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?