Friday, December 24, 2010

O Holy Night

All are welcome at our Christmas Eve candlelight service of scriptures, carols and communion, 6 p.m. at the church.

To those who cannot be here, we pray you receive Christmas blessings wherever you are!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book study on hold

Because so many people are traveling and there's so much else going on, the book-study group will not meet on Dec. 19, Dec. 26 or Jan. 2. We'll resume on Jan. 9 and will talk about what comes after "A Geography of God," because there are only two chapters left.

If you're a musician (and ESPECIALLY if you love to sing but mistakenly think you aren't 'good enough'), talk to Karyn Reid about upcoming practices.

Don't forget the children's program on Sunday at 5 p.m. Barb will be reading "The Night Before Christmas," Suzy will be reading the story of Christ's birth, and we'll probably sing some fun songs.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Geography of God, Ch. 18

Lindvall says that the Christian identity is "child of God," yet we often identify ourselves with our jobs, with our illnesses, with our possessions, etc. How is that harmful to us?

The idea that poverty is ennobling may have come in part from Jesus' requirement that the rich young ruler rid himself of possessions to inherit eternal life, and from his statement that we cannot serve both God and money. Do we believe that all possessions are an obstacle to salvation? If so ... then what? And if not, why not?

How can we learn to use our possessions for God's purposes rather than letting them be impediments in our relationship with God?

Being defined by what we do is not inherently bad, but it's telling that "what we do" often means "how we make money." How else could that definition work?

How does Sabbath-keeping help us to keep our lives in balance?

What else struck you about this chapter?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'The endurance of rural congregations'

RCC members and friends may be interested in this blog post about a small church similar to ours. (Click on the underlined text.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Don't forget caroling next Sunday evening, Dec. 12. Meet at 7 p.m. at the church, and bring everyone who likes to sing Christmas carols. Dress warmly! Afterward, we'll go back to the church for coffee or cocoa and cookies.

If you can't come, but know of someone who would like a visit from the carolers, please let Suzy know.

Geography of God, Ch. 17

Lindvall's metaphor of deserts in which wild animals lurk may not be quite so apt for those of us who are comfortable in deserts and mountains as for those who live their entire lives in cities (which may seem to use like far more fearsome wilderness), but his point is good. We go through circumstances in life that test our faith, even defy it, and we meet people who challenge our ability to believe. What are some of the challenges you have faced, and what was your relationship to God as you passed through them?

In the library at MVPC, there's a banner that says, "A Christian is a person who makes it easier for others to believe in God." Although I don't think any of us would consider that the whole definition of Christianity, is it even true? Do all good Christians make belief easier for others?

Theodicy is Christianity's attempt to explain "why bad things happen to good people," or more accurately, why bad things happen if God is good. Have you worked out, in your own relationship with God, an explanation?

Lindvall quotes the existentialist philosopher Kirkegaard as saying that every Christian has points in his journey where he feels utterly empty, desert times when his soul is hungry and thirsty for Spirit. Eugene Peterson has translated the beatitude, "Blessed are the poor in spirit ..." as something like, "Blessed are those who are at the end of their ropes, for they are finally ready to turn to God." Do you think the deserts are necessary as opportunities to develop deeper faith, or perhaps to develop a deeper understanding of God? Or is Lindvall (and C.S. Lewis) right in saying that their usefulness fails to justify their existence?

And if that is true — if, for example, deeper faith or a deeper yearning for God is not a sufficient reason for hardship to exist — does that say that our relationship with God is not worth some prices we might be called upon to pay? (I am taking exception with the word "justify"; I agree that their usefulness does not explain their existence.)

What do you think of the statement of Terry Wait, that Christianity doesn't reduce suffering, just makes bearing it more possible?

How does this relate to the incarnation?

Hebrews 4:15 is a scripture that is often used at the funerals of people who have taken their own lives or who have made other choices (e.g. drug use) that have led to their deaths. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." Is that helpful to hear? Does it lead the listener to believe in salvation, or does it just sound like the speaker really does not sympathize?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chapter 16, again

Because so many members were absent on Sunday, we'll discuss Chapter 16, on forgiveness, on Nov. 28.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Extra Credit!

