Thursday, January 28, 2010
Following the film, a panel discussion will occur, with Stephanie Sandberg, the author of the play and screenwriter for the film; Jean Reed Bahle, an actor in the film and Hope College professor of Theater; David Myers, Department of Psychology; and Steve Hoogerwerf, Department of Religion.
Seven Passages, is an "ethnographic theater piece," based on interviews with 127 people around West Michigan. All of the words in the play and the film come either from the seven Biblical passages that address same sex relations or from the words of the interviewees. The play premiered at Actors Theater in Grand Rapids in 2007. The film version is shot on location, all around Grand Rapids. It is well made and very interesting.
Please come, bring a friend, and feel free to invite others who may be interested.
Pain and Anger: New Adventures in Daily Empathy
Sometimes we hurt others because we hurt. We point to stress, to pressure, the crazy pace of our living, in hopes of understanding why? We carry the pain of the past, we fear the future. If others could only understand...
We have a vision inside of the kind of person we'd like to be but are often startled at how infrequently that person shows up from day to day. We've told people about our beliefs in compassion, love, a desire for peace... and also know that these do not always emerge so simply or spontaneously. We'd like to identify what makes patience and kindness and gentleness so challenging to attain in our relationships. We'd like to have a structure or pattern of practice that can help us to grow into more loving people. And we'd also like the company of others who share the same frustrations and longings that we do.
Would you like to find a way to get to the heart of your stress and anxiety? Would you like to cultivate a quieter soul? Would you like to have some space to learn more about yourself... to explore the frontier
of your own inwardness, a place from which to live and move with hope toward more compassionate living?
Things can be different for you and I, my friends. Change can come from within.
Compassionate Connection continues this February, welcoming old friends and new. Our session schedule:
February 8 & 22, March 8 & 22, Monday evenings 6:30-8 PM
Suggested donation -- $60 for all 4 sessions, or $20 per session
Location: Laketown Healing Arts, 3997 64th St., Holland, MI 49423, 616-335-2137
To register please call 616-328-5525 or e-mail Randy at email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Re-Member is an organization working on the Pine
MILLWOOD, Wash. — State auditors told Millwood Community Presbyterian Church last summer to close its farmers’ market on the church parking lot or the lot could no longer be claimed as tax-exempt. Without hesitation, the church kept the market and paid the $700 in annual taxes.
Money is tight, but the locally raised beef and vegetables and, most important, the environmentally minded customers had become central to the 90-year-old church’s ministry.
“It’s like we’ve got more going on in our parking lot than we do within the walls of the church,” said the pastor, Craig Goodwin.
Across the Northwest, where church attendance has long been low but concern for the environment high, some church leaders and parishioners are ringing doorbells to inform neighbors — many of whom have never stepped inside the sanctuary down the street — about ways to conserve energy and lower their utility bills. Some view the new push as a way to revitalize their congregations and reconnect with their nearby community.
Religious leaders have been preaching environmentalism for years, and much attention has focused on politically powerful evangelical Christian leaders who have taken upclimate change as a cause. Yet some smaller, older and often struggling mainline churches are also going greener, reducing their carbon footprint by upgrading basement boilers and streamlining the Sunday bulletin, swapping Styrofoam for ceramic mugs at coffee hour and tending jumbled vegetable gardens where lawns once were carefully cultivated....
Read the full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/16/us/16church.html
Monday, January 18, 2010
Homily preached by Rev. Randy Smit at Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ on Sunday, January 17.
Scripture: Psalm 36:5-10; Isaiah 62:1-5; John 2:1-11 (http://www.ucc.org/worship/samuel/january-17-2010.html)
Let's make a deal -- you can have one or the other... but you have to promise to use it well... Which would you rather have love or power? Which of these would come in most handy at this time in your life... we'll get back to your life and mine in just a minute. His life is in focus here today and for good reason...
He was a man whose life reflected -- projected the life, the spirit of Isaiah -- -- who magnified the life of Jesus... He was a man who would not keep silent... despite the fact that that would put him in jail, put him in harm's way, and in the end cost him his life... No, for the sake of his people, for the sake of all people he would not rest until there was vindication... until the shining of the dawn, until justice would roll down like waters and righteousness like a cleansing stream for all people...
