May 25, 2018

Worship

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PUCC Lenten Devotion – Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018

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Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.’ – Matthew 21:1b-2
 

A Palm Sunday poem, prayer and pondering to challenge our minds as we discern the meaning of this day…
 
The poem 
 
The Donkey by G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
 
When fishes flew and forests walked
      And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
      Then surely I was born.
 
With monstrous head and sickening cry
      And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
      On all four-footed things.
 
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
     Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me:  I am dumb,
     I keep my secret still.
 
Fools!  For I also had my hour;
     One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
     And palms before my feet.
 
**
 
The prayer 

A Prayer for Palm Sunday by John W. Vest
 
God of transformation,
we are reminded this day
that Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem
was more than a show,
more than a simple provocation,
more than the beginning of a cute celebration.
It was a signal that things are changing,
an unmistakably potent message
to the powers that be
that the world as we know it
is becoming the world as it should be.
It was a radical act of defiance
directed against those in his day
who wielded power
through violence, oppression, and tyranny.
It is no less radical, and no less tame,
for those who do the same today.
This simple ride reminds us-
and tells the whole world-
that you are indeed coming to make all things new.
You are coming to turn weapons of war
into instruments of peace.
You are coming to release those
who find themselves in all manners of bondage:
chains of injustice;
chains of addiction;
chains of conformity and apathy.
You are coming to provide for the poor:
food for the hungry
and shelter for the homeless.
You are coming to assure the dignity and equality
of all who are marginalized or oppressed.
You are coming to end violence and divisions,
to provide safe communities
and opportunities for education.
You are coming to offer healing and wholeness,
comfort, consolation, and hope.
You are coming to transform all that we know.
You are coming to save us.
But like humble Jesus riding into town on a lowly colt,
you aren’t coming in grandeur,
you aren’t coming with thunder and lightning,
you aren’t making an epic entrance.
You’re coming through the mystery of love incarnate,
through your church empowered by your Spirit,
through lives transformed and inspired,
through ordinary people like us,
blessed by you to do extraordinary things.
Come, gracious God
into a world that longs for change,
a world that needs your love,
a world full of your own children,
a world ripe with hope and potential.
Blessed are those who come in your name, O God.
We have come.
We will go.
And now we pray-we pray for your coming kingdom
emerging all around us.
Amen.
        

**

The pondering 
 
Jesus’ Subversive Donkey RideA Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Palm Sundaby Carl Gregg

                                                                                                                                  
In Mark’s fast-paced style, we see three different days of Holy Week in chapter 11 alone. The first eleven verses are what we celebrate as Palm Sunday. But in verse 12, we see a clue (the words, ‘On the following day’), which indicate that the events regarding the fig tree and the aggression against the Temple happened the next day. Monday continues through Mark 11:19, where we read that, ‘when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.’ And in verse 20, Mark lets us know that Tuesday has arrived when he describes the second encounter with the fig tree as happening, ‘In the morning.’

Although Holy Week liturgies have tended to focus on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday, and Easter Sunday, the events of “Holy Tuesday” are much more extensively described in Mark than any of the other days. All total, Mark devotes 115 verses to the Tuesday of Jesus’ last week, a statistic which is helpful to keep in mind when considering the relatively paltry eleven verses Mark affords to Palm Sunday. And Mark spends more than half of those eleven verses detailing the odd procurement of Jesus’ donkey.

Anyone familiar with the book of Zechariah would immediately recognize why Mark spent so many precious verses on the simple act of getting the donkey. Zechariah 9:9 says, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River [Euphrates] to the ends of the earth.’
 
Many commentators have speculated that Mark emphasizes the details of retrieving the donkey to give his readers time to have “ears to hear” the allusion to Zechariah’s prophecy: the one who comes riding on a donkey will nonviolently bring peace.

This connection between Zechariah and Mark is not merely the speculation of modern scholars. Remember that both Matthew and Luke had a copy of Mark on their desks when they wrote their respective Gospels a decade later. And when Matthew copied Mark’s account of Palm Sunday, he adds in Matthew 21:4 that, ‘This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet.’ Then Matthew quotes Zechariah to make clear Mark’s allusion.