Those who are interested in the difference between spirituality and religion (although both words have many different meanings) might find some enlightenment in this blog post from the Rev. Steve Woolley, an Episcopal priest:

The enemy of spirituality

P.S. I am sinfully proud of myself for managing to make that link live!

Geography of God, Ch. 16

"There is forgiveness" is another way of saying that God reigns. If that were not true, our actions would be the last word; there would be no way to unravel them, repair relationships, turn back toward God. Why do you think that, even though our very souls depend on God's forgiveness, we find it so hard to forgive one another?

Can forgiving others allay our own guilt?

"Seventy times seven" is another way of saying "every time, no matter how great the sin." What are the sins in your life — either against you or by you — that you believe are hardest to forgive? Why?

Do you think that forgiving is easier for those who believe in life after death?

Lindvall says that the idea that denying that some sins are forgivable is, in effect, denying the grace and power of God. Do you think that's true, or is the problem sometimes just our inability to comprehend God?

"We're all bastards" — or sinners — "but God loves us anyway." Can you think of any way in which this definition of Christianity is incomplete?

How about the definition of God as "one whose gentle hands this universal falling can't fall through"?

The fine line between forgiving and excusing has troubled Christians for all of their history. How do we find that boundary for ourselves?

The analogy of cleansing the air is a good one, because bitterness often does seem almost like a visible form of pollution. We aren't always aware of our need to forgive, though. Sometimes we have internalized our victimhood until it becomes part of our identity, polluting our relationships. How can we take stock of the grievances to which we cling?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Geography of God, Ch. 15

Lindvall's story about the upcoming baptism and confirmation of the young soccer player raises several points. The Presbyterian Church considers baptism a sacrament and, as such, a part of worship, not a private ceremony, even though it is a sign and symbol of the covenant between a believer and God.

However, is the purpose of including baptism in worship so that others know one has been baptized? I would say it is also, if not primarily, so that other members of the congregation can remember and reaffirm their own baptismal covenants and vow before God to support the new Christian in his or hers.

Lindvall says that ethical behavior lies at the heart of Christian life. That is true. It is not, however, the root of salvation. How can we help people to understand that Christian behavior is a response to salvation, not an attempt to earn it?

Does thinking of sin as "a simple word that describes the reality that things are not as they ought to be" change the way you think of sin?

Rousseau and other Enlightenment philosophers, Marx and other communist/socialist thinkers, and Freud and other psychoanalysts have differing views of what causes humans to sin. All of them have some legitimacy: Certainly social pressures, the struggle to survive, and the way in which we were taught and nurtured all influence our behavior. However, they can also serve as excuses for sinful behavior by allowing a sinner to claim the inability to control his/her own actions. The Christian alternative is feeling influenced, empowered and freed by God to behave according to God's laws rather than human priorities. Why don't we?

Is an understanding that humans are not essentially good necessary to understanding sin? Are we to understand that God created us flawed or sinful?

If, with God and in Christ, all things are possible, are we to understand that it is *only* with God and in Christ that some things are possible? Do we believe that anyone can change?

If "some assembly required" is an accurate description of faithful Christian life, what is the balance between God's power and our freedom?

Obedience, imitation and inspiration are all helpful guides in living as a Christian. Can we assemble a Christian life out of those pieces alone? How helpful is "What Would Jesus Do?"

Lindvall's discussion of hypocrisy is fascinating. Can you think of other ways of behaving that the secular world might consider hypocritical? Have you heard of the concept of "acting as if"?

Lindvall quotes Krister Stendal about using the word "love" so much that it has lost its power. Is that true? What can we do correct that problem, given that love is the basis of the Gospel?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Don't miss out!

Thanksgiving and Advent are busy times, so keep an eye on the church calendar, on the right.

Geography of God, Ch. 14

After a hiatus caused by (among other things), a computer crash (the church computer is back online [thanks, Marc!], although the wireless is still down), travel and other events in the lives of congregants, and pastoral busy-ness, we are getting back on track with our book study. Here are the questions for Chapter 14, but if you've recently missed another chapter (like the very important one on prayer) and want to backtrack, we can do that.

