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July 21, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


Did you know...

 

...that Christian Temple is part of a protestant denomination called the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)?, And...

 

...that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meets in what we call a General Assembly every two years for worship, workshops, fellowship, and conducting the business of the church? And...

 

...that this year the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is holding its General Assembly in Des Moines, Iowa? And...

 

...that Rick and Jayna Powell are away from worship today because they are in Des Moines attending the General Assembly which started Saturday and will close on Wednesday? And...

 

......that among many other opportunities available at the General Assembly will be our opportunity to receive a certificate from the Disciples LGBTQ Alliance congratulating us on our standing as an "Open and Affirming Congregation" of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) which we will bring home and share? And...

 

...that we will be eager to share with our friends and colleagues the good news of all the ways Christian Temple is bearing witness to our God of joy and love and justice, and to learn from them new ideas and programs? And...

 

...that it's supposed to be as hot or hotter in Des Moines as it is right here in Baltimore while we are away?! And...

 

...if you find yourself with some free time tonight, tomorrow, or Tuesday, you are  welcome to live stream the worship services that will happen each evening in Des Moines beginning around 8:15 PM local time? (Also on Wednesday morning!)

 

It is sometimes said that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), or just 'the Disciples', is one of the best kept secrets of the American church. We don't keep this secret intentionally! We just try- maybe too hard- to let our actions do the talking. But rest assured, if you are reading these words you have stumbled onto a faith tradition that seeks to "do church" in ways that welcome everyone to the table and proudly proclaim that following Jesus is more about sharing our lives honestly with one another than about subscribing to a specific way of believing; more about proclaiming justice than winning converts.

 

Please keep us in your prayers this morning and this week as we meet with others to tell our story and sharpen our focus for ministry.

 

Welcome to worship!

 

Rick

 

P.S. Worship Livestream Link! Participate in worship Saturday through Tuesday at 8:15 pm EDT and Wednesday morning at 10:00 am EDT the live feed will be activated.  Go to https://ga.disciples.org/     This link will take you to the General Assembly page.  Click on Worship Streaming at the top right corner of the page.

 




July 14, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


Anyone remember June of 2017? That was when our congregation  approved the welcome statement now printed each week in our order of worship and proudly displayed on our website. We were and are “An Open and Affirming Congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)”.

 

Which is great! But up until this week there was one more thing left to do. We needed to send information to the Disciples LGBTQ Alliance so we could be included on the registry of Open and Affirming Congregations. Inclusion in this registry would ensure that folks looking for both a Disciples congregation AND one that is Open and Affirming would find US! We had everything we needed...with the exception of one policy document- an Equal Employment Opportunity statement indicating we are willing to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to inclusion. Last January this statement was adopted by our board:

 

“Christian Temple, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Catonsville, Maryland embraces its commitment to being an equal opportunity employer in its history and continued practice of non-discrimination on any basis, including race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, and marital status. We find our strength to be in our diverse makeup. We apply this approach and belief in all that we do, including the support, supervision and evaluation of our staff.”

 

So, there you have it folks. We did it! Or did we?

 

Some would say that we are never "there" when it comes to inclusion. In fact, the minute we think we are there our welcome begins to suffer. Being Open and Affirming means more than just saying we are welcoming of all people. It also means that we see the work of deepening our welcome as a constant priority.

 

And so, on this Sunday, when we get to hear again Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan, we have the blessed opportunity to imagine what it feels like to be that man who fell among the robbers, beaten down and cast aside. That man will always be laying on the side of some road in our lives. And we are called to be the ones to see him, offer healing to her, and then go the extra mile to welcome them into our lives. 

 

Speaking of welcome, WELCOME TO WORSHIP!

 




June 30, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


This week all around the country our dinners were rudely interrupted by the sickening image of Oscar Martinez and his daughter Angie, laying face down on the shores of the Rio Grande river near Brownsville, TX. After seeing the image we heard bits and pieces of the story.

 

The two had already made it safely to the Texas side of the river when Oscar went back to get his wife. But as Angie saw her father swimming away she jumped in after him. The two weren't able keep up with the current and drowned while mom watched from the other side of the river.

 

Just awful.

 

On Wednesday when we saw the photograph on the news, the story followed one about how many of the swimming pools in Baltimore City are closed due to maintenance issues leaving hundreds of   children with no swimming options during this first summer heat wave, while kids in more well-to-do neighborhoods get to pick and choose which pool they want to swim in.

 

Injustice comes in wide varieties doesn't it. But it all boils down to the same thing. Some of us get more than others not because we deserve it but simply by accident of birth. Most of us reading these words are among these people. And it's not fair.

