gift of its existence and use, and to offer that use back to him."

In our current culture, there appears to be far more curses shared, than blessings. Hateful words are hurled in order to try and create a reality that may or may benefit all. Sound bites are offered in order to provoke a reaction as opposed to creating dialogue and deepening understanding. Shouts, angry faced mobs drive any debate on any issue. Cursing seems to to be the order of the day and I long to hear a word of blessing, of hope, of faith.

I wonder what might happen if in the midst of the Saint Patrick's Day festivities people "blessed" one another. What kind of celebration might bring more light and hope and faith when people are blessed for their struggle to understand, blessed in their journey, blessed in their differing life situations and blessed as beloved children of God.

So I offer a portion of Saint Patrick's Breastplate as a blessing. Attribute to Patrick, but used throughout the ages may it's words be a blessing:

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to life before me,
God's shield to protect me.

With that blessing, I am grace to serve.

Monday, March 1, 2010

In the midst of life....death

Part of a pastor's life is to be part of the most intimate moments of life; birth, transitions, graduations, marriages, baptisms, and death. There were two deaths in the congregation I serve this day. One, while having been ill, was sudden and unexpected. The other had been in hospice just two weeks.

There is an ancient Native American saying that goes "death always comes out of season." My twenty eight years of ministry has proved that statement to be true. Whether one is waiting and walking that "valley of the shadow of death" or whether something unexpected occurs, death is always "out of season."

Now I will be the first to say there are worse things in life than death. Death is often a blessing after a long drawn out illness. Death can be just a semi-colon in terms of a life well lived and now a person transitions into a new life.

And yet, death is always unexpected and brings grief even in the midst of a thankfulness for a life well lived and love shared. Today, I was privileged to be at bedside when that final breath and small sigh was taken. For that person, there is no more terrible pain, but for those who remain, the path to life without someone they love dearly has begun.

In the days to come, plans will be made to celebrate the lives of those who have loved and made a difference. Memories will be shared, tears shed, prayers said. My "job" if you will, is not to make things better, but to give voice to unique and unrepeatable spirits, to be the presence of the Divine in this valley of the shadow of death.

I am honored to be and do those things. But mostly, I am grateful to be called to this ministry. And I am privileged to be

Graced to serve,