Philippians 3:8, 10-14 I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
The other day I was on a zoom call and the internet was acting up. Two or three times the video and sound froze and eventually “Internet is unstable. Please wait.” came across the screen. The truth is I didn’t want to wait. So I restarted my laptop, only to be met with the same problem.
In our world, where immediate gratification is crucial, Paul’s message can be hard to hear. And if you’re anything like me, “waiting” can be a struggle. For the most part I don’t like waiting for my coffee to brew, my internet, or waiting to see the Patriots once again win the Super Bowl. – That may be a bit far-stretched but the point is I don't like to wait.. The truth is I want it now. It's even hard to work for a far-away goal. I remember working toward my becoming ordained and how slow the pace seemed, of course now it is a blurr.
But there is something to be said for working hard and being patient, especially when it comes to creating the world God intends for us. It can seem like excruciatingly slow progress to give time and work toward a worthy cause – especially when it feels like nothing is changing.
But when we look closer, our efforts do have an impact—even if it's just one person at a time. If we hear nothing else from Paul’s message today, we can take away this—keep pressing toward the goal because our efforts are fruitful. You make a difference.
This week, find time to be in prayer and Consider physically noting each time you pray. If you tried this daily, when you look back, you have a list of 7 times that you committed to the work of being transformed by God, and thus better prepared yourself for the work of transforming the world.
Almighty Lord, I love you. Thank you for loving me and all of us first. In a world, where it seems a bit chaotic, reveal to us your faithfulness. Continue to bless and guide our work, but more than that, empower us to face the day, knowing that you are leading the way. We look to you, and strive to be more like you, the author, and the perfecter of our faith. Lord God, I pray this in Your Son's mighty name. Amen
A week ago, I was exhausted after the service and yet I felt I had to do. As I got home and my mind was filled with "the dos" I thought of the song and message from Sunday. Slowwww down... my own words. and Doug's. through the Holy Spirit was convicting me. Hypocrite, "Slowww Down" breath and hear God. Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God, R. W. Emerson said in my ear. It was astounding how many things presented themselves in the matter of minutes. Things I forgot to do at church, things that needed to be done, Emails unanswered but at the same time my heart began to slow, my mind relaxed, the dos faded.
I thought of a story I was once told. Everyone has a backpack they carry in life. Some are heavy while some are light. They are filled with the burdens of life. Burdens that get there by our own hands, some are snuck in there by others, some just fall into the pack. These burdens can be past regrets, present concerns, fears about the future, worries about your children or your parents aging, school, those crying out for justice and the list is endless. Yet some of the backpacks while full are extremely light and others are heavy.
The heavy ones are the ones we carry alone, refusing to let go and ask for help while the lighter ones have found the peace that comes from hearing and practicing the words of Jesus. give everything and everyone to me. An invitation He gives to all people yet few takes advantage of it.
I sat there, opened my palms and said Lord, I am yours, take this from me today. And my muscles relaxed, my mind was quieted and I knew today I was to be in paradise. And I sat, fell asleep and woke as if a new day began. Then I heard voices and I got up and found some friends in my driveway, and a few minutes later my wife arrived and we visited. No cares no worries but fully refreshed. I was only asleep for 5 minutes but it felt like hours. That's God time happening as I let go.
Jesus keeps repeating this invitation to me and to each of you. Start practicing letting go and see how minutes become hours and how your backpack, although full becomes very light. Trust, slowww down and God will bring clarity and peace.
Philippians 1:9-11 9 This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. 10 I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. 11 I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.
Earlier in the Book of Philippians Paul tells us he prayed for the people. In the passage above Paul tells us what he prayed. As you read this prayer how did this prayer compare to the prayers you say for others in your family and in the family of Christ? Do you pray that their love might keep deepening, enriched by growing knowledge and insight into God’s purposes. Like Paul do you believe because of this prayer, God would empower them to discern “what really matters.” And living with that kind of insight-fueled discernment would fill their lives with “the fruit of righteousness” in ways that honored God.
As I read and reread this prayer by Paul I see where Paul is connecting love with knowledge and insight. He does not connect love with emotion and affection like we do but with wisdom and knowledge. For me he is saying that our hearts and minds must be connected in our love for God and each other. They were supposed to be connected, not separated. Love connects the two.
