Monday, June 25, 2012

What makes you beautiful...?

So, I'm not really familiar with much of the top 40 music on the radio at the moment...and well, that may give way my age a bit...but after the Senior High Beach Retreat last week, I had 6 hours in the car to get my fair share. 

My new favorite song is What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. It's pretty dancy...and it's absolutely perfect to blast in the truck when you're headed home from the beach and it's over 100 degrees and you opt for windows down instead of air conditioning.  (Maybe the heat got to us, or perhaps it was the pure joy in singing

Lyrics are from

You're insecure, Don't know what for, You're turning heads when you walk through the door,
Don't need make-up, To cover up, Being the way that you are is enough,
Everyone else in the room can see it, Everyone else but you,

Baby you light up my world like nobody else, The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed, But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell, You don't know, Oh oh, You don't know you're beautiful, If only you saw what I can see, You'll understand why I want you so desperately, Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe, You don't know, Oh oh, You don't know you're beautiful, Oh oh, That's what makes you beautiful

So c-come on,You got it wrong, To prove I'm right, I put it in a song, I don't know why, You're being shy, And turn away when I look into your eye eye eyes,
Everyone else in the room can see it, Everyone else but you,

Baby you light up my world like nobody else, The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed, But when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell,You don't know, Oh oh, You don't know you're beautiful,If only you saw what I can see, You'll understand why I want you so desperately, Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe,You don't know, Oh oh, You don't know you're beautiful, Oh oh, That's what makes you beautiful

It isn't all here...I left out the Na, Na, Na lines and another repeat or two of the chorus, but you get the idea.  What I love is that it points out he beauty that is in each and every one of us, that we don't necessarily's the beauty that is in our hearts, our minds, or words and our actions....more so than our outward appearance. 

I like to think of it as the beauty that God sees in us every waking moment.  That who God created us and calls us to be are beautiful in God's eyes.  Sometimes we miss that beauty not only in others, but also in ourselves. 

This past year I lost 20 pounds.  I changed my eating habits to reduce the unhealthy carbs and increase my veggie and whole grain intake and exercise 5-6 times a week.  I'm nearly 40 and feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.  I feel great and look great.  But while my outer appearance makes me happy, it's not totally who I am.  I think that the beauty others see in me stems from my happiness and joy I feel and exude from being so happy in my call here at Trinity.   

After several days with high schoolers just taking the time and space to be themselves, I don't wish to repeat those years, but I do know that I *LOVE* waking with them, praying with them, laughing and crying with them as their lives change and as they grow into the amazing young adults that God has created and called them to be.  (If any of you from the beach trip are reading this know that you are beautiful, and enjoy being the awesome indivdual that God created you to be!)

I hope that each of them has had and continues to have the opportunity to see how truly beautiful each one of them is. 

Oh....and take time to roll the windows down and sing a favorite song the next time you go for a's bound to bring a smile to your face.  :)


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the mystery continues . . .

Here is the starting manuscript for the sermon for Holy Trinity Sunday...,.At each of the 3 services it flowed a little differently.

June 3, 2012
Holy Trinity Sunday
Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17

Please pray with me,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

It’s Holy Trinity Sunday, a day when we think about and are challenged by the idea of Trinity….of God…three in one…Father, Son and Holy Spirit….and what role that plays in our faith journey and our day to day lives. There is a story about a gentleman who rarely went to church on Easter Sunday, but always went on Trinity Sunday. Why, you may ask. It was because he know that most preachers could do a passable job of the Resurrection, but always wanted to see how the preacher could explain the totally unexplainable (or incomprehensible) doctrine of the Trinity.

However explainable or unexplainable it is….there are ways that we can see God at work in the world as God the Father, as God the Son and as God the Holy Spirit….and that may be the best way for us, this day, to see the Holy Trinity in our midst.

