Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Tower of Babel (By Minda Schweizer)

The Tower of Babel is not the usual Sunday sermon text. Through the centuries Babel has come to mean confusion and chaos. Yet, Minda's exegesis and practical explanation of it this Sunday as otherwise was a blessing to me. I hope you will be blessed too.

Sermon by Minda Schweizer
July 27, 2014
Irvine Presbyterian Church

Good morning! 

My name is Minda Schweizer.  My family and I have been a part of the IPC worshipping community now for a year and during this time I’ve enjoyed meeting and getting to know many of you.  For those who I haven’t had the opportunity to meet, I am married to Aaron Schweizer, IPC’s Operations Director.  When people first meet me, I often get, “Oh you’re Aaron’s wife…we love him. He is doing such a great job.”  I personally agree.  I think he’s very talented at his job and he has a pastoral heart.  It makes for a great combination.  What some people don’t know is that our roles reverse at different points in the week…and he gets, “Oh, you’re Minda’s husband.”  This happens at our presbytery meetings and at 4:30 on Sunday afternoons when we go to a small church service where I serve as a pastoral intern in Ladera Ranch called Common Villages.  Common Villages is a worship gathering developing into a community of house churches.  

Last year in July, Aaron and I entered into a mid-career ministry transition.  We transitioned from serving in a parachurch ministry as college campus ministers for 17 years with Campus Crusade for Christ to serving in church ministry… sometimes I find myself quietly asking, “How did I get here?” 

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Midsummer Saturday Night's Fever Dream (A Review)

My summer of Shakespeare continued this week with a live mashup by the Troubadors. The Troubies, as they are affectionately known, performed A Midsummer Saturday Night's Fever Dream at what has quickly become a favorite spot for me, the Garden Grove Amphitheater. It was an energetic mashup that had most of us dancing many times, swaying, singing, and clapping at others. In other words, it is the kind of live entertainment that makes enjoyable memories of hot and humid summer evenings. I even learned some things about Saturday Night Fever that I had not realized before.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Notes on PC (USA) Theology (By Tom Erickson)

I am honored to share two recent pieces, written after GA 221, by a writer new to us, The Rev. Tom Erickson. 1) Why I'm Staying in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and 2) Another Reason to Stay in the PC(USA): Presbyterians believe in overwhelming numbers that God's Work in Jesus Christ is Sufficient for Salvation. They are an easy and compelling read. They correct the pervasive flood of mis-informed conclusions that are often made quite inadvertently after reading the Listening to Presbyterians panel surveys that the PC (USA) does regularly of its pastors and other leadership. In this case, Tom Erickson in the second note is addressing a theological rationale used by the Presbyterian Church of the Master (PCOM), Mission Viejo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1000 Forms of Fear (Sia): Music Album

From the movie Hunger Games: Catching Fire I liked Elastic Heart.  I also like David Guetta's Titanium. I like these two songs very much. Not just for their catchy tunes and disco dance beat but for their meaningful lyrics. Both songs are the product of Australian singing sensation Sia. Now, Sia's album 1000 Forms of Fear is the Number One album on the Billboards (I believe). I am surprised because songs I like, typically, don't climb the charts :).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Common Villages, Next Door

Common Villages is one of the more unusual of our presbytery's new church developments; actually most of them are pretty unusual :). CV began 10 years ago as Village Pres. Church of Ladera Ranch. In 2014, they redefined themselves. They are now in the process of becoming a wall-less church - an idea that I totally embrace. I've worshipped with them a couple of times. The second time, recently, thanks to Minda Schweizer their intern (candidate for ministry) I learned about Next Door that uses social networking to connect people who live close by to build up communities in their geographical neighborhoods.  Woot! I thought.I bet you are wondering why!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Would you step into my shoes and walk with me just one mile?

"In Matthew 5, Jesus instructs that if someone makes you go one mile, go with them two miles," 21-year old Matthew Vines of Wichita, Kansas, said on his video that reportedly went viral in 2012. Then, he asked: "Would you step into my shoes and walk with me just one mile, even if it makes you uncomfortable?" (Btw, Matthew's video has over 15,000 comments on YouTube!) I decided to give this young man a little bit of my time and listen to his video (1 hour 7 minutes long). I hope you will too.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Building Bridges Of Love

The Summer conference Building Bridges of Love continued on Saturday and closed today with an exhilarating communion worship service exalting our Lord and Savior Jesus.