Paul desires that when his readers stand before Christ, their lives will have been filled with… the spiritual fruit that comes from Jesus Christ, produced in them by the Holy Spirit.” Have you seen Spirit-produced love grow other spiritual fruit in your life and the lives of others you know? Maybe we need to start praying as Paul taught. Hope to see you later this morning.
Let us take time to pray, think and grow as we remember. Below is an article sent by a Chaplain to me. It is written as a first hand account of that day by Msgr. Anthony Sherman.
It was a picture perfect day when I returned to my rectory after a number of communion calls. On my way to the last one, our parish deacon met me and said he had heard that a small plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
At home, I could sense that things were much more serious. I went to the school and met with the principal who described the events that were developing. Our concern was to provide the children with as much normalcy as possible since the children had not heard the news nor seen anything yet. We had just hired a nurse psychologist for our school and this was to be her first day. With the help of the nurse, both the principal and I prepared for how to deal with the news of either deceased or missing parents. Fortunately, the windows of the school faced away from New York.
I went with our maintenance man to the roof and there before my eyes I could see the Towers engulfed in flames and then, as if made of matchsticks, one of them completely imploded. The rush of emotions is beyond words, and it struck at the very depths of my being.
We were successful in keeping the children in school until dismissal that day. Only one parent insisted on taking a child home. We wished to avoid children being placed in front of TV and traumatized by seeing the events over and over again.
At lunch time, I returned to the rectory, and just then an American fighter plane zoomed low. Questions raced through my mind. Were we suddenly at war with some country actually attacking us? The news indicated that people were walking across the main bridges from New York. One person appeared in our rectory completely covered with white powder. She was not a parishioner, but she needed to talk before going home.
We decided to have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. People flocked to the church. It was here that we had the initial contact with a newly married man at whose wedding I had presided. His wife would never be found. She had called her husband on her cell phone to announce the plane headed for her office. The evening before, she had announced she was with child. Another mother from the parish would never be found, and the body of a father who was a policeman would eventually be found. We held many funerals for police and fire persons who gave their lives.
The readings in the week following these events were filled with statements about the consolation and strength God wished to offer his people. These were comforting words at a time when absolutely everything seemed to have been thrown up in the air. Any tranquility or self-confidence individuals or the nation had as a whole was shaken to its roots.
Often at the funerals or memorials in our parish, I had to complete the reading of the words of remembrance and other tributes, which, thank God, we asked people to type out beforehand.Were it not for faith in God and in the power of Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection, I could not have led the flock entrusted to me. Again and again, experiences of intense human suffering, death and resurrection came into dialogue with Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection.
One of the transforming experiences of these sad days was that everyone really had to ask themselves what was important in life. Certainly the normal things that we get so excited by were all cast aside by the magnitude of what had happened. The preciousness and also the precarious and vulnerable nature of the fundamental gift of life burned its way into the depth of our souls.
I suppose for this reason, it took me quite some time before I could visit Ground Zero and look down at it from the street. Even more traumatic for me was when we made the pre-visit for Pope Benedict's projected visit. Cardinal Egan told me about his own experiences of 9/11, and we both realized how we had been transformed by that day. But it was with some trepidation that I stood at Ground Zero as Pope Benedict lit a candle and then knelt in quiet prayer for a few moments. He was surrounded by so many that had lost loved ones. His presence, however, gradually brought a sense of peace that was hard to describe. The wounds were still there but a true healing process had begun.
A lesson learned from the whole experience was the realization that we ought not to cling to too much, although that is a constant struggle. In a moment, everything in our lives can be thrown up in the air and without a clear sense of what can truly survive. The way forward can be almost impossible.
Finally, 9/11 led us all into the very depths of the mysteries of human suffering, death and resurrection. We discovered that we cannot obtain nor find all the answers to the atrocities we experienced. Yet with God's grace we also experienced the height of human sacrifice and the ability of our brothers and sisters to manifest heroic love. Ultimately we will have the answer to our questions and the reconciliation of all the forces of those days when we ourselves enter into the mysterious inner life of God's self. Only there will the mysteries of the 9/11 experience be revealed.