We know this name, this man, this fountain of life Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior... because of who he was and how he lived... because of the quality of his character and the quantity of his contribution... because of his love, because of his power.. what he did with each respectively. We remember this man because of what he saw and what he did about it.. we revere this man because of the way he brought the presence and the passion of God into our midst, because of how he demonstrated God's justice and peace and forbearance, how he revealed God's glory, in the midst of and right through... the heart of so much ugliness...
play out your own dark Northern urban, starched suburban deep South, documentary film on civil rights -- the white flight, the fire hoses, the police dogs, the scrambling children... into scenes like that he shed the light of God... straight into and all over the muck of our American-style inhumanity he poured out the fresh water of compassion, the quenching waters of God's dream for the benefit of the entire human community. Through him we got a taste of this new wine that so many still long to taste...
There are lots of words of his to cherish... these had already come across my desk when Andy invited me to preach. Somehow God had been making some preparations in advance... "One of the greatest problems of history is that...Love is identified with a resignation of power and power a denial of love…What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
This morning I'd really like to know what MLK thought of this first miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana... I wonder if he might have held it up as a beautiful example of the perfect marriage of love and power... the heart of God put into action, the love of Jesus Christ put on perfect display... God's dream coming to life before their eyes.
In those days they needed to make Provisions for a wedding -- food and wine etc... provisions and for purification for worship. The water that Jesus instructed the servants to put in the jars was water used for the rites of purification, so that people would be ready to worship.... one didn't just walk into God's presence after all, not with all that muck on them and in them... God had provided a way for people like them, for people like us to get close, a way to prepare themselves and make ready to be in communion with God during a service of worship.
Interesting fact -- scholars suggest that it took only only 1 cup of water to purify a hundred people... the idea seemed to be a little dab will do ya...
I've been thinking about that -- even before the transformation of the water into wine...... something astounding is already going on ...
Jesus instructs the servants, and they fill up the jars -- at his careful and direct instruction, each of those jars... all six of them... holding up to 30 gallons each are filled to the brim... 180 gallons worth... before there's any wine to speak of or a miracle to be impressed by...... quite a scene is unfolding already...
And I have to think that this must have been part of the subtext of that day -- they must've been thinking -- "Jesus -- what on Earth do you intend to do with all that water...!?" ...... with all of that cleansing, purifying water...
Could he not have said -- "See all this water -- see what I can do -- in your life -- in every life... for the renewal of the whole creation."
First comes the water, then comes the wine... first comes that potent, life-changing, powerful water... then comes the wine...
Jesus, there in the flesh, with only a few words brings the power of God... Power enough to cleanse... power enough and then some to pour out fresh over... everyone and everything... power enough and then some to make it all brand-new...
Oh what power -- and what love... Love enough to extend a cleansing invitation... to transform it even further -- -- into a lavish gift of welcome of joy and celebration for all of them... Love poured out there -- more than enough and then some... and it's not just acceptance -- it's not just inclusion -- it's embrace... it's joyous-true comm-union-love!
Power and love -- love and power comingling -- the perfect marriage... pouring and pouring out straight from the heart of God... I wonder if anyone at that wedding sensed something of a dream coming into being, I wonder if any who were there recalled the Psalmist words
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! your children take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life.
That's how it happened there -- this 2-for-1 miracle there at Cana... I wonder how it's happening here? I wonder how it's happening and can still happen in you? You and I, jars of Clay, fountains of life, dispensers of living water -- the fine wine of God's love. What on earth will Jesus do with all of this water and all this wine... all of this love and all of this power?
Maybe you're like me... On any given day -- If someone were to ask me -- I'd probably tell them... I'm pretty full of love, it's just that I have very little power. Today I hear Jesus asking -- "Are you sure?... You don't have to choose one over the other.
My friend, you've got more Power than you could ever dream of... it's my power... and Love? Well, maybe they're still a little more room left in your jar... let's fill it up --
Let me fill it up -- I'll fill it up -- you pour it out...
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The United Church of Christ has launched an emergency appeal for
The quake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale, struck 10 miles southwest of the capital just before 5pm local time yesterday, January 12.
It is still too early to know the full extent of the damage, but One Great Hour of Sharing is expecting very high loss of life, widespread destruction of homes, schools and other buildings, and major damage to key water, electricity and road systems.
