sandraf

About Sandra Figueredo

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Sandra Figueredo has created 123 blog entries.

UNRELATED BUSINESS INCOME and a Noodle Company

2019-07-15T18:34:28-04:00

UNRELATED BUSINESS INCOME
and a Noodle Company

In recent months I have spoken to many churches and written about Unrelated Business Income.  As a reminder, Unrelated Business Income is income from an activity that is a trade or business, is regularly carried on, and is not substantially related to furthering the exempt purpose of the church.  For example, renting parking spaces for special events; renting space on the church property to a for-profit school; a bookstore which sells more than just bibles, crosses, Christian education books.  Unrelated Business Income is based on how the income is EARNED and not on how the income is USED.

Now, why do we have to worry about this income?  Well it is because of a noodle factory. 

In 1947 a couple of wealthy alumni donated the Mueller Pasta Co. to the NYU School of Law.  The profits from the noodle company were used successfully to refurbish and expand the Law School and the funds became so important that the main hall on the campus was nicknamed “Noodle Hall”.

Controversy appeared when it was discovered that NYU was attempting to maximize profits by extending it own tax-exempt status over the pasta business.  Finally, in 1950 the Congress passed a law limiting the extension of tax exemption only to organizations that were relevant to the original tax-exempt body.

So, our churches have to pay unrelated business income tax because of noodles.

Because of this noodle tangle the policy of the Presbytery is that all lease with FOR-PROFIT organizations must be approved by the Presbytery prior to a lease being signed.  And just remember that just because an organization is named something that sounds NOT-FOR-PROFITy does not mean that it is.  Before signing any lease please ask the renter for a copy of non-profit status and check on the status of the corporation on the Florida Sunbiz.org website (http://dos.myflorida.com/sunbiz/).

 

 

This information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as specific legal advice.

UNRELATED BUSINESS INCOME and a Noodle Company2019-07-15T18:34:28-04:00

EMPLOYER AGREEMENT – The Board of Pensions

2019-07-15T18:27:17-04:00

EMPLOYER AGREEMENT
The Board of Pensions

The Annual Employer Agreement for 2020 will be available on Benefits Connect July 15 through October 11, 2019.

This is the annual opportunity for you to review, select, and change the benefits offered to your employees.  The 2020 Employer Agreement must be completed by 10/11/2019 even if your church is not changing any of the selections.

The benefits offered are:

  • Medical Plan (PPO, EPO, and HDHP options)
  • Dental Coverage
  • Vision Eyewear Coverage
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Retirement Savings Plan
  • Pension Plan
  • Death and Disability Coverage
  • Group Term Life Coverage

There will be a live webinar from The Board of Pensions on Monday, July 22, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET regarding the benefits available, how to access Benefits Connect and your Employer Agreement, how the Employer Services team can assist you, and how to use the flexibility of the benefits offerings to support your church’s staff.  The webinar is already closed but will be recorded and made available on The Board of Pensions website after the live event.

 

This information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as specific legal advice.

EMPLOYER AGREEMENT – The Board of Pensions2019-07-15T18:27:17-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Out Hearts for Sunday 7/21

2019-07-15T10:05:37-04:00

Sunday, July 21, 2019

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 11/6th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52
Second Reading: Colossians 1:15-28
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:38-42

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

There is a way to read this story that Martha is active, and Mary is learning.  It becomes a dichotomy of action over intellect.  While that is a way to read the story, it may miss the point that Jesus wants to make with Martha.  It is not that study and learning are preferred over action.  Faithfulness involves both learning and doing.  Faith is more than a noun it is also a verb—it is active—it involves both sitting at the feet of Jesus and attending to the needs of others.

The real issue is seen in the unsettled nature of Martha.  In the story she is about as unsettled as can be while Mary is settled.  Mary is not only settled she is intentional.  She has made an intentional choice.  Mary’s intentional choice is to be taking in this moment when Jesus is there and learn all she can from him.

Martha has not made intentional choices—she has just been going on with the flow of how things happen.  She has been the unintentional victim of “life happens.”  And the unsettledness of that comes out in the clear hostility she demonstrates towards her sister.  Hey, we always demonstrate our deepest frustrations on those closest to us.

You see, the intentional choice that Mary has made is all about Jesus.  The unintentional choice that Martha has made is that this is all about Martha. 