I am paraphrasing here but Ps. 56:8 seems to be saying;God hears the cries of his people. God hurts when his people hurt. God bottles every tear that his people have shed. As we experience life, there will most likely be a time when it seems like God is hiding His face from you. Many Psalms speak of this. Perhaps it will be a betrayal. Or bad news from a doctor. Maybe your world feels like it is crashing. Certainly if you read or hear the news many would say it is. I just received a prayer bulletin that says we must pray and reunite this nation or else. Remember however, even when it seems like he is hiding his face, He is working His grace to complete a beautiful work in you, in us. Our circumstances will change life will change , but in these moments God wants to change you more as we are held in the nail-pierced hands of the potter
Over the last 25 years of walking with Jesus, I have learned that God hasn’t wasted a single hurt, disappointment, or tragedy. With his nail-pierced hands, Jesus the potter has reached into the messy clay of my life and sculpted me. What looks impossible to human eyes looks like an opportunity for Jesus to do the him-possible and reveal his greatness to us. I know this to be true. I just need to be held together while the potter is lovingly, sovereignly, and meticulously working to transform me. Oh, in truth I at times fight the changes because with it means more responsibility to be like Jesus. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” Rom. 8:28–29. In this time when things are astray look for the good. Look for the God who wants transformation in our lives. Ask yourself the tough questions about your relationship with the creator, how is Jesus showing us His cross. God is our hope so let us allow Him to mold us so we might love as He loves us. Let us stop the negativity and walk in the light of the one who created us.
Whatever trial you are facing today, hold on. Remember God’s faithfulness and trust in his goodness. Do not fall into the trap and join the many who want to persecute each other.Let us instead show hope, peace, joy and love to our community. See you later this morning.
Almighty and Holy God. You have given us all we need. You have taught us about how to love our neighbor, our friends and even our enemies. You have shown us the love you want us to give to others and especially back to you. Oh Lord, help me honor you with the hope I bring through Your Son Jesus. Help me to remain in You and not fall prey to the world around me. May the words of my mouth be pleasing to your lips my God. Father, I ask for the forgiveness of my sins. I ask for peace to continue to reign in my life and those around me. May I never take lightly that You have called me an heir. Lord, you know my heart as I lift this prayer to You in the name of Jesus. Amen
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." One of our own, Union General Joshua Chamberlain became one of the most noted heroes of the Civil War for leading his men to hold the Union line at Little Round Top during the decisive battle of Gettysburg. There will always be opportunities for us to make concessions to the enemy and give in to temptation, surrender. But when faced with trials and temptations, we must stand firm. Those who have gone before us have set an example that should encourage us to hold our ground.
Our Lord expects and deserves nothing less than our full devotion. In this time of life may we hold fast to the principles that our King taught us. Let us not negotiate the values and ethics Jesus taught. Let us stand united in how we speak to each other, how we show compassion to others, and how we love our neighbors. Let us not give in to greed or anything goes mentality as long as the end profits us, but instead let us hold fast to Jesus Christ as our true King. I hope to catch up with many of you later today.
Pray for this Nation, our church and our communities.
Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.
We all remember The prophet Isaiah wrote, “But now, Lord, you are our father. We are the clay, and you are our potter. All of us are the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). In the reading above, the apostle Paul , who also spoke of the potter and we are the clay in 2 Corinthians, used the image of a fruitful tree to portray the kind of people into which God’s Spirit is steadily shaping us as we daily seek to live and renew our lives in His. The Spirit’s molding in our human lives is not merely for an internal experience—it ultimately shows itself in your life as you live out the beautiful qualities The one's Paul listed for the Galatian Christians.
Are you allowing the Potter to mold you? Take a personal inventory of how present each of the “fruit of the Spirit” qualities is in your life. Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify one or two of the areas you most need to grow in. I hope we will see each other soon but until then please keep supporting your church and keep healthy. This morning service begins at 9am here at the church and on Facebook live. Otherwise you can catch the service on our website at 10:30.
