Pastor Erin is teaching a new Wednesday class on the journey in the early Church from renegade, outsider, persecuted Jesus movement to Constantine’s Church of the Empire. We’re using a number of texts, but leaning heavily on Justo Gonzalez’s The Story of Christianity. Join us on Wednesdays at 11:00 AM in the Faith and Fellowship Room. Materials will be provided.
This Sunday is the first of the month, which means, YEEESSSSSS! Pot Luck Lunch! Bring a dish to share, bring a friend who likes to eat, bring a bag to bring some leftovers home with you.
Also, this Sunday, the session will be hosting conversations about safety during our meal. We had an incident in the parking lot two weeks ago, and we want to check in and chat and know what you think.
See you all on Sunday!
AMEN and Oak Hill are teaming up to host a summer day camp for middle schoolers, focused on social justice, community service, and faith!
This one-of-a-kind day camp will offer your kiddo a chance to learn more about the Bible and their faith, to do service projects for community organizations, and to learn about social justice and becoming an agent for change.
From 8 am – 5 pm each day, campers will complete service projects at local non-profit organizations, explore their faith formation, and hear from diverse leaders in the community about standing up for social justice. And of course, we’ll have lots of fun, too!
For more information, to see about camp fees, and to register, please go to:
April 21, 2019 John 20:1-18 Rev. Erin Counihan
It’s Easter morning and we’ve made it! (Or else you skipped ahead because you’re a big ole cheater.)
But before we jump to the joy and wonder, the lilies and chocolates, I like to spend a little time with our sister Mary at the tomb. Imagining the despair, the frustration, the grief she must have felt, walking that morning, while it was still night, but he was already risen. Still lost in all that had happened, still remaining faithful, serving him past the end, even in her loss, even with it all seeming to be over. And he is already risen.
That morning Mary, that still serving Mary, that still walking in the night Mary- she gives me hope for all the times when I am lost, or grieving, or frustrated, or really, really unsure. That somewhere, somehow, even in my own despair, Christ has already risen, Christ is already making things right, Christ is already conquering evil, Christ is already changing the story… I just don’t know it yet.
God, I pray for us who are still journeying toward Jesus, especially when we’re trudging along in the night, especially when we’re praying for some wonderful, unimaginable, but desperately needed resurrection morning. Amen.
(And Happy Easter, friends!)
April 20, 2019 Romans 8:1-11 Rich Weithop
The scripture talks about God’s law and Man’s law. God’s law is superior to Man’s law. God’s law deals with sending his son in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin. Man’s law deals with the flesh and sin. Following God’s law is life and peace. Man’s law set on flesh is hostile to God. If you are under God’s law, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life. You will have eternal life.
Man’s law can lead to people being materialistic, selfish, judgmental, untruthful, hateful, prejudiced, power hungry, etc. God’s law leads to people doing the right thing. This includes; helping, sharing, being positive and honest, calling out injustices, being courteous and respectful, etc. Following God’s law will reward you with peace and everlasting life.
Thank you, God, for offering your word to us. Continue to remind us that following your word will lead us to happiness, peace, and everlasting life. AMEN
April 19 John 19:40-42 Dena Roper
“They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with spices in linen clothes, according to the customs of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
This poem was shared by Erin and Korla a year or two ago. It spoke to me so I saved it. Sometimes we just have to feel the feels even the bad ones.
“Blessing When the World is Ending”
Look, the world
is always ending
the sun has come
it has gone
it has ended
with the gun,
it has ended
with the slammed door,
the shattered hope.
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone,
the hospital room.
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
this blessing means
to be anything
It has not come
to cause despair.
It is simply here
because there is nothing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.
will not fix you,
will not mend you,
will not give you
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.
It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
as the world begins
from Circle of Grace
Dear God, you are there and listen when we are going through stuff. There is comfort know we are not alone when we are felling all the feels in life. Amen
April 18, 2019 John 17:1-11 Rev. Erin Counihan
Loving You (Maundy Thursday) by Rev. Rachel Hackenberg, via her blog at www.rachelhackenberg.org on Maundy Thursday 2018.
We could make it work, you know. This drive of yours to persist all the way to death wouldn’t have to have the final word. Remember how often you talked about love? Remember how hard you laughed — with friends, with lepers, with children? Couldn’t that be the work that drives you? Couldn’t we carry that work together, or are you so determined to be alone? What if the poured-out sacrifice was healing oil instead of ebbing blood? What if the last touch we knew in this world was a loving caress instead of piercing spear? I’m trying to show you another way. Could we not break open a jar of blessing? Must it be our hearts that break?
