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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

We Are So Close to Real Sanity

It is Friday morning, and as I reflect on this work week that is almost at an end, I realize that I am feeling much better than I have for a good while. I started this week with a strong resolve to attend to my inner life as much as outer life this week. And, I am starting to think that a person's relationship to his or her own soul is similar to the relationship of a person to a close family member. When we tend to that relationship, a sense of peace and love and meaning unites us with our loved one. When we ignore, avoid or take for granted that relationship, a sense of alienation and loss of peace comes between us and our loved one.

I am beginning to think that my relationship with my own soul is similar to that. This week, while attending to many other things, I didn't forget to stop and get a sense of the state of my own soul. I will talk more about this in the next post. But, for now, I am convinced that we are so close to experiencing a real, profound sanity in life. This is a sanity that comes from a soul that is awake and able to channel into our lives an amazing and gracious power that is new everyday. The soul is the gateway to another reality that we are meant to share in, but that we ignore. This other reality is the reality of the Great Other whose beauty and wisdom and mercy give fire to the Sun and also give fire to the soul.

'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless God's holy name!" This is the song of my soul this morning. I pray that I show respect for the blessing of having a soul today as I go to court this morning. And, part of that showing respect is to recognize other human beings as those who share in that remarkable blessing of having a soul as well. We are so close to real sanity, because all it takes is learning how to make that inward journey to a place within us that is holy. But, while that journey is very short in terms of physical space, it can be very long in terms of personal travelling. Something this morning makes me very hopeful about this journey for human beings. It seems to me this morning that the way is much more simple and also closer in a personal sense than we have thought. Jesus said once: "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. For my burden is easy, and my yoke is light."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday at Fourth United Presbyterian

Thanks to all who came and worshipped with us last night at Fourth United Presbyterian. We had many members of Central United Methodist with us and also members of our church and Lonsdale United Methodist as well. The choir of 4th United Presbyterian led by our church musician, David Turk, was a real blessing to all.

We appreciated music from Central United Methodist and are grateful for the preaching of Rev. Aldana Allen of Lonsdale United Methodist Church and Rev. Bruce
Galyon of Central United Methodist Church.

We came forward to the table for the "imposition of ashes." As the traditional Ash Wednesday saying goes: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Certainly a sobering message, this solemn reminder of our mortality. You would think we wouldn't need to be reminded about that since we are surrounded by reminders of the fragility of human life and live daily with memories of loved ones who have died.

And, maybe it is not that we forget about our mortality, but maybe the problem is that we don't remember it in the right context often enough, and that is in the context of worship and reverence and trust in God. Those words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" spoken in the midst of holy worship convey a sense of the dignity and meaning of being human. Outside the context of worship and reverent trust in God those words might be taken as demeaning.

It makes me think of other sayings of the Church that might make good and holy sense in worship, but be very confusing and perhaps badly misunderstood outside the experience of the sacred worship. When we move into the world with our traditional sayings and beliefs, we need to be able to translate them so that we explain what this saying means in faith. For example, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." It is a sobering reminder that we are creatures and that we are dependent in all things on our Holy Creator. It is assurance that God knows our human frame and how fragile this existence is. It is also a confession of how difficult the burdens of life can be - a confession made to One who has taken on human flesh and who has borne the burdens of human life, even the burdens of humiliation and wrongful execution. "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." We are not immortal on this earth; we are mortal. Let me say that again: "We are not immortal; we are mortal." We do not survive death because of the immortality of our souls. We die, and we believe that we will be raised up to new life because of the mercy and grace of the one who is immortal, our Creator God. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection from the dead." That is what we say at the graveside. Our hope is in our Creator God, the God who raises the dead.