04.30.15 – Insights from Rev. Steve Langhofer

SteveLanghoferRev. Steve Langhofer is a Congregational Care Pastor, serving the 7:45 am and 10:45 am worship communities.

It continues to impress me how men saw the woman in this story as the problem. Their solution was to silence her. Forever.

My wife Karen and I were deeply touched by the recent movie “Suffragette,” now out on DVD. It stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep. Rated PG-13, it tells the story of women organizing and demonstrating for the right to vote during 1912-1913 in London. One scene shows police beating women with clubs in the street where they marched. After that they were forced to work underground for survival.

We heard one man shout, “If women get the vote, it will destroy our families! Pretty soon they’ll want to become judges and run for office!” It was not until 1928 that all British women were able to vote.

Karen and I said afterward, “Let’s give a copy of this film to each of our three granddaughters so when they’re older they will better appreciate how hard their great-great-grandmothers fought for their freedom.”

Jesus, in John 8, made it clear that silencing a woman was short-sighted and unjust. He treated them with dignity and esteem. He called forth their voice. And he challenges me, a privileged man, to go and do likewise.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.29.16 – Insights from Ginger Rothhaas

Gingeer RGinger Rothhaas is a seminary student at Saint Paul School of Theology and is serving in Congregational Care at The Church of the Resurrection.

When I read the story of the “sinful” woman who showed up at a dinner party to see Jesus, I think about how scared she must have been. She was entering the house of a Pharisee who was hosting a dinner for Jesus, likely a house filled with businessmen and Jewish leaders.

I imagine, before this scene, she is standing outside the door seriously questioning if she should go inside. Will she be allowed in? Will these men berate her? Will Jesus even acknowledge her?

Something inside her must have said, “Go through the door.” I think she knew in her heart that Jesus would be welcoming and gracious. Her faith in a loving Jesus gave her the courage to go in.

She let go of the fear of judgment. She took a risk. She followed her belief in God. She knew what she needed to do and the fear of being judged wasn’t going to stop her. Her faith trumped her fear.

Stepping out in faith is scary, but when faith overrides fear of judgment, we grow closer to God.

Is there something that you feel God is calling you to do but you hesitate in fear that others will judge you? Release that fear and follow your calling…God is there waiting with awesome possibilities for you.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.28.16 – Insights from James Cochran

James Cochran serves as Director of Counseling Ministries at The Church of the Resurrection, helping to connect the Resurrection family and community with counseling resources and group programming.

We speak often about the Bible’s quality of being the “Living, Breathing Word of God,” and it is in texts like these where this quality comes through most fully for me. To be sure, today’s passage presents us with a kind of fundamental truth about the role of sin in our lives and how grace can deliver us from it, but in any particular reading we might be moved by the Spirit to identify with a less obvious (and more challenging) aspect of the story.

If you’re like me, you find yourself constantly moving between two perspectives: “Christian” and “sinner.” Note, these are ways of understanding ourselves, not realities about our character. During some chapters of my life, it is easy for me to see my failures. I readily, sometimes too readily, sew on a scarlet letter when I recognize that I have again fallen short. During other chapters, when things seem to be going my way or when I feel I have some moral superiority, I somehow get a sense that I am above sin.

The cold reality is that we, like Simon, are no different than the “sinner.” Our capacity to see ourselves as sinners might change with our circumstances, but when we lose sight of our own brokenness, we usually forget one of the most important roles we have as followers of Christ: loving our neighbors. But it gets worse! Not only can we forget to love our neighbors, we can forget that we have neighbors. We are alone in our perceptual righteousness, blind not only to our own need for grace but to the needs of others who need grace just the same.

In the endless cycle between recognizing our sin while falling to our knees before Jesus and standing in judgement of others while insisting on our own superiority, this story serves as a vehicle to grace. When I see that I am like Simon, I am called to remember that I, too, am the sinner. And if I can allow myself to embrace my imperfection, I know grace waits for me at Christ’s feet.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.27.16 – Insights from Rev. Steven Blair

steven-blairRev. Steven Blair is the Congregational Care Pastor of Live Forward and Live Well Emotional Wellness Ministry. www.cor.org/liveforward

In Patriarchy, men make the rules which conveniently benefit men. Women were left with fewer rights and less access to income, leaving many to prostitution as a last resort. In this story, a woman who likely was also a prostitute finds Jesus. She uses the perfume from an alabaster jar to anoint Jesus’ feet along her hair to wipe them. Her extravagance revealed a direction change. Her expensive perfume  was an important part of her business. When she poured out her perfume, she both anointed Jesus feet and showed that she was wanting to change paths due to Jesus. Jesus knew that THIS was her moment, the moment she would look back to where it all began to change.

