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Archive for October 2016

Reforming Zacchaeus?

Because Sunday marked the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation (click here to learn more about The Reformation), our Sunday worship centered around the idea of “The Church Reformed, Always Reforming.” The Reformation is not something that is FINISHED, or COMPLETE; rather it is something that is ongoing and should be present in our understanding of who we are. If we believe that the Holy Spirit is still moving among us, and that God is still speaking through God’s prophets and saints, then we should have our hearts and minds attuned to hear where we need to reform our understanding of what it means to live as Christians.

I had a “Reformation Moment” earlier this week when I began to study the Gospel reading for Sunday. It was the much-loved story of Zacchaeus. I started out with the mindset that this is a beautiful story of a life-change in response to the presence of Jesus. Afterall, before Jesus saw Zach up in the tree, Zach had been pushed to the outside. He had to climb a tree to even get a glimpse of Jesus. This was, in my understanding, because the people in this community really despised Zach. He was the “Chief Tax Collector and was wealthy.” The tax collector portion is enough to make him unpopular — the chief part adds insult to injury, and the wealthy aspect puts Zach at the bottom of everyone’s list. People loved to hate him.

The traditional interpretation for the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 hinges on the translation found in the NRSV:

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”

Here it sounds like Zach makes a life change in the presence of Jesus, as a direct response to Jesus.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this interpretation from this translation.

The “Reformation Moment” for me came from this scholar’s take:

▪ “But there’s one small problem with this interpretation. Neither Jesus nor Zacchaeus says anything about sin or repentance. Only the crowd does. When Jesus decides to go to Zacchaeus’ house, they grumble, upset by Jesus’ choice of companion (not a new theme in Luke!), and call Zacchaeus a sinner. Which prompts Zacchaeus’ protest. Indeed, it’s important to note that Zacchaeus doesn’t actually make a promise to give half his possessions to the poor or repay anyone he has defrauded in the future. He says he is already doing that, a claim he probably makes in light of the crowd accusing him of being a sinner. The verb tense in Greek is present, you see, not future. So it’s not ‘I will give’ and ‘I will pay back’ but rather ‘I give half my money to the poor’ and ‘I repay.’ As in now, already, this is my current practice.”

Mind. Blown. It’s not a big difference, but it is enough to make me stop and question whether or not Zach was a bad guy to begin with. Yes, he was a tax collector, and the “Chief” portion of his title indicates that he was wealthy enough to have paid all the taxes owed to the government, and then was able to extort whatever he wanted from the citizens. Anything extra he collected would be considered profit above and beyond what he was paid by the government for doing this job.

But if he stands before Jesus and proclaims that he gives HALF of what he earns to the poor and needy, and that he gives FOUR TIMES whatever he might have gained dishonestly, then this Chief Tax Collector is way more righteous than me. He had nothing to be ashamed of standing there before Jesus. Digging a little deeper, I found that the name, “Zacchaeus” is a common Jewish name that means “innocent” or “pure.” Could this be an obvious nod to the nature of Zacchaeus’ character?

To me, this makes this story at the end of Luke’s teaching/traveling narrative more about Jesus widening God’s reach to even the wealthy people than it is about having a sudden change of heart in Jesus’ presence. When Jesus tells Zacchaeus “Today salvation has come to your house, for the son of Man came to seek out and save the lost,” I wonder if it means that in showing Zacchaeus the honor of being a guest in his home, Jesus restored him to a place of respect within his community. Perhaps the “Lost” aspect of Zach was that he was not included in community fellowship, and was “diminished” in his standing among his fellow Jews.

Either interpretation of Zacchaeus’ story is a faithful interpretation. Whether he changed his crooked ways in the presence of Jesus, or whether his honor as a righteous man was restored by Jesus’ presence, we can learn much. Either interpretation causes us to stop and ask ourselves whether we allow anyone the opportunity to be restored to community — either by repentance or through our acceptance of them.

And even being open to asking questions about this familiar story makes us solidly a “Church Reformed, Always Reforming!” Praise be to God!

