Midweek Message – 22 March 2017
a Lenten Midweek Message from our Bishop, Minerva Carcano:
Lenten Season Meditation Exodus 17:1-7
In the story in Exodus 17 we get to see how God’s people sometimes act. The Israelites had been set free from their slavery. For 430 years, they had labored and suffered under the cruel rule of the Egyptians. Their cry for compassion and justice is heard by God alone who acts in their behalf. It is only through the merciful intervention of God that they experience freedom.
The adventure of freedom comes with extraordinary signs of the power of God. The Red Sea is parted for their safe escape when after being released from slavery, Pharaoh changes his mind and comes after them with a vengeance. God leads them to the place that God had prepared for them providing for their needs along the way: bitter water becomes sweet at God’s instruction, manna and quail fall from the sky in such abundance that their stomachs are filled, a resort is provided for them as they are led by God to a place of 12 water springs and 70 palm trees!
It’s all there in those first few chapters of Exodus. What a great God we serve!
And are the Israelites happy about the privilege of being saved, led and served by God? No!
They complain all the way. The lack of water is one of their major complaints. In chapter 17 they are in the Desert of Sin thirsty, grumbling against Moses their leader, and complaining about the travel plan. Was it to die in the desert, they and their children and their cattle, that they had been brought out of slavery in Egypt?
I do understand what it means to be thirsty and what it feels like. I remember being thirsty in the cotton fields of Texas. I have seen the impact of lack of water on immigrants as they traverse the desert lands of our southern border, many of them dying because of dehydration. I also remember how thirst overwhelmed me when I first came to the California-Nevada Conference in 1979.
I was on my way to San Jose. Ready to serve as the pastor of La Trinidad UMC. I felt that God had saved me from certain suffering and was leading me. I was traveling in my cool turquoise colored stick-shift Camaro. I loved that car. It had everything; style, bucket seats, power!
The only thing it lacked was air conditioning.
I had never traveled so far on my own. I had looked at the map and traced the road, but had given little attention to the topography. It was high noon on the third day of my trip when I hit one of the great deserts of California. I was so excited to be in California that the heat didn’t even phase me until about an hour later when I came upon a sign that told me that I was far from the next town. Suddenly I realized how thirsty I was. I looked through the windows of my cool now very hot Camaro and all I could see was desert. I had absolutely no water with me and there were no other vehicles to be seen on the road.
It was hours before I came upon the next town. My mouth and tongue and even my throat were completely dry, my face was red as a beet, my heart pacing at the thought that I might faint and die of dehydration in the California desert, my beautiful Camaro turning into my coffin.
I stopped at the first place I saw. It was a bar. First time I had been in a bar. “Forgive me Lord,”
I whispered as I entered that bar. Coming out from the blinding desert sun I was frightened by the darkness of the bar, but a kind waitress seeing my distress led me to a table in the corner and brought me pitcher after pitcher of wonderful ice cold water! I sat there until the sun went down and my fear of dying of thirst subsided.
I understand a bit of the fear and despair of the Israelites as they suffered thirst in the Desert of Sin. As I have thought about my own experience with thirst in the desert I always land in the same place – how could I have been so thoughtless! A life lesson learned.
What I don’t understand about the Israelites is their thoughtlessness. Had God not provided for them all along the way? What of the privilege of seeing God’s mercy in their lives and the incredible blessing of knowing that God was with them? Were they but spoiled children who had no responsibility for the precious life God had given them? Wasn’t freedom under God’s care better than slavery in Egypt even if it were but for a day?
We serve a great God who hears our cry when we are in despair. Who leads us if we will but follow. And who will be with us in our living and in our dying. Is this not enough?
I continue to pray for you in this Season of Lent and feel your prayers for me.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Read more Mid-Week Messages
MESSAGES WORTH PONDERING
March 26th, 2017
Carillon Handbell Choir plays the prelude: “God So Loved the World”
Centering Music: “Vasylyna’s Prayer” –
Part 1 and Part 2, performed by the Carillon Choir
text: John 11:1-44
Offertory Anthem: “Hymn of Peace” – Chancel Choir
Sermon: “Unbind Him.”