I blogged the Friday plenary presentation as my way of taking notes! Diverse activities (drawing, cutting, pasting, crafts, visualizing, observing), presentations, meditations from Scripture and original poetry, and songs, used the engineering/construction metaphor in five different sessions. The titles were: 1) Leveling the Ground; 2) Laying the Foundation; 3) Placing the Support Beams; 4)  Securing the Planks; and 5) Walking the Bridge.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sarah and Hagar: Not Models

Sarah and Hagar in the Bible are not models for bridge builders, i.e. those who build bridges of love.  'Building Bridges of Love' is the theme of the conference.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Death And All His Friends or Sacramental Practice to Make Disciples?

Twenty-four years ago, when I decided to pursue doctoral studies in Library and Information Science (LIS), many people discouraged me. "Libraries are dying," my boss at that time, Director of an academic library in a University said. "By the time we retire, the library may even be dead. There is nothing to study in LIS beyond the graduate professional ALA-accredited MLIS. If you must get a Ph.D get one in a discipline like English Literature, History or even Education."

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Message from Canvas

Today, blessed 7/7, seems to also be my day for playing catch-up.

If you haven't seen the message from our sister church Canvas, here you are. It is written in the usual inimitable style of Canvas. Thanks to Kirk Winslow for giving me permission to share the letter with my blog readers.

"Storms and Dawns"

One of the most uplifting pastoral letters that I read last week was "Storms and Dawns." It is a letter written by 92 Latinos/Hispanic leaders of the PCUSA to their communities and sister churches in the US and Latin America. The letter reflects on the controversial decisions taken at GA 221 and recalls the joy of other GA decisions and activities which are often overlooked. The letter comforted me. It reminded me of Romans 8: 37-38 - nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ our Lord. Romans is Paul's best exposition on the nature and righteousness of God. Paul's conception of God and God's purpose has been radically altered but not his understanding of God as one and finally sovereign. Jesus shares in God's sovereignty and Paul's resurrection Christology includes the life-giving Spirit. Most importantly, through Christ God has also shown us that he is everlasting love.   

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Midsummer Night's Dream (A Review)

Summer has finally and officially begun for me, thanks to a good friend and a loving family. On Thursday evening my Summer of 2014 fun was launched with a most unusual production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies filled with lovers, fairies and fools. I enjoyed it at the Festival Amphitheater, Garden Grove. It was produced by Shakespeare Orange County (SOC) in conjunction with the world famous and award-winning Polynesian dance group Hita O Te Ra. When I looked at the program I couldn't help but wonder, is it a play, a musical, a dance?

On Fire (Friends of Pravaham Partnership Development)

I have shared before about the emerging ministry of On Fire: Faith and Fitness and some of the ways in which you can help; prayers are our biggest need and I'd love for prayer warriors to be praying regularly for us.  On Fire is coming out of a grant given by the Presbytery of Los Ranchos to the Friends of Pravaham to build a partnership among 3 or more churches in our presbytery with Pravaham in rural south India. A second goal of the grant is to expand the "Booty Ballet" program that was introduced to Pravaham students in December 2013 to audiences here in So Cal. Thus, Jennie and I also have a vision for this ministry now named On Fire to build on the common thread we share with Pravaham students. We have a heart to reach out to people, here in So Cal too, not just India, and not just to have them serve and give to foreign mission or local outreach but to worship our Triune God, in spirit and truth. To love God as Jesus commanded and in ways that may be very different from traditional "church" understandings about worship. I call this 24/7 Christian living in the Kingdom of God. And, our faithful God is leading us, slowly, little by little. One very important way in which he is doing so is in the way we're developing Partnership Covenant. Huh? Did the words Partnership Covenant throw you for a loop? Are you, like me, new to the idea of a Partnership Covenant while doing mission? Welcome :). I will try to explain the Partnership Covenant and share the process we are using to develop one. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Learning Man (Devotional) By Ron Shackelford

I have learned to find resources in myself whatever my circumstances... I have been thoroughly initiated into the human lot with all its ups and downs...I have strength for anything through Him who gives me power. Philippians. 4:11ff  NEB

How can I steady myself when my nervous system is threatened to be overwhelmed like a tsunami sweeping over Catalina Island?