The words of Jesus to his disciples are clear: “Follow me.”  We are told that James and John left their nets and followed.  They made an active choice.  They did not just let life happen they made an active choice—it was an intentional choice.  May we make intentional choices in our life in Christ.  

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Out Hearts for Sunday 7/212019-07-15T10:05:37-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 7/14

2019-07-05T15:18:06-04:00

Sunday, July 14, 2019

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 10/5th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: Amos 7:7-17
Psalm 52
Second Reading: Colossians 1:1-14
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:25-37

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

Jesus turns to the lawyer and asks him, “Which of the three was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hand of the robbers?  The lawyer responds, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Yes.  The right answer.  Jesus tells him, “Go and do likewise.”

We are not the lawyer.  We are that one on the road.  We are that one who has been left there.  And God is the one who comes along in Christ and through the cross binds up our wounds and takes us in to care for us.  God is the one who saves us.  God is the one who meets us on the road when the rest pass us by and pass us over.

We are the ones who have been rescued.  As such the challenge to the lawyer is the challenge to us too.  “Go and do likewise.”  We are to be that neighbor.

Of such is the call of God.  Of such is the makings of our apostleship in Christ.  It is what it means to be baptized and to be called into faithfulness.  It is what it means to be Christian.

For Amos there was that prophecy of the plumb line.  Things were literally crocked and that which is crocked will not endure.  A structure that is built out of plumb or out of “true” is one that will not last.  We find our “true” not by drawing the line but by realizing that God has so drawn us in that we are rescued on the road.  We are the saved.  We have been drawn on the God side of the plumb line.

Our mission…our opportunity is to “go and do likewise.”

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 7/142019-07-05T15:18:06-04:00

ADA Compliance and the Church

2019-07-01T15:06:57-04:00

ADA Compliance and the Church

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which took effect on January 26th, 1992, is a federal law aimed at providing “a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities”.  

The two basic areas covered by the ADA are in employment and construction of and access to buildings and transportation.   With respect to construction, the ADA exemption of religious organizations and religious entities controlled by religious organizations is very broad, encompassing a wide variety of situations.  Religious organization are not exempt when it comes to employment.

Employment

Churches may be required to comply with the ADA in the employment context if it (1) has 15 or more employees and (2) affects interstate commerce.  The 15 or more relates to the number of people on payroll as opposed to those actually working on a given day.  The interstate commerce can be minimal, and the ADA is triggered.  Thus, activities such as using interstate communications, soliciting out-of-state employee applicants, or receiving out-of-state donations can be considered sufficient.

A church subject to the ADA should not take comfort in dismissing the law as having little relevance to it as long as the church does not engage in what it considers to be discrimination.  This could be a grave mistake.  In addition, employers have a duty to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s disability, and a duty to engage in a good-faith interactive process to identify reasonable accommodations.

Construction

All facilities, programs, and activities of a church, whether they are religious or secular, are exempt.  If a church holds an event or program , which is open to the public, it is exempt.  The religious entity’s exemption does not extend to a non-religious tenant.    If the church leases space to a for-profit entity the for-profit entity will be covered by the ADA and subject to all its requirements.

Website or App

There has been a recent trend in lawsuits targeting websites and apps for their failure to comply with the ADA.  In 2016 – 240 lawsuits, 2017 – 814 lawsuits, 2018 – 2,258 lawsuits.  Many of these are settled quickly for cash.  Churches are EXEMPT from compliance with the public accommodations of the ADA. 

So, enough said.

No, not really.  Religious entities are not required to comply with the Federal ADA rules but there are state and local codes which might apply.  And, we may want to accommodate people with disabilities and allow them access to the church.

Call The National Organization on Disability – Religion and Disability Program at 202-293-5960 for more information.

 

The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as specific legal advice.

ADA Compliance and the Church2019-07-01T15:06:57-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 7/7

2019-07-01T14:27:45-04:00

Sunday, July 7, 2019

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 9/4th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Second Reading: Galatians 6:(1-6) 7-16
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

Freedom from and freedom to.  The July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence is a statement of radical freedom from the powers of tyranny.  It is freedom from Britain.  But it is also freedom to…it is freedom to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Naaman’s story is a story about freedom from and freedom to.  Yes, he was freed of his leprosy, but such was not the freedom of the story.

