October 2, 2019

A New Morning

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23
God our Creator, 
your kindness has brought us the gift of a new morning.
Help us not to cling to yesterday, nor covet tomorrow, 
but to accept the uniqueness of today. 

By your love, celebrated in your Word, 
seen in y our Son, 
brought near by your Spirit, 
take from us all we need carry no longer, 
that we may be free again 
to choose to serve you and be served by each other. 

We believe that God forgives and sets us free, 
and at the day’s beginning 
we commit ourselves to follow where Christ calls 
and to love one another. Amen.
Common Order, Church of Scotland (alt.)  

October 1, 2019

Psalm 90:3-6

You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning;
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
Psalm 90:3-6 

There is one thing we are lacking: to believe that the Almighty God is our Father and our Lord. To believe that for God, our greatest cares are like the worries of small children in their parents’ eyes; that God can turn things around and dispose of them in no time at all; for God it’s easy, not hard at all. We must believe that a thousand years in God’s sight are like a day, that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts [Isa. 55:8–9], that God is with us in spite of everything. Let us receive the call of the church once again: You of little faith, why are you so fearful? In the midst of the storm, Christ is in the ship. Away with you, Fear! Let us see you, Lord Jesus, strong helper, Savior!
※ Dietrich Bonhoeffer 
When the storms of life are raging, stand by me; 
when the storms of life are raging, stand by me.
When the world is tossing me like a ship upon the sea,
thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me. Amen.
 Charles Albert Tindley (1905) 

September 22, 2019

It's Never Too Late


Last year, a news story appeared telling us that the Hubble telescope had observed a star that was farther away than any other object that had ever been seen from earth (or earth’s orbit). It’s a star we now call Icarus, and the light that scientists saw here on earth had actually left that star nearly ten billion years ago. This means that they were seeing something from not only before the earth existed, but five billion years before our sun even existed. The light they can see from this star is, in fact, so old that—even though they’re just now seeing it—Icarus is long dead.

We can’t see Icarus with the naked eye, of course. But there’s a visible star in the constellation Orion which is 4000 light years away— meaning that the light from it that we can see left that star around the time of Abraham and Sarah—

September 15, 2019

A Tale of Two Cities

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
—Hebrews 13:1-2

Next summer, we’re going to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the coming together of Chardon Christian Church and 1st Congregational Church. It’s a time when I hope we’ll all be thinking what rôle we’ll be playing in our church’s future. And at the same time, it’ll be hard not to think about the vision shared by the founders of Pilgrim Church.

And so, as we think about our own experience here on Chardon Square, let’s try to imagine what it must’ve been like for the earliest Christians who didn’t have much of a guidebook, and who had very little experience to guide them as they set out on the path of being a Christian in a world that either didn’t know who they were or—if it did—was anxious to stamp them out

September 1, 2019

Teach Us to Pray, Part 5

Today’s the last sermon in my series on the Lord’s Prayer, and in a way, I’ve saved the best for last. Not the best sermon, I don’t suppose. But the topic might be the most interesting.

We covered a lot of common questions last month:
  • Why do we pray Our Father, even when we’re alone? 
  • What’s the difference between Give us this day our daily bread? and Give us each day our daily bread
  • And—probably the most common—what’s the difference between Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
But all of those pale in comparison to the question that the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer raises, because that question strikes at the very nature of God.

Perhaps you’ve asked yourself why we ask God not to lead us into temptation, when you’ve always heard that the devil was the tempter, and not God. If so, you’re not alone. Pope Francis apparently asked himself the same question. The result? Catholics will