But here’s where the story gets strange. Whereas Mark simply has Jesus riding a donkey colt, Matthew curiously switches into the plural. In Matthew 21:6-7 if you read closely, you’ll notice that it says, ‘The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.’ Matthew’s version sounds like Jesus rode in on both beasts at the same time, straddling two animals like a circus act.

In Matthew’s defense, Zechariah said that the prophesied one would come ‘on donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ But any Hebrew scholar would tell you that Zechariah was simply speaking poetically using Semitic parallelism, which was commonly used to describe the same object in two different ways. But Matthew, reading the Greek translation of Zechariah (in the Septuagint), may have misread the prophet as speaking literally, and then changed Mark’s account to conform to Matthew’s understanding of Zechariah’s prophecy. In other words, many scholars have maintained that Matthew must have thought, “If Zechariah said two animals, then Jesus must have ridden two animals no matter how odd that seems.”

This alteration is one of those cases that some scholars gleefully point out to show inconsistencies in the Bible. My goal is not to claim that the Bible is inerrant. Rather, the more I study the Bible, the more I am convinced not that the biblical writers were infallible or perfect, but that the biblical authors are operating at a much more sophisticated and challenging level than is typically recognized today.
The historical Jesus scholar John Dominic Crossan has sought to debunk the argument that Matthew was a scriptural literalist who altered Mark’s story to the absurd length of Jesus riding in on two animals at the same time to conform to Matthew’s misreading of Zechariah. Crossan proposes what I believe to be a much more compelling interpretation of Matthew. Crossan writes that Matthew [my emphasis]: wants two animals, a donkey with her little colt beside her, and that Jesus rides “them” in the sense of having them both as part of his demonstration’s highly visible symbolism. In other words, Jesus does not ride a stallion or a mare, a mule or a male donkey, and not even a female donkey. He rides the most unmilitary mount imaginable: a female nursing donkey with her little colt trotting along beside her.
 
I find Crossan’s reading compelling because Jesus riding an unmilitary mount matches the rest of the Zechariah prophecy – that the one who comes riding on a humble donkey into Jerusalem will nonviolently bring peace. Remember the language from Zechariah about ‘cutting off the chariot, war horse, and bow into to command peace.’

This interpretation is even more convincing when you consider that historically triumphal entries into Jerusalem would have been exactly the opposite of what Mark, Matthew, and Zechariah described. The triumphant military leader would not have come nonviolently on a humble donkey to cut off the chariot, war horse, and bow; but would have come riding a chariot and war horse and wielding a bow or other weapons.
 
Crossan notes that in 332 BCE, three centuries before Jesus’ Palm Sunday entrance, Alexander the Great, having conquered “Tyre and Gaza after terrible sieges . . . Jerusalem opened its gate without a fight.” And we can “Imagine the victorious Alexander entering Jerusalem on his famous war-horse, the black stallion Bucephalus.”

Similarly, Crossan highlights that the custom likely would have been for Pilate to make a similarly militaristic triumphal entry to Jerusalem – with war horse, chariot, and weapons – each year in the days before Passover to remind the pilgrims that Rome was in charge. Such a demonstration would have been especially pertinent at Passover since Passover was explicitly a celebration of the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Thus, Jesus’ subversive donkey ride reminded all those waving Palm branches that Rome was the new Egypt, and the Emperor was the new Pharaoh.

In many ways the lampooning and satire are the easier part. The next day, Jesus continued the trajectory that had begun with his unusual entry to Jerusalem when he overturned the tables in the Temple to interrupt, if only briefly, business as usual. As indicated by the odd symbolism of the fig tree, Jesus’ issue was that the current religious and political establishment, like the troublesome fig tree, was not bearing fruit.

Suddenly, we find Jesus making broad, increasingly public and controversial demonstrations in the big city of Jerusalem in the middle of Passover (the height of the pilgrimage season) in contrast to merely making controversial teachings in the small towns and villages around Galilee. I do not think that Jesus wanted to die, but his passion for justice and his anger at injustice – a passion and anger he inherited from the Hebrew prophets before him – led him to take increasingly large risks to show the contrast between the status quo (where Herod was king) and the kingdom of God. These risky acts of nonviolent activism led directly to Jesus’ tragic martyrdom.