Once Naaman lets go of his sense of entitlement he’s free to see who God really is.  The God who restores his life.

It says in Luke that Jesus sent the seventy ahead to the places he intended to go.  Where you go…God sends you there ahead.  You go ahead of Christ with the love of God in you: “Peace be to this place.”  “The presence of God has come near you.”

In the cross of Christ, we are the sent ones.  Our freedom is not merely a freedom from but a freedom to.  We are freed to be the people of God.  We are freed to be the presence of Christ.  We are freed to inhabit the world with love.

We are even free, in the words we hold dear: to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

We are, in Christ, free at last.  Free form our sense of entitlement and free to be in this relationship with God.  In God, in Christ, we are “Free at last, free at last.  Thank God, Almighty, free at last.”

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 7/72019-07-01T14:27:45-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/30

2019-06-24T19:15:26-04:00

Sunday, June 30, 2019

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 8/3rd Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Second Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Gospel Reading: Luke 9:51-62

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

We long for the days of Elijah, when the Word of the Lord was clear and strong and vivid.  We want leaders—we want elders and deacons and pastors who are the new Elijahs.  And leaders in the church want other members to be Elijahs too.  Filled with clear, strong, vivid Word of the Lord.

But here we are.  Here we are on the other side of the whirlwind.  Here we are on this side of the fiery chariot.  And Elijah is gone, and we are left.  Who are we?  We are Elisha.

We are Elisha.

We are not quite sure how we got here.  We are never quite sure that we know where we are going next or that anyone knows where we are going next.

We are Elisha.

We have been on this journey from our own version of Gilgal to our own version of Bethel and then on to our own Jerichos and the Jordan too.  Here we are over here and then there we are over there.  We are Elisha.  We are not quite sure how we got here and not quite sure where we will go next.

But, BUT…in the Spirit there is enough in us to know that we pick up that mantle and we dress ourselves in it.  That mantle is the presence of Christ, and when we are taken up with that, we do not miss…we follow.

That mantle is Christ, and when we are taken up with him, we are, “fit for the Kingdom of God.”

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/302019-06-24T19:15:26-04:00

Housing Allowance

2019-06-21T15:25:57-04:00

For now, the clergy housing allowance is safe!

For those of you who have been following the fight by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to invalidate Section 107(3) of the tax code provision permitting clergy to receive an annual housing allowance – THE FIGHT IS OVER FOR NOW.    At this time the FFRF has decided not to appeal the Seventh Circuit ruling to the US Supreme Court because they do not feel the Court would rule in their favour.   The FFRF hopes to preserve their ability to bring future legal challenges to a more sympathetic Supreme Court. 

The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the 65-year-old benefit is worth a combined $ 700 million annually.  At the local level, the housing allowance is the single-most valuable benefit to clergy.

With this in mind, all pastors with a housing allowance should review their 2019 housing allowance designation.  If the housing allowance is clearly below actual housing expenses, the pastor should consider asking the session to declare a larger portion of the his/her remaining compensation as a housing allowance.

Housing Allowance2019-06-21T15:25:57-04:00

Church Loans or Loan Guarantees with the Presbytery

2019-06-25T11:21:11-04:00

Thank you to those churches who have sent documentation regarding your insurance – commercial, flood, and windstorm – your 2018 annual financial reports and your pledge to the ministry of the Presbytery.  Your prompt attention to this requirement is much appreciated.

As a reminder to all churches with loans/loan guarantees –

The terms of the loan/loan guarantee is that the Presbytery will receive annually:

  • Year End Reports
  • Documentation showing insurance on the property – commercial, flood, and windstorm
  • Tithe for Shared Ministry work done by the Presbytery

The documentation for insurance can be easily obtained by calling your insurance agent and asking for a Certificate of Insurance.  If the Presbytery is listed as a certificate holder the insurance company will automatically send this form every year at the time your insurance renews.  As a matter of your own convenience, we suggest adding the Presbytery as a certificate holder.

If you are not sure if your church has sent this information, please contact me at susanc@tfpby.org or 954-785-2220 x 4.

Please call me with any questions about this and about any other way in which we can help your church.

