My friend Rick Spalding at this year’s Moveable Feast said something like, “Whenever I discover myself in the presence of two equally true and completely incompatible truths, I suspect that I am on holy ground.” Ah! That tells us something about how we might open our ears to our loving and transcendent God.
We have been talking about the map of the realm of God laid over the earth. In Matthew 17, this map shows us that we are not alone. There is Jesus, the one who brings together heaven and earth, the living link in between. With him, Moses and Elijah in the spirit. With him, the disciples. Jesus is the way between all the great witnesses of the faith and all here on earth. We are never alone.
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Rev. Chandler Stokes
Tom Long said: The hardest part is not in being Christian for a day, but being faithful day after day, maintaining confidence in what, for all the world, appears to be a losing cause. Some days we really feel that. The confidence that Jesus has in telling us that we are the salt of the earth is that we are truly good for something. And it is something good for this world that truly matters. This Sunday we discover what it means to be the salt of the earth.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
Jesus is no less insistent on the critical nature of our speech. In Matthew he says: But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. What an extraordinary standard for our speech.
Westminster Youth Group
THIS Sunday, February 5th, please join us in this annual celebration as our high school and middle school youth lead worship during both our 8:30a and 11:00a services, including sermons preached by the senior class of 2017.
This is an excerpt from a sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on January 29, 2017 and includes the letter we sent to the members of the four mosques in our city. The letter was signed by more than 260 members of Westminster.
Last Sunday, we were anticipating a gathering that occurred last Thursday at one of our local mosques. Members of all four local Islamic communities and a number of Christian communities were gathered. It was, in fact, a capacity crowd. And our Muslim sisters and brothers were very grateful for our presence. Each of the imams spoke of how moved they were to have us there, because, as I shared with you last week, they have felt afraid. We shared a meal. We talked. We laughed. They were greatly moved to have us there, and I was also moved by the gathering and by the words of my fellow clergy—Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. When I was asked to speak, I talked about our history and why we were there. And then I said something like, “In my tradition I don’t have the authority to commit my congregation to anything, but I know their hearts, and I promise that we will stand by you. We will not abandon you.” Swept up in the moment, I testified, but I believe it would be deeply meaningful, if you could back me up on that one. I do know you, but let’s show them. Let’s bless them. The place was so small that we could have only a dozen of our folks there. It would be so great to send them lots more names. So, we have a letter, to which you can add your signature, if you would like. It’s very short; it’s addressed to the four Muslim congregations and their imams. It simply says:
We add our names to this letter to echo our delegation’s words of support to you at Thursday evening’s dinner—January 26, 2017.
We vow our support to you. As we work together with the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, we hope to back these words up with concrete and well thought out activity as plans develop.
We see you and we want you here. We love you and stand united with you. We are grateful to live with you in this community.
You are our neighbors. More than that, you are our brothers and sisters, and we are your sisters and brothers.
God bless you.
…you can add your name to the letter, if you’d like. Just words, but a self-involving gospel word that affects the hearer. As we have put the word of blessing on our lips today, so we seek also to incarnate this gospel word of blessing in our hands, as we write our support.
Related statement from the Presbyterian (PCUSA) Mission Agency (January 31, 2017)
The current featured artists at Westminster Presbyterian Church are sisters, Leilei and Beibei Chen. The pieces on display feature spheres in their fragile environment series. The spheres represent both the planet and the microscopic images of pollutants in the atmosphere. Some of the spheres include images of Chinese philosophers who spoke of the importance of a balance between the physical and natural environment. The pieces will be on display from February through April on the walls in the Gathering Place.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
Will Willimon once wrote: One of the dangers of being in church as often as I am is that it all starts to make sense. I speak of the Christian faith so casually and effortlessly that I begin to think, “Fine thing, this Christianity. Makes good sense.” The Beatitudes subvert that glib comfort with the sense of our faith.
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Rev. Chandler Stokes
Jesus will say, “The kingdom is like…” He paints a picture of it, draws a map to it. And, even though it’s called the kingdom of heaven in Matthew, it’s not a star chart. It is a map of something terrestrial, on earth, right here, “at hand.” Jesus calls us to get on that map.
Each year, Westminster produces an annual report of its life and ministry during the past year. The purpose of this report is to inform and remind each other of our life together; to keep a record of our ministry during this past year; and, to provide the opportunity to re ect on the ways in which God has been present among us.
Rev. Jen A. Porter
Jesus asks "What are you looking for?" There are many who are eagerly looking for him, but in him what are they looking for?. Committing to being a disciple of Christ, committing our lives to his way and his love- we need to know what it is that we're looking for.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
Holding our Swords out of the Water. The sermon title this week is a reference to this: When the “Frankish warriors came to be baptized in the water of the Rhine or the Rhone, they were always careful to hold their swords above their heads, out of the waters of baptism, not to save them from rust, but to keep them from Jesus.” They still wanted to be able to kill at will—and maintain their integrity. In a book study once, after reading this line, my friend, Judy, said, “…and I know what swords I hold out of the water.” And to the degree that we hold parts of ourselves out of the waters of baptism, we resist our truest identity as human beings.
We joyfully announce that Nancy Greidanus is our new Minister for Children and Families. (She replaces Rev. Sarah Juist, who has completed her interim position and now has accepted a call to the Hanover Ohio Presbyterian Church.) Nancy has served as Assistant Professor of Education at Calvin College as well as in several positions in teaching and youth ministry. We will welcome her in worship on January 8—please join us that day. Click the links below for more information re Nancy. We are thrilled to have Nancy joining us!
Rev. David Baak
The First Sunday after Christmas Day is not simply the “new year” — we have already begun this new year with the anticipation of Advent several weeks ago— and Christmas has now come! So, we can have the courage and the strength for us to live into the difficulties of our lives. We are given the faith to bring the Light of God’s love into the lives of children and families who suffer all over the world. We can bring the message of peace and God’s presence into the days and weeks of the calendar before us. God has, as Isaiah said, “lifted us up and carried us [all of our days]” We have been here before so we know we can have hope for the future.