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Thoughts from Pastor Dan

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Today’s midweek message is written by Rev. Mindy Roll, the Lutheran Campus Pastor at Texas A&M and Blinn College, where she is serving in her sixth year. When not hanging out with college students, Mindy and her husband, Tom Ham, are chasing a wild 2 year old, Andrew, or giggling with a very silly 7-month old, Linden.

 

This past Sunday was Campus Ministry Sunday for Treehouse, the Lutheran Campus Ministry at A&M and Blinn. It’s a big day for us, where we send a couple dozen students into several area churches to preach about their faith journeys and how campus ministry has played a role in it.

 

I love reading these sermons. They always make me laugh, and they often make me cry. And they always, always surprise me.

 

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Today’s midweek message is written by Andrew Roblyer.  Andrew is a member of Friends Church, where he serves on the Faith Inclusion & Disabilities Awareness Team, offers children’s messages in Sunday worship celebrations, and is an occasional lay leader.


Sacrificing the Idea of Sacrificing Myself

 

It’s taken me a long time to learn not to sacrifice myself for my art.

Even if you’re not an artist, chances are that you’ve probably heard people assert that artists must sacrifice for their art.  The “starving artist” is a stereotype and expectation that is pervasive throughout a lot of our culture.  If you’re not willing to take risks and put yourself out there, you’ll never make it as an artist, or at least that’s what they say.

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Today’s midweek devotion, is written by Krista Burdine.  Along with her husband and three children, Krista is an active participant in the life of our Friends Church congregation.  She lives on a small wooded ranch south of College Station, with a menagerie of horses, chickens and cats.  Krista blogs about Faith, Hope and Love as the essential elements of the spiritual journey, at www.kristaburdine.com.  You can also find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/krista.burdine.writer. She enjoys interacting with readers.


Living in Ordinary Time

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

For many, January represents new beginnings, a chance to start in again at our attempts to be the best person we can be. We start the year full of resolve . Often by January 20, however, with the new year nearly three weeks old, we have already begun to lose our way again. Fitness memberships become dusty from lack of use, health food begins to spoil in the fridge, and all our big plans for this year seem to remain too far away for serious consideration. Perhaps we begin to simply endure these ordinary days to get through until more interesting and rewarding seasons come along.

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

One of my favorite Bible verses is Philippians 1:3: “I thank my God every time I remember you.”  It’s a simple, candid, powerful thought that will, no doubt, come to mind for me over the next three month while I’m away from Friends Congregational Church on sabbatical leave.  The church family that I’m blessed to serve as Pastor is a creative, vibrant, storied people of covenant promises who I once described in a sermon as “steeped in the bubbling stew of quirky community.”  We are all of that and so much more by God’s grace, and every time I remember this truth from different angles with the passing of time, I am thankful.

 

At our most recent Thanksgiving meal at Friends Church, there was a “Thanksgiving Tree” in the narthex.  On circular pieces of autumn-colored paper, we wrote down things for which we’re thankful.  I held onto those pieces of paper and read through them again this morning.

 

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Dear Church Family,

 

There is an old joke that I first heard years ago from a Reformed Jewish Rabbi: A devout man of faith learns of a torrential storm fast-approaching the town where he lives, so he gets on his knees and prays that God would protect him from harm.  An evacuation of the city is ordered, and a police officer comes to the man’s house.  “Sir, there’s a storm coming.  You need to leave your home immediately.”  But the man said, “It’s okay.  I’m staying.  God will protect me.”

 

The storm comes and the waters rise, flooding the man’s home and forcing him to flee upstairs to safety.  Just then, someone in a motorized fishing boat rushes up to the man’s second-story window and motions for him to come outside.  “Hop in the boat, friend!  The water’s rising fast!”  But the man says, “It’s okay.  Go on without me.  God will protect me.” 

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s Midweek Devotion is an Advent poem written by our own Olivia Simonich.  A longtime member of Friends Church, Olivia serves as Secretary for our Heart of Texas Association Executive Committee.  She is also active on the Fellowship and Nurture Committees, and a regular attendee of Sunday morning and Wednesday evening worship services at Friends.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s midweek devotion will appear in the “Faith & Values” section of Saturday’s Eagle.

 

Every sermon I’ve preached during this Advent Season, when Christians wait and prepare for Christmas, has ended, “Let peace on earth begin, O God, and let it begin with me.”

 

This time of year, bumper sticker theology harrumphs, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  Yes, let’s keep Christ in Christmas not merely in title and symbol, but more tangibly in discipline and practice.  The Spirit of Jesus Christ is kept as the cornerstone of Christmas when the hungry are fed, the thirsty have something to drink, the stranger is invited in, the naked are clothed, the sick are cared for, the imprisoned are visited, as well as when enemies are treated as friends and violence of all kinds is repudiated.  We can keep Christ in Christmas by shining the light of Christ on the world around us, and such actions bring about the peace on earth that we yearn for especially during the holidays.

 

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Dear Church Family,

 

Today’s devotion first appeared in yesterday’s addition of River View, the e-newsletter for Slumber Falls Camp.  It is written by Rev. Charles Stark, a former pastor of Friends Congregational Church, and the Director of Outdoor Ministries for the South Central Conference at Slumber Falls.

 

As we enter this season of Advent, we mark the beginning of the church year. Advent is a season of preparing for the future. We echo the ministry of John the Baptist as one who is preparing a way in the wilderness. In these uncertain times when our news is filled with bloodshed and fear, we are a people who are uncertain of our future. It is in times like these that we need to depend on the witness of scripture that our God is always with us and will lead us into a future filled with hope.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s midweek devotion is written by Mark Thomas.  Mark serves as Moderator of the Church Council, and is actively involved in the Sustainability Team.  Mark’s spouse, Lucy, and their son, Canaan, are longtime members of Friends Church.

 

With Thanksgiving just past, I have been reflecting on the significance of eating together, of ritual meals, in our traditions, both religious and cultural.  One of our most common Christian practices focuses on the sharing of communion, which in the early Church seems to have been part of an actual meal where the faithful sat down around the table together.  The sacred sharing of bread and wine was a part of earlier Jewish tradition as well, perhaps even predating Judaism.

 

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Dear Friends Church Family,

 

Today’s midweek devotion will appear in the “Faith & Values” section of Saturday’s Eagle

 

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells a story to listeners “who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.”  A Pharisee and a tax collector go to the temple to pray.  The Pharisee is an upright pillar of the community.  The tax collector is a despicable miser.  The Pharisee prays vocally about himself: “God, I thank you that I’m not like other people, like that wretched tax collector over there.  Thanks for making me a righteous dude.”  Meanwhile, the tax collector prays humbly, saying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  Jesus’ point?  The tax collector left the temple “justified before God,” because, “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”