From the Preacher’s Post…

The questionnaire In the beginning there was Cronkite. And it was good. The mighty Walter was “the most trusted man in America,” and the CBS Evening News is how the nation got its daily dose of current events — faster than waiting until tomorrow morning for the paper! And then there was Ted Turner’s Cable News Network, CNN, which flicked on its broadcasters in 1980. Suddenly, news producers needed to fill not only one half-hour time slot, but 48 of these time slots, every day. Is there really that much going on in the world? (Garth Sundem)

Our brains are wired to respond to threat, and with the twenty-four hour news cycle now an entrenched reality, we are under constant threat because fear sells news. Whether we’re locked into the twenty-four hour news cycle on our TV’s, or picking up our cell phones to check in with the news sites we prefer—the net effect is we are experiencing more and more stress and anxiety. The current political climate has taken what was a dominant force in our culture and put the twenty-four hour news cycle on steroids. I watched thirty minutes of MSNBC, then turned to thirty minutes of FOX news. Same story, presented with a different slant, but all meant to stir the fears in me, the viewer.

Here’s the problem as stated by Kevyn Aucoin: “Fear is the most debilitating emotion in the world, and it can keep you from ever truly knowing yourself and others – its adverse effects can no longer be overlooked or underestimated. Fear breeds hatred, and hatred has the power to destroy everything in its path.”  What is troubling me is that I sense the corrosive nature of fear in my soul and I see it corroding the souls of other people who profess faith in Jesus as Lord, but are filled with fear, which is festering into hate.

We’re not going to put the twenty-four hour news genie back in the bottle. We can never go back, although that is always a tempting lie that gets told in a variety of creative ways. For me, I’m preaching this series because I need to be praying and seeking God’s kingdom in the midst of all this, for it is God’s kingdom that promises the hope my soul needs as much as my body needs oxygen.

Jesus appeared on the public scene during volatile and difficult times just after John the Baptist had been thrown in jail by Herod:   “After John had been put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee and preached the Good News from God.  “The right time has come,” he said, “and the Kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins and believe the Good News!”” (Mark 1:14-15)

What is stunning is that the invitation to follow Jesus was extended to all, but it was the outcasts and outsiders who responded to the invitation. The people who viewed themselves as “in”, were the ones threatened by Jesus’ invitation. We want to be in charge of the guest list. For some it means disinviting the LGBTQA folks. For others, it’s people who aren’t from around “here”. Or, it’s the one who doesn’t share my political perspective and even more telling, who doesn’t share my set of fears for the future. In so many ways we’ve organized ourselves around our fears instead of uniting in the hope Jesus calls us to live. Mark’s telling of Matthew’s call and the resulting exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees is something I need to pay attention to. Where am I in the story? What role am I playing? Am I sitting among the outcasts or checking the guest list and challenging who Jesus has invited?

Mark 2:13-17:

Jesus went back again to the shore of Lake Galilee. A crowd came to him, and he started teaching them.  As he walked along, he saw a tax collector, Levi son of Alphaeus, sitting in his office. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Levi got up and followed him.  Later on Jesus was having a meal in Levi’s house. A large number of tax collectors and other outcasts was following Jesus, and many of them joined him and his disciples at the table.  

Some teachers of the Law, who were Pharisees, saw that Jesus was eating with these outcasts and tax collectors, so they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such people?”  Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”

Here’s what I have on my desk…

SANTA ROSA HEALING GROUP—Do you know someone that you would like to invite to a healing group in Santa Rosa? We will be studying the 12-Steps based on the book, “A Hunger for Healing”. meetings will be every Tuesday night at 6:00PM at 819 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa. For more information, please call Eric Van Cleave at 707-479-0701.

RESCHEDULED DUE TO RAIN—ST. ANDREW WOMEN’S FELLOWSHIP is holding their annual Valentine’s Luncheon ON Wednesday, February 15th at 11:00AM in the St. Andrew Conference Room (Room 106). All St. Andrew women are invited to come and share your own special potluck creations! Tableware and drinks will be provided. Please RSVP to ‘Nita Summers 707-933-9912 / [email protected] or Mary Kaufmann 707-343-1410 / [email protected] We hope you will join us!

Westminster Woods: 2-5 day Christian Camps for 2nd through 12th grade. Many of our children have experienced the excitement of this Redwood Adventure Camp, including Challenge Courses. They are excepting registrations now at:

RISING STRONG—THE RECKONING. THE RUMBLE. THE REVOLUTION. Brené Brown’s Daring Way™ challenged us to get into the arena of life—to live vulnerably and with courage, courage to live “with our whole heart. “She is absolutely right, there is no connection without vulnerability, and it takes incredible courage to “show up…be seen…live brave”. But what happens when it’s not the “triumph of high achievement” we experience, but gut wrenching failure? It’s one thing to talk about daring greatly and failing, it’s something very different to find ourselves face down in the dirt floor of the arena, having failed miserably. Whether it’s our personal, family, community, or work lives, failure is inevitable, and it hurts so bad some of us never dare to really live again. Failure and breakdowns don’t have to end that way. God can use them to do the best work in us.

Brené Brown’s latest book and the video-course she created is all about the process of getting knocked down by life and circumstances, yet rising stronger than we were before. Brown discovered it is a spiritual process with three identifiable stages she calls: The reckoning…the rumble…the revolution. If you found her Daring Way™ workshop helpful, I can guarantee this not only builds on where we left off there but takes it to a whole new level of learning to live our lives as God created us to live.

Pastor Rich will be facilitating a Rising Strong Event, on FRIDAY, MARCH 3RD from 6:00-9:00PM and SATURDAY, MARCH 4TH from 8:30PM—3:30PM, IN THE ST. ANDREW FELLOWSHIP HALL. Tickets are available for purchase THIS SUNDAY.