This account is not to say that following Jesus necessarily means we will die a tragic death. There are those like St. Francis of Assisi, Clarence Jordan, and Dorothy Day who followed Jesus in radical, controversial ways and died of old age. But there are also those like Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gandhi who – like Jesus – were killed when they risked following Jesus’ way. Thus [my emphasis]: Rosa Parks is an imitator of Christ, not because she suffered for taking her stand (or keeping her seat, in her case), but because she had the courage to believe in her own dignity and fought for it in spite of the conflict that resulted. Nelson Mandela is an imitator of Christ, not because he suffered in prison, but because he held out for peace and justice, and led a nation to resurrection. In each case it is not the suffering that is redemptive, but the courage to pursue justice in the face of pain and evil.
 
This Holy Week, may Mark’s story of Jesus continues to haunt us, to challenge us, and to inspire us as we discern how God is calling us – today, in our time and place – to follow the Jesus’ risky way of nonviolent activism, loving-kindness, and gracious compassion.

Notes:
1 For Crossan’s interpretation of Palm Sunday, I am drawing from the study guide he wrote to accompany the 2009 DVD series First Light: Jesus and the Kingdom. However, for a less-expensive alternative to buying the DVDs, I recommend his book co-written with Marcus Borg, The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem, which, however, was published in 2006 and does not include Crossan’s interpretation of Matthew 21 about the female donkey and coal.
2 “Rosa Parks is an imitator of Christ” – see John R. Mabry, Crisis & Communion: The Remythologization of the Eucharist – Past, Present, and Future (Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press, 2005), 129.

The Rev. Carl Gregg is the pastor of Broadview Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter @carlgregg 

            

Prayer:  Holy One, help me to be open to the words and wonders of today. Amen.  

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org
Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 N Ballas Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131
Sent by kevin@parkwayucc.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact

PUCC Lenten Devotion – Saturday, March 24, 2018

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Love is a Spirit by Gary Robert Ballard

 
We had a prayer request from a young girl that impacted my heart. Her request was for us to pray that her mother would tell her she loved her. I thought how tragic, how sad, and how typical of so many hurting people in the world today. This is especially common in the more modernized countries of the world. It seems that the more developed a nation is the more focused the people become on the cares of this world and the less time they have for love. When visiting some squatters in a Philippine garbage dump I observed that they were surprisingly much happier than very wealthy people in the US were. They did not have much, but they had love, and that is the most important thing of all that we can ever have or achieve.

God has created every human being in God’s own image, which means that we are created to love. We are created to need love and we are created to give love. Most people do not know what love is. As people become more “world focused” they seem to develop a distorted view about what love is.

The Bible tells us that “God is Love”, and the Bible also says that God is Spirit, that means true Love is a Spirit, the Holy Spirit. But of course there are counterfeit forms of what people call love.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit describe true Love. 

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

The first fruit of the Spirit is Love and all of the other fruits are characteristics of Love.

Love is more than a feeling, it is more than an experience, it is the manifested presence of God, the glory of God. Remember God is Love, so when you experience true Love you are experiencing God’s glorious presence. Notice the second fruit is joy, love is the ultimate joy that can be experienced. 

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalms 16:11

The third fruit listed is peace. Just as fear is a spirit, so also Love is a Spirit of power and peace. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7

Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 6:23

Finally, siblings, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. – 2 Corinthians 13:11

The other six fruits of the Spirit all have to do with actions of Love and the power of Love… patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
All of the fruits of the Spirit are the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, which is the manifestation of God’s love in our own life and in the life of community.

Prayer: Holy One, help us to be fruity in the ways we live and love. Amen.

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org
Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 N Ballas Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131
Sent by kevin@parkwayucc.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact

PUCC Lenten Devotion – Friday, March 23, 2018

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All deeds are right in the sight of the doer, but God weighs the heart. – Proverbs 21:2

It’s day 6,350 wearing my nametag… I am the World Record Holder with Ripley’s Believe it or Not. – Scott Ginsberg

 
Last Sunday we talked a bit about Scott. He was born/raised in St Louis — graduated from Parkway North High in 1998; Miami University in Ohio in 2002. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Scott has been wearing a nametag since the winter of 2001. He began wearing a nametag as an experiment and decided to wear it forever when he realized how effective it was in building community. He wrote and published his first book, HELLO, my name is Scott: Wearing Nametags for a Friendlier Society in early 2003 and now works as an author and motivational speaker. His program is entitled Building Front Porches.
 