In Sure and Certain Hope,

Rev. Paula

PS: As an added bonus, for those of you still scratching your head, I include this little note on the text by professor Rev. Dr. David Lose:

Many versions of the Bible translate Zacchaeus’ statement as referring to future action, even though they are clearly present tense verbs in the Greek. To justify that decision, they argue that this is an instance of the “future-present tense” in Greek. Curiously, there is no other instance in biblical or classical Greek literature of a “future-present tense,” which means that translators actually made up a grammatical category to justify their poor translations. Why? Because we really, really want God to conform to our expectations. Once again, we don’t get the God we expect, but rather the one we need. Thanks be to God!

All Saints?

1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

Saints? In the Reformed Tradition?

Yep!

All those who are “sanctified by Christ Jesus” are who we identify as saints in our Reformed theology. It comes right from scripture! In pop-Christianity, saints are people like Mother Teresa (who will soon be canonized by the Catholic Church) or “Saint Paul” — those who have done extraordinary feats of self-sacrifice, performed miracles, or who have lived lives set apart in holiness.

But for Presbyterians, our churches are filled with saints. Big saints, little saints, holy saints and even some wayward saints: all of us called to live our our faith in Christ Jesus.

It is only fitting then, that we reclaim the idea of “All Saints Day, ” where the lives of our saints are celebrated and remembered. This year has been difficult for us at CEH, as we have seen many of our saints experience the fullness of their life through their bodily death. We suffer when our saints die — because we don’t understand what that “fullness of life” can even be like. And we grieve; we feel the loss of their vibrant lives here.

So during our Service Station on Sunday morning, we will be celebrating the lives of our Saints who have died in the faith — Saint Michael, Saint Keith, Saint Connie, Saint Jean, and others. We will also take time to remember those who have influenced your faith journey — living or dead — and celebrate the ways they invested in your understanding of God.

Please come check out the Service Station at 9:00 on Sunday morning, and bring with you pictures and stories about the saints in your life. I am looking forward to sharing these stories and celebrating these lives together!

In Sure and Certain Hope,

Rev. Paula

Persistent God

Luke 18:1-8
The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.

He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’
For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

When preaching on the parable of the persistent widow, Thomas Long tells a story about Mother Theresa, who
. . . went to visit Edward Bennett Williams, a legendary Washington criminal lawyer. He was a powerful lawyer. He at one time owned the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles and he was the lawyer for Frank Sinatra and Richard Nixon, among others.

Evan Thomas’s biography of Williams tells the story about when Mother Teresa visited Edward Bennett Williams because she was raising money for an AIDS hospice. Williams was in charge of a small charitable foundation that she hoped would help.

Before she arrived for the appointment, Williams said to his partner, Paul Dietrich, “You know, Paul, AIDS is not my favorite disease. I don’t really want to make a contribution, but I’ve got this Catholic saint coming to see me, and I don’t know what to do.” Well, they agreed that they would be polite, hear her out, but then say no.

Well, Mother Teresa arrived.

She was a little sparrow sitting on the other side of the big mahogany lawyer’s desk. She made her appeal for the hospice, and Williams said, “We’re touched by your appeal, but no.”

Mother Teresa said simply, “Let us pray.” Williams looked at Dietrich; they bowed their heads and after the prayer, Mother Teresa made the same pitch, word for word, for the hospice.

Again Williams politely said no.

Mother Teresa said, “Let us pray.”

Williams, exasperated, looked up at the ceiling, “All right, all right, get me my checkbook!”

Could there be a better illustration for this parable from Luke? Mother Theresa seems to perfectly parallel the widow, and the rich Washington lawyer sounds very much like the unjust Judge.

There are, in fact, many illustrations that could go hand in hand with just this interpretation of the parable. And it seems to be a common jump to turn ourselves into the widow and God into the “Unjust Judge.” But I want to encourage you to look a little deeper. . . because although the text tells us that Jesus told the parable to teach about prayer, Luke pushes us along a little further by tagging on a post-script of sorts when he writes, “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Ah, there’s the rub: because with that seemingly innocuous sentence, Luke changes this from what he introduces as a parable Jesus used to teach about prayer, to a parable that Luke is using to remind his listeners that God’s Kingdom surely will come, and will come swiftly and suddenly. When it comes, will the widows (a common character who represents all those who cannot fend for themselves, or who are oppressed by systems) be receiving justice? Or will they be turned away, time and again by the unjust judges of the earth?