Jesus lifts up the woman as an example to follow. What do you need to pour out at Jesus’ feet today? (Pride, Unnecessary Belongings, Guilt, Hate, Apathy,etc?

This could be YOUR moment.
Kneel and pray.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.26.16 – Insights from Brandon Gregory

brandongregorygpsBrandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at the Vibe, West, and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

Back when I was a college, I was an English major, studying the classics of literature throughout the ages. One of my favorites was actually one of the first works of long fiction written in English: Beowulf. If you don’t know the story, Beowulf (our hero) fends off an attack from a monster named Grendel, then kills him. He then meets Grendel’s mother, a much more interesting–and dangerous–character. The two are eventually forced into battle. When discussing this section in class, the professor stumped us with a question: What was Grendel’s mother missing?

We pondered probably a good five minutes on that question, throwing out answers psychological and Existential. The answer was much more basic: a name. Although Grendel’s mother was a major character, and much more interesting than her monstrous son, she was never given a name in the epic poem–she is simply referred to as Grendel’s mother.

This was eye-opening to me in my sophomore year of college. I began to see similar themes everywhere. The list of famous authors of history is mostly a long list of men. The women in Hemingway’s works were often empty shells of emotion, existing only to pine for the more exciting male characters. Even in modern film, males dominate. A recent study of 2000 films showed that over 75% were filled with a majority of male dialogue, while about 15% had about equal amounts from both genders. Less than 10% of the films studied had a majority of the lines coming from females. Even films with a female lead, such as Disney princess movies, are filled with majority male dialogue.

I just encountered this yesterday while at Barnes and Noble with my son. I found a display of action figures from the DC Comics franchise. With the recent success of Batman vs. Superman, this is no surprise. What was a surprise was that Wonder Woman, arguably one of the three most important members of the Justice League and one of the three stars of the aforementioned movie, was not only not in the display–she was nowhere to be found. They weren’t even carrying a female superhero’s toy, while they had multiple figures of characters that got less than 10 seconds of screen time in the movie.

The sad truth I discovered, and am constantly rediscovering, was that history and culture just didn’t care as much about women. We can argue all day about why that is, but the end result is the same: girls don’t have as many strong role models they can look up to as boys do, not because of a lack of source material, but because of a lack of exposure.

This is why today’s bit of Jesus’ genealogy from the opening of Matthew is so important. Unlike Beowulf’s author, Matthew makes a point of naming the females in the story–not simply for the sake of historical accuracy, but to give worth and meaning to their contributions. Even in Jesus’ backstory, the women matter. These are the first words in a series of four books about Jesus, a man who was constantly going against social norms to show women that they mattered, that they had worth.

What does that mean today? Hopefully it’s clear from my examples above that women still aren’t given equal treatment as men even today. This goes beyond the realm of fiction and extends into the career world, and many other aspects of life. I can’t give you specific instructions on how to respond to this, but I will say that one of the biggest themes in the Bible is standing up for those whom life has dealt an unfair hand to. I’ll leave it up to you: what will you do in response to this injustice?

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.25.16 – Insights from Donna Karlen

dkarlengpsDonna Karlen serves in Communications at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

When we hold onto our anger
And choose not to forgive;
When envy clouds our vision,
And we resent the way we live:

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Because we get impatient
And hurt the ones we love;
Or decide to look the other way
When God nudges from above:

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

When instead of the fruit of the Spirit,
We embrace the deadly sins –
Letting lust, greed, wrath, pride…
Be the force that wins:

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

For pointing fingers and judging,
so that a child of yours feels small;
Or speaking ill and spreading lies
Just to make them fall:

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

For times we just ignore your call
And pass by the least of these;
For the hardening of our hearts…
We should be falling to our knees:

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Glory! “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”

 

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.23.16 – Insights from Jane Fowler

janefowlerwebJane Fowler serves as Group Life Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. In that capacity, she encourages our congregation to be a part of the Journey of Knowing, Loving and Serving God and others by being in authentic community and growing in your love and knowledge of Christ.

As I re-read our text today, I identified four powerful concepts in Pastor Myron Augsburger’s quote:

He healed and restored common people to wholeness.

  • Jesus’ healing is not just for the priests, the wealthy or those society deems worthy.  It is for all people.

He elevated them to a sense of worth.

  • Our worth and Legion’s worth comes from God, not from man.
  • “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Sam16:7

His ministry overcame ignorance, religious formalism, disease, and demonic attacks.

  • Jesus’ power is not bound by earthly things.

It was a ministry designed to liberate and enable people to be their best in the grace of God.

Have you accepted God’s grace and are you allowing it to free you to be your best? Our challenge today is to not just consider these truths for people 2000 years ago, but for us to live by today.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.22.16 – Insights from Darren Lippe

Darren_LippeDarren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

While considering today’s passage, I ran across a director’s “column” in an Oklahoma church choir newsletter (“The OK Chorale”) that might help us better understand today’s scene.

