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.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why are We So Foolish? Some Thoughts after the Sermon on Sunday

If you weren't there at worship this past Sunday, September 12, you missed something. You missed a good service overall, but you really missed Rev. Allen's sermon about the foolish and the wise bridesmaids (the parable Jesus told in the Gospel of Matthew about "being ready" for the bridegroom). There is that sobering part of the story when the foolish bridesmaids who have not prepared realize they have no oil to keep their lamps burning, but it is too late for the wise bridesmaids to help them. It is too late. Like it was too late for Egypt on the night of the Passover. Like it was too late for Judah in the days of Jeremiah, when God delivered them into the hands of the Babylonians.

But, as Rev. Allen illustrated from her own experience and as scripture reveals over and over, God is the only one has the right to define "when it is too late," and thank God he is very gracious in how he does that in our lives and in human history! But, as Rev. Allen also illustrated in her sermon, that doesn't do away with the deep truth that there will be a time when "it will be too late." And, who knows when that time will come in our individual lives and in our communal lives.

In real human life and in the real walk of faith, we receive grace when we know that though there are many gracious warnings and interventions on our behalf, we also know not to presume on grace. In Romans 2 Paul talks about those of us who don't seem to understand that God's kindness and forebearance and forgiveness is meant to lead us to repentance, and not meant to lead us to presume that we can continue defying God's will for our lives and somehow always get another free pass whenever we need it. We live in a real world, with a real Creator, who has put real minds and hearts within us. God seeks communion with us, and we are miraculously able to commune with our Creator in a special way since we do have minds and hearts to think and feel and plan and hope and love and believe. But, we are also able to reject communion with our Creator. We are also able to turn away from God's efforts to reach us, and rely solely on our own wisdom or the wisdom of the world.

The more we carve out a path in life by rejecting God's will for us, the harder it gets to get out of that destructive path. That path becomes a "rut." After a while, it becomes natural to fall back into that rut and just coast along towards another destructive episode. When I get in a "rut" like this, I am unlikely to see it because it is the course of life I have carved out for myself and it only seems natural for me to follow along this path. The strange thing is for those of us that are religious people, we seem to be able to stay in our "rut" while giving lip service to our need to find a better way. Our religion can do that for us. Help keep us on a false path. That is, our religion can do that for us if we fail to seek God in the depths of our lives. Our religion can become nothing more than a bunch of sayings in our heads that reassure us that we are o.k. when we are not. And, at times, our religion can become a bunch of sayings in our heads that disturb and make us feel we are not alright when we are.

We have limped along for too long by relying on "our religion." It is time to rely on the Living God. We need a direct experience with a power that we cannot fool, or else we will continuously fool ourselves. Does your religion have this power, or is it just a fairly refined and socially acceptable way of "fooling yourself?"

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