And so we must ask ourselves who we are in this parable. Are we the oppressed widow? Or are we the Unjust Judge?

To understand ourselves as judge all it takes is to be reminded of our modern-day apathy, when we fail to be passionate for justice, and many times don’t care much for our neighbor either. Might we be too concerned with our own busy-ness that we don’t have time to live deeply in our faith?

An excellent example of how we are like the unjust judge, who cares not for justice or for people, can be found in the excellent film “Hotel Rwanda.” This film is about the 1994 mass genocide of the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda, Africa, by the Hutu minority. A reluctant hero is found in Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of an upscale European Hotel, who finds a way to offer asylum to and save the life of nearly 1300 Tutsis.

There is a powerful scene in the movie when an international press agent staying at the hotel has come back with footage of the horrific slaughter. A repeated theme in the film is that if the Americans or Europeans knew about the genocide, they would do something about it. When Paul Rusesabagina sees the graphic film clip, he prophecies that now, after seeing this, the world will certainly come to the rescue. The cameraman shakes his head at Paul, and sadly, quietly says, “No, the world will look up briefly from their dinner table, comment on how terrible it is, and then return to their meal.”

Unfortunately, the world was like the Unjust Judge, as:
Over the course of 100 days, almost one million people were killed in Rwanda. The streets of the capital city of Kigali ran red with rivers of blood, but no one came to help. There was no international intervention in Rwanda, no expeditionary forces, no coalition of the willing. There was no international aid for Rwanda. Rwanda’s Hutu extremists slaughtered their Tutsi neighbors and any moderate Hutus who stood in their way, and the world left them to it.

Yes, though painful, it doesn’t take much to see ourselves as the unjust judge.

And without too much work we can see God as this widow, constantly vying for our attention, time after time approaching us in the hopes that we might notice her and stop to do what she is asking.

And hopefully, looking at the parable this way will help you to feel God’s relentless, nagging love. And maybe, just maybe, you will allow yourself to be challenged and transformed by that love; to surpass the hearing and move into action, answering the plea of that Persistent God!

In Sure and Certain Hope,

Rev. Paula

Persistent God

Luke 18:1-8
The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.

He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’
For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

When preaching on the parable of the persistent widow, Thomas Long tells a story about Mother Theresa, who
. . . went to visit Edward Bennett Williams, a legendary Washington criminal lawyer. He was a powerful lawyer. He at one time owned the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles and he was the lawyer for Frank Sinatra and Richard Nixon, among others.

Evan Thomas’s biography of Williams tells the story about when Mother Teresa visited Edward Bennett Williams because she was raising money for an AIDS hospice. Williams was in charge of a small charitable foundation that she hoped would help.

Before she arrived for the appointment, Williams said to his partner, Paul Dietrich, “You know, Paul, AIDS is not my favorite disease. I don’t really want to make a contribution, but I’ve got this Catholic saint coming to see me, and I don’t know what to do.” Well, they agreed that they would be polite, hear her out, but then say no.

Well, Mother Teresa arrived.

She was a little sparrow sitting on the other side of the big mahogany lawyer’s desk. She made her appeal for the hospice, and Williams said, “We’re touched by your appeal, but no.”

Mother Teresa said simply, “Let us pray.” Williams looked at Dietrich; they bowed their heads and after the prayer, Mother Teresa made the same pitch, word for word, for the hospice.

Again Williams politely said no.

Mother Teresa said, “Let us pray.”

Williams, exasperated, looked up at the ceiling, “All right, all right, get me my checkbook!”

Could there be a better illustration for this parable from Luke? Mother Theresa seems to perfectly parallel the widow, and the rich Washington lawyer sounds very much like the unjust Judge.