“The Director’s Stand”  – G. Sharpe

Director’s Note: Remember to practice our secular musical selections for our Concert on the Lawn this coming Memorial Day weekend to kick-off our summer sermon series on “Who’s Who in the Bible.” Links are in the midst of this week’s newsletter.

This Sunday we’ll be performing that classic African-American Spiritual, “Who’ll be a Witness for my Lord?”

Noah – “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head”

Some spirituals offered heartfelt prayers, some were pleas for God’s deliverance from slavery, while others were coded messages for escaping slaves: “Steal Away Jesus” was sung when the coast was clear, “Wade in the Water” provided instructions to travel via streams & rivers to avoid detection, & “Follow the Drinking Gourd” was a figurative map referencing the Big Dipper constellation which pointed to the North Star & freedom.

Daniel – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

Today’s spiritual, though, is of a different genre.  It cites a series of Biblical witnesses from Methuselah to Samson to Daniel testifying to the story of God.  It then asks the haunting question for followers then & now, “Who’ll be a witness?”

Methuselah – “Stayin’ Alive”

The idea of being a witness can be very intimidating.  Perhaps we are making it too hard.  What if we try to think of witnessing just as ordinary people chatting about God & faith in the midst of their everyday lives?  Like the story of the demon-healed man in Mark 5:18-20, we are called to use our personal salvation story to spread the news of God’s deliverance for all His children.  This man, whose name is known only to God, becomes one of the first evangelists to the Gentile world & each one of us 2,000 years later benefits from his willingness to share his story of healing & hope.

Adam & Eve – Strangers in Paradise

As theologian W. Derek Suderman writes, “Christian scripture can exist without us, but it cannot function as scripture without a people attentive to its witness & seeking to embody its call.”  May each of us feel such call by the concluding stanza & realize that “My soul will be a witness for my Lord.”  Sopranos are on for the treats.  See you on Sunday!

Shadrach Meshach Abednego – “Great Balls of Fire”

Closing Note: Some in our congregation have inquired about the story behind my name.  My father, also a church choir director, named me Geoff Sharpe to commemorate my birth story.  Mom & Dad were rushing to the hospital when the station wagon had a flat tire.  Paramedics were quickly on the scene to safely deliver me on the tailgate.  So Dad always called me G. Sharpe to remember that we had A Flat.  (Of course, you music aficionados already realize they are the same note.) 

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.21.16 – Insights from Janelle Gregory

Janelle_GregoryJanelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist.

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to fit Jesus in around everything else in your life? You might be able to fit him in for an hour on Sunday, or perhaps for a brief moment before a meal. You will look for him to be there when life gets too hard, but other than that, it’s pretty much on your terms. We don’t want Jesus getting in the way of our plans, our schedule, our life.

Manning quoteBut being a Christian means that Jesus gets to penetrate into every aspect of your life. Will he mess up your plans? Most likely. But he messes up your plans so that you can be a part of his plans – plans for goodness, wholeness, and joy. The journey may be wild, scary, and sometimes dangerous. It often comes at a cost.

But hang in there. A wild, unpredictable journey with Jesus is better than your ordinary life.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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04.20.16 – Insights from Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar facilitates the Prayer Ministry and coordinates the Financial Care and Assistance ministries. She is married, has three great kids and three perfect grandchildren whom she loves spending time with, and she enjoys writing and photography.

I once took part in a retreat where one breakout session included the task of rewriting the Lord’s Prayer, expanding it and making it more personal. One of the expanded prayers included a phrase that stuck with me. I include it in my own expanded personal version of the prayer Jesus taught. In the part of the prayer where we say, “…and deliver us from evil…” the expanded version adds the phrase “the evil of the world, and the evil of my own making…” and I try to name the evils I am asking be removed from my path. Naming them helps me see them for what they are. It’s the evils of my own making that most often trip me up – actions that come from selfishness, anger, fear or just plain forgetting the powerful name at the beginning and end of my prayer.

There is so much power in the name of Jesus. The evil spirits that had hold of the poor man in Mark 5:1-13 knew that and shouted out to “Jesus the Son of the Most High God.” (Mark 5:6-7). When Jesus asked the demon for its name, it proudly proclaimed “My name is Legion, for we are many.” The spirit seemed to believe there was power in that name, too, or in the numbers it represented. The evil spirit was wrong about that power. When it asked to be dealt with according to its own plan, that plan led to its destruction.

Naming the evil we struggle with can be a healthy way to face it but only if we also rely upon the name that destroys evil and promises us life, love, joy and peace, Jesus – the Son of the Most High God.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

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