December 2, 2013 | Posted by Doug
"God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;" -Luke 1:52
Reading: Luke 1:46-53
Last Sunday in his invitation to offering, Rodney Lopez imagined a new Black Friday, where at 4:30 a.m. hundreds of people are lined up and anxiously awaiting the opportunity not to get in and snatch up a bargain, but to rebuild our neighborhood into a community where people don’t have to line up in some mad scramble just to be able to afford what we need. In her sermon, Evelyn Rodriguez testified that the vision is possible. Dedicating herself to the well-being of adolescents, she has been through the utter frustration of working in systems that are unable or unwilling to serve the community. And yet when she reached her low point, unable to even appreciate the many ways she was touching the lives of young people and their families, she experienced the powerful assurance that God loves her and is empowering her to rise up on wings like eagles. Even youths will fall exhausted, but those who wait on God will renew their strength. The story of Christmas opens up for us the possibility of building a new Bronx, a new New York City, even a new nation and world.
October 20, 2013 | Posted by Doug
"you will receive the power" -Acts 1:8
Reading: Acts 1:8
Jesus teaches his disciples to dream big. The first step in dreaming big is receiving the power. Jesus tells them they will receive power when they connect with the Holy Spirit. Power is not something we manufacture but something that is already available, something we connect with. With this power, Jesus says, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. How do we connect with Holy Spirit power? Are we ready to accept the invitation to a huge project? To be part of a movement that is transforming the Bronx, New York City and beyond? How big are you willing to dream?
July 21, 2013 | Posted by Doug
"I am about to do a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. " -Isaiah 43:19
Reading: Isaiah 43:16-19
This is what’s available to us in an authentic relationship with God: a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. This is the new thing God is doing. A way in the wilderness is action - one foot in front of the other. The path may not always be clear, the wilderness is filled with predators, we discover the way in the wilderness one step of faith at a time. Rivers in the desert is God’s provision, God’s grace when we least expect it. Abundance in the midst of scarcity. The new thing God is doing is prayer and action, politics and faith, social analysis and spiritual discernment. We discover the grace of God as we walk the way of God.
April 15, 2013 | Posted by Doug
"If you had only recognized the things that make for peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes." -Luke 19:42
Reading: Luke 19:41-42
We have no inner peace, running after the approval of others. We have no time to breathe, trying to keep everyone happy. Peace is based on well-being - caring for ourselves, our relationships and our community. Over the next several weeks, we will explore the way of deep and meaningful peace.
March 26, 2013 | Posted by Doug
"While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them and said, "Take, this is my body." " -Mark 14:22
Reading: Mark 14:17-31
Jesus and his disciples were eating what was to be their last meal together. The dinner conversation was about which one of the disciples would betray Jesus and deny him in his hour of need. It’s a snapshot of a community torn by fear. The gospel is not some fairy tale, but a story about the kinds of jealousies, misunderstandings and fears that are tearing apart our relationships, families, and society. We may try to cover up our brokenness, but the cracks appear just beneath the surface. As soon as we begin to trust someone, we tell them the truth that we can no longer bear to hide about our latest break-up, our unreasonable boss, our chronic illness or the fear that is holding us back. Each of us is broken in unique ways. No one really knows what your suffering is like. When someone shares their pain, they are telling you about their most intimate selves. The cracks that run through you are as unique as your finger print and the way you live out of those cracks defines to a large extent, who you are. Jesus invites his disciples in all their pain to the communion table. They are all welcome at this table of truth-telling and invited into the transformation it offers. Some continued to betray and deny, but others were transformed. That is our choice.
February 13, 2013 | Posted by Doug
"Can God spread a table in the wilderness?" -Psalm 78:19
Reading: Psalm 78:14-20
When God inspired Moses to lead his people out of slavery, they celebrated, at first. But liberation was hard, and soon they were grumbling. Some said they would prefer slavery to the hard work and uncertainty of liberation. Even though they were experiencing God’s amazing care for them in the wilderness, they continued to complain saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” How often do we question God? Forgetting all the ways God has touched our lives and opened up new possibilities and given us strength and courage in times of uncertainty, do we also focus on the negativity and fear? God’s abundance is breaking out regularly in our faith community. An inspiring dance, gifted and spirit-filled musicians, deeply committed volunteers serving others during worship and leading community groups to shape the development of the Bronx or challenge unscrupulous landlords. As we take our Lenten Journey this year, we reflect on the God is setting a table in the wilderness.
March 26, 2012 | Posted by Doug
"As Jesus approached the capital city, he wept for the city saying, "If only you knew the things that make for peace, but now they are hidden from your eyes."" -Luke 19:42
Why is it so hard to find peace in our lives and in the world?
January 5, 2012 | Posted by Doug
"Jesus.... was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil." -Luke 4:1-2
Reading: Luke 4:1-13
Why is temptation so…. tempting? The things the devil invites Jesus to consider are good. Turn stones into bread, gain and use political power, prove to people the power of God. We are most tempted around our strength, not our weakness. How are you being tempted? How do we resist temptation? Jesus responded to the devil out of a combination of Spirit and Word. He is able to see through the superficial to the deeper truth.
December 12, 2011 | Posted by Doug
"Do not be afraid.... you have found favor with God." -Luke 1:30
Reading: Luke 1:26-38
What if you could transform you self-image? That’s what happened to Mary. She couldn’t believe an angel of God was speaking to her saying things like: “Greetings favored one.” She looked around and then back at the angel and said, “Who are you talking to?” She was even suspicious of him. No one had ever said things like that to her. Who is this guy and what does he want from me? What he wanted was to help her to see herself as God sees her. “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.” What if you could see yourself as God sees you?
October 4, 2011 | Posted by Doug
"They heard the sound of God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze...." -Genesis 3:8
Reading: Genesis 2-3
After reading the awesome story of creation on Sunday we move into the story of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had everything they needed. They lived in an abundant paradise. They had the choice to just enjoy that life, or to challenge God’s command to stay away from the fruit at the center of the garden. Of course, like any two year old would do when warned to stay away from the electric socket, they went to check it out. This whole episode dramatically changed their relationship with God. Now when God walked in the garden they hid themselves for they were ashamed. They began blaming each other. Life became a struggle. What does this story tell us about our relationship with God? About the source of joy in life? About the significance of the freedom to make mistakes? About the freedom to live in harmony with others, or to compete with them, even to injure them? Join us Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. for a creation conversation about Genesis 2-3 at 398 Oliver Place, Apt. 2E. You can call 917-669-5803 for details.