There are, in fact, many illustrations that could go hand in hand with just this interpretation of the parable. And it seems to be a common jump to turn ourselves into the widow and God into the “Unjust Judge.” But I want to encourage you to look a little deeper. . . because although the text tells us that Jesus told the parable to teach about prayer, Luke pushes us along a little further by tagging on a post-script of sorts when he writes, “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Ah, there’s the rub: because with that seemingly innocuous sentence, Luke changes this from what he introduces as a parable Jesus used to teach about prayer, to a parable that Luke is using to remind his listeners that God’s Kingdom surely will come, and will come swiftly and suddenly. When it comes, will the widows (a common character who represents all those who cannot fend for themselves, or who are oppressed by systems) be receiving justice? Or will they be turned away, time and again by the unjust judges of the earth?

And so we must ask ourselves who we are in this parable. Are we the oppressed widow? Or are we the Unjust Judge?

To understand ourselves as judge all it takes is to be reminded of our modern-day apathy, when we fail to be passionate for justice, and many times don’t care much for our neighbor either. Might we be too concerned with our own busy-ness that we don’t have time to live deeply in our faith?

An excellent example of how we are like the unjust judge, who cares not for justice or for people, can be found in the excellent film “Hotel Rwanda.” This film is about the 1994 mass genocide of the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda, Africa, by the Hutu minority. A reluctant hero is found in Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of an upscale European Hotel, who finds a way to offer asylum to and save the life of nearly 1300 Tutsis.

There is a powerful scene in the movie when an international press agent staying at the hotel has come back with footage of the horrific slaughter. A repeated theme in the film is that if the Americans or Europeans knew about the genocide, they would do something about it. When Paul Rusesabagina sees the graphic film clip, he prophecies that now, after seeing this, the world will certainly come to the rescue. The cameraman shakes his head at Paul, and sadly, quietly says, “No, the world will look up briefly from their dinner table, comment on how terrible it is, and then return to their meal.”

Unfortunately, the world was like the Unjust Judge, as:
Over the course of 100 days, almost one million people were killed in Rwanda. The streets of the capital city of Kigali ran red with rivers of blood, but no one came to help. There was no international intervention in Rwanda, no expeditionary forces, no coalition of the willing. There was no international aid for Rwanda. Rwanda’s Hutu extremists slaughtered their Tutsi neighbors and any moderate Hutus who stood in their way, and the world left them to it.

Yes, though painful, it doesn’t take much to see ourselves as the unjust judge.

And without too much work we can see God as this widow, constantly vying for our attention, time after time approaching us in the hopes that we might notice her and stop to do what she is asking.

And hopefully, looking at the parable this way will help you to feel God’s relentless, nagging love. And maybe, just maybe, you will allow yourself to be challenged and transformed by that love; to surpass the hearing and move into action, answering the plea of that Persistent God!

In Sure and Certain Hope,

Rev. Paula

***
CEH Extravagant Generosity Stewardship

In the parable of the Samaritan Jesus is calling us to “re-imagine the world” in a whole new way. Jesus is calling us NOW, to a re-imagined world of unconditional, open hearts, open minds, open arms compassion towards all. He expects us to go, now.

A re-imagined world of compassion is our call to stewardship today at Church of the Eternal Hills.

How do we show this type of compassion to all?

Through Risk-Taking Mission and Service:

Through our Risk-taking Mission and Service, we met urgent needs through housing assistance, hot meals, warm clothing, emergency dental care, life skills and disaster assistance locally and nationwide.
• We help youth grow their faith through our preschool, youth camps and life-changing experiences.
• We enable mission workers’ training and projects locally and internationally.
• Extending God’s hand and love through everything we do.
• Through our community dinners, we fed the hungry and isolated.
• Through Safeway City Market rebates, we provide housing funds to prevent homelessness.
• Through Warm & Cozy and Adopt- A -Family trees, we supply winter clothing, toys and food to our neighbors.
• Through Safeway/City Market rebates and PEER leadership, we offer support, life skills and progress.
• Through Safeway/City Market rebates, our youth attend camps and find life-changing faith.
• Through One Great Hour of Sharing, we give to disaster recovery locally and world-wide.
• Through Pentecost Offering, A.C.H.E.S provides emergency dental care to at-risk children.
• Through our Soup Supper, our preschool teaches, nurtures and enriches children’s growth.
• Through Safeway/City Market rebates, Young Adult Volunteers in the U.S. and Korea train and serve.
• Through the Peace Offering, Advocates enables non-violent relationships.
• Through Safeway/City Market rebates, we help build a home for Grand County abandoned and abused children.
• Through donations, hundreds of children world-wide receive education and learn about Jesus.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Imagine for a moment if, upon waking this morning, you found you had only those things which you had shown gratitude for yesterday.

