July 16, 2020

Trust is a rare and precious commodity in today’s world. We live in cynical times where we question everything. To trust demands a degree of courage bordering on the heroic. I was intrigued several years ago when I heard the story of twenty-three-year-old Hemant Mehta who put his soul up for bid on eBay. At the time, Mehta was a graduate student at DePaul University and a self-proclaimed atheist. Mehta promised to attend one worship service for every $10 bid by the winner.
The successful bidder was Jim Henderson, a pastor from Settle Washington. While his winning bid of $504 dollars was equal to fifty hours of worship services, Henderson asked that Mehta attend ten to fifteen hours of services of his choosing. Henderson also asked that he write about his experiences in worship and tell him what it would take to make Christianity more interesting and inviting to a non-believer.
The dialogue and conversation between the two men led to Mehta publishing, I Sold my Soul on eBay. Henderson ended up teaming up with another self-proclaimed atheist to visit some of the largest churches in the United States. You can read about their experience visiting churches in Henderson’s book, Jim and Casper go to Church.
I find the story of Henderson and Mehta’s relationship and Henderson’s book rather amazing in this age of skepticism and mistrust. How many of us would bid and then trust that the person would actually fulfill the requirement of attending church? Even more amazing was the thoughtful and respectful dialogue that took place between Henderson and the two proclaimed atheists.
When it comes to the Christian faith, trust is a keystone. It is the defining spirit of authentic discipleship. Without trust, there can be no community of faith. Trust is one of the key components of carrying God’s spirit of love and compassion into the world. Think about it.
Our guiding texts for this Sunday are Psalm 139:1-18 and Romans 8:12-25. Please join me this Sunday via live Stream at 8:45 and 11 AM when we will learn to trust in the one who creates and holds all things.

Grace,
Matthew

July 9, 2020

Parker Palmer is a well-known writer and speaker who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. In his book, The Active Life, he tells about an experience he had while participating in an Outward Bound course. One of the activities was repelling down the face of a cliff. Parker was told to lean back and jump. There were several less than graceful moments but he eventually got the hang of it. Things were going well until he came to a large hole in the rock face. He didn’t know what to do so he froze. Here’s Palmer’s description of what happened:
 
The instructor waited a small eternity for me to thaw out, and when she realized that I was showing no signs of life she yelled up, “Is anything wrong Parker?” As if she needed to ask. To this day I do not know the source of my childlike voice that came up from within me, but my response is a matter of public record. I said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
 
The instructor yelled back, “Then I think it’s time you learned the Outward Bound Motto.” Wonderful, I thought. I am about to die, and she is feeding me a pithy saying. But then she spoke words I have never forgotten, words so true that they empowered me to negotiate the rest of the cliff without incident: “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.” Bone-deep I knew that there was no way out of this situation except to go deeper into it, and with that knowledge my feet begin to move.
 
“If you can’t get out of it, get into it.” What great words for our current situation. The pandemic has rocked our world and literally turned it upside down. While we cannot get out of it, we can get into it with God’s help. This Sunday we will allow a couple of texts to guide us into the future. Deuteronomy 31:7-8 reminds us that the Lord always goes before us. Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 tells us that God is a generous and extravagant sower who casts his seeds on all kinds of soil. The story reminds us that there will be a great harvest.
 
While things are different and, in some cases, difficult, we are reminded that God has not forgotten us and that there will continue to be a harvest as long as we are ready to receive the grace and love that God freely offers. Think about it.
 
I look forward worshipping with you this Sunday via Live Stream at 8:45 and 11 AM.
 
Grace,
Matthew