Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Looking for a Center of Gravity in Life

Sunday, August 29, 2010
"The Lord is my Shepherd: Looking for a Center of Gravity in Life"

To get through one week in this life with an open heart and mind requires a lot of balancing, regrouping, reflecting. It just takes a lot of give and take inside for a person to travel through a week and still be intact psychologically and spiritually at the end of the week.

It is easy to get off-balance internally, and for the off-balance way of being to become the status quo. What is needed is some internal sense of spiritual balance that can adjust and change with all the challenges while maintaining some sense of continuity. I guess I am trying to talk about "the soul" again. What I am wanting to talk about is having a "center of gravity in life." A center that is strong enough that it allows you to venture out and try on new thoughts, new perspectives without losing a sense of where you have been as a person and where you are hopefully going.

Psalm 23 leads us into the experience of "having this center of gravity" in God. These words reflect a profound "God-orientation" in living. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the quiet waters. He stills my soul."

This "God-orientation" means that I am turned and drawn towards God in my living. That whereever I go, whatever I do, I am always drawn back to God, prone to turn my heart God's way, and be influenced and guided and restored by the Spirit of the Living God.

The only real center of gravity we can have in life is found in a real relationship with a living being. An analogy to the Divine-human relationship is found in the relationship of a child to a parent. As a child grows up, his or her center of gravity psychologically or spiritually is what helps her have the courage to venture out while not losing a sense of who she is. But, this center of gravity isn't necessarily found in strict rules for living that are internalized, but in a living, vital relationship between child and parent. Only this living bond is strong enough and adaptable enough to respond to the real struggles and challenges of life. In the same way, with regard to religious faith, it is not primarily a set of rules that are internalized that provides the center of gravity for living. It is the living bond, the relationship with the great Other, God, that is a well of living water, a source of renewal, a voice of judgement calling us back.

Our center of gravity is in finding ourselves truly in relation to others: human, God, and other creatures as well. In these vital relationships, we are not only sustained, but we help sustain others. In these vital relationships, what is deep in us is respected and strengthened. But, it is in the One vital relationship that we find the Center of Gravity that orients and refashions and revitalizes all our other relationships and keeps them alive and oriented towards God, the source of all life and love and hope and purpose.

"The Lord is my shepherd... I shall not want... He makes me to lie down in green pastures... He leads me beside the quiet waters; he stills my soul... Though I should walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil... Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

In the end, the great thing is that God has a profound "human-orientation." More simply put: God loves us,really loves us. Without that there would be no power to draw us, to call us, to restore and renew us. Without the deep and pervading Love of God at work continuously in this world, there would be a nothingness. With this Spirit binding all things together, there is always hope, always a chance that our spirits will relax just a little and be renewed by that grace.

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