What would you have?

Would you be reading this email on your phone or computer? Would you be sitting in your own home? Would you have a car in your garage? Would you even have a garage? Would you have family and friends to call upon?

It’s an interesting exercise in finding out just how often we show gratitude for things. Not even just the big things — the little things as well. Kleenex. Automatic transmission. Erasers.

It’s an interesting question in light of Sunday’s parable from Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Note here, that despite their failure to return thanks, all 10 lepers were healed by Jesus. Gratitude was not a prerequisite to be “made clean.”

However, note also that the only one who was “made well” was the 10th leper, who turned around to thank Jesus.

What’s the difference between “clean” and “well?” I certainly believe that all of us have been “made clean” by the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins that we celebrate every week at the baptismal font during confession and at the Table when we celebrate Eucharist. But I also know that there are an awful lot of people who are not actually WELL.

When I think of being “well” I think that it indicates a sense of wholeness — not merely a healthy body, but a mind and heart that is aligned with God’s will.

Recent research indicates that showing gratitude intentionally has a very positive effect on mind, body, and spiritual wellness.

Not that we needed scientific proof of something that is spoken of so often within our scriptures. Over and over in the Psalms we hear “Give thanks to the Lord; for God is good. . .” Not just the Psalms, but throughout scriptures there are many examples of poets and prophets and sinners recounting their gratitude for God.

Are we pretty quick to follow their example of gratitude?

Well if not, then perhaps put your mind to it, and dedicate some time each day to recount your own blessings. Consider how thankful you are for the big things (your family and friends, your faith and faith community, God’s amazing creation) and the little things (elevators, ice melt, windshield wipers, and tic tacs). Take a moment to write a note of gratitude to a friend or a neighbor — not for anything in particular, but just to thank them for being your friend.

Don’t drown in remorse for the things you have failed to show gratitude for; rather, change your thinking and your mindset.

And just imagine, then, if upon waking tomorrow morning, you found you had only those things which you had shown gratitude for today.

With Thanks to God for all of you,

Rev. Paula

An Attitude of Gratitude

Imagine for a moment if, upon waking this morning, you found you had only those things which you had shown gratitude for yesterday.

What would you have?

Would you be reading this email on your phone or computer? Would you be sitting in your own home? Would you have a car in your garage? Would you even have a garage? Would you have family and friends to call upon?

It’s an interesting exercise in finding out just how often we show gratitude for things. Not even just the big things — the little things as well. Kleenex. Automatic transmission. Erasers.

It’s an interesting question in light of Sunday’s parable from Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Note here, that despite their failure to return thanks, all 10 lepers were healed by Jesus. Gratitude was not a prerequisite to be “made clean.”

However, note also that the only one who was “made well” was the 10th leper, who turned around to thank Jesus.

What’s the difference between “clean” and “well?” I certainly believe that all of us have been “made clean” by the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins that we celebrate every week at the baptismal font during confession and at the Table when we celebrate Eucharist. But I also know that there are an awful lot of people who are not actually WELL.

When I think of being “well” I think that it indicates a sense of wholeness — not merely a healthy body, but a mind and heart that is aligned with God’s will.

Recent research indicates that showing gratitude intentionally has a very positive effect on mind, body, and spiritual wellness.

Not that we needed scientific proof of something that is spoken of so often within our scriptures. Over and over in the Psalms we hear “Give thanks to the Lord; for God is good. . .” Not just the Psalms, but throughout scriptures there are many examples of poets and prophets and sinners recounting their gratitude for God.

Are we pretty quick to follow their example of gratitude?

