This week we will struggle with Jesus’ most challenging teaching of all, that we are called to love not just our friends and families, not just our neighbors, but even our enemies. Our main text will be Matthew 5:43-48, but we will also look at some background texts from the Hebrew scriptures: Leviticus 19:17-18 and Psalm 139:19-24. Why should we love even our enemies? What does this look like?
This service includes special music by David Chavez and Paul York.
This Sunday, I invite you to read and ponder once again Jesus’ fundamental teaching on A Blessed Life found in Matthew 5:1-16; these teachings are commonly known as the Beatitudes. They present a sharp contrast with the wisdom of the world. How do you hear his teaching in the context of this pandemic and contested election? How will you choose to live your life?
This coming Sunday, November 1, 2020, is All Saints Day when we remember and honor those in the family of faith that have gone before us. In preparation I invite you to read and ponder this week’s scripture from Revelation 7:9-17 that offers us A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE where a great multitude of God’s saints from every tribe and nation worship before the throne of God and Christ “guides them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” May this glimpse of our ultimate future strengthen us for the living of these days. Amen!
For the past six months, we have all been in a period of “exile” from our normal lives due to the covid-19 pandemic, including exile from attending in person worship at St Andrew’s. Last Sunday a remnant (29 people), following the most recent health guidelines from the county and state, returned from exile to gather for worship in our beautiful sanctuary. It was good to see familiar faces (though masked) and share prayer concerns in person. I hope that those of you who couldn’t be there viewed the video. As we gather again this Sunday, we will hear the Word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah to God’s people who were languishing in exile, promising them comfort, healing and restoration in their home (Isaiah 40:1-11). “Comfort, O comfort my people,” says your God. May you experience God’s caring presence and comfort.
This coming Sunday is World Communion Sunday which we celebrate each year on the first Sunday in October. Can you believe it is already October? Even in this extremely strange pandemic year of 2020, we can still gather to celebrate our unity in Christ, but online rather than in person. You are invited to view this year’s San Francisco Presbytery World Communion Virtual Worship Service rather than another message from me. I hope you will view this service with your brothers and sisters in Christ around the Bay Area.
On Monday I emailed you a letter from my favorite spiritual writer, Father Richard Rohr. In it he offered Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months of pandemic, political dysfunction, social protest, natural disasters, and fighting over the Supreme Court.
I think his words are so on target and wise that for my message today I will just read them to you. Please listen and heed his words. In upcoming messages I will develop this Fall’s Stewardship theme: Survive to Thrive. I am confident that with God’s help we will not only survive these difficult times, but once again we will thrive in our vitality, mission, and service.
So invite you now to sit back and listen for God’s Word to you today, as God’s speaks through Father Richard Rohr, who offers Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months
We are now in our 29th week of living through this time of pandemic, six months! Over this long time, each week I have been sharing with you various tools from scripture to help us get through this very challenging time – things like faith, hope, love, spirit, patience, strength, endurance, persistence, rest.
Now as we enter this fall season, we are still physical distancing as we wait for a Covid 19 vaccine. But even as we wait, we are planning for the time when we can resume in person worship and fellowship. And we look forward to 2021 with hope.
So this Sunday you will hear from the chair of our 2021 stewardship campaign, Harold Helm, as we begin to plan our congregation’s life and mission when we all emerge from this pandemic. And I am confident that we will. Our stewardship theme is SURVIVE TO THRIVE. With your help, we will indeed survive and thrive in 2021.
REST is this week’s essential tool for living in a time of pandemic. Last week we looked at the importance of persistence in doing what is right (Galatians 6:9). But our life is more than what we do, and our labor must be balanced with needed rest. So this week we look at Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 to come to him to find rest for our souls.
A few days ago, I came across this excerpt from a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier that encourages this week’s essential tool for living in a time of pandemic: PERSISTENCE. In Luke 11:5-11, Jesus taught about persistence in prayer, and Galatians 6:9 encourages us to be persistent in our actions: “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.”
This week’s essential tool for living in a time of pandemic is PRAYER. Scripture is full of many prayers and admonitions to pray. But this week we will focus on two passages, Luke 11:1-4, where Jesus gives his disciples the model prayer that we know as “the Lord’s Prayer,” and Romans 8:26-27 where the apostle Paul tells us that the Spirit helps us pray when we don’t know how to pray as we ought. With the help of Jesus and the Spirit of God, we can all grow in prayer.