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This is where Pastor Ken Barnes shares his thoughts on our church life together. Think of it as a sort of on-line coffee hour. If you want to add a comment or ask a question, just click “read more” then scroll down to the comment box below the post and start typing.

Graduation Thought: “Get a Life”

Friends, I found  Pulitzer Prize winning author Anna Quindlen’s commencement address to Villanova University, Friday, June 23, 2000, moved me. I share it (somewhat edited) with you.

Shalom,

Ken

I’m a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first.

A friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas when the senator decided not to run for reelection because he’d been diagnosed with cancer: “No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office.” Don’t ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: “If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” . . .

You walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. . . . you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. . . . .

Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the test results and they’re not so good.

Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen, I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

I would be rotten, or at best mediocre at my job, if those other things (Read more . . .)

Sharing The Story

One of my favorite sages is Nasrudin, the holy one of the Sufi tradition. He is both the fool and the wise one in the village.

Here is one of my favorite stories:

Nasrudin said to the people who were gathered at the mosque, “Do you know what I’m going to say?”

“No, we don’t know.”

“Well, if you don’t know, I have nothing to say to you.” And he went home.

The next time, he asked them again, “Do you know what I’m going to say?”

“Yes, we know!”

“Well, if you already know, I have nothing to say to you.” And he went home.

The third time he asked again, “Do you know what I’m going to say?”

Half of the congregation said “We know” and the other half said, “We don’t know.”

And so Nasrudin said, “Let those of you who know, tell those of you who don’t!”

So, on EASTER Sunday, we’ll remember this little story and then maybe continue by saying: “Do YOU know what I am going to say to you?”

“No, we don’t know,” some might say.

Then we will proclaim in scripture, song, prayer and sermon, “Christ is RISEN!”

And we will say, “Christ is RISEN, indeed!”

And hopefully we will approach the empty tomb, stand in awe, confusion and fright and then rejoice in the triumph of life everlasting.

We will afterwards meet in the fellowship hall, share food, refreshments, conversation . . . and know that life is a bit richer and deeper for all of us.

Easter Joy,

Ken

Rediscovering Liberal Christianity

As many of you know, our Lenten Soup Supper and Study Group will begin on Wednesday, March 5, at 6:30 PM, and continue each Wednesday night during Lent. We will eat first and socialize and then flow into discussion of the book chapter by about 7 PM each evening.

RobinMeyers larger

Rev. Robin Meyers

Last month in this column, I introduced our Lenten Study book, Saving Jesus From the Church, by Robin R. Meyers, and I provided a summary of the prologue and the first chapter.

On March 5, we will begin with the first chapter, which we hope everyone will have read. I ask each person to select a sentence or two from the chapter which speaks to you . . . or confuses you . . . and be prepared to share it. We’ll also have opportunities to share our responses to the passages identified by others. We will plan to read and discuss about a chapter a week but want the flexibility to speed up or slow down as the Spirit leads.

Since I will be drawing from this important study book for my sermons during Lent, and since a number of you will be reading the book, this month I’m providing a kind of “Masterplots” summary of each chapter, so you can see the development of Meyers’ thinking.

Meyers begins by asking the question, “Am I a Christian?”

The Prologue provides the essence of Meyers’ vision. His is a call to get back to what Christianity looked like before “the fourth century, when a first- century spiritual insurgency was seduced into marrying its original oppressor.” Chapter 1 continues this theme, focusing on Jesus as teacher rather than savior. (Read more . . .)

What Is A Liberal Christian?

We will be meeting, studying, and sharing again during Lent, on Wednesday nights during March in people’s homes. We had  a grand turnout last year, and I trust and hope we can repeat it.

I’m excited about our Lenten Study book, Saving Jesus From the Church, by Robin R. Meyers. What makes it valuable is that Meyers is a liberal Christian and is unapologetically both. He is concerned to move beyond stating what he as a liberal Christian doesn’t believe, beyond even stating what he does believe and value, to actually proclaiming the Gospel as he understands it.

The cover flap provides endorsements from no less voices than Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bill Moyers. They are some of my heroes.

The book is full of so many eloquent and memorable expressions that I could run a series of “Quotes of the Day” for a week and still not be finished.

Meyers begins by asking the question, “Am I a Christian?” He presents a nightmare of all the horrific things people have done in the name of Christ, and the refrain: if that’s what being a Christian is, then I don’t want to be one. (Read more . . .)

Stress Relief.

New years cheerAnother year, another chance to serve . . . grow . . . celebrate. . .but not stagnate!!! Its so easy, at least for me, to rehash old negative memories, past mistakes, or lost opportunities. In recovery folks say, “Live today as if it’s the last day of your life.”

What follows is an illustration and advice I received from a friend, and I pass it on to you!

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. (Read more . . .)

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