Scott said, “What would happen if I started wearing a nametag all the time? Would people be friendlier? Would people think I just came from a convention? Would people stare at me with confused looks on their faces while ridiculing me and assume that I was a complete idiot. Yes. 
HELLO, my name is Scott! I wear a nametag. I wear it all day, every day wherever I go. Truthfully, it all started as an experiment a few years ago, but I never suspected that something simple like wearing a nametag would change my life, as well as the lives of everyone around me. Throughout this book, you will find out what happens to me on a daily basis as a result of wearing a nametag. Over the years, I have found the responses I get from people to be quite interesting. More importantly, however, you will find that making this world a friendlier place is something you can easily do by simply building a great “front porch” of your own. The answer isn’t nametags for everyone, but rather for everyone to find a way that best suits them! Changing this world is easier than you think, you just have to be willing to take that first pivotal step to reach out and increase friendliness!”
 
Another project of Scott’s is Tunnel of Love.

[Full disclosure from Kevin: I have not yet watched this video… I just came across it when I was reading more about Scott…. You may want to watch it and tell me what you think.]
 
Tunnel of Love is a feature length documentary about the intersection of identity, belonging and creativity. Watch the entire movie for free at http://www.tunneloflovedoc.com/ 
 
It’s a look at the transformative power of live music, both on the audience and the performer. It’s an homage the sonic potential of natural acoustics. And it’s a playful narrative about two lovers in the process of changing their pronouns.
 
Through live performances, unexpected creative moments of conception and behind the scenes storytelling, the film takes you on a heartfelt journey about what it means to be an artist, a romantic and an opportunist.
 
The movie was filmed at The Meadowport Arch in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. It’s the most breathtaking architectural and sonic marvel ever.
 

What Fans Are Saying…

“Ginsberg inspires audiences with acts of chutzpah and quirky individualism.” – Inc Magazine
 
“A story about the gentle but dramatic transition into caring more about the beauty of ‘the we’ than any other success imagined as separate entities.” – Hopeful World
 
“Ambient. Romantic. Inspiring.” – Scott’s Mom

 

Prayer:  Holy One,  help me to be inspired and an inspiration in any number of ways. Amen.  

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org
Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 N Ballas Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131
Sent by kevin@parkwayucc.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact

PUCC Lenten Devotion – Thursday, March 22, 2018

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Love Lifted Me by Marchae Grair

 
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

A minister at my childhood church used to start many of his sermons with a song called “Love Lifted Me.” The main chorus repeated, “Love lifted me. Love lifted me. When nothing else could help, Love lifted me . . . .”

I think I’m finally starting to get the concept.

I am falling in love for the first time.

I’m not just doodling hearts and initials on a notebook. I’m not just changing a Facebook status to see how many likes I can get and how many curiosities I can pique.

No, this time’s different.

This time, there’s safety in what I know. This time, there’s faith beyond what I can’t know.

This time, I finally understand there is no such thing as love without trust.

This time, I’m not doing all of the heavy lifting.

This time love is lifting me.

Recently, I realized the word “Love” in “Love Lifted Me” is capitalized because the songwriter uses Love as another name for God, suggesting that God is so intertwined with Love that God is Love.

It makes sense that God would create us in Her image to do something She does best.

Every time we give and receive love authentically, vulnerably, and purposefully, we honor our spirit and the Spirit in which that love was created.

I’m ready to dive in to this new understanding of what love is because I finally understand who Love is.

Prayer: Holy One, thank you for a Love that doesn’t stop lifting. Amen.

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org
Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 N Ballas Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131
Sent by kevin@parkwayucc.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact

