Friday, May 25, 2007

Christ likeness emerges from conflict

I spent the morning with Rev. Joan Gray, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) at a discussion hosted by the Presbytery of Long Island at the beautiful Sweet Hollow Presbyterian Church in Melville, LI.

A response to a question about the considerable conflict in the Presbyterian Church (USA) struck me as especially poignant and useful for all of us in times of conflict and discord.

"God is trying to lay ahold of us and make us into real Christians, teaching us to love each other as Christ loved us; teaching us to be willing to be with each other in all our sinfulness."

She then went on to talk about how Jesus came down to us despite who we were and loved us despite our sinfulness and gave himself for us - not when we changed but because we couldn't

"We must take the time to know each other," she said, "to know each other's hearts and then give ourselves to each other" out of servant love - not because we share an agenda, not because we like each other, not because giving ourselves to another person gains us anything - but because that is the model that Christ showed us; that is what it is to be Christian.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Musings

Yesterday was Heritage Sunday. Fritz reminded us of CPC's heritage, both the original disciples who had the courage to keep the faith after Jesus' ascension, and those more recent disciples who had the courage to build a new church in the new village of Malverne.

He also reminded us that one day, some Heritage Sunday fifty or a hundred years from now, others will be looking back at us.

Our church is at a crossroads, and it's time to decide which direction we're going to go. Will we still be Community Presbyterian Church, embracing the whole community, no matter how it might be changing or will change in years to come? Or will we become Lingering Presbyterian Church, clinging desperately to how things used to be?

We as individuals won't be around forever. But the Community of Faith and the work of God will be--it's up to us to make sure CPC continues to be a witness in and around Malverne.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Farm Bill and Hunger

This Sunday our annual Bread for the World Offering of Letters will focus on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill. Letter writing will take place immediately following the service during coffee hour.

The following are some excerpts from an article by Leslie Woods of the PC(USA) Washington Office about why the Farm Bill is so important. The complete article can be found here.

The Farm Bill authorizes some of the country’s most important tools for fighting hunger in the U.S. and -- unlike its name implies -- it does not affect only American farmers. In fact, the Farm Bill touches the life of almost every person living in the United States, and many who live in the global community. Perhaps it would be more aptly named the “Comprehensive Food, Land, and Trade Policy Bill.”

Folded into the broad reaches of the Farm Bill are topics that range widely -- from anti-hunger measures like the Food Stamp Program, to government subsidies for farmers and policies that affect international trade agreements, to programs designed to protect the environment. The Farm Bill also governs international food aid policy, as well as plans to promote development in rural communities in the U.S.

Many are concerned that current farm policies are unsustainable and unjust, both in the global economy and environmentally.

The commodities program, for example, was originally intended as a safety net for family farmers. However they increasingly benefit large farms and agribusiness, leaving small and mid-size farmers without that important safety net.

Current Food Stamp benefits average $1 per person per meal and the household monthly minimum benefit is as low as $10.

The 2007 Farm Bill should:
• Increase investments that combat rural poverty and strengthen rural communities;
• Strengthen and expand programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the United States;
• Strengthen and increase investment in policies that promote conservation and good stewardship of the land;
• Provide transitions for farmers to alternative forms of support that are more equitable and do not distort trade in ways that fuel hunger and poverty;
• Protect the health and safety of farmworkers;
• Expand research related to alternative, clean and renewable forms of energy; and
• Improve and expand international food aid in ways that encourage local food security.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A question about last Sunday

Last Sunday we were given the opportunity to come forward for a prayer of healing and forgiveness. It was a very personal moment with Pastor Fritz, God and myself. As I turned around, I noticed only women in line to come forward.

Where were the men? Don't they need this moment of healing or are they just willing to go it alone?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Blog is Back

Sorry for the long gap between posts. The last couple weeks have been a little hectic. If anyone wants the opportunity to step in at times like this and post anything, send an e-mail to the church e-mail address.

Are you happy? I don't mean content or without sorrow, but truly, deeply happy? Not very many of us are, so if you're one of the few, leave a comment to let the rest of us know how you achieved it. For everyone else: Have you ever sat down and worked out why you're not happy?

Maybe we think it's because of the bills piling up on the table or the repairs that need done around the house or any of the other myriad worries that oppress us. But those are physical things, and I believe happiness is a spiritual state of being. Sometimes those who seem the most joyful are those who have the least. So I don't think our finances or our own particular worries necessarily have anything to do with our happiness.

It's harder than it sounds, but let's all try this: Find happiness in the assurances of God. Everything is in God's hands, and if God is in control, we can release all those things that weigh us down. And allow ourselves to be truly, deeply, spiritually happy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Tuesday Thoughts

Sorry, Everyone--Monday Musings is on vacation this week. :-)

In Pastor's Coffeehouse on Sunday, we talked a little bit about the divisions in the Christian church and contrasted that to the choir John saw in his Revelation that was made up of people of every nation, tribe, and tongue. So often, the things that keep us apart are small, petty things: I don't like how you dress; you don't like the songs I sing; he's too quiet in church; she's too loud.

Sure, sometimes it's theology. We've been learning this year about communion, baptism, and scripture and all the different interpretations of these chuch essentials.

But isn't all that matters Jesus Christ, his taking on our sins, his victory over death?

Why can't we let go of all the other stuff--we'll never really know the answers anyway--and join together in Christ's salvation?