Monday, November 23, 2015

Finding God in What Is

2 Samuel 23:1-7
Psalm 93
John 18:33-37

This is the last Sunday of the Christian year.  On this day we celebrate the reign of Christ, the presence of the Kingdom of God with us and through us.  The image on the cover of the bulletin asks “Where did you find God today?”  I understand God to be in everything that is true.  Which means that God suffers when we suffer.  God waits when we wait.  God rejoices when we rejoice.  God weeps when we weep.  Several years ago, I read a reflection by Steve Garnaas-Holmes on finding God in what is.  I want to read it to you as grounding for what we are going to do this morning.
Jesus had no kingdom of human power or authority.  His was the kingdom of What Is, the kingdom of Truth.  Jesus preached and pointed to what is true in this life, in our lives.  He had no doctrine, other than that God is present in What Is.  His religion was not one of complex beliefs and practices.  He taught us to attend to what is before us.  He talked about household chores like baking and cleaning.  He talked about ordinary people doing their work, accountants and field hands. He had no grander metaphors than seeds, and dinner, and neighbors.
And he recognized the truth in people’s lives.  Seeing through appearances, he could tell when someone’s body hurt, or their life was a wreck, or their heart was broken, or their religion was a lie, or their faith was a fire.  Beneath the cloak of everyone’s assumptions about people—“He is crazy…  She is unclean… This one is no good...”—Jesus could see the true person, the real, beautiful, tormented, longing, chained-up soul.  And he called people to the truth, to face the truth, to be the truth.  He invited people into the Kingdom of truth: Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, Pilate, the woman caught in adultery, the paralyzed man, the woman with the flow of blood… and you and me.
To follow him, to live as a loyal subject and citizen of his Realm, we have to renounce the lies and deceptions we live by.  We have to pierce through our own delusions.  We have to stop pretending.  We have to see people as who they are, not what we say about them.  We have to pay attention to what is.  We have to accept what is, even as we hope for what is to be.  We have to find God in what is, not in what we wish for.  For this is Jesus’ most radical truth:” God is here.  Not somewhere else, not under some other conditions, but here and now.  God did not say “I mean…” or “I say…” or “I will…,” but “I AM.”  The way to God is not by professing beliefs, but by paying attention, and by being true to our souls.  The eyes of compassion are the eyes of truth.  The heart of faith is a true heart.
God is in What Is.  To enter the Realm of God, listen to the One who lives God’s truth; and simply be true.

Whether we are aware of it or not, God is present in what is.  Too often we only recognize God when good things happen: in answered prayer, in kindness, when life is good.  But God is always present in what is true.  And I believe that one of the most powerful ways that God is made manifest is through our work in this church and community, and our work together in the world through our giving.  We mediate the presence of God.  We make God’s presence visible through our compassionate presence and through our work for justice and acts of mercy.  
So as an act of worship and thanksgiving, we are going to celebrate God’s presence in us—in our work and generosity.  This is important and so we are going to take our time with it.  

God is present in the responsibilities we shoulder in our congregation:

LAY MEMBER Phillip Owens

Bob Ellis, Lay Leader
Phillip Owens, Lay Member
     Steve Morse, Secretary (through July)
Steve Church, Finance
Karen Lomax, Treasurer
Barbara Steen, Memorials
Miyoko Matsuda, Care Committee
Nancy Vanderpool, Missions
TRUSTEES Cliff Moore, Chair (to be elected by Trustees)
Steve Church
Phillip Owens
Bob Webster
Gaye Detzer
Steve Lomax
David Andrews, legal advice only
Karen Hedlund, building host
Tom Nicolino, computer and tech support
Jackie Van Gilder, building manager
STAFF/PARISH Rick Taylor, Chair 1st year
Bev McCullough 5th year
Ellen Trout 3rd year
Edee Eggert 2nd year
Dick Vanderpool 1st year
Bob Ellis Ex-Officio