Trust in him at all times... pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." PSALM 62:8 (NIV)
Have you ever given thought that It is through our broken, vulnerable, mortal ways of being that the healing power of the eternal God becomes visible to us. If we were perfect we would have no need for God's gifts of Himself to us. That is why we are called each day to present to the Lord the whole of our lives—our joys as well as sorrows, our successes as well as failures, our hopes as well as fears. We are called to do so with our limited means, our stuttering words and halting expressions. In this way we will come to know in mind and heart the unceasing prayer of God’s Spirit in us. Our many prayers are in fact confessions of our inability to pray. But they are confessions that enable us to perceive the merciful presence of God.Almighty God, may we seek your love and mercy daily. May we become your ambassadors to this forgetful world and remind them of Your grace and mercy. Father, thank you fro the gift you gave us in Your Son. Thank you for the fellowship we have here at EOCC and within our communities. Lord God, you are my fortress and shelter. Thank You as I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen
John 16:12-15 12 “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you.
Love this passage. It tells me a lot about the God I serve and His patience with me. In this time of life patience is really a blessing in keeping my wit and attitude in check.This passage also talks about the Trinity that so many people struggle with. John recorded Jesus' teaching about “the Father,” himself and “the Spirit,” not as three separate beings, but one God in three persons. Theologians struggle to articulate this concept in ways that the human imagination can process. The three persons of the Trinity are close in a manner that goes beyond the closest human relationships we know. The Holy Spirit is the third person (which in no way means inferior or subordinate to the first and second person) of the Trinity, who functions as God’s continual presence on Earth, especially after Jesus’ ascension to heaven. The Holy Spirit resides in us, reminding,sustaining, nudging, rebuking, and reshaping our humanity.
When we accept the life of Christ in our own life Scripture tells us the Spirit comes and dwells in us. We become God's new Temple. It is an opportunity for us to work with and on behalf of the Divine. However, God is not going to cram it down our throats all at one time. He will feed us as we can take it in. I have seen the Holy Spirit work in many people as they faced a time when they could not handle the full truth of a medical, relational or spiritual situation. But with time and the presence of God within they grasp the situation and begin their work with and on behalf of God the Father in their situation. Have you faced times when you weren’t ready to handle the full truth of a medical, relational or spiritual situation? Are you grateful that God doesn’t insist on “cramming” the whole truth down our throat when we’re not ready, but that the Spirit works patiently with us as we learn and grow? I am.
Our God is an awesome God of love, patience, kindness and mercy to name a few. May we learn from His example, especially in today's climate. I hope to see many of you later on today in person, (on our web page; eoccme.com around 11) or Facebook live starting at 9 am.
Almighty and Holy God I thank you for the patience you have shown me in my life. The steady nudging of the Holy Spirit that has helped me grow. Lord, I pray for this church I serve. May the Holy Spirit continue to lead us and teach us, May we be open to His teachings and directions. Father, bless us and keep us safe. I pray for forgiveness in my life and in the lives of those I may have hurt. Continue to be patient with me and feed me what I can handle. I thank you for the insight that has come during this time of solitude and an openness to Your Holy Word. I am grateful as I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
As I travel around and also listen to people near and far it seems the anger is spilling over into everyday life. Now with the elections the name calling, the slanderous comments are going to be even more present. So I thought maybe the passage below could or should be an EOCC theme through the elections.
Colossians 3:12-15 12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.
In a time of turmoil, hatred and violence the Apostle Paul is calling his readers to take off the old human nature with its retaliation, vengeance, anger and negativity ( and I would add in this period of time writings on Social media) and put on a new nature. No longer are we to conform with what the world is doing, our leaders and such, but instead change into the gift that God is giving us. In today’s reading Paul listed six positive qualities we can “put on” (verses 12, 14), with love as the crowning quality in the list. The image of “putting on” these lovely qualities reminds us that their ultimate source is God, not us. God offers them to us—it is up to us to decide to “put them on” to make our relationships, our communities and overall general well being, better and more resilient.
“Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint…, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Doing this will let others know we are Christians, reconciled people of God and no longer will we resort to the old way of tearing others down to build ourselves up. We are all God's children so may we act and treat each other respectfully. Words do matter.
I pray we all begin the process of putting on the nature of Christ. See you a bit later, pastor Carl
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006