PUCC Lenten Devotion – Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:9-10


23 THINGS THAT LOVE IS by Paul Tripp
  1. LOVE IS… being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.
  2. LOVE IS… actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
  3. LOVE IS… making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
  4. LOVE IS… being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.
  5. LOVE IS… being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
  6. LOVE IS… a making a daily commitment to admit your errors, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
  7. LOVE IS… being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
  8. LOVE IS… making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
  9. LOVE IS… being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
  10. LOVE IS… being a good student of another, looking for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support them as they carry it, or encourage them along the way.
  11. LOVE IS… being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the relational problems you face, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
  12. LOVE IS… being willing to always ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
  13. LOVE IS… recognizing the high value of trust in a relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
  14. LOVE IS… speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack the other person’s character or assault their intelligence.
  15. LOVE IS… being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt the other person into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
  16. LOVE IS… being unwilling to ask another person to be the source of your identity, meaning, and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of theirs.
  17. LOVE IS… the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as partner, parent, friend, neighbor, etc.
  18. LOVE IS… a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your relationships.
  19. LOVE IS… staying faithful to your commitment to treat another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when the other person doesn’t seem deserving or is unwilling to reciprocate.
  20. LOVE IS… the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of a relationship without asking for anything in return or using your sacrifices to place the other person in your debt.
  21. LOVE IS… being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt the other person, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
  22. LOVE IS… refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
  23. LOVE IS… daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are unable to be driven by a cruciform love without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.
Prayer:  Holy One, help me to be more and more focused on what love is – in my heart, words and actions. Amen.

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org
Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 N Ballas Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131
Sent by kevin@parkwayucc.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact

Easter Worship

Easter Sunrise Service
April 1 | 
6:30am | Elm Lawn Cemetery
(Behind the Historic Sanctuary across the street)
Gathering in the darkness like the women did long, long ago, we will be literally warmed and encouraged by the “new fire.” The Day of Resurrection will dawn on us as we see the empty tomb and decide for ourselves what we’ll do next.

 

Easter Worship
April 1 | 9:30 Traditional & 11:00am Informal
Lilies all around, snuffed Lenten candles now ablaze again, fresh flowers being placed in the cross, stirring music in the air, eager kids everywhere you look…Come celebrate the most important day of the year! [Special Easter activities for the kids during worship—Easter Egg Hunt after both services.]

 

PUCC Lenten Devotion – Tuesday, March 20, 2018

 

 

A Change of Heart by Richard Floyd
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10
God is consistent in wanting to be in our hearts.
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – Jeremiah 31:33
The human heart is a vital organ, a big muscle that pumps blood through the vessels of our circulatory system, but the metaphorical heart is also a matter of life and death. It has been understood as the seat of our decisions and acts. In this way the heart is implicated in the choices of lovers and fools, and who among us hasn’t been both at some time in our life?
The metaphorical heart is also crucial for faith. I’m a pretty cerebral guy, but even so, it has more often been my heart than my head that has moved me Godward.
Blaise Pascal, the influential seventeenth-century French mathematician, wrote this about faith and the heart: “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things. It is the heart that experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason.”
We do need both head and heart for faith but let us not neglect the heart. In Lent we long for better, cleaner hearts, more attuned to the heart of God. We pray that we may be more loving, more kind, more just, more faithful.
The ancient prophet Jeremiah prophesied God’s promise that someday we would no longer need external rules and regulations to know what God requires of us. God was going to write God’s eternal law on our hearts, and we would be God’s people and God would be our God. In our troubled time and broken world, we devoutly pray for this promised change of heart.
Prayer: Create in us a clean heart, Holy One, and a new and right spirit within us. Amen.

 

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org

PUCC Lenten Devotion – Monday, March 19, 2018

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Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10

As we move into this week of HEART, here are a few poems to get us going!

If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking
by Emily Dickinson
 
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto its nest again,
I shall not live in vain. 
 
Beggarly Heart

When the heart is hard and parched up, 
come upon me with a shower of mercy.                                                                                                                        
When grace is lost from life, 
come with a burst of song.  

When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me out from 
beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and rest. 

When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner, 
break open the door, my royal, and come with a royal ceremony. 

When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one, 
thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder.

 
Compassion
by WingMakers

Angels must be confused by war.
Both sides praying for protection,
yet someone always gets hurt.
Someone dies.
Someone cries so deep
they lose their watery state.

Angels must be confused by war.
Who can they help?
Who can they clarify?
Whose mercy do they cast to the merciless?
No modest scream can be heard.
No stainless pain can be felt.
All is clear to angels
except in war.

When I awoke to this truth,
it was from a dream I had last night.
I saw two angels conversing in a field
of children’s spirits rising like silver smoke.
The angels were fighting among themselves
about which side was right,
and which was wrong.
Who started the conflict?

Suddenly, the angels stilled themselves
like a stalled pendulum,
and they shed their compassion
to the rising smoke
of souls who bore the watermark of war.
They turned to me with those eyes
from God’s library,
and all the pieces fallen
were raised in unison,
intertwined like the breath
of flames in a holy furnace.