Being a Christian means following Christ. That is sometimes a lonely road, especially at times when the world seems hostile to Christian ideas. For example, turning the other cheek is an idea that’s simply not supported in modern culture. What are other ways that Christianity is isolating?

At the same time, being a member of God’s church, the Body of Christ in the world, means worshipping and worshipping in concert with other believers who have been given talents and callings different from our own. How are we strengthened by being members of a community of faith?

How is our work strengthened by our cooperation with others? One way I can think of is that it’s made more visible, to the glory of God.

What are some of the joys of community?

Weaknesses? Do we sometimes censor ourselves?

At base, Christianity is a faith born of a relationship: God’s covenant with God’s people. If we isolate ourselves, are we denying the presence of God in the lives of others?

Let’s talk about the idea that “relationship is the very thing that made us into ‘selves’.”

How does our understanding of the Trinity inform our understanding of what we should be as Christians?

How do different relationships (Lindvall listed marriage and friendship, but others also are relevant) model Christian discipleship? As our world becomes populated with families of increasingly diverse configurations, how can that teach us different, broader ways to be companions on the journey of discipleship?

How can we model Christian values in relationships with people who are difficult to like or love?

Remember that Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend. Alert people will set their clocks back and have an extra hour to sleep. If you arrive an hour early, start the coffee!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Geography of God, Ch. 12

There is a lot to discuss and understand in this chapter, so let's work on it for the next two Sundays, Oct. 11 and Oct. 17.

The quote from Charles Spurgeon about defending the Bible by letting it loose would make more sense to me if we were talking about God. People critical of Christianity often hold up scriptures that are not representative of what we believe. An example would be last week's Epistle reading from 1 Timothy about women in the church. Other "difficulties" with the Bible that we have discussed before include archaic language and unfamiliar social structures. In order for the Bible to defend itself, we have to let the whole thing loose and offer some resources for understanding it.

Let's talk about what resources you use in your own Bible study. The Internet offers many that were not available a decade ago.

According to polling data from the Barna Research Group, most homes do have at least one Bible. How can we encourage people — including one another! — to read them?

We say, and I think we believe, that the Bible is the Word of God, or sometimes that it contains the Word of God. How do we, as Reformed Christians, understand that? (I like what Lindvall said: "The written witness to the revelatory things that God has done.")

The newest books of the Bible are nearly 1900 years old. How do we receive the Word now?

In what ways do we consider the Bible to be authoritative — for the church, and for us as individuals?

What do you think of the work of the Jesus seminar?

Do you think that people who use the Bible as a rulebook are missing out on some of its value? Are they abusing its content?

Lindvall says we bring three things to our reading of the Bible: identity, recognition and imagination. Let's talk about how those interact in our understanding.

A good example of the first might be our reading of the story of the Prodigal. Do we identify with the father, the prodigal son or the "good" son? How does that change as our circumstances change? Can we carry our previous understanding forward?

Recognition may be growing less available to us as our lives grow ever more different from the lives of Biblical characters, but we still have times when we can connect very clearly a Biblical story with an occurrence in our own lives. Are you willing to describe some of those for our group?

Imagination in scripture reading is a harder concept for some of us to grasp, yet it is the point at which we stop understanding the Bible as being about what has already happened in our lives and start seeing that it is about what could and will be. How,
though, do we open ourselves to the possibility that God can act in us through the scriptures?

Lindvall asks, "How does Scripture become truth we can trust?" How does it become revelation? Life-changing truth? In other words, how can we really know?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Geography of God, Ch. 11

This week's chapter talks about worship, and about how churches offer a very pale, tame approximation of God. Annie Dillard says we should wear crash helmets to church. Let's talk about times in our life when God surprised us by seeming bigger and more present than we were accustomed to.

Do we, as individuals, let God be all that God can be in our lives?

Do we, as churches?

How can we improve?

Lindvall's question, "What did I lose in worship?" is a different way of looking at the worship experience. How does that question make us feel?

