Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Searching for Sunday" Lenten Devotional Series: "I Saw God Today"

Sunday, March 27

“I Saw God Today”

Sung by George Strait, it was a number one hit in 2008.   The ballad shares the tale of man walking down the sidewalk after his wife has just had a baby, meanwhile noticing such things as a flower growing out of a sidewalk crack, a couple expecting a baby and the colors of a sunset. The song ends with the central character in the nursery of a hospital, looking at his own newborn baby girl. He cites each thing that he sees along the way — the flower, the couple, the sunset and his newborn daughter — as examples of how he saw God that day.

With eyes of faith we see God every day, especially on Sundays when the family gathers at Trinity.  Hands of welcome are extended to all.  Smiles are abundant.  Classrooms are filled with children, youth, and adults.  Prayers are prayed.  Songs are sung.  Offerings are made.  Coffee and burritos become sacraments of fellowship.  Babies are baptized.  The Good News is shared.  Food is collected for our neighbors.

A homeless man sits next to a bank president.  Both share the body and blood of Christ.  Souls are fed.  Friends are made.  Hope abounds.   A guest from overseas finds an oasis of beauty in the building and those who occupy it.  And it seems to happen every week.  God has a way of showing up and showing off on Sundays when sacred stories are shared.

“I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’”
Psalm 122:1

Michael Dent

Saturday, March 26, 2016

"Searching for Sunday" Lenten Devotional Series: Sunday Stories—Changing the Direction of our Lives

Saturday, March 26

Sunday Stories—Changing the Direction of our Lives

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.Philippians 4:6

Several Sundays ago, about 18 years’ worth, we were introduced to a new “tool” for churches called the “Spiritual Inventory”.  We would not have volunteered to take it, but were asked by George Brunner and Susan Patterson-Sumwalt, and so we each filled out the questionnaire and the following Sunday we had a short meeting to discuss the results.  Interestingly, both Arlen & I rated highest in “intercessory prayer”—a term we were not familiar with even though we actively prayed for others. 

The experience led us to some evening meetings with a group of interested persons including a couple of people at TUMC who were, and still are, actively involved in the Trinity United Methodist Church Prayer Team.  Within a short time, we became involved and have been ever since. 

The TUMC Prayer Team including about 50 congregation members and the clergy staff faithfully pray daily and weekly for the many prayer requests we receive through the prayer cards on Sunday and calls or emails during the week.  Prayer requests are sent to Team members by email throughout the week.

The Prayer Team does not pray as a group together—no meetings to attend. Each member prays in their own home on their own schedule with the one requirement of confidentiality—to respect the privacy of the request. Each Team member signs a “Confidentiality Form”.  

Praying for others is a very spiritual experience—a meaningful relationship with the Holy Spirit; a greater connection with others, opportunities for strengthening our faith and a deeper awareness of the presence of God in our lives.  There is such tremendous POWER in PRAYER—it is humbling and rewarding to be part of seeing God in action in so many ways.  

Gracious God, thank you for loving us all and hearing our prayers.  Amen.
Nancy McFaddin

Friday, March 25, 2016

"Searching for Sunday" Lenten Devotional Series: Sunday: Music with God

Friday, March 25
Sunday:  Music with God

Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.Ephesians 6: 23-24

Sundays were special as a young child.  I loved to hear the music – songs like “Lead on O Kingly Turtle” or “Round yon Virginia, Mother and Child.”  The long words and hard pews were a bit much for a young child.

Creating music became a passion.  This is what women did in the church.  Sundays were getting up early to practice, playing for choir practice, preludes, postludes, worship.  The high school had an organ practice room and brimming in the sunshine, ending the day playing in the chapel made every day a day to know and be with God.  

Sundays were also a day to be with God and the prayer group at Rocky Flats – to pray for peace.  The open space, sunshine, small informal gathering of a variety of faiths singing for peace and life brought God’s presence.

There was a time when it was no longer safe to go to church.  God and I were together Sunday mornings, walking, laughing, and enjoying creation.  God’s presence is a beautiful part of my life.

Finding Trinity has been special.  My heart soars as the choir begins to sing and continues to be opened and amazed through worship, friends, and learning.

