Upcoming Events

Below is a list of some upcoming events that we will be hosting or participating in. We would love to have you join us!

For details about any of these events, contact the church office.

Summer Bible Study: Thursday evenings 7-8:30.
Here’s our schedule for the rest of the summer:
28 July       2:17-3:7 “Sending Timothy”
4 Aug         3:8-4:12 “Doing More”
11 Aug       4:13-5:3 “Jesus’ Return”
18 Aug       5:4-11 “Light & Dark”
25 Aug       5:12-17 “Instructions”
Instructions:
– Read the section before you come.
– Note what got your attention, what you would like to discuss, what questions  you have.
At each session we will be asking:
– What are the issues within the church at Thessalonica?
– How did they address these issues?
– How are those issues similar or different than the issues at Lyonsville?
– What suggestions do the solutions at Thessalonica offer for work at Lyonsville?
– How are we being called by this letter to be the church today?

Church clean up dates
We will continue our church clean up progress.
Saturday 13 Aug.,  9-noon.
Many hands make for more joyous work! There’s plenty to do, even if you need to sit while doing it.

LABYRINTH WALK—August 20 at 4:00. Take time out from your busy summer for a quiet walk.

School supplies – we will be collecting school supplies in August for a local organization (which we are still  choosing).  A list of supplies needed will be provided as soon as possible.

CHURCH WOMEN UNITED
Community Nurse Collection
New onesies, new receiving blankets, baby hats, bandages designed for children, and small, soft animals (e.g. Beanie Babies) are being collected.
Please bring donations to church.

 

 

July 24 Sermon

“What’s in a Name?”
A reflection by Rev. Dr. Thom Bower
For July 24, 2016, the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Based on Gen 17:1-6, 8b, 15-16, 19

When I returned from vacation in June I had 800 emails in my cache that needed responses, to be sorted and filed or deleted. Earlier this week I finally got that to below 10. The one thing I dread about going away for a week without internet access is how many emails I’ll have when I return.

I am very much looking forward to going away this week. Attending clown camp is something I have wanted to do for myself for about 20 years. At that time I had been on staff for a church clown camp for several years, and I thought it would be fun to go be a participant rather than staff. I had led a clown troupe in high school and another while in college. I had led hundreds of workshops on various aspects of clown ministry. I had also been part of the faculty for the Christ Clown College Convention for about 10 years. So I have a sense of what it is to lead these sort of events, but very little sense of what it is to just attend. And now I get to find out.

One of the things I know about clown gatherings is that names are hard to figure out. Almost everyone has a clown name and a real name – and sometimes they might have more than one clown name. So figuring out what to call someone takes a while – and sometimes when you know them by one name, someone else is going to know them by another name. Eventually you have this moment when you are talking about NokNok when someone mentions that Jim has been a teacher for a long time and you realize NokNok and Jim are the same …

Well, you cannot really say “the same person.” Yes, it is the same set of atoms arranged into a physical body, but the characters are different: how they talk, how they dress and move, how they behave, how they respond, how they interact with others – all that changes as the person becomes the clown and then reverts to the person. Continue reading

July 17 Sermon

“Complex Covenant”
A reflection by Rev. Dr. Thom Bower
July 17, 2016, the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Based on Genesis 16
(Scripture is in Italics, taken from the Common English Bible)

Today we begin an uncomfortable part of Abram & Sarai’s story. I have often said that the bible is not for children. The bible deals with adult decisions, adult matters, adult faith. I think children should know those stories – but most of the bible is not children’s stories. Today we are getting into a story about race and ethnicity, sexual fidelity in marriage, and abusive behavior.

Remember: Abram & Sarai wanted to have children. Children were seen as evidence of God’s blessing, of being allowed to participate in God’s ongoing care of the created universe. To not have children was seen as God withholding this blessing – in other words, some sort of indictment against the couple concluding that they should not contribute to the universe.

16 Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to have children.

Since she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar, Sarai said to Abram,

“The Lord has kept me from giving birth, so go to my servant.

Maybe she will provide me with children.”

Abram did just as Sarai said.

He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant.

Yes, you heard that right. Sarai has a servant, Hagar, a slave from Egypt, an African slave. Let’s just pause here a moment. Currently our news rings with Black Lives Matter, racial profiling, the unequal experience of police brutality. To say our nation has a problem with race is an understatement. And race, ethnicity, culture are part of this foundational story of faith. We have to wrestle with Hagar’s story as we discern how God is calling us to a more just society. Continue reading

July 10 Sermon

“Star’s Promise” 
A reflection by Rev. Dr. Thom Bower
For July 10, 2016, 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Based on Genesis 15:1-5

‘The Lord’s word came to Abram in a vision, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your protector. Your reward will be very great.”

But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus. Since you haven’t given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir.”

The Lord’s word came immediately to him, “This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child.” Then {God} brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them. This is how many children you will have.” (Common English Bible)

Abram and Sarai wanted children. In their culture, children represented God’s blessing. God created all that lives; to be part of bringing life into the world is to take part in God’s creative work. To not have children was thought of as a curse, as God withholding blessing, as God preventing this couple from participating in bringing life to the world. They did not have a scientific understanding of infertility.

I have chosen to not have children: it was a choice I made while I was in my 20’s, before there was a serious life-partner. That choice would be incomprehensible to Abraham and Sarah and the people they knew. They did not think having children was a choice: it was an obligation – an obligation to be part of God’s ongoing creative work of bringing love into the world. Continue reading

June 26 Sermon

“Land promised”

A reflection by Rev. Dr. Thom Bower

For June 26 2016, the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Based on Gen 13:14-20

Our scripture this morning is Genesis 13:14-20. Last week we heard God calling Abram to go to a new land. In getting to this morning’s story, we have skipped a few details. There’s a story about Abram and Sarai in Egypt lying about their relationship. Then we learn that Abram’s people have become prosperous nomads, but prosperity had brought division. Abram and Lot decide to split apart. Lot goes East toward the Jordan river. Abram remains at Bethel – where he built his first altar. The scripture we are about to hear describes Abram standing near that altar.

 What is the most exciting place in the world? What would you expect to find & do there?

Where in the world could you go and expect to meet God? Why would God be at that place? What would you do there in order to meet God?

We say God is everywhere, and yet we meet God in some very special places.

In our scripture we heard God promise to Abram that everything he could see from north to south, east to west, was promised to the descendants of Abram. And in response, Abram built an altar to mark the special place where he encountered God and learned of God’s promise. As I said last week, a sense of place is very important to our spirituality.

During the week a couple of questions were posed that I want to address. Why do so many pastors preach about Abram? Well, Abram is a core character of the bible. He is referenced in both Hebrew and Christian scriptures, held up as an example of faithfulness. Understanding the story arc of scripture requires at some point making sense of Abram’s role.

Part of what makes Abram’s role so central is two of the covenants God makes with him. These are covenants that establish Israel as the people of God. After Adam and Eve, God makes a covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth with a flood. As you heard in this morning’s scripture, Abram is promised all the land he can see from the Oaks of Mamre. Abram is also promised descendants: here as numerous as the bits of dust, elsewhere as numerous as grains of sand or the stars in the sky. God will make a covenant with Moses, which includes the giving of the Ten Commandments. God will also make a covenant with David to establish Israel as a nation-state, a government that exhibits God’s holiness. And through Jesus we proclaim a new covenant between God and humanity has been created. Many biblical scholars state covenantal relationship is the key story arc of the bible, and to understand covenant we have to understand the people whom God worked through to establish covenants. Continue reading