Nothing in war comes to destruction,
but the illusion of separateness.
I heard this spoken so clearly I could only
write it down like a forged signature.
I remember the compassion,
mountainous, proportioned for the universe.
I think a tiny fleck still sticks to me,
like gossamer threads
from a spider’s web.

And now, when I think of war,
I flick these threads to all the universe,
hoping they stick on others as they did me.
Knitting angels and animals
to the filamental grace of compassion.
The reticulum of our skyward home.

 
Embracing All
Author Unknown

Light that lies deep inside of me
Come forth in all thy majesty
Show me thy gaze
Teach me thy ways
That I a better person may be
Darkness that lies deep inside of me
Come forth in all thy mystery
Show me thy gaze
Teach me thy ways
That I a better person may be
Love that lies deep inside of me
Come forth in all thy unity
Let me be thy gaze
Let me teach thy ways
That I a better person may be                    

Prayer:  Holy One, help me show up so others will feel loved. Amen.  

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org
Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 N Ballas Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131
Sent by kevin@parkwayucc.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact

PUCC Lenten Devotion – Sunday, March 18, 2018

Don’t forget to add info@parkwayucc.org to your address book so we’ll be sure to land in your inbox and not in your spam folders!

 
You may unsubscribe if you no longer wish to receive our emails.

As we wrap up our week of VOICE and move to HEART this morning in worship…
 
Speak Life by Marchae Grair
 
God has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. – 2Corintahins 3:6
 
One of the last times I worshipped within my former tradition, a minister antagonized me for being queer. He took an unexpected pivot in his sermon and suddenly said, “Women have no business being with women.”
 
I was part of a small congregation at the time, so I knew he was targeting me with his comment.
 
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known about me cutting myself as a teenager because I thought I could never have a normal life as a queer woman.
 
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known that his public condemnation would replay in my head as I let people use me sexually and abuse me emotionally.
 
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known that his words would be part of the reason I traded Bible studies for binge drinking.
 
I wonder what he would have done differently if he had prioritized saving my life instead of trying to destroy it with doctrine.
 
That minister thought publicly condemning me was the key to my salvation, yet it almost led me to my destruction.
 
It took me years after that experience to realize there is no Gospel that leads to the killing of the soul. The Spirit calls for us to speak the words that set people free, not the words that keep them in their chains.
 
Prayer: Holy One, give me a vocabulary of the new covenant. Where others speak condemnation, help me to speak the healing words of everlasting life. Amen.

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org
Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 N Ballas Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131
Sent by kevin@parkwayucc.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact

PUCC Lenten Devotion – Saturday, March 17, 2018

Don’t forget to add info@parkwayucc.org to your address book so we’ll be sure to land in your inbox and not in your spam folders!

 
You may unsubscribe if you no longer wish to receive our emails.

As we wrap up our week of VOICE and move to HEART this morning in worship…
 
Speak Life by Marchae Grair
 
God has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. – 2Corintahins 3:6
 
One of the last times I worshipped within my former tradition, a minister antagonized me for being queer. He took an unexpected pivot in his sermon and suddenly said, “Women have no business being with women.”
 
I was part of a small congregation at the time, so I knew he was targeting me with his comment.
 
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known about me cutting myself as a teenager because I thought I could never have a normal life as a queer woman.
 
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known that his public condemnation would replay in my head as I let people use me sexually and abuse me emotionally.
 
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known that his words would be part of the reason I traded Bible studies for binge drinking.
 
I wonder what he would have done differently if he had prioritized saving my life instead of trying to destroy it with doctrine.
 
That minister thought publicly condemning me was the key to my salvation, yet it almost led me to my destruction.
 
It took me years after that experience to realize there is no Gospel that leads to the killing of the soul. The Spirit calls for us to speak the words that set people free, not the words that keep them in their chains.
 
Prayer: Holy One, give me a vocabulary of the new covenant. Where others speak condemnation, help me to speak the healing words of everlasting life. Amen.

2841 N Ballas Road | Saint Louis, Missouri 63131
314-872-9330 | www.parkwayucc.org
Parkway United Church of Christ, 2841 N Ballas Road, Saint Louis, MO 63131
Sent by kevin@parkwayucc.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact