"Anchored in God's Love"
Suttons Bay Congregational Church
See below for the video of Sunday's worship service.  
December 5, 2017

Dear Friends,

On Saturday I had the honor of speaking at Rabbi Chava Bahle's installation at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse. The remarks I shared follow. Thank you for being a congregation full of people who show up.

It is so good to be back.

Peace to you,
Pastor Robin

Thank you for the opportunity to be here this evening. I bring with me greetings from the lively and warm-hearted people of Suttons Bay Congregational Church who miss Rabbi Chava for pulpit supply but still wish you well.

My topic for this evening is “The Work of the Congregation.” For more on that I turn to the wisdom of Fourth Timothy. Now, for those of you who are familiar with Christian scripture you may be paging through your mental rolodex trying to remember Fourth Timothy. But, don’t worry if you don’t recall it because it’s not actually in the New Testament. Rather, Fourth Timothy is the stuff I think should be in the Bible. Take for instance Fourth Timothy 8:26 “Thou shalt compensate your clergy person such that she shall have sufficient resources to treat herself to new shoes on a regular basis.” Or, Fourth Timothy 12:3 “Thou shalt laugh at your clergy person’s jokes regardless of the humor that is, or is not, to be found therein.” But seriously, the most important thing about the work of the congregation that is found in The Gospel According to Robin, I mean Fourth Timothy, is simple. Fourth Timothy 1:1—SHOW UP. The work of the congregation is to SHOW UP.

It was the day after Easter in 2001, my first Easter as a real-live ordained minister. The senior minister and church administrator of the church I served in Rhode Island were both taking the week off and I was dogsitting their golden retrievers. My husband was out of town which left me alone to care for their two dogs plus our corgi and I was the only pastor around for a church of 500 members and then I became sick as a dog. (Pun totally intended.) The doorbell rang late Monday afternoon. I hobbled to answer it and there, on the other side of the door stood Heather Sugg, whose name I could barely recall so new was I to the church, with a Tupperware full of soup. I do not even know how she knew I was sick. But, in that simple gesture of showing up to bring me some soup, she taught me the most important lesson I’ll ever learn about the spiritual life—show up.

Showing up is the work of the congregation—show up to bring food to folks who are sick or grieving. Show up at funerals—whether you really knew the person well or not it’s what people in spiritual communities do for one another. Show up at worship services, it’s not the same without you. Show up with your financial support without being asked, it saves so much time and energy for everyone. Show up for meetings and special events. Show up to bring cookies for coffee hour or to rake leaves at a work day or to help with a youth group gathering or to move chairs in the meeting space or to visit a homebound person during the holidays. The work of the congregation is not mysterious. It is not complicated. It is not reserved for the holiest among us. The work of the congregation is simple . . . show up . . . with your time, with your talents, and with your treasure. Just show up. 

Dear friends,

I've been reading a book - so what else is new? - and found a few lines comparing religion and faith:

Religion is something between you and other people; it's full of interpretations and theories and opinions. But faith ... that's just between you and God.

I like that. And it sounds rather Congregational to me. Most of us at SBCC have come from different religious denominations, full of a variety of ceremony and tradition and interpretation. We express our congregationalism when we worship together, but it is in our heart of hearts that our faith resides. That small but boundless place where we meet God face to face and hand in hand. Advent is a journey to the source of our faith, with a star to guide us, with angels to give voice to our praise, with magi to symbolize the mystery, with shepherds to remind us that the babe in the manger is for even the most humble of us.

We all need something to read while on a journey. Here is what some other folks have to say about life and faith. Maybe some of those words will be a star to light your way.

* We cannot tell what may happen to us in the strange medley of life. But we can decide what happens in us - how we can take it, what we do with it - and that is what really counts in the end. How to take the raw stuff of life and make it a thing of worth and beauty - that is the test of living. Life is an adventure of faith if we are to be victors over it, not victims of it. 

* True faith is never found alone; it is accompanied by expectation. --C. S. Lewis

* I do not want merely to possess a faith; I want a faith that possesses me. --Charles Kingsley

* I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God. --Abraham Lincoln

Real faith is not the stuff dreams are made of; rather it is tough, practical and altogether realistic. Faith sees the invisible but it does not see the nonexistent.  --A. W. Tozer

* You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it. 
--Nicholas Murray Butler

Dear God,
Be the guiding light on our journey of faith and the light in the window at the end of the road.


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Thank you to Linda Miller for providing the weekly reflection and prayer. _____________________________________________________