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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Walking the Labyrinth

Labyrinth_vor_St._Lambertus,_MingolsheimThose gathering for 4oh!4 in the basement of the Condon United Church of Christ on Sunday afternoon at 4:04 p.m. will share a simple meal of soup and experience the labyrinth.

Sometimes confused with a maze, a labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools in various faith traditions.

Unlike a maze, with a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.

For more information, phone or text Rev. Tim Graves at 541-256-0565 or email 4oh4Condon@gmail.com

Dreams & Temptations

Dreams & Temptations

Sunday, January 18, 2015 * Worship @ 10:30 * Bible Study @ 9:15
Sermon: Dreams & Temptations
Sacred Text: Matthew 4:1-17

Wisdom Words: “I Have a Dream” speech


 

Hello friends,

Our sacred text this week comes from the gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 4:1-17 is the story of Jesus being tempted prior to the start of his ministry. Traditionally we have thought of the tempter as an evil character or even Satan but that is not quite correct.

According to Richard Swanson, “The Greek word is not quite so devilish: it refers physically to the act of throwing something across someone’s path, and is well-translated as “slanderer.” Such a character is no ally, but neither is a slanderer necessarily a cosmic force of evil.”

You can read the scripture in the Common English Bible or in your favorite translation.

I will be pairing the scripture with a wisdom text in the coming weeks. The wisdom text for this week is an excerpt from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. You can read it at the National Archives by clicking here or watch a video from Salt Project.

See you Sunday!

Tim

Christmas Eve Service at 8 p.m.

Christmas Eve Service at 8 p.m.

We’ve searched during the Advent season for hope, for peace, for joy, and for love only to have cropped-searching-advent-201411.pngthe Extravagant One come to us in the most unlikely of places. The Divine has become incarnate in our midst. The Divine has been born of human flesh among us and within us.

Into the silent night, the Divine comes to us as a poor infant living on the margins of society!

Join us for worship at 8 p.m. on December 24th!

Searching Is Theme for Advent at Condon UCC

The Condon United Church of Christ announced special music, weekly worship, Bible Study, and special services for Advent, the start of the Christian calendar and the season of preparation leading to Christmas. The focus of services and studies will be “Searching”, according to Rev. Tim Graves, pastor of the United Church of Christ.Advent 2014 at Condon UCC flyer

“All of us are on our own spiritual journeys with the Divine One,” explained Rev. Graves. “Our theme of Searching reflects this truth about human existence during this season of preparation for Christmas.”

Advent at the UCC begins Sunday, November 30 with a Hanging of the Greens worship service featuring special music by local artist and musician Dan Robinson. Scripture readings, Advent and Christmas hymns, prayer, and multimedia are interspersed with decorating the sanctuary.

“At the start of a Hanging of the Greens service, the sanctuary is bare. By the end of the service it is decked out in seasonal decorations and liturgical colors,” said Rev. Graves.

Each Sunday morning, as is the practice at the local UCC, begins with Bible study at 9:15 and worship at 10:30. The traditional themes of hope, peace, joy, and love will be incorporated into the searching theme on each of the four Sundays leading to Christmas.

The second Sunday of Advent, December 6, will feature special music by Russell Thompson, grandson of Patti and Dale Thompson.

A Longest Night service will be Sunday evening December 21 at 5:00 p.m. Sometimes called Blue Christmas, many Christian churches now recognize the sadness inherent in the Christmas season for many people.

“The service affirms that not everyone is as happy as our culture tells us we should be at this time of the year,” says Rev. Graves. “The holidays, especially Christmas, are often times when people feel the loss of loved ones, hopes, and dreams. Those searching for work or living in poverty often feel the pressures of spending money they do not have. Even those who appear to have it all, often struggle with depression or blue feelings as the long nights of winter press on.”

The traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service will be at 8:00 p.m. on December 24.

Remembering the Saints

Remembering the Saints

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 1.06.04 PMWe remember the strengths and faults,
of the saints of our lives on this All Saints Sunday.
We learned from them in easy ways and hard ways.

We remember the One who journeyed with each of them.
We focus now on the One who journeys with us still.
(from the Call to Worship at Condon UCC on November 2, 2014)

Watch Remembering the Saints video at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fonqtyveai9lzme/Remembering%20the%20Saints%202014m.mp4?dl=0