Still Speaking

February 14, 2017: A love so fierce

Posted on : Feb 14th, 2017 | By | Category: Still Speaking

We’re in an awkward place today in that Valentine, who was sainted by the Roman Catholic Church in the 3rd century could be one of three different persons named Valentine. All of them were martyred – that is executed for their faith. Not very romantic, I know. But worse yet, in 1969, “Saint” Valentine got removed from the official Roman Catholic calendar of “Saint’s days.” What is now known of these boys suggests that they were more into debauchery than love. If you’re interested, go to your favorite search engine and start learning about the rather grotesque and gruesome traditions that led up to our fanciful day of cupid, red hearts and romantic love.

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October 4, 2016: A life or death decision

Posted on : Oct 4th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

On Election Day, Tues. Nov 8, we have a life or death decision to make. No, it’s not about the Presidency, though with all the banter about first-strike use of nuclear weapons, that may be a close second. It is literally about life and death: whether Californians should end the use of the death penalty. There are two ballot propositions before us that deal directly with the death penalty. Prop 62 would repeal the Death Penalty as the maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. This proposition applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. Persons found guilty of murder would be required to work while in prison and up to 60% of their wages could be garnished for victim restitution fines.

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September 26, 2016: A devotion for the first Presidential Debate

Posted on : Sep 26th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

Upon first reading you might think these words are addressed to one candidate or the other; or one party or the other. But in truth, I think these words are not just for others, but for each of us personally.

They are certainly timely as the first “Presidential debate” is held this evening.

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September 19, 2016: Is God Responsible for Everything?

Posted on : Sep 19th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

My nephew, Josh, has a tendency to dump everything on the back of God. “Why does God allow hunger, homelessness, war, accidents, violence, violent deaths?” Go ahead, add your concern.

If you ever ask the same question, here is a great answer from two warring factions – Jewish and Arab young adults:

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September 6, 2016: Peacemakers Are Killed

Posted on : Sep 6th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

One of the most-quoted teachings of Jesus from the Beatitudes is “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Do you really believe that? “In our violent world just how crazy is Christ’s insistence that we practice peace?”

About a week ago people stood in line for hours to attend a vigil for two Nuns, Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, who were found murdered in the house they rented in Durant, Mississippi. The two nuns, from two different Religious Orders, were nurse practitioners who spent decades helping the poor and often providing the only medical service in one of the poorest counties of one of the poorest states, Mississippi. A suspect was arrested and charged with robbery, grand larceny, and murder.

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August 29, 2016: Turning the World Upside Down for Good

Posted on : Aug 29th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

In this year’s election cycle, there has been a lot of yelling and screaming from people who are “Mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.” The pollsters tell us a lot of people are so frustrated and angry that they just want change. They don’t seem to know what change they want or how they are going to get it, they just want change. In reality, I think what they really want is to go back to a time and place in history (in their lives) when they thought things were better. That however, is seldom the answer to our problems. The past is never as glorious as we remember it. What it is, at least for many, is a safer time in their lives because they’ve been there and made it through whatever the challenges of the time were.

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August 22, 2016: God’s hand is still stretched out to you.

Posted on : Aug 22nd, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

In my travels for work I have been in lots of different churches. A number of the UCC churches I have visited begin their service with words inspired by the God Is Still Speaking Initiative, “Whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”

It is a powerful statement, one that extends a welcome and yet does more. It says — at least it says to me — that there is always an opportunity, with God, for a new beginning.

Today’s verse from Isaiah says something similar, something simple yet powerful . . . “God’s hand is stretched out still.”

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August 16, 2016: Do you want to be well?

Posted on : Aug 16th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

This Sunday we are going to look at one of the more perplexing questions Jesus asks. There is a part of me that wants to say, this is really one of the stupidest questions Jesus asks – or maybe one of the most insulting questions Jesus asks.

The question is, “Do you want to be well?” He asks this of a person who has been ill for 38 years and has sat by the edge of a pool known for its healing abilities. The man is disabled and can’t get into the pool to be healed. That’s the context of the story in John 5: 1-9. It is of this person that Jesus asks, “Do you want to be made well?”

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July 26, 2016: You can’t carry two watermelons with one hand.

Posted on : Jul 26th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

This is wonderful wisdom and quite timely as summer is often the time when we think about doing less and living more.

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July 11, 2016: Love is our only hope

Posted on : Jul 12th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

This week’s Still Speaking Devotional is written by Rev. Traci Blackmon. Traci is our Acting Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries with the national (General Synod) setting of our United Church of Christ. Before assuming that role, Traci was the pastor of a local church in a town adjacent to Ferguson, Missouri.

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