Global Ministries personnel, Kim, Patrick and Solomon Bentrott have reported in that they are safe.
One Great Hour of Sharing funds are being rushed to our Haitian partners to support their initial emergency response. As damage assessments are made and plans for relief, recovery and rehabilitation are developed, additional support will be shared. The need is massive.
How You Can Help:
1. Pray for the people of
2. Please help the people of
Send gifts, made out to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion "
See more or make a secure online donation to the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund at http://www.ucc.org/disaster/major-earthquake-strikes.html
Thank you for your compassion and support.
Do you wrestle with the big questions of life, death and life beyond death? Here is your opportunity to soak up sixty years of scholarly study, wisdom and experience. Join with others in exploring the groundbreaking book "Is There an Afterlife- A New Vision Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell" by Bishop Spong.
His latest and last book goes beyond religion, beyond heaven and hell, and explores a very different interpretation of what the Christian story and history can mean to a modern mind.
It is a refreshingly honest pursuit of truth in the face of life’s toughest questions. Combining science and theology, Bishop Spong examines the 3.7 billion year long human journey from single cell life into the complexities of modern self-consciousness; as well as drawing from his own personal journey.
The Center for Progressive Christianity and Christ Community Church have created a way for you to explore the book in community with other spiritual seekers. In this e-course, you will receive summaries of each chapter, key quotes from the book plus searching questions for further reflection. You will be able to interact with other participants on the e-course discussion board.
The e-course will run from Monday to Friday over three weeks (January 25- February 12, 2010). You will receive an email each morning that you can study at your leisure. Alternatively you can opt to receive the whole e-course in one downloadable PDF document. The donation for the e-course is $17.
Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this exciting adventure. It will resource you to live with greater freedom and openness to life’s mysteries.
To sign up or for more info, see http://spongecourse.eventbrite.com/
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Dr. De La Torre is Associate Professor of Social Ethics at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. The focus of his academic pursuit has been social and political ethics within contemporary U.S. thought, specifically how religion affects race, class, and gender oppression. Check out his article "When the Bible is Used for Hate": http://www.ethicsdaily.com/news.php?viewStory=5314
For more information please visit: www.gvsu.edu/lgbtrc
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Between Storm and Stillness, a book of poetry by Randy Smit, is now available at www.createspace.com/3391341
"Poetry remains, for me, a pathway to peace, freedom and healing," Randy writes. "Between Storm and Stillness is a collection of poems and musings that simply represent my efforts to navigate life with honesty and energy. I trust that an authentic soul's search for God, faith, love, truth and healing are plainly offered here -- with equal parts of hope and longing."
Randy Smit is an ordained Pastor and former Professor of Philosophy. His journey with neuromuscular disease continues to shape, but not define his spiritual journey and ministry to the community. He is a freelance writer, preacher, poet and facilitator of Compassionate Connection, a practice-based approach to building empathic relationships. Randy and his wife Jill live in Holland, Michigan. They have worshiped with us frequently at Douglas UCC and Randy has led worship with us.
By Rachel Carter, © 2009 Longmont Times-Call
LONGMONT — In his latest book, T.R. Reid thinks he nails the question of how other rich countries provide universal health care.
He also thinks he answers the question of why other nations choose to provide health coverage for all.
The one question he couldn’t answer, though, was: “Why don’t we?”
Reid, author of the New York Times best-seller “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care,” visited Longmont on Monday night to speak about national health-care policy and reform.
About 200 people gathered at First Congregational United Church of Christ to hear Reid speak and ask him questions about how other countries provide universal health care, how their systems compare to the United States’, and how our nation can come to a consensus on the issue.
Reid summarized his book in one sentence:
“If we Americans, if we could find the will to provide health care for everybody who needs it, the other rich countries can show us the way.”
The United States is the only advanced, free-market, industrialized democracy that does not provide universal heath care, he said.
Every year, 22,000 Americans die from treatable diseases because they can’t afford to see a doctor, Reid said. Every year, about 700,000 American households declare bankruptcy because of medical expenses, he said.
“No other rich country lets that happen,” Reid said.
Read the full article at http://www.timescall.com/news_story.asp?ID=19902
Next week will feature him speaking on be maternal depression and children's mental health. See more about Matthew and The Clark Institute at www.theclarkinstitute.com