Susan Carpenter, Financial Administrator

Church Loans or Loan Guarantees with the Presbytery2019-06-25T11:21:11-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/23

2019-06-17T15:04:03-04:00

Sunday, June 23, 2019

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 7/2nd Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading: I Kings 19:1-4 (5-7) 8-15a
Psalm 42 and 43
Second Reading: Galatians 3:23-29
Gospel Reading: Luke 8:26-39

The liturgical color for the day is: Green

The Sunday following Trinity Sunday begins the long stretch of time that extends to Christ the King Sunday (this year November 24) where the liturgical color is green, and the time is referred to as “ordinary.”  Yet, it is not “ordinary” as in humdrum, but ordinary in the sense that it is normal.  During this normal time in the life of the church, we live into the mission of God and grow the church.  Green is the symbolic color for the growth of the church.

This week there is that wonderful text from I Kings 19.  In Elijah, we see ourselves and the church.  As one reads this chapter it is as if one could replace Elijah with The Church Where We Serve.

Elijah (The Church) may be frustrated, tired, worn out, BUT he (The Church) is not done.   God still has a plan and a job for Elijah to do.  Elijah may be frustrated for sure, and he does not have to give up that frustration, BUT he is not allowed to give into it.  God will not let him give into his frustration.  There is work to be done. 

Run away from it all.  Sure Elijah, sure—not too bad of an idea.  We so often want to just run away from it all.  Enough already!  We can want to, but we do not have to.  We can run, but God will not let the work that God has called us to do go.

God has called you to a specific task.  And God has called The Church to a specific task.  And God has called us together to a specific task (go, baptize, heal, reconcile, forgive, love, feed, nurture, clothe, serve, give…).  There is no running away from it.  That task is all about building community.  That task is loving each other.  That task is keeping with each other and lifting each other up so that we together can stand tall.  That task is not done.  God calls us to come together, God calls us to serve the needs, and God calls us be in each other’s lives.

There is work to be done…and Christ sets us to it.  “Follow me,“ he bids us.  And so, like Elijah, we get back up and GO!

 

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

 

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/232019-06-17T15:04:03-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/16

2019-06-10T11:48:38-04:00

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Trinity Sunday

First Reading: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5
Gospel Reading: John 16:12-15

The liturgical color for the day is: White

With the Day of Pentecost last Sunday, we now encounter another liturgical fest day—Trinity Sunday.  It is the last festival day prior to Christ the King Sunday in November.  The celebration of the Sacraments is appropriate on Trinity Sunday.

The doctrine of the Trinity is a human construct.  It is an attempt to describe the indescribable.  It is a way of trying to make sense of the incredible mystery which is the divine/human encounter.  All our understandings of God seek some sort of classification, some sort of clarity, some sort of pigeon hole that will satisfy our thirst for clarity.

There is something false about such making sense when it comes to describing God.  God is always beyond.

Trinity is a way of opening up the consideration and conversation about God.  God is always beyond.  God is way more—well more beyond our considerations, imaginations, boundaries, more…

The text from Proverbs invites us to ask what the role of Wisdom is—Holy Wisdom—another way to frame an essence of God.  The Second Reading from Romans is a description of the reconciled life that we receive by grace alone that characterized by peace and hope even through suffering.  In the gospel reading from John, issue of revelation and truth are at hand, yet those who chose texts for the lectionary like selected this text because of the trinitarian nature of the passage.

The new Connection Commentary (I highly recommend it, Westminster John Knox Press, 2019) says of the lection from John: “What is pronounced in this brief passage is the sense that the triune God is a living God who is an active agent.  God is the subject of active verbs!  The triune God sends, comes, teaches, acts, speaks, chooses, intends, and promises.”

On Trinity Sunday, we might preach about the doctrine of the Trinity, but the text warrants that we preach more on the God who is the active verbs among us giving us life.  This God sends, comes, teaches, acts, speaks, chooses, intends, and promises.

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/162019-06-10T11:48:38-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/9

2019-06-03T09:47:04-04:00

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Day of Pentecost

First Reading: Acts 2:1-21 or Genesis 11:1-9
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Second Reading: Romans 8:14-17 or Acts 2:1-21
Gospel Reading: John 14:8-17 (25-27)

The liturgical color for the day is: Red

It is appropriate to preach from the given texts for the 7th Sunday of Easter or use the texts from the Ascension of the Lord.