How can we, the worshippers at Rico Community Church, make sure we are facing in the right direction?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chapter 10 for real this time!

Those of you who came for book study last week know that we got distracted. Let's try Chapter 10 again this week.

Meanwhile, be thinking of songs you want to have included in the supplemental song book. They can be praise songs, older non-hymn Christian music, hymns that aren't in the blue hymnal, spirituals — any music that you believe would give glory to God in our worship services.

You can call me at 560-1407, e-mail me at, call or e-mail Karyn Reid, put a note in the collection plate or leave one in the church office. You can also leave a message on the church phone, 967-2463. Please include your name in case we need more information about the songs you request.

And, you can use the same mechanisms to tell us what songs from the hymnal you'd like to sing in worship.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Geography of God, Ch. 10

"If something matters to you, you devote yourself to it." That seems so simple, and yet daily "devotions" are rare today. There's much to distract modern humans. Do you think our relationship with, and understanding of, God has suffered because of that?

The idea of practicing Christians vs. nominal Christians is actually somewhat antithetical to the Reformed definition of Christianity, with its emphasis on God's actions in our lives and our imperfect responses. At the same time, it's a useful concept. How do we "practice"? How do we devote ourselves to God?

How do we keep our practices from growing empty and meaningless? What is the tipping point between tradition as an aid to understanding and tradition as a barrier to personal investment?

What are some of the traditions that you find valuable?

A few weeks ago, Karyn mentioned that outdated language and imagery of the Bible can make it difficult to read and understand. One prescription for that is group Bible study, in which we can supplement one another's understanding. What is your favorite translation of the Bible. Do you sometimes check others?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Geography of God, Cha. 9

Last week, Barbara, Marc and I talked about ways we experience God. This Sunday, Lindvall says, we will begin to "sneak up on the Trinity." The doctrine of the Trinity has inspired many volumes of commentary, but let's spend a little bit of time talking about the ways in which we understand Trinitarian belief.

"Faith as an escape route out of life and its troubles" is presented as one wrong (or at least incomplete) way of thinking. Do we need an escape route, or is what we need a better way of thinking that, as Lindvall says, "leads us deeper into and straight through this world." What does it mean to live our lives in relationship with God?

"Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer" is one way of thinking about the Trinity. In each of those three ways, God is acting in love.

The illustration of an upstairs and a downstairs to the cosmos is very like the older illustration of fundament below and firmament above, which at some points in history was linked to the concepts of the sacred and the profane (or perhaps ordinary). If we think of "heaven" and "earth" in that way, where do they intersect?

In the Reformed tradition, we speak of God as being transcendent and immanent, that is, God transcends all boundaries and is present in all places and times. What, then, explains our feelings of distance from God?

Lindvall says that the God of creation and incarnation is God with us — incarnate in Christ and present to us in the Spirit. In what ways do we recognize that? How can we learn to be more aware of it? How can a pastor invoke awareness?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Geography of God, Ch. 8

I apologize for the lateness of this post. It's been a hectic week. My house is now restored to some semblance of order, and our company will leave on Monday. After that, I hope my life will settle into a routine again. Thank you all for your patience and understanding!

For this week, we will discuss just one question:

How is God "present" in our lives?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Geography of God, Ch. 7

Must “spirituality" be "serious"? Surely it’s possible to be very serious about non-spiritual and even heretical topics, and surely it’s also possible to be joyfully or even playfully spiritual. Yet these words are often linked. Why?

Aldous Huxley is an interesting choice of sources to quote in a book about the geography of God, but he paints a vivid picture. Can you see God in Miss Thriplow’s imagined landscape? When you try to empty your mind of everything but God, what do you see?

What do you consider to be the differences between religion and spirituality?

Let’s talk about “Sheilaism.” Christians are often criticized for picking and choosing among the tenets of their faith, but is avoiding that even possible? Or do we all construct our religions out of what we can believe, especially given the truth that we are incapable of comprehending God.