— Rev. Kathi McShane Read Sermon Listen to Sermon
March 19th, 2017
“Everlasting Life” – Chancel Choir
New A’Peal Handbell Choir plays the prelude: “Living Waters”
text: Genesis 35:10-15
New A’Peal Handbell Choir plays the postlude: “O, Worship the King”
Sermon: “Do You Take the Name ‘Christian’?”
— Joshua Sulaiman Listen to Sermon
For more Sermons, click here.
Read the latest blog post from Pastor Larry LaPierre – “the Circuit Writer”
STATEMENTS OF FAITH
Precious Pearl ~ On November 5, 2016, Pastor Kathi McShane spoke words of comfort at the Memorial Service for Jim Gilliland… Click to read…
“Why I Am United Methodist: Because Of Love”
– a blog post by Ben Gosden
BOOKS WE’VE BEEN EXPLORING
The Tuesday and Thursday Men’s Groups are reading:
The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face
by Patrick Morley
The Man in the Mirror has established itself as a cornerstone in men’s literature since its 1989 release. Winner of the prestigious Gold Medallion Award and appearing on the best-seller list eighteen times, it has helped thousands of men understand the person who stares back at them from the glass each morning and know what to do about his twenty-four most difficult problems. Written by a foremost Christian men’s leader, this powerful book invites men to take a probing look at their identities, relationships, finances, time, temperament, and most important, the means to bring about lasting change.
Pastor Kathi is reading:
In the Shelter, by Padraig O’Tuama
There’s an old Irish proverb: “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live”. In this book much-loved poet, storyteller, theologian, and speaker Pádraig Ó Tuama applies ideas of shelter and welcome to journeys of life, using poetry, story, biblical reflection and prose to open up gentle ways of living well in a troubled world.
The fourth gospel tells of Jesus arriving in the room where the disciples are gathered, full of fear, on Easter Sunday. He does not chide or admonish; instead he says ‘Peace be with you’, which, in the Aramaic of his day, was simply a greeting. ‘Hello,’ he said, welcoming people locked in a room of fear to a place of deep encounter; encounter with themselves, with their fear, with each other and with the incarnate one in their midst.
Interweaving everyday stories with analysis, gospel reflections with mindfulness and Celtic spirituality with poetry, this book explores the practice of welcoming as a spiritual discipline. In particular, Pádraig tells careful stories of welcoming parts of life that are often unwelcome.
When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
New York Times Bestseller • For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question, What makes a life worth living?
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
The Seekers are reading:
The Active Life: Wisdom of Work, Creativity and Caring by Parker J. Palmer
Vital, down-to-earth wisdom for active people who serve others or work for social change. Drawing from the teachings of Chuang Tzu, Martin Buber, Jesus, and Julia Esquivel, Palmer presents a detailed framework for a spiritual life in the active world–for the uncelibate, unsolitary, and unsilent lives that most of us lead.
Reading during Lent 2016
Change Your Questions, Change Your Life
by Marilee Adams
In this new expanded edition of her classic international bestseller, Marilee Adams shows how the kinds of questions we ask shape our thinking and can be the root cause of many personal and organizational problems. She uses a highly instructive and entertaining story to show how to quickly recognize any undermining questions that pop into your mind—or out of your mouth—and reframe them to achieve amazingly positive and practical results. The third edition includes a new introduction and epilogue and two powerful new tools that show how Question Thinking can dramatically improve coaching and leadership.
What Did Jesus Ask?
As a teacher, Jesus Christ put many of his lessons in the form of questions. The gospels recorded some 100 others. Some are rhetorical, needing no answer, but most were real questions posed to real people. Many of Jesus’ questions are familiar to readers today, yet the context and the potential interpretations of such phrases will offer enlightenment to many.
Organized by Biblical verse, in “What Did Jesus Ask?”, more than 70 of today’s most prominent spiritual writers, religious leaders and artists offer modern meditations on the questions Jesus asks in the Bible. Their contemplations provide telling context, with both contemporary and traditional interpretations to lead readers on an exploration of their own faith and to shape their own meaningful answers.