While the Gospel Lesson is ALWAYS appropriate to use in worship, this week may be one of those weeks where the focus could be on both the Acts lesson and the Genesis lesson.  If you have been following the tradition of the church and using the reading from Acts during the season of Easter as the first reading, then this wonderful old story from Genesis can serves as pre-reversal, of sorts, of the story of Pentecost.   The Gospel lesson from John also witnesses a wonderful fulfillment of promise on the Day of Pentecost.

Pentecost is full of action, Spirit-breath wind, and audible resonance with the God who continues to move among us.

It is what God does in our lives.  A new song.  A new way.  A new view.  A new opportunity.  A new challenge.  New.  Such is the essence of the poured-out Spirit.  What if we welcomed that new thing God is doing among us rather than clung to the old way?  What if we did that in the church—what if we allowed the breeze of the Holy Spirit to blow us into a new way?  New view?  New opportunity?  New challenge?

Way back in Genesis they had to learn what we learn again and again.  We do not master God.  As soon as we think we can fully grasp or even clearly understand—oh, God’s vision for us is so much larger than anything we construct.

God has more in store for us than we know.  The Holy Spirit has been poured out.  Catch the wind!  If we are still building a tower, we need to stop.  We need to catch the wind and allow the Holy Spirit to blow us into a new way.

Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
General Presbyter

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/92019-06-03T09:47:04-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/2

2019-05-28T09:47:39-04:00

Sunday, May 26, 2019

7th Sunday of Easter or Ascension Sunday

First Reading: Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 97:1-12
Second Reading: Rev. 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Gospel Reading: John 17:20-26

Or, alternatively, the texts Ascension

First Reading: Acts 11:1-11
Psalm 47:1-9 or Psalm 93:1-5
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23
Gospel Reading: Luke 24:44-53

The liturgical color for the day is: White

It is appropriate to preach from the given texts for the 7th Sunday of Easter or use the texts from the Ascension of the Lord.

The Ascension of the Lord is one of the festival days that occurs on the liturgical calendar that does not fall on a Sunday.  The day has been on the liturgical calendar since the 4th century, and by tradition the day has been celebrated on the 40th day of Easter—this year that falls on Thursday, May 30, 2019.  (Recall that the season of Easter lasts 50 days.)

As most congregations will not hold a special Day of Ascension service, it is appropriate to celebrate the ascension of the Lord on the Lord’s Day and use the reading from the festival day.

This far into the season of Easter, and the Sunday before the Day of Pentecost, the dynamic movements in the story of the ascension are worth noting and could form the outline of a sermon.  Notice what happens: 1. Jesus is blessing the disciples out on the high mountain where he has taken them.  He continues to bless them even as he his ascended.  2. The disciples response was worship.  There on the mountain they worshiped him.   3. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

From blessing to worship to great joy—those movements are gifts to us.  Just at that moment when we don’t feel any joy…when we can be about to pull our hair out in frustration…or when the blahs come along…stop.  Here is what we are to do—stop right in our tracks.  Lift up your head.  Lift it up.  Look up.  See that Jesus is blessing you.

See that Jesus is blessing you and allow that joy to inhabit you.  Just look up and worship for a moment and allow that blessing of God to fill you.  It is there…

In the Gospel Reading for the 7th Sunday of Easter we hear Jesus, in the High Priestly Prayer say: I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Perhaps this is the message of the ascension—that we ought to take confidence in the oneness we know with Christ whether our proximity is near or far.

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 6/22019-05-28T09:47:39-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 1/13

2019-01-07T12:09:35-04:00

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Baptism of the Lord

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: Isaiah 43:1-8
Psalm: 29
Second Reading: Acts 8:14-17
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

The liturgical color for the day is: White

The Baptism of the Lord.  It appears the Sunday following the Epiphany.  From infancy to fully taking up his ministry we zoom past the first decades of the life of Jesus.

The prophecy says, “When YOU pass through,” and “When YOU walk through…”  When that occurs the hand and presence of God is there.  There is no abandonment.  There is no going it alone.  There is no last and final blow that does us in.

It is the baptismal reality that no matter what we face in this world the strong, perfect, creative presence of God goes there with us and we will not be “overwhelmed,” and we will not be “burned.”

