Their German was a mashup of German, Russian and the languages spoken in Eaton, Colorado by other farmers and members of their church. Remember the list, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, good-ness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Was one right and one wrong? No, the language had to be transformed for a vastly different culture.
Members in different groups have expressed a longing to have relationships that would help form what I call a vocabulary of faith. These relationships would create confidence in speaking about faith with others. Is the vocabulary of faith becoming extinct? Do we have conversations outside of church using words like grace, wisdom or how about the fruits of the Spirit?
It is these conversations that will keep our language alive. There have been studies about just that. That means that of everyone at worship at Grace less than 3 people mention their faith Monday- Saturday.
Do you speak Latin? Within my lifetime our vocabulary of faith will go the way of Latin. It was once used throughout the culture then just in worship services and now? There is a silver lining, comeback languages. Two of these languages that were almost extinct and are coming back because people decided that they are important and need to flourish are Hawaiian and Gaelic. These languages are being reimagined for the current times. Would you join me in experimenting about how to feel at ease using our beloved vocabulary in daily life?https://anancepicre.cf
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I think it will mean gathering in small groups to hear the language and fall in love with it again in anticipation of it entering our lives. November can feel like the race has begun. Hurry, spend, rush, Christmas is coming! We have the power to decide how we spend our time, money and imagination. I offer you an option to hungering for more stuff. Fill your life with a hunger for justice, mercy and thankfulness. Each day dad, mom and kids add a leaf with something they are thankful for that day. Do you see what this simple activity does? It opens our eyes to the gifts God gives every day.
It is a choice to see your day as a gift. Does that surprise you? Yes, when we decide to live trusting that God is with us we are using our power to stand against the consumer culture. The other gift this activity gives is abundance. Too often the only time we hear our family speak about thankfulness is a quick minute around the Thanksgiving table. By adding a thankful leaf every day everyone in the family hears about the abundance around them.
We have the power to create a life of thankfulness. There is another side of thanksgiving that is harder. Can we be moved by the fact that we are provided for, and that we are so well off in comparison to others, that we recognize our responsibility to share? This other side of thanksgiving can help fill our lives with a hunger for justice and mercy.
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Jesus did this in his ministry. Remember the times he fed a huge crowd?
It was such a memorable event that three of the gospels tell the same story. His followers were convinced that there was not enough. Jesus takes what was given and blesses it and shares it. Surprisingly it not only fed all the people but there was some left over too. These are the two sides of Thanksgiving. The three ideas come from the Missional River survey, the drop in attendance at worship and a Pew Research Center report. Thank you Bob Eskridge for sending me this report.
Worship attendance has tumbled over the past years from an average of 76 in to 63 in to 52 last year. None of the four Sundays in September have reached an attendance of 40! What happened? Where are members on Sunday mornings? Did something change at Grace that sent them away? The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America. It conducts public opinion polling and demographic research.
Across all religious groups, large majorities cite desire to grow closer to God as key reason for attending religious services.
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Maybe the Pew Center survey will push our conversation toward the key reason given for attending worship. Can we listen to stories of desire? How can Grace meet this desire in people? The Missional River survey questions what keeps Grace from thriving and why someone would come to Grace. What kind of congregation do we want to be? What obstacles have we put in our way of becoming a congregation that listens to the desire of people to grow closer to God? The desire that searches for fulfillment in our culture is always disappointed. So there are my three ideas that I hope are a beginning of a larger conversation.
The Missional River Team has begun such a conversation and awaits your thoughts from the survey.
Welcome to OSLC! - Pastor's Columns
We arrange our lives around how we answer this question, How does God work? How is God present in the world, my world? When God is a judge who is watching to catch us doing wrong our lives can feel worthless without a chance of that changing. When God is abstract our lives are our own because God is immaterial.
When God is at church our lives are separated into boxes that we can move be-tween yet keep closed off from one another. When God is our own conscience we live self-justified. Throughout the fall worship services we will ask this question, how does God work? We will hear stories that are ancient yet reveal new under-standings about our lives. How does God work? God works through promises. God makes promises and keeps promises.
Listen to the stories of Noah, Abraham and Sarah. What does it look like when God keeps a promise? Listen to Joseph in prison. Listen to the songs and praise of a dry footed people. We worship a God who creates relationships. We meet a God who is not watching to punish or something abstract or boxed in or as small as our conscience. This invitation to a relationship with God unlocks our lives to join this colossal creation. We are blessed to be a blessing wherever we go.
We become promise wherever we go. Grace is beginning a new ministry this month.