Monday, February 28, 2011

Celebrating Mardi Gras, February 26, 2011

When celebrating Mardi Gras each year, I always think, “this is the best year ever.” Well, this year was one of the greatest years ever. Our Youth Group did a fabulous job. The Cooks out did Martha Stewart.
The shrimp from the Fourth Street Shrimp Store was the best ever.  Margaret Ann Catering and the Fresh Market provided delicious foods.
Susan Lahey and Mary Lou Young were working hard pushing crafts, hats, and Jester masks with competition from the ‘Jump and Bump’ and the ‘Side Walk Chalk’.  The music, well it doesn’t get any better than “Stomping at the Savoy”, a good choice by Sean Patrick.
Each year brings memories of our beloved Dean Rowland leading the parade and twirling the umbrella to “When the Saints go Marching in” and peeling New Orleans crayfish on the newspapers.

Many “Thank You’s” for this fun filled evening go to, Julie DiOrio, Louise Yardumian, Julie Songster, Ruth Piper, Rosalee and Jerry Lawson, Pam Holly, Ellen Burkhart, Tammy Zybura and Elaine Patrick.

The proceeds of this event go to help the Youth Group Mission trip.  You can help the Youth Group in other ways by Financial contribution, Individual sponsorship, Becoming a Prayer Warrior, or Donating your time.
The Group will be leaving on their trip July 15 to 25, 2011.
Submitted by Mary Hochadel


(For email subscribers please click the slide show to access all the beautiful photos)

Photos by Chris Stiles

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Women of the Word, Feb.23

Genesis 33-35

The End of the Jacob Saga

In chapter 33, Jacob and Esau are reconciled, although Jacob, not taking any chances when he sees his brother coming toward him with four hundred men, divides his retinue so that the slave women and their children are at the front and Rachel and Joseph (his favorites) are last. Jacob then presses gifts on Esau, who reluctantly takes them which makes him beholden to his younger brother. Esau then offers to accompany Jacob to his homeland at Sier, but Jacob demurs and instead sets out for Succoth, where he builds houses for his families and shelters for his animals. The Jewish festival of Succoth (“Booths”) is a harvest festival arising from this memory.

Chapter 34, the rape of Dinah, is a later insertion during the Babylonian exile to explain the prominence of some of Israel’s tribes over others. Dinah, Leah’s daughter, goes out to “visit women of the country” (e.g., she mingled with Canaanites), and was attacked by Shechem, the son of Hamor, the local prince. However, Shechem falls in love with Dinah and asks his father to get permission from her brothers to marry her. The brothers agree to this on the condition that all the men of Hamor’s village become circumcised. Then, two days later while the men are still in pain from this operation, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s blood brothers, enter the village and slaughter every man, including Shechem and Hamor, and kidnap Dinah. The rest of the brothers then plunder the village. Jacob, as usual, is more concerned with how this would affect him. “You have brought trouble on me; you have made my name stink among the people of the country, the Canaanites and the Perizzites.”
It is thought that this story was written during the preeminence of the tribe of Judah (who was the 4th born) to explain why Simeon and Levi (older brothers) had lost favor as unworthy to lead Israel.

Chapter 35 is written by the Priestly writer and contains an alternate story of the placing of Jacob’s altar at Bethel (cf. chapter 28). Here God instructs Jacob to go to Bethel and build an altar; however, first Jacob has his household rid themselves of all foreign gods (including, presumably, the ones Rachel swiped from her father [cf. chapter 31:35]) and earrings, which he buried under an oak tree. Then Jacob and his families are protected by God as they move through Canaan toward Bethel (the “inhabitants were panic-stricken and dared not pursue the sons of Jacob”). After Jacob builds his altar, God blesses him and changes his name to Israel. He also, in verses 11-12, gives a more complete form of the promise than the one recounted by the J writer in chapter 28. The statement in verse 14, “God left him,” is significant, since it starts the concept of a universal God, not a deity confined to a particular place.

After they leave Bethel, Rachel, after a hard labor, gives birth to Benjamin. She dies in childbirth and is buried by the side of the road outside of Bethlehem in a place that is still to this day known as the Pillar of Rachel’s Grave. Verse 22 is an insertion about Reuben, the first-born, lying with his father’s concubine, Bilhah. Again, this is a later explanation as to why the three older brothers lose out on the good-guy inheritance race to little brother Judah.