God is at work in the world. I received this letter last week:
Dear Pastor Jen,
I read your column about seeing God at work, so I will tell you how I see God at work.
My husband and I are farmers (and proud of it.) I the time her on our farm, in the flowers that start to grow and bloom in the spring, see him in the grass starting to get green, the trees beginning to leaf out, birds flying about, the hummingbirds arriving from their winter sojourn elsewhere,butterflies waking up and flitting about. Everything in nature is God at work. Calves being born, chicks hatching, all animals, the work of God. He designed everything, it was and is His work and it is ongoing.
God at work isn't only a person helping another, someone saying a comforting word, giving food or clothing to sA high school biology teacher said many years ago: "Nature is God at work" So true. As the poet Joyce Kilmer wrote: "Only God can make a tree."
You see, God at work in the world is greater than we can imagine….and is present all around us. So where have you seen God at work lately?

Maybe you’ve seen God at work in the presence of Jesus….

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

No doubt that’s a verse that is very familiar to so many of us. It’s so familiar, in fact, that last month when we had a reading from 1 John, chapter 3 verse 16 …… someone came up to me after worship and said, Pastor, I thought that John 3:16 was about God loving the world….and I said, yup….in the gospel of John, not in 1 John.

Yet so often, we forget the verse that follows….

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

We are a saved people, we are not a condemned people. Through God’s gift of his only Son, we… , me, all of God’s creation has been saved. We are saved and we are free….free to love one another as God has loved us….free to serve those around us in need….free to be present for those in the midst of suffering, tragedy and loss.

Which is a wonderful thing, because the world can be a scary place. There is pain and hurt all around us. We struggle with national concerns about the economy and our future leaders. We face stresses or broken relationships at home. We are bombarded by peer pressure at school and at work. We see loved ones become ill and die.

But it is in these murky places in life, where Jesus is present in our midst…coming to us in the midst of tragedy and pain…..he is present with us….especially in those unexpected places.

This past weekend at the Poconos, luckily we only had a few bruises, bumps and scrapes. Yet in the midst of a time out, due to mandatory icing of a fairly bruised finger, I was able to see two high school youth talking to two middle schoolers about high school life. These older youth took the opportunity as these boys sat near them to talk about experiences, opportunities and things they could expect in high school. Everything from clubs to classes. In a period of time that would have seemed like time boredom and time out, there was rich conversation and helpful advice.

How has Christ appeared your midst lately? Especially in those places where you least expected him to be? God is at work in your life….where do you see Jesus?

It comes at you totally unexpected. There you are out for a walk or a run or a bike ride and it is a beautiful day. You enjoy your time outside and the opportunity to get some exercise, maybe on your own, maybe with some friends, and you turn a corner and BAM! It’s like you can barely move. The wind is rushing so strong in your direction that it feels like it could just about hold you up. It causes you to push a little harder… muster up some more energy and push, push, push until you can turn the corner again and not have to work against it. Finally you get to a turn and think, whew….now the wind is at my back….this walk, this run, this bike ride is a breeze…..oh how tricky the wind can be. We don’t see it coming, but when we turn into it, it’s like going into a brick wall. When it’s at our back sometimes we don’t even notice it’s there….helping us along the way.

Think about the Holy Spirit descending on those who were gathered on that Pentecost Sunday we heard about last week when the sound of a mighty, rushing wind, swept over them. This was no gentle breeze….it was gusting wind. So is the presence of God in our midst through the Holy Spirit. Pushing and pulling us in new and different directions, sometimes in directions we don’t even want to go. Yet when we fight it, we exert so much energy and effort to work against it, yet when we let it carry us….it seems that there is nothing we cannot do.

How has the Spirit moved you…..or pushed you to new places recently? Have you seen God at work in your world in the presence of the Spirit?

I’d like to close with one final illustration: I’m going to ask you a question. And when I ask, you all need to answer at the same time….
(At this point I had three lit candles, on on the altar and one in each hand. As I brought them together I asked the congregation how many flames there were.)

Is it one flame or three? Who is to say? Who is certain as to how we understand the Trinity….a triune God....and how we explain that to others.

What is certain is that God is at work in our world. God is present in our midst. God’s love for us pushes us to places of discomfort and comforts us in times of trial. God’s love for us is revealed in Jesus’presence in this meal and in the fellowship we share with one another. God’s love for us moves through this place guided by the Holy Spirit….going where we are called to go.

May you see God in your midst this day and all days.

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, Amen.