The Reformed faith — generally speaking, the churches that had their beginnings in the Protestant Reformation, although “Reformed” technically reflects a subset of that — have a set of “essential tenets.” We’ve talked before about profession of faith being the only real “qualification” for being considered a Christian, but what must Christians profess their faith in? For example, what if someone believes that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of mankind but can’t believe literally in the virgin birth or the resurrection of the body?

What does it reconciliation between God and humankind mean to you?

Lindvall writes, “Jesus is not so much the founder of Christianity as he is its living, breathing life.” Is it possible to be a Christian if one thinks of Jesus as a teacher but not as God? If so, is Jesus the “Way” to something, and what?

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Geography of God, Ch. 6

Lindvall writes, “In a moral universe of self-orientation, everything — even faith — can become self-serving.” Most of us consciously try not to be that self-centered, but in a world in which we have to compete for all that we have, it’s not easy. What are some of the ways we can combat that tendency?

The Judeo-Christian focus strongly emphasizes community over the individual. One reason is that community helps us meet our needs while focusing beyond ourselves: When the community does well, so do we. Another is that we see God in others. How do we keep our “communities” (family, job, congregation, etc.) from reinforcing our focus on our own needs rather than on God?

Do you believe that the universe, or your life, is less “tidy” when God is involved?

Do you believe that we can keep God out, or is the difference more a matter of recognizing God’s involvement?

Being dead to self and sin and alive to God is a fundamental reorientation of the way we view our lives. It is, in fact, an ordination, a reordering from our priorities to God’s priorities. But, if we aren’t at the center of our own lives, where are we?

Do you think life is easier when we’re in charge, or when we admit God is? Giving up control is difficult; trusting God (or any external force) is even more difficult. How can we incorporate trust and faith into our world view?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chapter 5, continued

Because so many of our regulars could not attend last week's book study, and because this chapter is such a substantial one, Barb and I postponed the discussion until Sunday, Aug. 15. If you can't attend and wish to comment, answer questions, raise questions, etc., please reply to this blog post.

See you Sunday, and don't forget to practice for the talent show! More details to come.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Geography of God, Ch. 5

These are sample questions for Chapter 5, which we will discuss on Aug. 8. I know several members of the group will be out of town, so this discussion may continue on Aug. 15. I apologize for the delay in posting these questions. Marc's surgery went well and he anticipates being able to attend worship on Sunday. Thank you for your prayers!

Chapter 5:

Lindvall writes about the balance between head and heart. “If your faith is in your head only, it will eventually ossify into an arid and lifeless religiosity. If your faith is in your heart only, it will eventually devolve into some amorphous and emotive spirituality.” That is far different from the image that most non-Christians have of people of faith. Why do you think society does not see us clearly?

What happens in your life when the balance tilts too far in either direction?

If we cannot understand everything about faith or God, is there value in understanding as much as we can?

Lindvall also talks about a cart-and-horse phenomenon: The only way to know God is to follow him. But, in order to follow, you have to believe that God is worth following. This seems like a paradox, but it also pulls people deeper into faith as they enter deeper into participation. What does that mean for the Rico congregation?

What is the difference between believing as an individual (i.e., believing that an idea is true for you) and believing as a community (i.e. believing that an idea is universally true). Do you believe that non-Christians are wrong about God?

In matters of faith, does it make sense to try, intellectually, to balance risk and reward?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Geography of God, Ch. 3-4

These are sample questions for the chapters we'll be discussing on Sunday, July 25. Please feel free to respond with answers, additional questions or related ideas. See instructions for commenting in the right-hand column of this blog.

Books are still available for anyone who wants to join the class, or who wants to read on his or her own.

Chapter 3:

The basic question of this chapter, “Finding or Found?”, informs a great deal of Reformed theology, which holds that we are saved by grace, through faith, not by any action of our own. Are any of you comfortable sharing how God found you?

What was your response? How has it changed along the way?

Lindvall writes, “This road is not in search of a lost God but of a way into a God who has passionately sought us, somehow found us, and then coaxed us onto the way.” “A way into God” suggests that we seek understanding, which is certainly true. What else do we seek?

Having been sought, found and encouraged, what responsibility do you feel to live out your faith, and to understand what God is calling you to do? How do you discern that call?

