Thursday, July 26, 2007

Two Views

The omnipresence of God--God's presense in every corner of creation--has long triggered two opposite reactions: great comfort, and great shame and fear. For some, knowing that God is always with them means that they have constant protection and love. For others, it means that God knows all their shameful secrets.

Check out these two Psalms--one ancient and attributed to King David, the other modern and penned by songwriter Greg Brown. How many of us haven't felt something from each of them at one point or another?

Psalm 139
(excerpts; Today's New International Version, copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved worldwide.)

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Lord, I Have Made You A Place in my Heart
by Greg Brown; copyright 1997 Hacklebarney Music

Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart
Among the rags and the bones and the dirt
There's piles of lies and the love gone from her eyes
And old moving boxes full of hurt.
Pull up a chair by the trouble and care
I got whiskey, you're welcome to some.

Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart
But I don't reckon you're gonna come.
Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart
So take a good look and then leave.
Lord if you made me, it's easy to see
Y'all make mistakes up above
But if I open the door
You will know that I'm poor
And my secrets are all that I own.

Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart
And I hope that you leave it alone.

(Originally recorded by Greg Brown on "The Poet Game" from Red House Records)

Our faith cycles, from rejoicing in God's presence in our lives to rudely asking God to leave us alone, from echoing David to singing along with the narrator of Greg Brown's song.

Here's the thing though: even if our hearts look like the one described in the modern song, God's hand guides us and holds us fast. After all, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Special Food Offering

Stan Bishop told us in church on Sunday just how much our food donations to the Long Island Council of Churches food prantry are appreciated. During the summers:

  • Demand increases because children aren't in school
  • Day camps come to the food pantry to help stretch their own meager budgets
  • Vacations mean that donations are down

When Stan dropped off our July donations, they had only a single box of cereal left, and were almost completely out of food.

Pastor Fritz has called a Special Food Offering for the next two Sundays: July 29 and August 5.

Please bring what you are able, especially breakfast cereal, baby formula, and other staples. Remember, the food pantry also welcomes grocery store gift cards, so if you don't want to haul shopping bags to church with you, this is a great option.

Every person is made in the image of God. Recognize Christ in every person. Help touch the lives of the people who are living with hunger.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thank you, Marianela

Yesterday was Marianela's last Sunday as our music director. We're sorry to see her go, but certainly wish her the best as she begins working with the Lutheran church in Farmingdale--only two miles from her home.

While she did a wonderful job playing for us every Sunday, leading the choir, and encouraging our young people in their musical pursuits, if you ever heard her play at one of her recitals, you'll know just what a fabulous musician she is. From premiering new works at Carnegie Hall to going on international tours, her musical career is full of highlights. We were blessed to have her among us for a few years.

Thanks, Marianela. For all your hard work and for sharing your talent with us. God bless you in all that you do.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday Musings

I've been a bit distracted recently, what with various travels, visiting family, and so forth. I apologize for going so long without a Monday Musings (or even Tuesday Thoughts). As always, others are always welcome to post!! If you're not already on the list, just drop Pastor Fritz an e-mail, and someone will get you set up super quick.

Anyway, thanks to Stan, we sang a great old-timey hymn in church yesterday: "Jesus Calls us o'er the Tumult." I grew up with this hymn and have always liked it, but since it's not in the Presbyterian hymnal, it's been a while since I've sung it.

The ultimate message of that hymn is perhaps the essense of living life as a faithful Christian: Let nothing separate us from the love of Christ--not the tumult of our lives, not "the vain world's golden store," not all our cares and pleasures. As distracted as we get (by travels, visiting family, and so forth) we can always hear Jesus calling us to follow and love him. And, by extension, to love all those around us.

Day by day his sweet voice soundeth
Saying, "Christian, follow me."