Spring Preaching Themes

Given the rise in acceptable intolerance, it seems fitting to explore what some leading voices outside the Christian faith might offer us on our journey of hope and grace.  Throughout the spring, we’ll be exploring voices from other paths.  The list is by no means exhaustive.  It is not meant to be a primer on other religions.  Rather, we’ll explore the writings of a few folks that seem pertinent to our time and our walk.

April 8

If You Want to Know God, Sharpen Your Sense of the Human (Winton Boyd preaching)

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was Jew, a rabbi, an early civil rights advocate, and a believer not in theology but ‘depth theology.’  Rabbi Heschel was born in Warsaw to a long line of Hasidic Rabbis, he studied philosophy in Germany. Expelled back to Warsaw, he escaped just weeks before the Nazi invasion and settled in the United States.  His writings contributed greatly to the spiritual renewal of Judaism. But he was passionately interfaith, once called the ‘apostle to the gentiles.’ He raised prophetic challenge to the social issues of his day, including marching with MLK, and protesting Vietnam.  

Heschel calls us to balance ultimate questions with awe in our lives.  It is in the intersection of meaningful questions and awe that we experience God.  The beginning of wisdom is the awe of God.  

“Prayer begins where our power ends.”

April 15

God Out of the Box (Ken Pennings preaching)
“The reality of God is hidden behind a fiction of God” (“The Future of God,” by Deepak Chopra, pg. 74). With the help of Deepak Chopra and Marcus Borg (“Convictions: How I learned What Matters Most”)), might we move beyond human words and ideas about God into the Reality of God Godself?

April 22

Prophetic Faith in a Time of Climate Change (Earth Day) (Winton Boyd preaching)

We will use the words of  Rabbi Heschel again.  He focused on the issues of his day – the plight of Soviet Jews, echoes of the Holocaust, Civil Rights, Vietnam.  His words, however, still ring true for our time.

“The prophet is (one) who feels fiercely.” 

“To us of this generation who have walked through the ruins of aborted dreams and desecreated ideals, the question is:  How does the road sign read: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Or: To despair is to betray; at the end (God’s) mercy will prevail.”  

“A Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of thought. He is asked to do more than he understands in order to understand more than he does.”

“To speak about God and remain silent on (Climate Change) is blasphemous… God is filled with compassion, concern and pathos, whereas the tragedy of human beings is their indifference and impartiality; the root of sin is callousness.”

April 29

Different Ways to Pray (Winton Boyd preaching)

Naomi Shihab Nye was raised raised by Missouri Synod Lutheran mother and Palestinian father, writes with a global view – about joy and suffering, immigrants, opening ourselves to the wider world.   We will explore the Sacred through some of her poetry, including “Kindness” and “Gate A-4”

May 6

Learning to Play a New Game (Tammy Martens preaching)

The beginning of reconciliation comes from the generosity of The Forgiving Victim. We are invited to accept a new identity from the Forgiving Victim and be drawn into this new way of being human–by living out the Gospel of reconciliation. As we move into the possibility of being forgiven, we no longer need to define ourselves over and against others.

May 13

Jesus and Buddha As Brothers (Winton Boyd preaching)

We will use some of the wisdom of Buddhist teacher and master, Thich Nhat Hanh.  

May 20

The Inner Music of Prayer (Pentecost) (Winton Boyd preaching)

On Pentecost, we’ll return to Rabbi Heschel.  

“There is a story about someone who gazes through a window at people jumping and moving and thinks they are mad.  From the outside prayer and religious observance are difficult to understand. Only when the inner music is perceived can the religious expression begin to have meaning.”   

How do we nurture our own ‘inner music of prayer?’  What are the ways we get back in touch with the deep streams of knowing and being within us?  If we haven’t ever listened to them, how do we develop that practice?

 

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