My guess is that we are all over the map in our opinions about a  political solution to the crisis at our southern border. But those of us who follow Jesus have a very clear mandate when it comes to     immigrants. We are called to welcome the stranger. We are called to extend hospitality to those who have no place to live. We are called to be horrified by images like the one we've seen so often this week. And we are called to admit that this happened in our country. It  wasn't somewhere over there. These two drowned while we were making our grocery lists for the week.

 

When it comes to water, sometimes the injustice is that there is too much to manage. Other times it is because there is too little. Either way, God asks those of us who have so much, to be troubled enough to ask ourselves, "What more can I do?"

 

Welcome  to worship.

 




June 16, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


If I had known how dear my childhood teachers in church would   become to me, I would have treated them so much better. Or at least I hope so.

If I had known that I was going to become an avid reader I wouldn’t have rolled my eyes at Birdie Law that morning she brought enough copies of C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” into our 7th grade Sunday school class for everyone to have their own. Or at least I hope so.

If I had known John Garver would have taught me the importance of personally welcoming everyone who walks through the doors of the church, I wouldn’t have made a game out of avoiding his Sunday morning handshakes. Or at least I hope so.

If I had known how Sharon Boice’s uncomfortably long and way-too-close hugs were eventually going to teach me how important it is for the church to create a safe place for those who live with mental     illness, I wouldn’t have made fun of her cat eye glasses so often with my friends. Or at least I hope so.

If I had known that Peggy Kost would become one of my mom’s most trusted friends through years of sitting next to each other in the alto section of the choir, I might not have commented so often on her sometimes wobbly alto voice. Or at least I hope so.

If I had known that Laura Katsiftis was going to call me of all people that summer when I worked as the church custodian, to come and  visit her husband who had just been told he “got the cancer”, I wouldn’t have winced through middle school every time she called me “Ricky Boy”. Or at least I hope so.

Adults, listen up! Every time we come to church, we also become teachers. Our students who zip in and out of the gathering space may not realize they’ve joined our class. They probably won’t show us their appreciation for the lessons we teach. But, one of these days they will remember us well. Or at least we hope so.

Welcome to worship!

 




May 1, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


“My daughter is on the brink of everything.”

This is how Courtney Martin described her sixteen month old daughter in her essay “Reuniting with Awe”. Everything her little girl experiences ushers in a whole new world- a daisy, an M&M, being swung by her hands- “do it again, mommy!”

This is also the title for Parker Palmer’s newest book- “On the Brink of Everything”. Palmer is about to turn 80 and has been writing for most of those years. This book is his reflection on “Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old”. After acknowledging that his body is showing plenty of the effects of having lived eighty years, he boldly claims that he likes being old, especially when he is able to live in the moment and savor the little things each new day brings- a good night’s sleep, the way the sun lights up the frost on his bedroom window at sunrise, and the first sip of his morning coffee.

Each day to which he awakens is another day to be on the brink of everything. Which is also how I like to think of the life of this 115 year old congregation. Sure, we are old! But, we are also on the brink of everything!

Consider our recent life:

We are on the brink of living into our call to welcome all of God’s people- not only to give everyone a place at the table but to ask everyone to help us design the menu! What a delight it is as your pastor to look around and find members of the LGBTQ+ being warmly and enthusiastically drawn into the bonds of this community. And how cool is it that we have a growing number of people in our faith community for whom English isn’t their first language. All means all!

We are on the brink of becoming a neighborhood congregation with a metropolitan draw. Most of our newest members have come to us from right around the neighborhood while dozens of people we never see in Sunday morning worship (but are here during the week for school or maybe a little support) think of this as their church! Meanwhile our history, our denominational identity and our vibrant music and worship lures people of faith to worship here from far and wide.

We are on the brink of a new generation of children growing up in our midst while taking seriously our ministry to individuals and families without kids. Maybe you’ve noticed the growing number of kids here on Sunday morning learning the stories of Jesus and developing a love of worship AND community service. Meanwhile things like study groups, women’s retreats and Theology on Tap give the adults around here a precious opportunity to open up with one another.

And, dare I say it, we are on the brink of a new kind of Christianity, a kind of Christianity that seeks to take the life-affirming practices of the secular world like Yoga, gardening, book clubs, meditation, play groups and volunteering; and center them in the life of Jesus Christ.

This is an exciting time to be part of the church. This is an exciting time to be a member of the faith community we call Christian Temple. At such a time as this, we call upon all the members of this congregation to consider making a financial pledge that will help us take the thrilling steps that will carry us from “on the brink” into “a brand new world”!

Shalom,

Rick

 


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