Well if not, then perhaps put your mind to it, and dedicate some time each day to recount your own blessings. Consider how thankful you are for the big things (your family and friends, your faith and faith community, God’s amazing creation) and the little things (elevators, ice melt, windshield wipers, and tic tacs). Take a moment to write a note of gratitude to a friend or a neighbor — not for anything in particular, but just to thank them for being your friend.

Don’t drown in remorse for the things you have failed to show gratitude for; rather, change your thinking and your mindset.

And just imagine, then, if upon waking tomorrow morning, you found you had only those things which you had shown gratitude for today.

With Thanks to God for all of you,

Rev. Paula

***
CEH Extravagant Generosity Stewardship

In the parable of the Samaritan Jesus is calling us to “re-imagine the world” in a whole new way. Jesus is calling us NOW, to a re-imagined world of unconditional, open hearts, open minds, open arms compassion towards all. He expects us to go, now.

A re-imagined world of compassion is our call to stewardship today at Church of the Eternal Hills.

How do we show this type of compassion to all?

Through PEER:

The purpose of PEER is to help people who are in need – not by giving money or food but through friendship and providing Personalized Encouragement, Empowerment and Resources (PEER). We accept participants as our equals in learning about life. Initially we meet as a large group, enjoying a meal served by church members. Afterwards we all participate in a class. The beauty of change was evident almost from the start as our participants blossomed as we shared this time together.

We have now started the mentoring phase of this adventure. During this first session of PEER, each participant has three Mentors and will meet with them once or twice a month. We will also continue our group meeting but on a monthly basis. We expect this phase of the process to last from nine months to a year. Anyone is welcome to train as a mentor and join the meaningful “opportunity to make a difference.”

Our Ancestors of Faith

In our reading Sunday from 2 Timothy, we read encouragement to Timothy to persevere and stick with it. The author of the letter beckons back to Lois and Eunice, who were TImothy’s mother and grandmother, and apparently truly modeled the way of a life in faith. This is a great reminder that children learn from their parents and grandparents. I wonder who it is in your life who modeled the way of a life in faith for you?

We also read from the prophet Habakkuk, who lamented to God, “Why do you force me to look at violence and evil?” I can really relate to Habakkuk. It seems like everywhere we look there are terrible things, violent things, awful things. And I think that as we focus on them all the time, it becomes more and more difficult to us to see the positive and to persevere in our own faith. The ending of the reading from Habakkuk reminded us that God is coming, with good news, and when we receive it we must take it and run with it, sharing it with anyone with ears to listen.

We have a great opportunity to model a life in faith for all of the children and young adults who walk into this building. They have been seeing adults behaving badly in this country and across the globe. We can present a different side of things here as we seek to share a foretaste of the Kingdom of God . We model this by being kind to one another, being interested in each other’s lives, and by sharing the love and peace of God with each other. And I don’t mean just our friends and the ones we are comfortable with, I mean every person, old or young, who walks in those big wooden doors.

Sunday was World Communion Sunday, where Christians across the globe celebrate Eucharist on the same day. We had an opportunity to experience how beautiful the whole world could be on Sunday morning, as we traveled from station to station around the sanctuary, where different continents were represented with textiles, artwork, and regional bread. I saw a beautiful example of healthy, faithful interaction between the adults and the youth who were making their way around the room, tasting bread and touching the fabrics and sculptures on display.

I think that is how we can change the Church and the world. Starting here — we invest ourselves in each other. We show interest and love to one another in the spirit of Christ who commanded us to “Serve one another in love.”

Kudos to everyone who worked so hard to pull off this tremendous feast. It was a beautiful example of what the Kingdom of God can be like, and I feel so privileged to have seen it with my own eyes, and to serve a congregation who is so willing to invest themselves in each other.

In Celebration of Your Love to Each Other,

Rev. Paula

Our Ancestors of Faith

In our reading Sunday from 2 Timothy, we read encouragement to Timothy to persevere and stick with it. The author of the letter beckons back to Lois and Eunice, who were TImothy’s mother and grandmother, and apparently truly modeled the way of a life in faith. This is a great reminder that children learn from their parents and grandparents. I wonder who it is in your life who modeled the way of a life in faith for you?