Chapter 4:

People often think that life would be easier if God did not allow them choices, and especially if the option to sin were not available. At the same time, one of the strongest political movements in this country right now rails against anything that restricts freedom. How do you feel about free will and the terrible consequences it sometimes causes?

Lindvall gives examples of the free will God has given us. Do you think people appreciate the “system” God has set up, of pursuing us while giving us freedom to choose, or even to flee?

Does anyone remember reading “The Brothers Karamazov?” Is religious intolerance — as expressed most extremely in the Inquisition and the Holocaust — the opposite of our God-given freedom of conscience, or is it the inevitable result?

Chapter XX of the Westminster Confession speaks “Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience.” This chapter is most often remembered by the sentence, “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship.”

What that generally means, in practice, is that even the edicts of the church need not be obeyed when a person, in good conscience, believes that to obey them would be contrary to God’s will. Another implication is that obedience to God trumps obedience to civil authority — but civil disobedience sometimes brings down civil punishments.

We have all experienced times when we felt it wasn’t convenient or desirable to obey God’s law. Have you also experienced times when you felt the laws of God and secular society were in conflict?

Here is the entire chapter:

Chapter XX
Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience

I. The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the Gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, and condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law;[1] and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin;[2] from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation;[3] as also, in their free access to God,[4] and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind.[5] All which were common also to believers under the law.[6] But, under the New Testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected;[7] and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace,[8] and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.[9]

II. God alone is Lord of the conscience,[10] and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship.[11] So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience:[12] and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.[13]

III. They who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.[14]

IV. And because the powers which God has ordained, and the liberty which Christ has purchased are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God.[15] And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ has established in the Church, they may lawfully be called to account,[16] and proceeded against, by the censures of the Church. and by the power of the civil magistrate.[17]

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dinner and a movie!

Or rather, a slide show.

At our Thursday potluck this week, July 22, Gerry and Marilyn Griebel will show slides of their recent medical mission trip to Oyugis, Kenya, with Project Helping Hands.

Thursday potlucks begin at 6:30. The church will provide table service and drinks. Please bring a dish to share and a big appetite, because the food has been yummy every week. Dave Lucas has promised to bring peach cobbler baked in his Dutch oven this week. Come on Thursday to learn whether Dave can make good on his promise or his wife's raised eyebrows prove to be prophetic.

This would be a good time to invite a friend to learn about the good things going on at Rico Community Church, and the good things going OUT from RCC! Anyone who thinks we are a staid bunch of Christians who never laugh or discuss anything but the Bible is in for a big surprise. We are an animated bunch who are doing our best to live as God's faithful people.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Opportunities for fellowship and learning

Summer potlucks begin at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday at the church. Bring a dish, bring a friend, and prepare to engage in thought-provoking conversation. All are welcome! Come as you are.

The book study group is discussing Michael Lindvall's "A Geography of God" on Sunday mornings beginning at 9:30. Books are still available; ask Suzy at Thursday potluck or on Sunday. Discussion questions for the first three chapters are posted below, and as you can see, you'll be able to participate intelligently whether or not you've read the chapters!

The Presbyterian General Assembly, a biennial meeting of our highest governing body, took place earlier this month. A summary of actions taken is on the table at the front of the church. Although I know not many of you are Presbyterian, the Rico Community Church is a fellowship of the Presbytery of Western Colorado, so General Assembly votes do matter to us!

For more information about what's going on at the Rico Community Church, keep watching this blog site or call Suzy at 560-1407.

Book Study Questions, Ch. 1-3

These are the questions we'll be discussing on Sunday, July 18. Please feel free to respond to this post with your own discussion questions!

Chapter 1:

One correlation to the idea of a journey is the Apostle Paul’s conviction that followers of Christ should be in the world but not of the world. “Be not comformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind …” (Romans 12:2) How does that relate to what Lindvall writes about Christ as a stranger in town, or in our world, when our lives are so greatly shaped by modern culture?

More specifically, how do faith, religion and our faith community help us to hold onto what is good in the world and pass by what is not?