After a recounting of the genealogy of Jacob’s sons, the chapter ends with Isaac’s death at age 180. Esau and Jacob together bury him in the patriarchal tomb of Machpelah.

Submitted by Karilyn Jaap

Thursday, February 24, 2011

From the men's bible study, Feb.23

Isaiah 49:8-16a

In vv. 1-7, the prophet, called by God before he was born, speaks to people everywhere. God prepared him for his mission, as a trained spokesman, ready for action (v. 2). Through him, God has told him, his disciples and faithful Israelites (“Israel”, v. 3) that they are his agents who will show God's glory. The prophet has tried to convince other Israelites to trust in God, but without success: he feels that his ministry has been wasted; even so he still trusts in God (v. 4). But now God commissions him to a greater mission than bringing Israelites back to God: to be “a light to the nations” (v. 6) so all peoples may be saved.

Now he continues to speak on God's behalf. God has given this prophet to Israel as assurance (“covenant”, v. 8) that, at a time of God's choosing the people will indeed return to Palestine (“the land”) and take possession of the properties they owned (“desolate heritages”), taking with them those deprived and oppressed. It will be as though God is a shepherd leading his people in a new exodus, protecting them from harm and making the way easy (v. 11). It will be a new era. As well as coming from Babylon (the east), the returnees will travel from all directions, including from as far away as southern Egypt (“Syene”, v. 12). V. 13 invites all of heaven and earth to join in rejoicing over God's deliverance and renewal. “Zion” (v. 14) was the hill on which the Temple was built. Jerusalem (and its inhabitants) may feel that they have been ignored by God, but he assures them of his love (vv. 15-16): they are close to him (“inscribed”).

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

In Chapter 1, Paul writes that he has heard disturbing news: there are factions in the Corinthian church. In our reading, Paul picks up the topic again. How should members of the Church think of him and Apollos (and perhaps Cephas)? What should be the role of apostles in the Church? A servant's work is not his but his master's; apostolic ministry makes no claim for itself but points to Christ: we are “servants of Christ” (4:1). A steward in a Greco-Roman household was entrusted with custody and protection of its assets. “God's mysteries” are what was unknown of God's plan in Old Testament times, now revealed by Christ. With this responsibility, an apostle must be “trustworthy” (4:2). It seems that criticism of Paul has already begun; he is indifferent to it. He does not even examine himself; he has nothing on his conscience, but “it is the Lord who judges me” (4:4). Do not reach a verdict (“pronounce judgement”, 4:5) before Christ comes again (“before the time”); When he does, he will elucidate God's plans (“things now hidden”) further. He will also make known people's inward thoughts. At that time, each person will receive the praise he deserves – from God.

Matthew 6:24-34

This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In v. 24, Jesus speaks of the impossibility of serving two masters: one cannot love both. “You cannot serve God and wealth”.

A key word in vv. 25-34 is “worry” (vv. 25, 27, 31). The Greek word means be preoccupied with or be absorbed by. To be preoccupied with food and appearance is to view life much too narrowly. Birds are an example of a proper attitude towards food (v. 26): they work hard to find it, but they do not store it for possible future shortages. Worry, preoccupation, is futile: people desire a long life, but excess concern for it will not lengthen it (v. 27). Wild “lilies” (v. 28), abundant on Palestinian hillsides but dull brown for much of the year, are only brightly coloured for a few weeks. Even “Solomon” (v. 29), known for his accumulation of wealth, could not compare to their (God-given) beauty. The “grass” (v. 30) ends up being “thrown into the oven” as fuel for cooking. But if God cares for such plants, how much more will he provide for, clothe those who are faithful to him. So do not be preoccupied with your physical needs (v. 31). Such preoccupation is wrong on two counts:
those who do not follow Jesus (“Gentiles”, v. 32), not knowing of God’s munificence, seek security in possessions; and God knows the needs of his people, so worrying about these needs is to suspect him of forgetting or neglecting his people.
Our prime objective must be to put God first, to seek union with him, and to attain godly integrity (“righteousness”, v. 33).
Worry about material well-being is largely being concerned about “tomorrow” (v. 34). Today's worries are “enough” for today; do not anticipate tomorrow's.

Submitted by Dick Nelson

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Join us tomorrow night--Wednesday, Feb. 23-- for Supper, Song and Prayer

Come and join us for a delicious dinner at 6:00pm and an introduction to "Nooma" in the Parish hall at 7:00pm.

NOOMA is a series of short films (10-14 min) that explore our world from a perspective of Jesus. Jesus lived with the awareness that God is doing something, right here, right now, and anybody can be a part of it. Wherever he went, whatever he did, Jesus started discussions about what matters most, because for Jesus, God is always inviting us to open our eyes and join in. Let’s accept the invitation and watch the video “Kickball” which explores questions like: We always think we know what's missing from our lives in order to really make us happy, don't we? If only I had that car, or that job, or if only I could lose those 15 pounds, then I'd be happy. Really? How often do we want something only to find out that it wasn't that great after all? Sometimes we ask God for things and if he doesn't deliver right away, we start questioning God. Do we really trust God? Do we trust that God sees a bigger picture than we ever could?
After watching the 12 min. video we will continue our fellowship with small group discussions. This evening’s presentation is an introduction to the Lenten series on Sunday mornings at 9am in the Guild room.

(For email subscribers please click on  to watch a 2 min.  introduction).

If you would like to know what watching "Nooma" has meant to other people please watch this touching video by Lesley: .
When Lesley’s 11 month-old daughter was diagnosed with an adult form of leukemia, her life changed dramatically. In the weeks they spent in the hospital, Lesley was determined to take in every moment she was given with her daughter. Years later, NOOMA Today 017 reminds her of those precious days and what it means to live a life in which you are fully present.
Submitted by Bettina Schuller

Monday, February 21, 2011

Women of the Word, Feb. 17

Genesis 31:43-55; 32:1-32

As we have learned, Laban implored Jacob to let bygones be bygones and make a covenant. To seal this covenant, he had Jacob set up a stone as a pilllar, and had everyone else bring stones which they placed in a heap. Laban called this place Jegar-sahadutha which seems to be untranslateable, and Jacob called it Galeed, which translates "The Heap of Witness" and he called the pillar Mizpah which translates "Watchpost." They ate and "tarried" all night and you can translate that any way you want.
Laban rose early, kissed his grandchildren and daughters and that's the last we see of him.

Jacob and his group travelled on and the angels of God met him. When he saw them, he named the spot Mahanaim, meaning "Two Camps." He then sent a message to his brother Esau saying he is coming home, and he has been staying with Laban all this time as an "alien," which term seems a little strange, despite their occasional differences. Anway, he tells Esau of his herds of animals and many slaves he is bringing with him, and that he hopes to gain favor with his brother whom, you remember, he had long ago left under not the best of circumstances.


The messengers return to tell Jacob that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men. This does not bode well. Jacob is nervous, to say the least. He divides his people and flocks in two, figuring if one group is slaughtered the other might survive. Only he and his staff cross the Jordan River, and he stays there for the night, leaving the rest of the group on the other side. He prays fervently to God during the night, reminding God of all the promises He has made to Jacob, and the steadfast love God has shown him.

We are reminded here of the importance of "steadfast" love, the quality of which was most important to the people of this time. Jacob asks God for deliverance from the hand of Esau. And just to assure it, he takes along 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 milch camels and their colts, 40 cows and 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys and 10 male donkeys and sends them forward with his servants as a gift to Esau. The servants are to inform Esau that Jacob is coming right along behind this parade.

At verse 22 we are at the hand of a different non-priestly writer. He recounts this as only one, not two groups, still moving along together. Jacob sent the entire retinue across the river, and he alone stayed behind, as this writer would have it.

Here occurred an epoch and much debated struggle, that of Jacob and "a man." The man could not prevail against Jacob in the all nighter and asks Jacob to let him go as dawn approaches. But Jacob would not let him go until the man blessed him. Can it be God? An angel of God? Maybe even the devil? The man did not know Jacob's name, and God would know his name. And God could out-wrestle anyone. So how can this have been God? The man told Jacob his name would hereafter be "Israel," but he continued to be called Jacob.
Nevertheless, Jacob believes he has struggled with God, for he names the place "Peniel," or "The face of God."
Yet scripture tells us that no one shall see God face to face.
In parting, the man struck Jacob on the hip socket, putting his hip out of joint and giving him a limp. Is this to signify Israel's continual struggles in the world? Mankind's struggles? Again, there are many layers to this story.
As a post script, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip joint because that is where Jacob was struck.

Submitted by Betty Jean Miller (Deenie)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Yoga pose of the month

Sphynx Pose
Strengthens the spine
Stretches the chest and legs, shoulders and belly
Firms the buttocks
Unleashes stress and opens the heart
Rejuvenates the body and mind

Our next class is:
Monday, 2/21, 6:30 pm, in the Parish Hall at St. Thomas Episcopal Church

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From the men's bible study, Feb. 16

Leviticus 19: 1,2, 9-18; First Corinthians 3: 10,11, 16-23; Matthew 5: 38-48

Leviticus: “ shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

Leviticus (Vayikra: a manual of religious guidance for priests and worshippers). Composed and compiled from many sources and times around 500 BC according to scholars. It is note worthy; this lesson is the only reading from Leviticus in our lectionary; there must be some important things to think on! The text is broken, in the first and second verses we find God telling Moses to tell the people of Israel that I am holy and you must be holy too! The skipped over verses (3-8) instruct about honoring parents, keeping the Sabbath, discard idol worship, and make your sacrifice acceptable. The instructions in verses 9 to 18 include:

Leave the odds and ends in the field of harvest and the un-ripened grapes to feed the poor and alien.

In your dealings with others do not steal, deal falsely, lie, swear falsely, or profane the name of God.

Don’t defraud your neighbor, keep back wages from the day laborer, revile the deaf or place stumbling blocks before the blind.

In judgment situations, do not defer to the great or wealthy or be unjust to the poor; be fair in your judgments. Do not slander or profit from the blood of neighbor.

Do Love your neighbor as yourself.

In the context of these times, a neighbor would include close kin, members of your tribe, perhaps the gentile that were living close by. It would exclude the foreigner and stranger. Stay tuned, because in the Gospel, the definition of neighbor is radically changed. These passages are from the portion of Leviticus that the scholars refer to as Holiness instructions; providing good moral and ethical foundations.

Back in Ephesus, Paul, continues his letter to correct poor behavior in the Corinthian church. Paul uses the analogy of builders (himself, Apollos, Cephas) to explain, that a builder must build on a solid foundation for a great and lasting creation. In our case the firm foundation is provided by Jesus! God built a temple in you in which the Holy Spirit dwells. Do not be foolish in seeking worldly wisdom that leads you away from God. “You belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.”

The Sermon on the Mount continues from last week. Matthew compiled Jesus’ most poignant and in some ways disturbing hot statements on living the Christian walk for this section of his Gospel. Matthew introduces each statement with, “You have heard it said”, followed by the law or instruction, and Jesus comment, “But I say to you” and Jesus ‘amplification on this instruction. The first of these is an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth (Lex Talionis). Put in today’s justice codes, the idea is barbaric. In the time of Jesus, blood feuds or clan warfare (Hatfields & McCoys) was the name of the game. If you were a McCoy and were injured by a Hatfield, woe is the Hatfield clan because it was common to kill or maim many for the injury. The justice code of Hammurabi (2242 to 2285 BC was an early attempt to bring about justice and eliminate the clan warfare. Exodus 21, Leviticus 24: 19, 20, and Deuteronomy 19: 21 copy the Code of Hammurabi and include element of mercy. Only a Judge can render a decision and he could reduce the scope of the retribution, hence the reduction of blood feuds and limits on vengeance.

Jesus tells the gathered multitude, don’t think you can Lex Talionis and be of God’s Kingdom. Turn the other cheek; give away your cloak (a very important garment). If you are impressed by the Roman authorities to carry goods (aggareuein) for a mile, do it for two miles (with a smile). A Christian does not stand on legal rights; do your duty out of love for your neighbor. Beg & Borrow follows Jewish Law (Deuteronomy 15: 7-11); it is a privilege and an obligation to give to the needy. It is a gift to God. William Barkley noted that pursuant to giving, “that it is better to help a score of fraudulent beggars than risk turning away one man in need.”

The Love issue comes in and gives us a shock. As noted in Leviticus, Love of Neighbor had a limited expression; neighbor was essentially someone you knew. Here Jesus is unequivocal that the Love should be expressed and flow to friend and enemy- this is the foundation of Christian Action. Using the Greek divisions of love, it is the Agape form of that allows us to love the stranger, the foreigner, and even my enemy. Agape means to love with benevolence, goodwill, and invincibility. This action of Love of those that are not caring for us and may be an enemy may be called, “Tough Love.” It is not easy and it requires Christ in your life to make it happen. In some manner, pray for those that hate you and it becomes possible to see them in a different light. At the end of this passage, Jesus calls us out, “be perfect, therefore as your Heavily Father is perfect.” Love can make it a possibility. Forgive as God forgives and love as God Loves (William Barkley) The evolution of Love from Leviticus to the Sermon on the Mont is a great journey and in the end, it is Love that makes us Holy.
Submitted by Walt Jaap

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Women of the Word, Feb. 10

Genesis 30:25-43

Rachel has finally born a son to Jacob and he feels, after 20 years, it is time to gather his wives and children and return to his father's house in Canaan. But first he must discuss his due from Laban, his father-in-law whom Jacob has served all these years..
And thereby begins a charade worthy of any French farce.
On letting his plans be known to Laban, Laban discloses that he has learned from the Lord "by divination," in other words, the Lord has not exactly spoken to him but he sort of inituits it, that Jacob has done good things for him. So what would Jacob like?

Jacob allows as how, indeedy, he has done good things, for "the Lord has blessed YOU wherever I turned." So how will Laban reward him?                                                                                                            Laban bounces the ball back to Jacob.
Jacob puts forth a plan. Seeing as he is such a humble and honest fellow, he will take all the spotted, speckled and black sheep and goats from Laban's herds. These animals are in a minority and perhaps considered not so desirable, so Laban thinks this is a good deal and agrees.

Immediately upon doing this, Laban, fine fellow that he is, sends all his speckled, spotted and black goats a distance of three days away with his sons, while Jacob is tending Laban's sheep elsewhere. Jacob, not above shenanigans himself, peels bark from tree limbs to make them spotty in appearance, and places them where the sheep come to the water trough, and where they also mate. This assures that all the young will be spotted and speckled. This is not a method used in today's stock breeding. And we are reminded that these events took place in about 1600 B.C., and were passed down orally until about 600 B.C. when recorded language was created.

Furthermore, Jacob only let the strongest sheep see these spotted sticks, and he kept these himself. He kept his own flocks apart, so the feebler of them were Laban's and the stronger were his. Jacob grew rich and had large flocks and many slaves and camels and donkeys.

Jacob , who is still hanging around Laban, begins to feel there is some bad blood between them, and the Lord tells Jacob it's time to move on to the land of his kindred. Jacob confers with Rachel and Leah, tells them, after all the nice things he has done for their father, that he feels Laban doesn't like him anymore, but the Lord must be on his side, see how the Lord has favored him with all these fine flocks. It is noted that conferring with women in these times was most unusual; but remember, Jacob adored Rachel.

Rachel and Leah felt Laban had taken away their inheritance, so when Jacob revealed that God had spoken to him, not divined, mind you, but out and out told him to go and take his family and flocks to the land of his ancestors, they all left. Because of Rachel's bitter feelings toward her father, she stole his household gods, and Jacob compounded the felony by not telling Laban he intended to flee.

Upon finding Jacob and his group had left, and the household gods were also gone, Laban went off in hot pursuit, furious. But God came to Laban , for real, this time, and told him not to say a word to Jacob, neither good nor bad. Go figure.

When he found Jacob et al after seven days' travel, Laban lit in to him, although God had told him not to, and was most furious about the gods. Jacob knew nothing about Rachel's theft, and had no objection to Laban and his troops going through all their belongings. Rachel, meanwhile, sat on the gods (!), announced that she could not get up for the search because "the way of women was upon me."

Well! It is important to note that Rachel stole the gods which were a sign of leadership and authority. By doing this, she insulted her father and disinherited her brothers. But, most sifgnificantly, she fouled the gods sitting on them at her "time of the month." This is the first time menstruatioin is mentioned in the Bible, which in itself is significant. To be continued.
Submitted by Betty Jean Miller

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pioneers of the Spirit, Feb. 13 at 9am in the Guild room

Throughout history a few special individuals have felt a spiritual longing so profound that nothing could satisfy their hunger. Facing uncharted territory, they mapped their own souls, seeking that mystical place where the self meets the divine. We call them Pioneers of the Spirit.

A German nun and abbess, Hildegard was an intellectual, writer, composer, and artist. She wrote about music, art, medicine, natural history and theology. Her musical compositions are being played to this day. Hildegard is remembered also for her visions, which she wrote about in great detail. She was a renaissance woman far ahead of her time.
(For emailsubscribers please click on to listen to her music and watch the 4 min video.)

Submitted by Rev. Lisa Hamilton

Thursday, February 10, 2011

From the men's bible study Feb. 9

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Deuteronomy is a book of instruction, or torah. It is the fifth book of the Bible. It recasts Israel's mission and destiny, mostly by restating the history of the people recorded in the first four books. It emphasizes teaching and learning for all generations. Moses speaks on God's behalf, with authority, to the assembled people of Israel, as they prepare to enter the Promised Land.
The setting is the plains of Moab, as the Israelites prepare to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. Times have changed since Sinai: the people were semi-nomads then; now they are farmers and shepherds. It is a time of religious revival, of new commitment to God. They will keep the Law because they love God.

Our reading summarizes Chapters 27-28, which tell of the ways in which the Israelites will be blessed if they keep this expanded and updated covenant; and the consequences of failing to keep many of the laws, i.e. being excluded from the community.
Then it offers a choice: keep the laws in love and obedience, or suffer the consequences of following other paths. Keeping the Law because you love God will have many benefits, including long life (“length of days”, v. 20).

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

In Chapter 1, Paul says that he has learned that there are divisions in the church at Corinth, that some adhere to particular leaders of the community rather than to Christ. The faith only makes sense to those who understand it spiritually, so he addresses them not as “spiritual people” (v. 1) but as neophytes (“infants”). He has been criticized for oversimplifying the good news, but their “jealousy and quarrelling” (v. 3) demonstrate that they are still only earthly minded, are still behaving according to human standards (“inclinations”).

It is natural to be attached to the person who welcomed you into the church, but you need to recognize that they are all “servants” (v. 5) of Christ. Each has a distinct function in bringing you to faith. Paul founded the church at Corinth (“planted”, v. 6); Apollos nurtured faith (“watered”) in the community; but it is God who causes spirituality and faith to grow. He and Apollos have the same objective (v. 8). Perhaps the rewards (“wages”) are in seeing the church grow; perhaps they are in heaven. Paul and Apollos are co-workers. In the following verses, Paul expands on the church as “God’s building” (v. 9).

Matthew 5:21-37
Jesus has made clear that his mission is not to do away with (‘abolish”) the Old Testament; rather he fleshes out its meaning fully (“fulfill”, v. 17). He speaks particularly about Mosaic Law; it will remain in force until he comes again at the end of time (v. 18). In v. 19, he seems to soften his tone: whether or not one keeps and teaches every one of the 613 laws, one will be admitted to the Kingdom. The scribes and Pharisees kept all the laws scrupulously. Now he explains how their adherence to the Law is insufficient.

Each of Jesus’ expansions of the Law begins with “[You have heard that] it was said” (vv. 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). He then quotes a law. “Ancient times” refers to the days of Moses. The Ten Commandments forbid the act of murder (v. 21). Jesus extends this law to include propensities to kill: nursing anger, calling someone good for nothing (as the Greek says) or a “fool” (v. 22). Vv. 23-24 says that reconciliation take priority even over worship, to a Jew the most sacred act. Vv. 25-26 may be a parable: the Kingdom of God is at hand; seek reconciliation “quickly” lest God, the judge, finds against you. Jesus offers forgiveness.

Vv. 27-28, gives another example. Avoiding adultery is not enough; even for a man to “look at a woman with a lustful eye” is unacceptable. God expects purity of thought and desire as well as of action. Vv. 29-30, which look extreme, they are meant figuratively, not literally. Jesus advises that one discard, promptly and decisively, anything in one’s life that tempts one to turn away from God.

Divorcing a wife was easy for a man in Palestine: in some circles, he could simply write her a “certificate of divorce” (v. 31) without cause. Jesus’ point here is that marriage is indissoluble, lifelong. He probably thinks of Genesis 2:24: in marriage, God makes man and wife “one flesh”. He makes one exception: “on the ground of unchastely” (v. 32). The Greek word means unlawful sexual behavior, including adultery. He forbids remarriage because the first marriage still exists. This extension of the Law was not onerous for first-century Christians, for they expected the world to end soon, and they could live separately from their spouses. Then vv. 33-37: one swore an oath to guarantee that what one said on a particular occasion was the truth. We still do it in court appearances today. Jesus says one should always tell only the truth. When one does, there is no need for swearing. A truthful person is consistent in what he says. Inconsistency is a sign that one has turned against God (v. 37). Perhaps Jesus actually said something like James 5:12: “let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no”.

Submitted by Dick Nelson

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Women of the Word, Feb 3

We continue in Genesis Chapter 27 where we study about Isaac's disfunctional family.

There were two things passed down in a family during this time: (1) The Birthright...the firstborn usually got double the inheritance and (2) a "blessing". We learn that Jacob received both!
Once one receives this blessing, it cannot be taken back.

The Promise by God is passed down from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob. Rebekah becomes a more dynamic force in events but Isaac becomes more passive.
Jacob is sent away by his father but he does not marry outside of his own clan. He sees a "ladder" in a dream but it is probably a set of stone steps called a zigarut. The angel of the Lord is seen at the top of this "ladder" handing down the Promise. "Your children are the dust of the earth" which means Jacob's children and descendants will be very, very numerous.

In Chapter 29, we meet Rachel who would become Jacob's wife. He loved and honored her to the very end. She is perhaps the most loved woman in the Old Testament. Because Rachel is barren, the Promise will not go through her but through Leah and her son, Judah. The culture later would not mention that eventually Rachel will bear a daughter named Dinah. Then, she later bears a son, Joseph. This triggers the return of Jacob to his father.
Submitted by Vicky Steinwender

Monday, February 7, 2011

Altar flowers January 2011

January 30, 2011
The Altar Flowers are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Alan Elston by his family.

Flowers designers: Barby Field and Teri Andres Coryell.


January 23, 2011
The Altar Flowers are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Kathryn (Kathy) and Emma L. Merriman by their Families.

Flower Designers: Elizabeth Walters-Alison, Julie Songster, Marilyn Lanctot.


January 16, 2011
The Altar Flowers are given to the Glory of God and in thanksgiving for the 40th anniversary for Jack and Davetta Homer by Dr. Haig and Louise Yardumian and by Linda Sordan in thanksgiving for Becca Sordan's 21st birthday and the birth of Jace James Viera.
Flower designers: Louise Yardumian and Julie Songster.

                                                                 January 9, 2011
The Altar Flowers are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Margaret Elizabeth Bowman by Jack and Runelle Bowman and by Duane and Katrina Kaufhold in thanksgiving for their daughters Kristin Georgevich and Susie Copeland and their families.

Flower designers: Joanne Fleece, Vicky Steinwender and Mary Jane Cartier.  


January 2, 2011
The Altar Flowers are given to the Glory of God and in thanksgiving for Katrina and 48 years of marriage by Duane Kaufhold.

Flower designers: Caron Burgess, Mary Jane Cartier, Joanne Fleece, Ellie Frazier, Pam Holley, Marilyn Lanctot, Anne Long, Joanne Turrell, Louise Yardumian, Elizabeth Walters-Alison.


Friday, February 4, 2011

From the men's bible study, Feb.2

Isaiah 58: 1-9a

This is from, the compilation of writings that scholars term, “Third Isaiah”; written at a time after the remnant returned from Babylon. The reading brings us to the issues that still concern ourselves with today, namely, true devotion and not an empty ritual. Isaiah condemns the type of fasting which the Israelites were practicing- “You serve your own interest, and oppress all your workers. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.” Fast was set forth in Leviticus 23; Isaiah was noting the problem that a superficial performance is not going to cut it; God does not just call for denial of a little food, we should be constantly live lives of self-denial, dividing what God gives us with others, and sharing with the poor and the needy. Can we make the fast acceptable? In last verses, Isaiah reaches out with hope and redemption: “healing shall spring up, the glory of the Lord shall be the rear guard (tying things back to Exodus and the flight from Egypt), you shall call out and the Lord will answer.” A link to our gospel reading has to do with light- “your light shall break forth like the dawn” Light is a inspirational image, when you are in the dark moments, the light of God can make an instantaneous change in outlook, and relationships. “This little light of mine, I’m going to make it shine, make it shine, make it shine!”

First Corinthians 2: 1-12

Paul is in Ephesus, at another of his many mission churches. Things in Corinth were on shaky ground, not just from earthquakes. Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because of trade between Asia and Western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul wrote this letter to correct what he saw as erroneous views in the Corinthian church. Several sources informed Paul of conflicts within the church at Corinth: Apollos (Acts 19:1), a letter from the Corinthians, the "household of Chloe," and finally Stephanas and his two friends who had visited Paul (1:11; 16:17). Paul then wrote this letter to the Corinthians, urging uniformity of belief. The two groups at odds with one another were the Greeks that traditionally sought reason and wisdom to resolve all debates and the Jewish tradition of signs and miracles to justify God. Paul in his typical-practical method does not address wisdom or signs as the way to God. His words are very straight to the point- “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” He is telling the Corinthians to shut up about human wisdom and signs. Paul tells the Church at Corinth to realize that God’s wisdom is something very special; “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived.” The bottom line from Paul to his flock in Corinth is, guys you have the Holy Spirit of God and it brings us gifts and benefits far beyond human wisdom. We still have tendencies to worship big brains.

Matthew 5: 13-20
This reading deals with chemistry (salt) and physics (light).
You are the salt of the earth, SALT, Sodium Chloride, NaCl, Salt melts at 801 °C and boils at 1413°C. In the time of Jesus, salt preserved food, was expensive, and in Jewish tradition had a great deal of lore associated with it. Salt was connected with purity- it was an offering to God in certain ceremonies. Salt throughout human history has had importance; the region around Salzburg (Salt town) Austria became very rich from salt mines and the Bishop of Salzburg was on near equal footing with Pope from salt mine revenues. Salt renders flavor to bland foods. So if you are like salt, you will spice up the group you are with. Get the message- be like salt, be pure like a crystal of salt and spice it up.

You are the Light of the World! We are back to Isaiah here- light illuminating Christian values. From Barkley’s commentary, “There is no such thing as a secret discipleship.” Let it shine- Your Christianity should glow. How do we do that? Not that difficult, Love one another as God Loves You, be a Christian 24/7. Light as a guide- light as a warning of danger. Think of all of the ways that light is a power to overcome evil and darkness.

Submitted by Walt Jaap

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Women of The Word, Jan. 27

We studied Genesis Chapter 25-26 about Jacob and Esau, twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. The Hebrews would evolve through Jacob's line and the Edomites would come from Esau's line. Usually the firstborn son got a double-share of inheritance and the leadership of the clan. Esau is really stupid as he gives up his firstborn birthrights to Jacob in return for a bowl of stew! He later may have really regretted this decision.

We learned how important wells are in the desert. Competitive well-filling back then by adversaries was like corporate sabotage in today's world. In Chapter 26, vs. 19, we learn that Isaac's servants named the wells they found therefore claiming dominion over them. God's Promise is again given to Isaac in a dream. He would have many descendants. God reveals to us that He is a personal God.

Submitted by Vicky Steinwender

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pioneers of the Spirit

Please join the Rev. Lisa B. Hamilton on Sunday, Feb.6 at 9 am in the Guild room for a video and discussion on Augustine of Hippo. Lisa scripted, produced and wrote the video when she worked for Trinity Wall Street in New York, and promises that this 4th-century mystic has much to teach us about our lives in relationship to God. Augustine is the Bishop who wrote in his Confessions that our souls are restless until they rest in God. If this sentiment sounds like one of your own, you don't want to miss this interesting session.

"Scripting, producing and directing this series was one of my favorite jobs ever. We shot several scenes at St. Bartholomew's in New York--people may recognize the mosaics. My editor and I chose mosaics as our visual motif because Augustine (354-430) was so scattered before realizing, as he said, that "our souls are restless until they rest in God." His Confession (c. 397), in particular, is very "modern" in its tone -- it's almost as if listening in on someone's therapy session! In fact, it's considered the first spiritual biography. I think one of Augustine's best gifts to us is learning how to see ourselves as spiritual beings."
Here is the link to the video Lisa will be using:

February13: Hildegard of Bingen. 
A German nun and abbess, Hildegard was an intellectual, writer, composer, and artist. She wrote about music, art, medicine, natural history and theology. Her musical compositions are being played to this day. Hildegard is remembered also for her visions, which she wrote about in great detail. She was a renaissance woman far ahead of her time.

Submitted by Rev.Lisa Hamilton