Gifts of the Dark Wood: The Gift of Temptation – Mar 18, 2018

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. Corinthians 5: 16-19

The gift of temptation may bring images of resisting evil–sometimes in seriously dangerous form or as seemingly benign as the pastry in front of you. But instead, the temptation for this week is following the “shoulds” dictated only by logic, outside expectation or shiny “rewards” instead of following the path our intuition and imagination suggest is right for us–the path that helps us bring the best of our energy and joy to the world. Our Lent journey invites us to face the temptations that erode our fullness and steal us away.



Gifts of the Darkwood: The Gift of Getting Lost – Mar 11, 2018

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?” – Psalm 42 (NRSV)

The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. – 1 Samuel 3 (NRSV)

The path of life is rarely clear or straight-forward. We find ourselves lost in a Dark Wood, unclear which direction to go, perhaps having strayed from the path we thought we were on. It is at these times that the gift of getting lost is that we begin to pay more attention than we usually do. Perhaps we are looking for blatant signs when the subtle nudges of Spirit are already right there. Our Lent journey invites us to get quiet and open wide our senses.

Gifts of the Dark Wood: The Gift of Being Thunderstruck – Mar 4, 2018

At this also my heart trembles, and leaps out of its place. Listen, listen to the thunder of [God’s] voice and the rumbling that comes from [God’s] mouth. Under the whole heaven [God] lets it loose, and [God’s] lightning to the corners of the earth. – Job 37: 1-5 NRSV

Ancient civilizations and religions all metaphorically describe the voice of the divine coming through thunder and lightning. We often describe experiences of insight as a “sudden flash,” “seeing the light” or “rocked my world.” Storms of life can make way for moments of insight, like the sun radiating in a clearing in the woods, that can offer us direction, helping us to negotiate life’s path and see our unique place in the world. Our Lenten journeys of discernment and introspection invite us to open our senses in the midst of the storm.

Gifts of the Dark Wood: The Gift of Emptiness – Feb 25, 2018

“Whoever tries to preserve their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33 CEB)

Our journey through the Dark Wood invites us to the gift of emptiness. Many of us sometime feel empty inside and we fear that there is nothing there of worth. But what if we let go of our obsession with worthiness and released into the idea that if we want to be filled–to find God–getting empty is the best way. God will find us! In our journey this Lent toward the Cross, we know even Jesus felt empty despair… and it was at this moment that God’s possibility of life beyond that pain was revealed.

Gifts of the Dark Wood: The Gift of Uncertainty

Says Paul, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12 NRSV).

When we allow ourselves to accept the journey within the Dark Woods, the Holy Spirit Guide tends to shake things up a bit as we begin to awaken to nudgings toward a fuller life. But life is messy. Life is uncertain. Rather than a problem to be solved, what if we saw uncertainty as a gift helping us let go of all we cannot know so that we can live more wholeheartedly? We begin our Lent journey in the Dark Wood where rich discoveries can be made when we are willing to answer the question, “Do you want to be made well?”

Ash Wednesday Feb 14, 2018 – The Gifts of the Darkwood: Where We Find Ourselves

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” – Matthew 14: 22-33 The Message

“Sometimes… you need to step away from the security of your boat onto the stormy sea of your own awakening to discover that a sinking stone is a far firmer foundation than you ever have imagined.” We embark on a series of worship that will invite us to explore all the places where we find ourselves–not just the seemingly stable and blessed places, but the ones that feel like utter failure, or the most tenuous at the least. These are the places where Jesus says “Do not be afraid, it’s me calling you out here to find the depths of your very soul.”

Bread, Bath and Beyond: Beyond the Fear – Feb 11, 2018

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Mark 9:2-9

The saying goes, “feel the fear and do it anyway.” These common men, who just a mere few years earlier were getting up every day and simply praying for a good catch of fish, stand on the top of a mountain and see their leader joined by dead, yet famous, ancestors of the faith. They already have begun to realize the Jesus is something of a legend, but this seals it, and they are terrified. They felt the fear and left their professions anyway to follow Jesus. And now perhaps they can see that this is not your ordinary life they’re mixed up in. Do you feel like there are extraordinary things you could do if only you could move beyond the fear?

This last service in our series offers a ritual moment to offer our lives and efforts in co-creating God’s Reign with extraordinary courage.

Bread, Bath and Beyond: Beyond the Boundaries – Feb 4, 2018

     Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out,
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of
him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching–with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” Mark 1:21-28

Sometimes we are captured by the boundaries of our own making. Things have become so toxic in our lives that we are bound, imprisoned, by them. Today, along with the awestruck worshiping community in the scripture story, we experience the power of Jesus to call out unclean spirits–those things that rage within us, limiting our ability to love and grow. We can lean on the authority of Jesus in our lives to conquer and be freed to move beyond our boundaries.


Bread, Bath and Beyond: Beyond the Horizon – Jan 28, 2018

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:14-20

The scriptures today tell of the calling of fishermen on the shores of the Sea of Galilee to leave their work and follow Jesus. He is calling them to work they probably never in a million years imagined themselves doing. For years they had sailed that sea, perhaps never thinking what was beyond the horizons, beyond the distant shores. Where is Jesus calling us that just might be beyond the horizons we now see for ourselves?

Bread, Bath and Beyond: Beyond Belief – Jan 21, 2018

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1: 43-51

As this season progresses, we will see people discovering this remarkable man named “Jesus of Nazareth.” The people had been waiting so long for a Messiah that it was hard to believe for some that the Savior had come out of a little town like Nazareth, much less the son of a common carpenter. How can we go beyond our own beliefs and assumptions about where God shows up? Can we move beyond these to open our eyes to the holy in unexpected places and people?