Category Archives: Weekly Meditations

JUST A LITTLE FAITH

What is faith?  And how much faith do you need?  This Sunday the gospel lectionary passage from Matthew 14:22-33 tells the symbolically rich story of Peter getting out of safety of his boat to walk toward his teacher Jesus.  Peter finds himself walking on the water, until he ins’t! As Peter begins to sink beneath the waves, Jesus needs to reach out and save him.  “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus asks him.  How would you answer that question?

To listen to pastor Ernie’s message, “Just a Little Faith (Matt 14:22-3)”, just click on the title.  Also included is a prayer for Charlottesville.

IT’S OK TO TURN OFF THE NEWS! Enjoy some Sabbath Rest

This Sunday in my message I’m going to suggest that It’s OK to Turn Off the News to engage in the biblical practice of Sabbath rest; more than that, it’s essential for our sanity and spiritual health. Last February I read an online article that helped me a lot titled, “How To Avoid Being Psychologically Destroyed By Your Newsfeed”.  Particularly helpful to me at that time was her first piece of advice: “Recognize that there’s a difference between being immersed and being informed –  Sure, you want to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be plugged into your Twitter or Facebook feed 24/7. Give yourself permission to take breaks.”   Permission to take a break – that is what Sabbath time is.  It is giving yourself time to take a break, time to recenter and refuel one’s spirit.  Jesus knew this.  Scripture shows us that it was his regular practice to withdraw to a deserted place for time alone in prayer (see Mark 1:35-39 and Luke 5:15-16).  May we learn from his example.

To listen to Pastor Ernie’s message, click on “It’s OK to Turn Off the News and Enjoy Sabbath Rest”

Jacob the Wrestler

We conclude our July sermon series on Jacob, the Man Who Wrestled With God, with the dramatic, mysterious experience (see Genesis 32:22-31) that gave us our sermon series title.  After 20 years living in exile during which he earned a family and a fortune, Jacob is finally returning home at God’s command, but he faces an uncertain reception from his brother Esau whom he had cheated out of his birthright and blessing.  The night before he must face Esau who is riding to meet him with 400 armed men, he finds himself attacked by a mysterious stranger in the dark.  They wrestle all night until Jacob receives a blessing, and a new name, Israel.  And he realizes that he has been wrestling with God, wrestling for a blessing.  As you know, I wrote a song about this that I will sing again (see the lyrics below).   May we recognize God in our encounters as we too wrestle for a blessing.  Click on the title, “Jacob the Wrestler”

Wrestling for a Blessing

I found myself wrestling for a blessing with a stranger in the night.

I don’t know if I’ll survive this but I’m gonna hold on tight, hold on for my life.

All my life I’ve been a fighter, grasping, clawing to make my way.

I even stole my brother’s birthright I’m now ashamed to say.

Wrestling for a blessing, don’t know if I’ll find my way.

Wrestling with my Shadow all night till the break of day.

“Help me God!” I pray.

Oh it’s been a long, hard journey, went out searching for a wife.

Won a family and a fortune. Learned even more about life.

But now my past is there before me, all the things that I have done.

No excusing or evading, from my shadow I can’t run. Oh I wish I could run.

Somehow I hold on for a blessing. So the stranger asks my name.

I say “Jacob,” He says, “No longer, Israel will be your name, for striving is your game.”

As I limped from that encounter, I knew I’d never be the same.

For I’d met God in that stranger, left me wiser but in pain, stronger and yet lame.

Wrestling for a blessing, don’t know if I’ll find my way.

Wrestling with my Shadow all night till the break of day.

“Help me God!” I pray.

Jacob the Lover

This month have been following the story of Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, as it is told in the book of Genesis, primarily in chapters 25 through 35.  Two weeks ago, we looked at Jacob as an egocentric young man, a schemer, who steals his older brother Esau’s birthright and blessing.  Last week we found Jacob on the run for his life from his very angry big brother.  It was in this situation of unexpected hardship that he had a powerful experience of God’s reality and God’s care for him, through that dream of a ladder stretching from heaven to earth, on which messengers of God traveled back and forth. This week, bolstered by God’s promise, Jacob has arrived at his destination, the land of his mother’s relative Laban in Haran.   “What now happens to Jacob is the third great event that shatters Jacob’s egocentricity and paves the way for a larger life: HE FALLS IN LOVE.”  Love changes us like nothing else can.  Come see how love played out in Jacob’s life,“Jacob the Lover” (Genesis 29) Click on title to listen to Pastor Ernie’s message.

 

Jacob the Dreamer

This Sunday, our study of Jacob, the Man Who Wrestled With God, continues with the powerful dream Jacob had (see Genesis 28:10-21) when he was fleeing for his life from his enraged brother Esau.  We will reflect on dreams as “God’s Forgotten Language” through which we too may receive guidance for our lives.  To listen to Pastor Ernie’s message and song, click on “Jacob the Dreamer” (Genesis 28)

Jacob the Schemer

JULY SERMON SERIES:   THE MAN WHO WRESTLED WITH GOD, JACOB: a schemer, a dreamer, a lover and a wrestler.   During the last four Sundays in July, I will be preaching on the lectionary texts from Genesis which recount the fascinating story of the biblical patriarch, Jacob.  He is a complex character, a flawed human being called and used by God, like you and like me.  To listen to the first sermon, click on “Jacob the Schemer”

July 9 –  JACOB THE SCHEMER  – Genesis 25:19-34

July 16 –  JACOB THE DREAMER – Genesis 28:10-21

July 23 – JACOB THE LOVER – Genesis 29:15-30

July 30 – JACOB THE WRESTLER – Genesis 32:22-31

Inner Freedom: Winning the War Within

This coming week, on July 4th, our country celebrates our hard won political freedoms.  But external freedom is only possible to sustain when we experience inner freedom as well.  In Romans 7 the apostle Paul describes the inner conflict within our own hearts, and minds, and souls. a war between our best selves, our best intentions, and the Sin that dwells within us.  How can we experience inner freedom?  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

To listen to Pastor Ernie’s July 2, 2017 message, click on “Inner Freedom: Winning the War Within”

CELEBRATING GOD’S GIFT OF MUSIC

This Sunday, June 25th, in our worship we will celebrate God’s Gift of Music, and recognize all those who share their musical gifts with us.  So this service will be loaded with special music.  However, worship is more than just music, so we will also recognize the many others who also contribute their gifts of time and talent to our weekly worship services.  Come, let us give thanks and sing!

To listen to Pastor Ernie’s message in word and song, click on “Celebrating God’s Gift of Music”

The Trinity and The Shack

In March, a movie version of William Young’s 2007 bestseller, The Shack, was released.  I haven’t seen it yet, and the reviews are mixed.  But the book prompts a lot of questions about the nature of God as a Trinity of “persons.”  So on this coming Trinity Sunday (June 11), in dialogue with this book, I will share some of my reflections and questions about our Triune God.  Click on this link to listen to Pastor Ernie’s June 11, 2017 message: The Trinity and The Shack