Easter Sunday

Dear Friends in Christ –

George Burns and Gracie Allen were entertainment royalty. They started in vaudeville, transitioned to radio, and then to TV. Burns played the straight man with the gravelly voice (10 to 15 El Producto cigars a day will do it!) to Gracie’s winsome comedy. His parents were Orthodox Jews and she was a staunch Irish Catholic girl.

Gracie would die decades before George. The story goes that after her death, George went to sort through her papers and on top of everything in her desk he found an envelope addressed to him.

He opened it, and found this, "George, never place a period where God places a comma.” Perhaps you’ve heard this before.

George Burns died at 100 attributing his longevity to the El Productos. But that phrase "never place a period where God places a comma" has lived on with new resonance. I think this is something to keep in mind as we celebrate Jesus’ rising this Sunday.

There were some who prayed, those who feared, most who assumed the story was done – just another would-be-prophet, wanna-be-Messiah shown to be delusional and dead. But this time was different. What some thought to be a period was actually a comma as certain women found an empty tomb and a messenger delivering the obvious. "He’s gone. He told you where to find him." You see, Jesus obviously had things to do!

Men and women, so do we. This Sunday let’s embrace the reality that death is deposed! New life beckons in Jesus Christ! We’ll worship together in the Sanctuary. Remember, invite your friends, your neighbors, those who you long to see and even those you’d rather not. Let’s come together to worship the risen Christ!

In great anticipation -

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Palm Sunday

Dear Friends in Christ –

Imagine this: first century, you’re on your way to Passover.

You’ve saved up for the temple tax. You’ve arranged for your work, property, home to be cared for…

You approach the temple. You hear a ruckus. Crowds in Jerusalem – the population is swollen. You hear screams. Then you see goats and cattle stampeding…towards you. You hold your loved ones close. You can’t believe this could be coming from the temple! You place your family back out of harm’s way, but you continue and you see people running, the money changers, the keepers of the livestock. The temple is a mess. Coins on the floor. How will you pay the temple tax? So how will you be forgiven?

And then you hear: There’s a prophet inside who speaks of the temple as if it belongs to him. He’s tearing the place up! And taking on the temple authorities? Who is this?

It's Jesus.  He’s cleaning house.

Men and women, I hope you’ve been cleaning house, discarding everything that would keep you from his side. These times demand the people of God to be suited up and ready!

In great anticipation -

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A Note From Your Pastor

Dear Friends in Christ –

I just read Rev Cooper’s snapshot for this Sunday – You Can Use My Helmet, Love God.

My family and I are preparing to leave for a break. Yep, it's Spring on Tuesday and we’ll be taking a break from hectic schedules, deadlines and devices – a couple of days to decompress and to enjoy each other.

We’ll also be breaking away from incessant rants, screeds and tweets, from the reportage of horrifying disasters of genocide and bridge collapses – concrete and cultural.

But a retreat is only a change of zip code if one isn’t intentional in seeking re-creation, renewal and refreshment.

I’m taking this seriously. I’ll be listening to Sunday’s sermon once it's posted. I’ll be praying for you and for our church and for our country and for the world with which we’ve been  charged in God’s confidence and in joy.

With great joy in being your pastor -

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Fifth Sunday of Lent Snapshot

For the past several weeks Lenten sermons have been inspired by Paul’s admonition to the young, struggling church at Ephesus to “Put on the full armor of God.”  The series of sermons has drawn from Ephesians 6:10-19 by examining the components of God’s armor: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the foot coverings of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith.

We live in an era of frequent estrangement and hostility in many aspects of life, so putting on armor fit for fighting OTHERS seems feasible, right?  NO!  Paul is very clear that the enemy is not “flesh and blood.”  The real enemies are often intangibles — “principalities.”  It is ideas and emotions and faith—or lack of faith— that inform our decisions, our loyalties, our values, and our actions.

This week we are issued via scripture yet another part of God’s armor: “the helmet of salvation.”  For a human brain to think with the mind of Christ ... Ah what a blessing to this hurting world!

- Rev. Gale Cooper

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REV. GALE COOPER is our guest preacher this Sunday. She was born in Windsor, England before immigrating with her family and growing up in Richmond, VA. She and her husband, Elliott, have two adult, married daughters- including our own Cathy Lipp- and three grandsons. She is looking forward to her 50th wedding anniversary coming up this year. Gale is currently a volunteer chaplain with Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy and Bishop Gadsden Retirement community. Being a wife, mother, friend, priest, artist, and writer have been the main blessings of her life. She likes to paint, sew, read, be with friends and travel.

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends in Christ –

Some of you have heard the story of how my wife Rebecca and I met.

It was at a party that she would never have attended except to get away from a South Carolina farmer that had come to New York to save her from the city. But thank heavens she didn’t want to be saved from the city and attended this party that included actors and actresses all living on no budget and coming together for a little wine and cheese and to practice sight reading polyphony and madrigala. (I know)

I came late to the party myself. I waited until the Super Bowl was over. I walked in and was immediately captivated by the new girl – dressed in black, braid, and serious black shoes. 

When a break in the evening came, I sat near her and opened the conversation with, “I like your pumps.” Eighteen months later we were married. Shoes have always resonated with me.

Then there were beach shoes, then baby shoes, now horse riding boots, boxing shoes and daughters beginning to wear serious black shoes. Shoes matter. Because they take you places, different places. But there is one pair that fits all who will dare to wear them. God’s shoes of peace allow God’s people – all of God’s people to stand firm to stand together to withstand the wiles and attacks of the enemy. 

Sunday morning we prepare to slip on, strap up, pull on, lace up, tie on the shoes of God’s peace. And together we’ll lift the shield of faith. 

In great anticipation -

 

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