Seeing is a Social Act – January 17, 2021

Scripture: John 1:43-51

The next three biases look at the social dimensions of seeing: Community bias: It is very hard to see something your group doesn’t want you to see. This is a form of social confirmation bias. Complementarity bias: If people are nice to you, you’ll be open to what they see and have to say. If they aren’t nice to you, you won’t. Contact bias: If you lack contact with someone, you won’t see what they see.. Weaving the story of Nathaniel under the fig tree with social biases helps us to see as Jesus sees.

We Didn’t Know – January 10, 2021

Scripture: Acts 19:1-7

John the Baptist set the stage for change…and preached in the wilderness his message of repentance and life change. He baptized…but it was a precursor to baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is so much we don’t know about biases, systems, history…and opening ourselves up to new ways of seeing can bring tremendous freedom and release.

Why Can’t We See? – January 3, 2021

Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-12

Two biases set the stage for all the others: Confirmation Bias: the human brain welcomes information that confirms what it already thinks and resists information that disturbs or contradicts what it already thinks. Complexity Bias: the human brain prefers a simple lie to a complex truth. We will look at how these two biases are in play at the experience of the Wise Men and King Herod.

Believe This: The Time has Come – December 27, 2021

Scripture: “You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples. It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.” “For Zion’s sake I won’t keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I won’t sit still until her righteousness shines out like a light, and her salvation blazes like a torch.” (Luke 2: 31-32 and Isaiah 62: 1)

 The Good News that we have proclaimed for this Advent/Christmas season ends with a second chapter of Luke that starts, “When the time came…” Indeed, the time has come for us to move from the narrative of birthing to the narrative of restoration. The story of Jesus’ ritual cleansing as a child contains stories of people who had been waiting for this moment. But the time of waiting is over–for us too. Like Isaiah who says, “for Zion’s sake I won’t stay silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I won’t sit still,” we will not stop our songs of resistance until justice shines out like a light for all.

I Believe in the Light: Illuminating Peace – December 20, 2020

Scripture:“What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people.” (John 1:3-4)

“A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9: 6)

The “great light” prophesied by Isaiah in today’s text is echoed in the first strains of John’s Gospel good news: the light that brings peace–that saves the people from all that would extinguish it–has been there from the beginning. The Word is made flesh and dwells among us. This reign is now… will we believe it? Will we continue to put flesh on it, embodying the peace meant for all humanity?

I Believe in God: Ode to Joy – December 13, 2020

Scripture:  “He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. I live on high, in holiness, and also with the crushed and the lowly, reviving the spirit of the lowly, reviving the heart of those who have been crushed.” (Luke 1: 52 and Isaiah 57: 15b)

Luke’s Gospel is an account in two acts, the biography of Jesus and the story of the consequences of his ministry in the development of the “Jesus community.” Especially for those who–whether Jew or Gentile–were deciding to become a part of this illegal movement and could garner punishment for their allegiance, the message of the uprising of the downcast, lowly, and oppressed is a welcome and inspirational account. Like the Jewish exiled people of Isaiah’s time, the promise of a reason for joyful praise is the good news they long to hear.

I Believe in Love: Daring Right Relationship – December 6, 2020

Scripture:  “Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, And they will call him, Emmanuel (‘God with us’).” (Mathew 1: 23 and Isaiah 7: 14)

In both the Gospel of Matthew and Isaiah, a messenger appears as a sign from God, heralding a new era. In each passage, the words “do not be afraid” appear… offering a clue that the messenger–whether prophet or angel–was referencing something that induced fear in the recipient. A new way of being, relating and loving takes courage– eschewing the present order of things so that a new and better day can be born.

I Believe in the Sun: Hope for Tomorrow – November 29, 2020

Scripture: “Prepare the way…”

“Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news.” “Raise your voice… raise it; don’t be afraid” (Mark 1: 1-15 and Isaiah 40: 1-11)

This Advent, we are looking to hear some comfort, some challenge and some good news. The prophet Isaiah and the four Gospel authors were writing in a time when people needed desperately to hear all of these as well. This first week, Isaiah and the gospel writer who published first–Mark–reassure the people that good news is beginning and yet they both say, “make yourself ready!” Raise your voices, change your hearts, get ready to be transformed, because now is the time. Have hope that we can do what needs to be done to bring more light into the world.

Looking with Gratitude – November 22, 2020

Scripture: Acts 4: 32-35

The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all. There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need. (Acts 4:32-35)

The end of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life is a joyful celebration of community and generosity and George Bailey’s thankfulness is infectious. At the heart of our relationship to money is living and giving with gratitude–whether the assets we have to give are monetary, or our own capital of time and energy for the sake of the human family. As a result of aligning our money practices with the courageous vision we see for ourselves and our impact on the world, we end our series by looking for the hope that has been cultivated and the possibility that we will transform fear to gratitude in the act of sharing.

 

Looking Out – November 15, 2020

Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Tell people who are rich at this time not to become egotistical and not to place their hope on their finances, which are uncertain. Instead, they need to hope in God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others. When they do these things, they will save a treasure for themselves that is a good foundation for the future. That way they can take hold of what is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19, CEB)

The difference between the Baileys and the Potters of the world comes both in the inner and outer worlds. Do we reap love and generosity or bitterness and resentment? This week we ask if the outer manifestations of our money practices align with our courageous vision. Are we creating the impact for which we hope? at least moving in that direction? When our practices–no matter how incremental or seemingly simple–are serving the vision, we live with a sense of wholeheartedness and wonder that energizes us, those around us, and the world. We “truly live.”