What’s in a Name?

Exodus 3:1-15

As Moses interacts with the Burning Bush, he asks, “What is your name?’  The voice of God answers, “I am who I am”.  Many have translated this various ways such as “ I am what I am or I will be what I will be (NRSV footnote.)    This is the God that does not allow description.  A name defines something, such as Adam naming the animals in Genesis 2.  But God cannot be defined.  This does not mean that God is unknowable, but that God is not limited by our definition.  From the bush God has given us ways to know this One.  The God of Abraham, Issacc and Jacob, the God that hears the cry of God’s chosen people, Israel, and the God that makes the common place holy.  God is also the One that the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain.  How often do we want to define God?  I have heard so many Christians say, but my God will not do that (and then list something they personally object to.)  Or my God is definitely a he (or she), or my God is against this group or person, or that my God cannot hear the prayers of sinners, or gays, or Muslims, or Republicans, etc.  Each one of these examples show the ways we want to limit the God that will be what God will be.  The thing that is happening is we are limiting the Godself, we are limiting the way God manifest the divine power and presence in our lives.  We do not allow ourselves to see the I AM working in this world, because we are looking for God only in certain arenas.  I often call this the God in the Box attitude.  But with God, when we put him in a box, she breaks out, refusing to be contained, and amazes all who’s eyes are blinded by their puny definitions and conditions on God. The Sovereign “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE” comes to Moses this week and will begins the powerful contention with Pharaoh and taking the chosen people into the Promised Land. 

Pastor Greg

Jacob’s Crisis of Faith

Genesis 32

Genesis 32 is one of those chapters that I would enjoy having a four-week long discussion group take up.  This is a very revealing passage on how each of us can struggle in our spiritual life.  The story of Jacob includes miracles and visions.  He saw the stairway between heaven and earth, he saw the manifest blessing of God as his herds increase and how his family has grown, and God has made specific promises to Jacob and told him to go home.  Now as Jacob approaches home, he feels threatened by his brother and is expecting the worst outcome, his and his family’s death. 

Jacob’s prayer in 32:9-12 is an oft repeated prayer from the mouths of believers.  Psalm 44 is one such lament where the psalmist says, “Yet you have rejected us and shamed us (v. 9).”  When we face the troubles of today, the blessings of the past seem so insignificant. 

My sermon this week, that I’ve subtitled “Down and Dirty with God,” is on 32:22-32.  Jacob wrestles with a divine being while he is alone at night anxious about his family’s safety and even his own life.  This is a physical picture of his struggles in his prayer.  Jacob is changed.  Physically he will walk with a limp for the rest of his life, and spiritually he has a new name.  His new name acknowledges his struggle with God, and that name challenges each one of us to struggle with God even in the most desperate times. 

Having a relationship with God is not always blessings and rejoicing.  It almost as often includes struggle, fear, and uncertainty.  Job looks at the full terror of dealing with God when he says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. (Job 35:15)” 
Be with us this Sunday as we consider our own wrestling with God at midnight.

Pastor Greg

Welcome Back!!

Let the Real Church year begin!!

As a Pastor, I have always seen September as the beginning of the church year.  I know it is part of the general society when school begins, vacations end, summer is over that we all want to get back to the normal routine.  Church needs to be a regular part of your normal routine.  Going to church is not just about the church, it is about entering a time when we think about what is really important. 

With the kids in school, it doesn’t mean that life gets less hectic.  Don’t let that hectic push out what is important.  Sunday School is starting.  A series of Bible sermons that revolve around the family of God.  And your connections to God and others are needing to be fortified or the edges get more and more frayed. 
Make a concerted effort to be at church this Sunday and make it a regular part of your weekly routine. 

  • The Children’s Sunday School resumes
  • Spot the Dragon returns for his antics
  • Special Coffee Hour for fellowship following the Service
  • Pub Theology meets September 11 at Mavis Winkles
  • Genesis 2 on the Creation of the Family

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32
Patience and compassion are the foundation of accepting one another within the church.  But so often we get caught up in the hyper-judgmentalism and caustic impatience of the society around us, and then we do not enact the tenderheartedness, forgiveness and kindness that must mark our relationships.  Really, without these qualities we have no relationship.
As a Welcoming Church, we begin with these most needed of Christian virtues.  We cannot dig up the dirt to accuse someone of an error in the past and not forgive them, or even treat them as human.  These basic virtues are for our daily living and interacting with all that is around us, and they must become stronger as the relationship is closer to us. 
What is your default mode in responding to others that do not conform to your expectations?  As a church that wants to boldly state the welcoming God gives to all God’s children, the welcome we extend depends on our default responses.  As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression.  And unless our constant response to others is kindness, tenderness, and forgiving, we will fail in our mission.  Because any other response is a judgment that is often judgmental.  Isn’t judgmentalism the spirit that we want to overcome in our culture.
Pastor Greg