Gay Freeman

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Week

By Rev. Lee Anderson
During this year’s Ash Wednesday service, I preached a sermon about the Lenten journey of letting go, or giving way and making room for God in our lives. Here is a look back at some of what I shared:

“Nature tells us that new life can happen when old life gives way. A forest burns, and the ashes lend to fertile soil from which new plants grow. Leaves die and fall during autumn, allowing trees to store energy over winter and push forth new leaves in the spring. Butterflies burst forth from cocoons, formed when caterpillars go inward and allow themselves to be structurally changed. When the DNA of two people combines to create a new human being, those cells are no longer individual entities but something completely new; likewise, the parents are never the same either. We can see a theme here. New life comes from letting go of the old. We might even say that new life comes from death, or a dying away. 

This is where the image of dying to our old selves or our old ways comes in. We allow for this death so that something new within us is born. This image has been passed down through the centuries because it is a rich image. It has served me in my own Christian journey, especially this time of year. But another way of looking at this process is yielding, giving something up, or even giving way. . . .This is what Lent is really about: making room for God. We hear the word repentance a lot during Lent. Repentance does not mean recognizing sin and asking for forgiveness, repentance means turning away from what you have been doing, and turning toward God. . . .We must open ourselves and let God in. So often though, there is something in the way. . . .Jesus spoke often about the things that get in the way of God. He talked about worry and fear getting in the way. He talked about storing up material wealth or food. He challenged people to leave behind family and belongings to follow him.” 

The Lenten journey involves giving something up, but not simply because of the sacrifice involved. When we give up something of value for Lent, we are really clearing space for God to enter in. This is not easy, but we do it because along with the ushering in of God into the voids of our life comes true life. When we let go of something we know, even if we know the change is for the better, it can feel like death. After all, at least something within our world as we know it is coming to an end. In this final week of your Lenten journey, as you fully let go and receive the gift of new life, know you are not alone in the difficult feelings that arise. This particular week in the gospels was a grim one. The disciples' time with Jesus went from a joyous occasion...celebrating Passover and sharing time very bad news. As the disciples struggled to come to terms with Jesus' statements that he would be leaving them, then learned of his crucifixion, we can imagine what they felt. They were scared; it felt like their world was coming to an end. They were being asked to let go of all they had come to know about the world during their time with Jesus, of all they had devoted their life to, and of their beloved Rabbi.

Reflect on the disciples' experience. Know that Jesus went to the grave before us. And remember that despite the fear, uncertainty, and anxiety, in the end the disciples received very good news. There is an Easter waiting to happen!

"Searching for Sunday" Lenten Devotional Series: Our Last Communion

Thursday, March 24

Our Last Communion

Acts 2:42-44 and I Corinthians 11:23-24 

It happened on World Wide Communion Sunday, October 7, 1980.  Earlier that year, she had heart surgery.  We had been in San Diego due to the recommendation of her Cardiologist.  “She needs a lower elevation than Evergreen,” where I was Pastor. She had experienced two cardiac arrests prior to his recommendation. 
All went well, until the last week of September. Again, she had a cardiac arrest and was hospitalized.  Upon release from the hospital, her physician thought she could travel by air, to Evergreen.  We arrived at the time of all the brilliant colors. 

We had returned the day before World-Wide Communion Sunday.  I had urged her to stay at home and miss Worship that morning.  However, as we began Worship at 10:30, she and our three children came.   When I caught her eyes, she made it clear, she had to be there.  At Communion, the people gathered in a Circle around the Altar. Our Sanctuary was hexagon shaped with the Altar in the Center.  As Pastor, I served both the Bread and the Cup.  Communion there was always intimate.  You were able to greet each person and give the Sacrament.  As my eyes met with hers and our three children, it was unforgettable.  

Later that afternoon, she had insisted, we tour the Colors nearby.  I tried to talk her out of it, but she was determined. So, to Echo Hills we went, west of Evergreen, and we ended in Upper Bear Valley where our two oldest had stayed with friends.  She was excited to see our friends.  

That’s when it happened!  She had a cardiac arrest! The EMT’s arrived quickly.  They were able to get her to respond.  A Flight-For-Life Chopper was now on the ground nearby.  She promptly made the flight to Denver.     Two days later she took her last breath. 

To this day, as I serve or receive the Sacrament, I remember that Sunday and the blessings of a Community of Faith.  Yes, it was only one Sunday.  Oh, were we to know, all the stories that gather on any given Sunday.  

Thanks for the memory and intimacy of the Sacrament. Amen
Don G. Sperber, Retired Clergy