HOW does Christ become “the knowable stranger”? The idea that it happens by OUR study is somewhat contrary to Reformed thought.

Lindvall writes, “In the end, the most eloquent testimony to the Christian faith is the word of those who have taken the road before us and along the way found more than they first sought.” That sounds very linear; do we believe that the steps toward knowing God must be taken in a certain order? Can we learn also from people who seem, in some ways, to be behind us?

Chapter 2:

Lindvall speaks of two reasons for “rising and shining” — e.g., for beginning or resuming a Christian journey. The first is need, the second is potential enjoyment. The Westminster Catechism teaches us that “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Does Christianity sometimes focus too much on duty at the exclusion of acknowledging the joy we find in our relationship with God?

In what ways do you find joy?

On the other hand, is a life without responsibilities a good one? What does that tell us about the structures God has put in place to guide our daily lives?

What does it suggest about our reason for existing?

Lindvall writes, “If Jesus had been an Asian, I bet he would have said, ‘I am the rice of the world.’” When he said he was the bread of life, his listeners would have envisioned different bread than we do. How do we limit our ideas of Jesus and of God by letting the words of the Bible grow too familiar?

Lindvall writes, “Some longing led (people of faith( to look deeper and ask the underneath questions about life.” For what do we long? What are we seeking? From God? From other sources?

Chapter 3:

The basic question of this chapter, “Finding or Found?”, informs a great deal of Reformed theology, which holds that we are saved by grace, through faith, not by any action of our own. Are any of you comfortable sharing how God found you?

What was your response? How has it changed along the way?

Lindvall writes, “This road is not in search of a lost God but of a way into a God who has passionately sought us, somehow found us, and then coaxed us onto the way.” “A way into God” suggests that we seek understanding, which is certainly true. What else do we seek?

Having been sought, found and encouraged, what responsibility do you feel to live out your faith, and to understand what God is calling you to do? How do you discern that call?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Clean-Up Day!

Members and friends of Rico Community Church will meet for a clean-up day this Saturday, June 26, at the church.

Suzy and family plan to be working by 8 a.m., and others can come and go as they please. The Meyers will provides drinks and pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. Please bring a salad, fruit or chips.

The to-do list includes deep cleaning and minor repairs. One goal is to get the church spruced up for Fourth of July weekend visitors, up after the long winter and the fun of Vacation Bible School. Many hands make light work, so bring your tool belt or your cleaning supplies and join us!

Questions? Call Suzy at 560-1407.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Vacation Bible School — register now!

Children ages 3 through 5th grade are invited to Vacation Bible School at the Rico Community Church.

VBS this year will be held next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, June 21-23.

This year’s theme is “Rough Waves? Jesus Saves!” We will be studying the stories of Noah and the ark, and of Moses parting the Red Sea. VBS begins at 5:30 with a meal. After dinner, we will have a Bible story, activities, crafts and singing. We will be finished by 8 p.m.

There is no charge for VBS, but pregistration helps us to prepare enough food and supplies.

Younger children are welcome to attend with a parent. For more information or to register, call Pastor Suzy Meyer at 560-1407, or e-mail with the names and ages of your children, as well as contact information for parents. Parents will need to sign a release form when they drop their children off on the first night of VBS.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Congratulations to Kaitlin Nunley, who will graduate from Dolores High School on May 29!

The Rico Community Church will be celebrating Kaitlin's accomplishments at worship on May 30.

We're proud of you, Kaitlin. We'll always be your church family, no matter how far away from Rico your dreams take you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Coming up — celebrations!

Sunday, May 23, is Pentecost, the day on which we celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and the early church. Wear flame colors and come prepared to sing spirited songs!

The steering team will also meet after worship on May 23, to discuss plans for the summer. If you have ideas, talk to Suzy or a steering team member, or come to the meeting. Everyone is welcome.

Saturday, May 29, Kaitlin Nunley graduates from Dolores High School. Some of us will be celebrating with her on that day, but on Sunday we will celebrate as a congregation! An important part of what we do as a church is to raise up our children to know that they belong to God. They belong to us, too, and we are joyful when they reach milestones (and sad when they move away!).

