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

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

Focused Prayer, Outreach, & Education: Light a Candle for Children Begins September 14

Focused Prayer, Outreach, & Education: Light a Candle for Children Begins September 14

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 5.20.44 PMThe Condon United Church of Christ will focus prayer on the needs of children in our community and world for five weeks as part of the Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil. The church will also be collecting items for twenty-five school kits for Church World Service, an ecumenical relief agency. Additionally, an educational workshop on raising moral children will be announced within a few weeks.

Believing that all children are, “Precious in God’s Sight,” the church invites the community to join in guided prayer. Free devotional books with daily scripture readings, reflections, and prayers are available at the church and other community locations. The daily meditations are also available by email at http://lightacandle.blogspot.com/, by Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Pray4Children, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LightaCandleforChildren .

Light a Candle for Children is an advocacy & prayer vigil project that invites congregations to join in Days of Prayer for Children. The vigil begins five weeks before the National Observance of Children’s Sabbath sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund, Washington, DC. Thousands of congregations from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith groups unite during Children’s Sabbath weekend to simultaneously witness for children through prayer, education, and worship.

Light a Candle for Children, a project of the Family & Children’s Ministries Partnership of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a part of this witness for children. Pastor Tim Graves of Condon is the editor and project coordinator for this national emphasis within the two cooperating denominations.

Like the disaster relief kits the UCC made last year, the school kits for Church World Service are used by the ecumenical relief agency to respond quickly to disasters in the United States and around the world. According to CWS, “School Kits give children in impoverished schools, refugee camps, or other difficult settings some of the basic tools for learning.” Thirty-seven Christian denominations including the United Church of Christ are members of Church World Service.

Visit http:///www.CondonUCC.org or http://www.Facebook.com/CondonUCC for more information. Call Rev. Tim Graves at 541-256-0565 or email CondonUCC@gmail.com if you have questions.

Ash Wednesday Message

Ash Wednesday Message

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Today we begin the season of Lent. 

Lent is the forty weekdays & the inclusive Sundays of preparation before Easter. It is traditionally a time of introspection & penitence but it does not have to be solemn. The purpose of Lent is to move closer to God. The traditional question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” can be the wrong question when it focuses on sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. The better question is, “What are you going to do to bring you closer to God?”

Some try a new spiritual practice. Some “give up” something that gets in the way of closeness with God. What about you? What will you do to bring you closer in-tune with God?

Ash Wednesday service is at noon today. Please join us if you’re able.

From Guatemala: Wednesday Night Church

From Guatemala: Wednesday Night Church

Writes Maggie from Guatemala:

I went from feeling confused, left out, and generally uncomfortable to being in the moment.  I was drawn into the speaker’s words and indeed felt el Espíritu en esa lugar ( the Spirit in that place).  I don’t know what I expected the night to look like.  I do know that I was glad to worship among these followers of Christ.  Praise be to God. Alabaré (I will praise).

Maggie Sebastian, a member of Condon UCC, continues to write about her experiences in Guatemala. She is currently in an immersion language program at a school in Xela (Quetzaltenango). Later this month she will join the Providence Hospital Surgical Mission Team as their chaplain. Read Maggie’s full post here.

Scripture Readings for Jan. 13-19

Scripture Readings for Jan. 13-19

Untitled_9393921303_lJohn 2:13-25 NRSV
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. 23 When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
Psalm 127:1-2 NRSV
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
    the guard keeps watch in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Adult Bible Studies are Friday @ 1 p.m. at Summit Springs Village or Sunday @ 9 a.m. at the church. Join us!