CARE TEAM Miyoko Matsuda, Chair
Bea Bland
Bob Ellis
Barbara Garrison
Claire Hallowell
Nanci Nelson
Shirley Rogers
Jackie Van Gilder

Mission Team Nancy Vanderpool
Sandie Ellingson
Judith Comstock
Marlyce Dixon
Tina Parrish
Mary Margaret Pearson


HISTORIANS Miyoko Matsuda
Arlene Hess



LIBRARIAN Miyoko Matsuda


NOMINATIONS Rev. Kathy Morse, Co-Chair
Dick Vanderpool
Jackie Van Gilder
Carol Butler
Rick Taylor
Sylvia Soholt

Steve Morse

COFFEE HOUR Claire Hallowell

COMMUNITY MEALS Mary Margaret Pearson

Miyoko Matsuda, Secretary
Barbara Garrison, Treasurer
Jackie VanGilder, Knitting Groups
Edee Eggert, Quilting
Carol Butler, Reading Group
Claire Hallowell, Lunch Bunch Group
Barbara Steen, Community Service
Quarterly Chairs:
    First Quarter (Jan, Feb, Mar) Miyoko Matsuda
     Second Quarter (Apr, May, Jun) Jackie Van Gilder
    Third Quarter (Jul, Aug, Sep) Edee Eggert
     Fourth Quarter (Oct, Nov, Dec) To be determined

STAFF Marita Ericksen, director of music ministries
Theresa Henson, minister of communications
Ted Packard, youth activity coordinator
Kira Rabourn, child care
Toni Sodergren, custodian

MUSICIANS Matt Eggleston
Gaye Detzer
Bell Choir

SLIDES Rick Haverkamp
AV TECHS Steve Morse
Theresa Henson

TAKEN CARE OF THE GROUNDS—Mowing, weeding, sweeping, planting, doing maintenance

Now let’s move outside the church.  If you serve on the board of a social service agency, stand up.
If you volunteer at one of the social service agencies.
On the board of one of the arts.
If you volunteer in any of the arts.
If you make quilts.  We have donated 230 quilts this year.
If you make sweaters.  We have donated 81 sweaters this year.
If you have contributed to the Sunday community meal.  
You have provided 52 Sunday meals this year and hundreds of Thursday showers, directly or indirectly.
If you participate in any educational or community enrichment groups (gardening, trees, bridge, etc.).
If you have visited the sick, delivered a meal or been a driver.
If you purchased a gift for the Christmas boxes last year.

Now let’s look at how we have contributed financially.
Total Income YTD (1/1/15 - 11/7/15)                     $144,307.66
603000 Mission & Outreach
IFCH Client Emergency Gas Money              $    16.91
Student Exploratory Week Scholarship          125.00
Food Bank                                40.00
Mary's Place                    524.00
Dove                                20.00
Imagine No Malaria (651.55 from Scavenger Hunt)      2,315.27
Equine Therapy                                     1,755.00
Jaama Letu/Hope for Children of Africa                   493.00
Pastor's Discretionary Fund Misc.                   145.00
Nepal Earthquake                                     1,950.00
Washington Wildfire Victims                   200.00
Syrian Refugees                                     1,175.00
One Great Hour of Sharing                   175.00

12000 Conference Ministries
World Service & Benevolences                                $10,378.50
Ministerial Education & Black College Fund               1,149.50
Africa University                              73.37
11555 Community Teen Ministry
Middle School Youth Program Expenses                  $ 1,940.61

TOTAL BENEVOLENCE YTD                     $22,476.16
% of YTD Income                         16%

I see God every day in you.  I feel God’s presence in your caring for one another and concern for our community.  The great Jewish philosopher and theologian, Martin Buber, teaches that God is in the space between us when we interact.  In a few moments we will share communion.  Know that God is in you and me and the spaces between us as we are reminded that we are part of the living body of Christ alive in the world.  Thanks be to God!

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