Friday, April 16, 2010

A souper way to support the Griebels' medical mission trip!

The Rico Community Church will host a soup supper on Friday, April 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

All proceeds will be sent to Project Helping Hands in support of Gerry and Marilyn Griebel's trip to Uyogis, Kenya, as part of a team providing medical care to the residents of that area. The Griebels leave for Kenya on May 8. Each participant in the project funds his or her own travel expenses and must provide medical supplies. The Griebels are buying supplies in bulk, as that is the most cost-effective way to get as much as possible for the money available.

Members of the community are invited to come share supper with us and learn more about the Griebels' plans. The menu includes homemade soup, bread, fresh veggies and dessert. We ask for a minimum contribution of $5 per diner; please be generous and support our local residents in their good works!

Marilyn and Gerry will be showing slides of past mission trips.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Christ is risen!

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen."
Luke 22:5b

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Psalm for Holy Saturday


1Hear my prayer, O LORD;

give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness;

answer me in your righteousness.

2Do not enter into judgment with your servant,

for no one living is righteous before you.

3For the enemy has pursued me,

crushing my life to the ground,

making me sit in darkness like those long dead.

4Therefore my spirit faints within me;

my heart within me is appalled.

5I remember the days of old,

I think about all your deeds,

I meditate on the works of your hands.

6I stretch out my hands to you;

my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7Answer me quickly, O LORD;

my spirit fails.

Do not hide your face from me,

or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.

8Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,

for in you I put my trust.

Teach me the way I should go,

for to you I lift up my soul.

9Save me, O LORD, from my enemies;

I have fled to you for refuge.

10Teach me to do your will,

for you are my God.

Let your good spirit lead me

on a level path.

11For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life.

In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.

12In your steadfast love cut off my enemies,

and destroy all my adversaries,

for I am your servant.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Holy Week

Many of our members are out of town for spring break or other reasons, so we have limited our schedule of Holy Week Services.

On Good Friday, we will worship at 7 p.m.

Easter Sunday worship will begin at 10:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome to join us in celebrating the Resurrection. We will have Communion, Easter eggs for children, and coffee and refreshments afterward.

Future plans include an adult study group to start shortly after Easter, and a fund-raising soup supper on Friday, April 23, for Marilyn and Gerry Griebel's upcoming medical mission to Kenya. Keep checking back for more information.

Monday, March 1, 2010

If you're caught sleeping ...

This e-mail has been going around my office, and I thought it was worth passing on, especially during Lent.


Number 5: "They told me at the blood bank this might happen."

Number 4: "This is one of those 15-minute power naps we learned about at the time-management seminary you sent me to."

Number 3: "Whew! Guess I left the top off the Wite-Out! You probably got here just in time!"

Number 2: "Did you ever notice the sound coming out of these keyboards when you put your ear down real close?"

And the Number 1 best thing to say, as you raise your head slowly: "... In Jesus' name, Amen."

As I can't endorse lying, I recommend that you actually do the praying!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ash Wednesday

The Rico Community Church will hold a short service at 7 p.m. on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. For 10 centuries, faithful Christians have begun their Lenten observance by expressing penitence on Ash Wednesday. The ashes on our foreheads symbolize our recognition that only by God's gracious gift are we given everlasting life, through Jesus Christ.

The ashes traditionally are made from palm leaves used the previous Palm Sunday to commemorate the triumphal procession of Jesus and his disciples into Jerusalem. This year, as a symbol of our communion with Christians worldwide, our ashes come from palms that the children of Montezuma Valley Presbyterian Church waved last year as they paraded through the sanctuary.

Everyone is invited to join the congregation at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Valentine Kids' Club

The Rico Community Church invites the children of the community to a Valentine party beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13.

We will talk about God's love, decorate some heart cookies, play games, watch a video, and make Valentine gifts for people we love!

Parents, come sign your kids in and enjoy the free time on Saturday evening to celebrate with your valentine. We'll keep them long enough for you to enjoy a quiet meal! Children 3 and older are invited, as long as they are comfortable away from their parents.

Call Pastor Suzy at 560-1407 to preregister!