Pastor: Rev. Beverly Hall
I believe that God has revealed to us all we need to know about salvation and God’s love. It is found in nature. The seeds sprouting in Spring – lying dormant under the snow until the rains and sun’s rays wake up the plants inside the seeds. Or water bugs, which live at the edge of ponds, waiting for the instinct to climb the lily pad stalk and get reborn as dragonflies (who can only skim the water’s surface). Then there are the caterpillars which end up in cocoons to hatch as butterflies, reminding us of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus used stories of vines to indicate our connection to God and to one another. Sheep and shepherds are images of God’s divine protection and love for us. Even shrimp have something to teach us about God’s heart. Wait a minute, did I say SHRIMP?
Coffee, anyone? Did you know that 83% of Americans drink coffee? Some like it black. Some take it with cream, while others use sugar. I had a friend who would use 8 teaspoons of sugar in his cup of coffee. I always asked him if he wanted coffee with his sugar. I was pretty young when I started drinking coffee. I used to use sugar and cream. Now I just use cream. Some people prefer tea. I like both coffee and tea (and yes, I drink my tea with cream in it too!) When I lived in England, I used to help with their version of a “coffee fellowship” after services in the local Anglican Church. They didn’t have indoor plumbing, but they had a pump at the entry gate of the church cemetery. They would fill an electric kettle and a pitcher with the fresh well water. They would heat the water during the service and then served tea or instant coffee and “biscuits” (cookies) and we would ask, “Do you want it white or black?” (With or without milk). The children would get the pitcher of water and make “squash” – the British version of cool-aid. Afterward, we would pack up all the cups and spoons and trash and take it home to do the “washing up.” That question, “black or white,” still makes me think. So my question today is, “How do you take your coffee (or tea)?”
We are coming up on Mother’s Day. People expect a “Mother’s Day” sermon with a poem about a Mother’s love. Sometimes, that works. But there are many reasons why a “Mother’s Day Tribute” isn’t such a great idea. As I think about our congregation – I look out at people who are grieving. Their mother might have died recently – or 25 years ago. They think of Mother’s Day as a day to mourn. I see women who desperately wanted children but couldn’t have them. I see frazzled moms who would love a good night’s sleep. I see angry moms who can’t still the storm inside their hearts as they think of their children who didn’t live up to their expectations. I see people who were abused – physically, emotionally, or verbally - by mothers who thought this was the best way to parent. I see the woman who feels guilty for having an abortion, or the mother who neglected her children in favor of her career. I see mothers who bravely gave up their child so that child might have a better life. I see the faces of mothers who lost babies still in the womb or who lost children – at any age. I see hurt. Mother’s Day isn’t simple. It’s a complicated interwoven mess of emotions, stories, and heartache.
According to Live Science, turtles are reptiles with hard shells that protect them from predators. They are among the oldest and most primitive groups of reptiles, having evolved millions of years ago. Turtles live all over the world in almost every type of climate. There are more than 300 species of “turtles” in our world today. Turtles spend most of their lives in water. They have webbed feet or flippers and a streamlined body. Sea turtles rarely leave the ocean, except to lay eggs in the sand. Freshwater turtles live in ponds and lakes, and they climb out of the water onto logs or rocks to bask in the sun. Most turtles have the ability to pull their heads and extremities into their shells to protect themselves from danger. Wouldn’t it be great if we - as human beings – could do the same thing?
Have you ever heard of kudzu? It’s an invasive plant species native to Asia and innocently brought to the United States to control soil erosion. However, the plant has been rapidly spreading throughout the southern United States and has earned the nickname, “The vine that ate the South.” According to the US Forest Service, “its introduction has produced devastating environmental consequences” and kudzu’s “growth is outpacing the use of herbicide spraying and mowing.”
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