April 17, 2019 John 12: 27-36 Lisa Thompson
As I read this passage, the parts that stood out to me were “walk with the light”, “darkness overtakes you and you don’t know where you’re going”. This reminded me of camping trips in the middle of the night, in the middle of the woods, and needing to go from a tent in the woods to another location. (If you’ve ever camped, especially if you’re a woman, you know that feeling of needing to find the outhouse in the middle of the night.) I would always forget to grab a flashlight. After a few steps, I would realize that this was a mistake, but then think “I’m fine. I’m a grown-up. I can do this by myself.” Why can’t I just admit that I can’t see without some help from a flashlight?”
There have been a number of times in my life when I felt discouraged, in the dark, when I couldn’t decide what I needed to do to make things right. Every time I have found myself in a situation like this, I fixate on the problem and stew over how I should respond. I play out all the scenarios in my mind and think through all the reasons why this or that won’t work. I wallow in feelings of “poor me” for much longer than I care to admit. The only thing that ever makes me feel better when I finally get to this point is “giving it to God”–realizing that I don’t have to have the solution. In fact, the solutions that I am capable of imagining are extremely limited. I am not the director of this movie. I didn’t create this jigsaw puzzle. It may not even be in my power to figure it out. It’s like admitting that I need a flashlight in the woods. I need to listen for God’s voice and look for God’s light in the midst of darkness. I can relate to the people in the verse who heard God’s voice and thought it was just thunder, or the people who had Jesus with them, but argued about whether he really was the Messiah because of their predefined ideas about what a Messiah should do. In his blog, The Listening Hermit, Peter Woods reflects…”But when I close my eyes and still my mind from all its reasoning and overthinking, I notice that I can see dimly in the dark. Just enough light to take another step closer to his divine heart. He who hides from all my argumentation, is the very one who shines a torch in the dark labyrinth of my prayer.”
Lord, help me discern your light and your message in my life.
April 16, 2019 John 12:20-26 Rev. Miriam Foltz
Pastor, Ukirk St. Louis
My seminary travel group arrived to the city on ‘Jerusalem Day.’ For one side, the day celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem by the Israeli state in 1967 at the end of the Six-Day war. For other sides, it’s a mournful and fearful day as large crowds amass and congregate in a powder-keg city already cramped, crowded, and still carefully divided. For my part, I had never seen such a concentration of nationalistic flags or young soldiers openly carrying weapons.
In Jerusalem, in the days after Jesus’ entrance to palms and crowd’s chanting, I imagine the streets of the city held similar tension and excitement. Roman soldiers congregating to ‘keep the peace.’ Jewish pilgrims gathering in the city for the holiest of festivals – Passover. And for the disciples of Christ, their fears, expectations, anxieties, and hopes simmering together within the walled city. In today’s passage in John, Jesus begins to conclude his public ministry. Jesus speaks of death and life, of service and honor, of now and eternity. It’s the big speech before game day; he’s trying to get out the message one last time. Do you feel the nerves and anticipation?
Tuesday of Holy Week might feel like the ultimate twiddle-your-thumbs day. In the grand scheme of Holy Week, three days go ‘unnamed’ – Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – and Tuesday falls smack dab in the middle of ‘em. We’ve come down from the high of Palm Sunday and aren’t yet building up to Maundy Thursday. But don’t be lulled by the calendar. Do you hear the voices in the streets!? Do you see the anticipation in the crowds?! Even the Greeks are showing up to catch sight of Jesus! Aren’t you just a little curious about what’s going to happen?? Jesus speaks, “If a grain of wheat dies, it bears much fruit.” Will there be peace in Jerusalem even today?
Prayer: God, who was in the beginning and is now and ever shall be, we give you thanks for the middling days, for times when we feel somewhere in-between and not-yet, for days of waiting and anticipating your kindom. We seek the fruits of your kindom. Come, Lord Jesus, bring heavenly peace to this anxious world. Amen.
April 15, 2019 Romans 12:9-16 Joe Bradshaw
Break down of Romans 12:9-16 revised version 1.2
So John 12:9 begins with the words ”meanwhile …” which basically means there’s been a lot of stuff going on in the story up to get to this point, and you need to check it out. The basic characters are…Lazarus (walking miracle…Jesus of course (Savior and King)….chief priest (Reigning Authority), the disciples and adoring crowds. Well the chief priests are plotting to kill Lazarus, while the adoring crowds are rolling out the red carpet for their new king, the disciples (having not yet received the Holy Spirit nor having attended seminary) contemplate on the recent batch of confusing words from Jesus. Jesus humbles himself before the world. This section ends with the Pharisees saying “This is getting us nowhere”. Behind the scenes, the Pharisees work to devise a better plan (to manipulate the Romans into killing Jesus for them) so they won’t be blamed.
Prayer, Dear Father, Give us strength and courage to not waver in our adoration of you, while in the face of the “reigning authorities”.