Scripture Reading for May 29, 2011

Acts 17 22:31

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.”
29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

John 14 18:19

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.

Questions

Sermon Title: “What Next?”

Memorial Day marks the cultural beginning of summer. As we turn our attention to the out-of-doors, to gardening, to vacations, and to a different pace we might wonder, “What next?” There are also significant events in our lives and in the world that lead us to ask the same question. What next…now that my son has graduated from college or my daughter has finished high school? What next now that the legislature has asked Minnesotans to vote on amending our constitution to define marriage in a way that will limit the freedom of GLBT people? What next now that my spouse has left me, my parents cannot take care of themselves or I’ve lost my job?

What next? Can our relationship with God sustain us in all the “What next?” moments of life?

How might these lessons from scripture help us?

Jeffrey Sartain, Executive Minister

About PlymouthSpirit

Plymouth Congregational Church is a progressive faith community grounded in the Christian tradition. We are spiritual, loving, relevant and transforming.
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5 Responses to Scripture Reading for May 29, 2011

  1. Marsha Hunter says:

    Yes, our relationship with God is sometimes the only port in the storm, the mast to which we are lashed on a violent sea, the one small, distant light in the darkest night. Envisioning that luminous dot in my mind’s eye has kept me aware that the same flame flickers inside of me, that God is in me and cannot be extinguished. It has sometimes, and for years, been my only hope. It is my connection to a better world, the one worth fighting for, worth enduring present pain for, worth persevering in the lifelong quest for understanding and resolving the overwhelming difficulties we face. The light is in us at the same time it is our destination. Within and without, inside and outside.

    • Jean Freeman says:

      I have appreciated everyone’s comments and saw something of my own experience in everyone else’s. I’m still a little hung up on one sentence from the scripture reading, however: “…he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed…” Since I don’t believe a word of this literally, what am I to do with it? Do I just ignore it in favor of the scripture I like, since I don’t believe the Bible is literally “the word of God” anyway? In the context of the time, was Paul saying something different from my contemporary understanding of the passage? Or is there some interpretation of it that speaks to my own experience of the divine as loving, mysterious and timeless? If anyone has thoughts on this, I’d appreciate reading them.

  2. anne seltz says:

    I am not certain if I perceive God or the universe or energy as present in my life. My hunch is that I was early bonded, almost pre-linguisticly to some greater truth. At any rate, I seldom fear the future even though I know it will not be smooth. I don’t believe God has a specific plan for me. I believe my creation was enough work for her and that now it is my responsibility to nurture my gifts and my body. But still I find the phrase, in him we have our being, very comforting. Not that I will be saved from strife but that I will make it through with the help of myself, my friends/family and my community and that inner truth.

  3. Karen Barstad says:

    “In him we live and move and have our being . . .” A friend is a few breaths away from death, two friends are fighting the terrible odds of cancer, our state government is facing a very expensive shutdown that will create more unemployment and more disruption of people’s lives and wellbeing, tornadoes rip through the hearts and homes of those whose safety is already at risk . . . What next? Will the economy teeter once more and topple my economic security? Will I receive that awful diagnosis? Will there be no end to the venomous retoric that splits our citizenry and tramples on civil rights. What next? If I didn’t believe that in God I live and move and have my being, if I didn’t know firsthand that God lives and moves in my friends and family and through them gives me the courage to keep going, then I wonder how I would face the What Next. But I can. And I hope I can live and move and have God’s being for those who need me.

  4. Lew Zeidner says:

    For me the experience of “what’s next” moves between grand visions and human worries about “how” and “what if” — the passage from John seems to speak to the balance between the boundless perspective of God where even the most extraordinary human accomplishments are trivial and the human perspective that limits even the vision of God’s breadth. Living life seems to require a moving balance of trusting in the bigger plan of God and at the same time playing an active role in the execution of his plan; a pendulum between being open and receptive to all that is possible but not so passive as to miss my responsibility in realizing the possibilities.
    A recent experience brought the issue to light for me (again); I had been praying very prescriptively for a next opportunity and by defining my wants so tightly was limiting God’s canvas. When I was able to trust more and pray for my broader needs and wants leaving the detail to God, opportunities developed that would never have been in my prescription. Perhaps as our 12 step friends often say, “Let go and let God!”

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