If you know that God's love embraces all persons equally, no matter their gender, race, or sexual identity...
If you understand that faith is a matter of mind as well as heart, and that taking the Bible seriously means it cannot always be taken literally...
If, for you, diversity, tolerance, and inclusion are strengths to be taught...
If you believe that Christ calls us to be nothing less than global citizens, that the social expression of love is justice and that spiritual concerns are inseparable from a commitment to the natural world...
If you have wished for a more open and embracing community of faith to
nurture your spirit and raise your children, and haven't yet found a place of belonging...
... then please know that Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ is the place for you.
No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!
'We're all in this together!" It's almost a cliche, but do we really internalize it? Do we more often act as if we can go it alone? Do we often feel like we're alone? Do we shrug off the act of an individual or two, or even a terrorist attack, as something we don't need to take very seriously? After all it didn't hit our town or neighborhood. Do we feel it in our gut when we see suffering children or women, or even young men (or old men and women, for that matter), on the television screen? I know Margie (my wife) does. I hear it in the gasps and sighs, and sometimes cries and near screams, when such imaegs come up. How do our psyches respond when we read the sign of a homeless person at some busy intersection? (I know I don't do very well with this last one.)
I’m not saying that there is some easy solution, or that saying, “We’re all in this together!” is going to fix everything. Still, it starts with feeling. I believe in a God (or a cosmos, if you prefer) which somehow feels that pain and struggle in this world. Christians claim to be followers of one who is the embodiment of that truth. He shows us how divine love enters into the fullness of human experience.
II Corinthians reminds us that, for Paul, this ability to feel with one another (and act on that feeling) is the essence (or maybe pinnacle) of Christian community, and, I would say, human existence. He used the image of all the parts of the body working together for the good of the whole (I Corinthians 12), ending with “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (vs. 26)
In this week’s lectionary reading, the subject is shared pain. We can only speculate on the specifics to which Paul refers. At some point in the past, Paul visited Corinth and witnessed something that upset him (II Corinthians 2:1-2), quite likely someone teaching that Gentile followers of Christ must follow all Jewish ritual practices to become part of the community. Paul’s understanding of love was much more inclusive than that, deeply rooted in an understanding of God’s unconditional love and grace.
Whatever happened seems to have focused primarily upon one individual. Paul apparently wrote a letter about it that pained the whole community, and then they turned on that individual adding more pain. (vss. 3-6)
Our conversation about pain, its causes and consequences, ranged widely this morning. We talked about the pain of personal loss, the pain inflicted upon one nation upon another, the experience of minorities in American, Hiroshima, the building of walls along U.S. borders (and the response of Latino and other students in the Portland area), even about our experiences of farm work (or total absence of acquaintance with farm settings) in our youth. It was too far-ranging for me to summarize, but, at times, it was almost an example of how difficult it is for us to enter into the experience and perspectives of one another.
Presented Sunday, May 22, 2016.
“God remains with us through the painful stuff that happens so that working together with God we can create meaning, we can bring new life… even out of the very worst that can happen.”
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Well I’m not sure how it has seemed to you, but for me our first month together has been a bit of a joyful whirlwind: Breakfast club, planning and leading worship each week, a raw food dinner with the Christ the Healer community, NW Pilot Project luncheon, visiting folks at home and in my office, Hoyt Street dinner, attending the monthly luncheon of Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), a little wedding planning, Council Meeting, Member Care Team meeting, Pastoral Relations Meeting, community forum with Portland’s Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) – it’s all so good!
And in and through all of that, the joy of learning names, and faces, and stories; hearing what’s delighting you in life right now, what’s troubling you, and where you are finding God. I love hearing the stories of what brought each of you to Kairos-Milwaukie, and learning what you hope for the future of this beautiful congregation.
One of my favorite moments of the week happens after the postlude ends on Sunday morning - that moment when in many churches there is a rush for the door and either the parking lot and a full day ahead or wherever in the church coffee is being served. But not at Kairos. As I stand at the door and look back into the sanctuary I see people greeting each other with tenderness or humor or stillness, sometimes settling back into the pew for extended conversations. I see people gathering each other in, being attentive to each other in this space made sacred by years of worship, friendship, prayer, communion and compassion. And I know that I am standing on holy ground.
I am so grateful to be sharing this journey of faith with you.
This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.
The United Church of Christ One Great Hour of Sharing and The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Week of Compassion issue this joint special appeal for $500,000 for Ecuador earthquake relief and recovery. The United Church of Christ and The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), with our ecumenical partners, are well-positioned to respond to immediate needs and to be active in long-term accompaniment as people recover. Your generosity to this special appeal will enable a far-reaching response. On the 16th of April 2016 the people of Ecuador experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The death toll of hundreds and injury count of thousands are rising daily. Physical damage to buildings and infrastructure is catastrophic, including demolished buildings, broken roadways, and lost electricity along the Pacific coastline. A state of emergency has been called for 6 of Ecuador’s coastal provinces.
Through our partnership, you are already there in the heart of the response. You are there as traumatized survivors evaluate their next steps amid the rubble of their former homes and as rescue responders continue to search for survivors. You are accompanying the people of Ecuador through your support of the UCC and Disciples disaster ministries. The situation is urgent. The need is great. You can help! Contribute:
One Great Hour of Sharing: International Emergency - securely online;
Or mail Check to:
One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC)
700 Prospect Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115-1100
(By mail, please remember to specify Ecuador Earthquake Relief)