St Andrew Blog

Challenging Our Images of God

I just read an E-devotion I get every morning and it articulated better than I think I have, what we are trying to accomplish with our sermon series focusing on different images of God. 

The writer was looking at Psalm 96 [“O, sing to the Lord a new song. . . .”]  and he was reminded of a question he often asks people in his congregation:  “Is your God too small?”  He thought of this because of accomplishments of God praised in the psalm; a God who is great in contrast to the gods people were clinging to—which were false gods or idols.  Kind of like the golden calf that Joanna preached on a week ago. 

He asked himself how he might also be diminishing God by creating a picture and an understanding of God that fits his life.  He wondered if maybe he creates a god in his own image—safe and comfortable. . . nothing too challenging. . . .nothing too radical. . . nothing too demanding. . . . just wrapped in layer after layer of rationalization and explanation. . . all the time reflecting only his own wants and desires. 

But then he writes that the reality of God goes beyond what we understand and what we can fathom.  When we read the scripture hoping to see an image of God we haven’t seen or one that doesn’t fit neatly into our created images of God, then we are challenged to move beyond what we know and understand about God and into the mystery that breathes who God is. 

Yep, that’s what we are trying to do in our sermon series.  We’re trying to move beyond the familiar and let God speak to us in new ways.  We’re hoping to be stretched, to think differently and to embrace the mystery which is our God who can never be completely known.

October 2014

So there are a couple of things about my job as a pastor here at St. Andrew that you pay me for—and a couple I love so much I would do them no matter what!  One of the things I love the most is sitting with a group of newcomers talking about how they found their way to St. Andrew, what they like about their experience so far and why they are interested in getting more connected.

Joanna and I got to sit with a group last week and, as always, we were blown away. I guess I should stop being surprised by the diversity in these groups, but I always forget.  I forget how many different paths we all have traveled to get here.  I forget how diverse the religious background are of folks who find their way through the door.  I’m especially astounded whtenn folks who have not had exposure to God and faith somehow find their way to us.  I tend to forget how amazing it is that God calls ALL of us together. . . .in all of our diversity. . . . and amazingly, makes us into a growing, dynamic community of faith. 

So thanks for letting me hear these stories.  Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself.  Thanks for being different than every other person in the congregation.  Thanks for shaping the community life here because of who you are, where you’ve been, what you know about God, and what you are looking for.

Rites of Passage

ritesofpassage

Five Weddings, Two Funerals and One Baptism.  That's what's on the St. Andrew calendar so far for the end of August and September!  There may even be one more baptism added before September is over!  Wow!  I think this is a record! 

The rites of the church come at times of transition for us and for our families.  They are rites of passage:  we are new parents and we see that our infants or children are baptized into the family of God; we are adolescents and we choose to affirm our faith and to be confirmed; we find a life partner and we make promises and commitments to another person in marriage and we invite God to bless the promises; we celebrate the life—and the eternal life—of loved ones when they pass away in a funeral or memorial service.  We mark these milestones on the journey of life within the community of faith; in the context of love and support we depend on to help us through the hard times and rejoice with us at the happy times.

 

I’m thinking a lot about his—in part because of performing so many weddings and funerals—but also because Ben and Amanda will be getting married in Kentucky in a couple weeks.  [I guess that makes SIX weddings!]  It is a time of transition.  And I’m glad to celebrate the goodness of life and God’s promise of presence in the midst of it all. 

2014 Beach Camp

beachcamp
Two days of rain, 29 beach campers, Olympics, ping pong tournaments, kayaking, and big waves seems to sum up our week at beach camp. 
 
We heard the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people on a mountain top with only two fish and five loaves of bread. We imagined what happened no that mountaintop. Did the food multiply or was it a miracle of sharing? We talked about the importance of taking only what we need and sharing what we have. We created definitions of hunger and participated in a hunger simulation where we planned meals for a week for a family with very low food security. One of the campers made the distinction between "I'm hungry and ready for lunch" and "fearing where your next meal is coming from." 
 
We had rain days on Tuesday and Wednesday where we watched movies, ate a lot of popcorn, and had a massive ping pong tournament. We even had goofy Olympics with sack races down the hall, a hula hoop contest, and running with an egg on a spoon. Team Spartanville was our 2014 Beach Camp Olympics Champion!
 
It's been a fun week filled with goofy jokes, singing "Pharaoh, Pharaoh," and jumping in big waves!