The voice that Jesus hears here in the Gospel of Luke: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  That voice comes to Jesus in prayer.  In prayer we get our strength to labor in the hot sun of this age.  In prayer we get our strength to keep going and keep doing for God.  That voice continues to call out to us and call us by name recognizing that we are laboring in the sun to turn this soil and change lives for the better.

Our baptism is an invitation with Christ to work for the kind of world God wants it to be.

The sign at the Water Park does not merely say, “You will get wet,” but it says, “You will DEFINITELY get wet.”  It is the sign that is on the life we live.

We will definitely get wet.  “When we pass through the waters,” it says in the prophecy, “we will not be overwhelmed.”  And when we look to Jesus, we see that even the cross did not overwhelm God.

Yes, we will definitely get wet, but we drip dry through this life wet with the very baptismal waters.  Those waters call us to remember that God’s grace and God’s love are what we are immersed in.  As we make our way from one wet event to the next, we dare to be wet with the love of God’s mercy calling out to us: “You are my (own), the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 1/132019-01-07T12:09:35-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/25

2018-11-19T20:14:30-04:00

 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Christ the King/Reign of Christ

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:

First Reading: 2 Samuel 23:1-7, Psalm: 132:1-12 (13-18)
Second Reading: Revelation 1:4b-8
Gospel Reading: John 18:33-37

The liturgical color for the day is: White

Christ the King Sunday.

That last Sunday of the liturgical year. The Sunday that culminates and finalizes the year. Today, it is the cross on the “t” and the dot on the “I” of the Christian year. Then the year starts over with Advent as the beginning.

The struggle on this Festival Day is the image of King. We don’t have kings in our world. We don’t speak that kind of language and this does not resonate with us.

In the death and resurrection of Jesus a different language is spoken by God to us. We are shown an alternative way of living and being. It is a way where truth of the ages has less to do with power and more to do with love.

What language do we speak? What if we spoke the language of Jesus? What if we spoke the language of God? What if how we talked and how we lived had less to do with power and more to do with love?

What if our personal truth—were not about what we have and what we can get, but who we can be? What if…

In Christ there is this alternative “life speak” to what is offered as the way of being in the world. How we choose to live will really determine what language we speak. Will we speak the language of life and love—the language of truth, or will we speak the world speak of power and self?

How will your life speak? It is a choice? It is the way of the cross…it is the hard way to which we are called. We are called to this way of love and sacrifice that leads to this great love of God. It is the language of our living as the Body of Christ. It is the language of justice and it is the truth of the ages.

We crown Christ our King not with our words but with our life speak.

Pilate could not speak that language, so it is no wonder that in the verse following today’s lection he asks, “What is truth?” The way that we live in Christ answers that question to the world.

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/252018-11-19T20:14:30-04:00

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/18

2018-11-12T21:04:52-04:00

Sunday, November 18, 2018 

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (26th Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 28) 

The Revised Common Lectionary passages for the Lord’s Day are:  

First Reading: I Samuel 1:4-20; I Samuel 2:1-10
Psalm: Canticle I Samuel 2:1-10
Second Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25
Gospel Reading: Mark 13:1-8 

The liturgical color for the day is: Green  

This is the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving which may be consideration for preaching. 

Hannah kept coming back.  It is the heart and soul of all this—of this whole faith business—that we come back to the place where we pour before God all that we are and all that we have, and we ask God to fit us into God’s larger plan for our life.  That we ask God to take all that we are and all that we have and use it for God’s glory and goodness. 

That is prayer.  That is stewardship.  That is faith that is alive! 

Those disciples with warning of tumbling stones—they would need to come back to that. 

Before long that temple would no longer stand—it could not be the locus and focus of their faith.  The central piece, the heart and soul of their faith, had to be the extent to which they fit into the larger plan of God for their lives.  So how they lived needed to steward that view of the faith.  They had to keep coming back to the central reality of praying that they would fit into God’s larger plan for their lives. 

The stones of our lives—the stones of our templed lives they tumble.  They keep tumbling.  As they do, we have to keep coming back to that heart and soul of faith.  God.  God gets us—when no one or nothing else does—God has us and God is always faithful, and we are to come back and pray that we are living into God’s plan for us. 

Keep coming back.  Keep praying.  And then pray some more.  And come back some more.   

Such coming back speaks to our living with grace and gratitude. 

WORSHIP TOGETHER | Preparing Our Hearts for Sunday 11/182018-11-12T21:04:52-04:00