Practicing the Presence of God

This past Sunday one of the things we talked about are ways we practice remembering and noticing the presence of God every day. This practice is foundational for a growing faith life. God is a deep mystery, at the same time closer than the closest friend, and so much more. We don’t come to a perfect relationship with God all at once; that relationship is a lifetime work. God is with us, eager to deepen our experience and trust. Daily practices are simple ways to do our part. They help us get below thinking about God and into the habit of feeling God’s presence always.

Many of us are used to the ideas of daily Bible reading, using a devotional guide like Upper Room, saying grace at meals. These are wonderful practices. Here are a few more that might be a bit different than what you’ve tried before:

  • Every morning, as you rise from bed, say out loud the words of the psalm “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
  • Set aside, in advance, one meal per week that you’ll eat in holy silence—no conversation, no TV, radio, computer, phone, no reading the paper—only full concentration on the blessing of the meal you are eating: noticing the taste and texture, remembering that all we have is God’s gift, offering thanks with each bite.
  • Here’s a somewhat hard habit to start, but amazing when you remember: every doorway is a threshold; every moment is a threshold into new becoming in God’s ongoing creation. Every time you go through a door, any door, every door, take one intentional breath thinking “I breath in God’s blessing” and as you exhale thinking “I thank God for new life opening before me.”
  • Try to reframe questions to be less about ourselves and more about God. Instead of “What do I want?” perhaps “What will deepen connections with God today?”

If you try any of these, let me know how it goes. I’ll just confess up front that I try all kinds of faith practices. Some of them I maintain well for years, others never quite take hold in my life, often my practices are spotty. It’s all good. No need to worry about feeling guilty. Just try something. God’s grace will find its way though even the smallest cracks in our too self-centered ways. Indeed, God is already closer to you than your own skin.

Blessings,
Pastor David

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Why I Love the Bible

It’s full of contradictions, terrible behavior, implausible stories, and is a complete hodge-podge of differences all lumped together. Just like human life. Through it all flows hope, devotion, liberation. Just like human life.

I love the Bible precisely because it is a very human creation. It’s the testimony of people just like us who are trying their best to express how God is at work in their lives. They didn’t have all the answers any more than we do. They didn’t live perfect lives any more than we do. They did look for and find God’s transforming power at work right in the midst of their difficult humanity. Reading the Bible, we can look at our own lives the same way.

I love the Bible because it insists that we continue to interpret it in conversation with God’s working in our own times, in our lives as individuals and communities. If the Bible were one clean consistent set of doctrines and rules for life, we could claim we have it all figured out, nothing more to worry or wonder about. We could claim that we fully understood God’s way for us. We don’t. We are limited, fallible, small parts of creation. We don’t have the Creator in our pocket, understood, tame. God remains a wild mystery. The sprawling, wildly varied texts of the Bible invite, even demand, an ongoing openness to God still speaking to us in new ways through all these stories, sermons, songs—all that the Bible offers us.

I love the Bible because it challenges and sustains me. Often enough the call from scripture feels uncomfortably clear. Always the words of scripture offer me assurance of God’s complete love and faithfulness.

Pastor David

All CPC Worship Sept 24th

purple cloth.jpeg

On the 24th, Pastor David will be attending the Annual Meeting of the UCC Central Pacific Conference in Pendleton, but we’ll still be worshiping together—sort of. The Conference has sent out ‘Worship in a Box’: an order of worship complete with prayers, hymns, scripture and a message. Condon UCC, along with other UCC churches around Oregon, Idaho, and Washington will join the people at the Annual Meeting in using the same resources that Sunday. Pretty cool idea.

The worship will include a simple song that’s probably new to most of us. You can get a head start learning it by listening to YouTube linked below:

 

One small getting to know me item

Greetings new friends—both all of you I have and haven’t yet met. It’s a delight to be in ministry here with the good people of Condon United Church of Christ. I’m getting settled into the parsonage and out into the community. I look forward to getting to know you.

Here’s a piece of getting to know me: I write poetry. I follow the practice of one of Oregon’s great poets, William Stafford, and write something every day first thing in the morning. Quite a bit of it’s not much good, but showing up for the writing is the important thing. (Stafford’s word on ‘writers’ block’: “Lower your standards and keep writing.” More on this in another post. Hint—it applies to prayer.) Here’s a piece from earlier this week. Rereading it now I think maybe it shows part of me is still in the big cities I’ve been in for the last 15 years, but I suspect even here the call to quiet centering with God is still important.

Night Windows

In this overheated time—
outrage on every screen,
work pursuing us through our phones,
literal heat waves portending worse to come
and small leadership for change—
in this overheated day

open the night windows of your soul

Let the dark mystery of grace
enter and cool your true self.

Give it time to work:
Rest, pray, retreat.

Water your garden in the evening;
stand under a tree at first light.

In each overheated moment
guard that cool sustaining presence:

Sometimes turn off the news,
Sometimes turn off your phone,
yes, you really can.

Cherish that cool renewing place within,
an offering every time you open
the door of your heart,

a cooling center for
the cares of our community.

 

David Zaworski August 2017

Interim Pastor David Zaworski begins ministering with Condon UCC

Greetings! This will be a very short post, just to say I’m here and jumping into Condon life and the work of the church.

I’m still very much in the midst of unpacking into the parsonage and just beginning to find my way into the workings of the church. I have my Gilliam County Library card.  I’ve introduced myself to a number of folks around town. My first worship service here as interim pastor will begin in just over an hour.

Over the next couple weeks I’ll plan to do a bit of updating of this website and have a few more thoughts to post in this blog space.

I’m delighted to be here as interim pastor of Condon United Church of Christ. I look forward to being in touch with you!

Blessings always,
Pastor David Zaworski

Nevertheless, She Persisted

screenshot-2017-02-14-06-38-05She’d heard about a healer, a teacher, traveling around the countryside. Maybe, this one, could heal her young daughter. When she asked him, he balked. He told her she was an outsider, not one of the chosen, she was a dog begging at the table. She wasn’t absolutely sure whether he meant it or that he was testing her. Maybe, she thought, he was using the encounter to teach the crowds about who is deserving and who is not? No matter, she had a daughter she loved. Nevertheless, she persisted. She told him that even the dogs get scraps from the table! (Mark 7:24-30)

Join us Sunday at 10:30 at the Condon United Church of Christ as we encounter the Syrophoenician woman and Jesus. 

What a Deal!

Bring in a box of clean donations to the UCC Thrift Shop on Thursday, Jan. 26 and receive a $5.00 off of your in store purchases. We need kids toys, adult clothing and youth sizes. Household items ranging from used coffee pots to dish sets, and pots and pans.Lamps and other household goods. All shirts are .50 cents this Thursday.

The UCC Thrift Shop  is located at 110 S.Church Street, Condon Oregon. We will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 26.

Thrift Shop open