We also read from the prophet Habakkuk, who lamented to God, “Why do you force me to look at violence and evil?” I can really relate to Habakkuk. It seems like everywhere we look there are terrible things, violent things, awful things. And I think that as we focus on them all the time, it becomes more and more difficult to us to see the positive and to persevere in our own faith. The ending of the reading from Habakkuk reminded us that God is coming, with good news, and when we receive it we must take it and run with it, sharing it with anyone with ears to listen.

We have a great opportunity to model a life in faith for all of the children and young adults who walk into this building. They have been seeing adults behaving badly in this country and across the globe. We can present a different side of things here as we seek to share a foretaste of the Kingdom of God . We model this by being kind to one another, being interested in each other’s lives, and by sharing the love and peace of God with each other. And I don’t mean just our friends and the ones we are comfortable with, I mean every person, old or young, who walks in those big wooden doors.

Sunday was World Communion Sunday, where Christians across the globe celebrate Eucharist on the same day. We had an opportunity to experience how beautiful the whole world could be on Sunday morning, as we traveled from station to station around the sanctuary, where different continents were represented with textiles, artwork, and regional bread. I saw a beautiful example of healthy, faithful interaction between the adults and the youth who were making their way around the room, tasting bread and touching the fabrics and sculptures on display.

I think that is how we can change the Church and the world. Starting here — we invest ourselves in each other. We show interest and love to one another in the spirit of Christ who commanded us to “Serve one another in love.”

Kudos to everyone who worked so hard to pull off this tremendous feast. It was a beautiful example of what the Kingdom of God can be like, and I feel so privileged to have seen it with my own eyes, and to serve a congregation who is so willing to invest themselves in each other.

In Celebration of Your Love to Each Other,

Rev. Paula

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CEH Extravagant Generosity Stewardship

In the parable of the Samaritan Jesus is calling us to “re-imagine the world” in a whole new way. Jesus is calling us NOW, to a re-imagined world of unconditional, open hearts, open minds, open arms compassion towards all. He expects us to go, now.

A re-imagined world of compassion is our call to stewardship today at Church of the Eternal Hills.

How do we show this type of compassion to all?

Through our Mission to Youth:
To put it simply, youth ministries at Church of the Eternal Hills are AWESOME! We provide a place for youth to grow, build friendships, volunteer, develop individual religious beliefs, and have a BLAST! Activities include youTHursdays, Bible Study Breakfast, bonfires, camp-outs, lock-ins, chapel praise band, game nights, hiking, biking, skiing, community service projects, and mission trips.

youTHursday: youTHursday meets every Thursday at 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM.
We start with a delicious, home-cooked dinner provided by church members. During dinner, youth share their “Lows and Highs” from the previous week. It’s a great time to learn about what is going on in each other’s lives, and support each other in our lows (the worst part of our week) and our highs (the best part of our week).

After dinner we have a meditative chapel time, filled with music, a short bible lesson and reflection, and prayer time.
Chapel is followed by our actual “Youth Group” time. We have a Middle School Group, led by Maggie Rainwater and an adult volunteer, and the High School Group, led by Pastor Paula and an adult volunteer. The focus for our youth group time is on life-application of our faith.

Youth Leadership Team: Students can apply to be part of the leadership team for youTHursdays. Our Leadership team gets to help plan games, activities, special events, and help our adult leaders choose topics to study. They also help with the set-up and clean-up for youTHursday and other events.

Tuesday Morning Bible Study: High School students are welcome to join Pastor Paula for a Bible Study and devotional time over breakfast at 7 AM on Tuesdays. Transportation to school is provided by Pastor Paula for non-driving students.

Grand Mission Experience: For the past two summers, our high school students have participated in service projects across Grand County. During this week long experience, the youth learn about poverty in our rural resort area and the non-profit and government agencies that are set up to assist. Along with games and good food, the youth gain an appreciation for these non-profit organizations as well as learn how they can assist those in need across our county.

Service Projects: our youth are great helpers around the church. Whether it be through re-stocking the food pantry with the donations from church members, or laying down mulch on our “Prayer Path,” the youth learn that they can be the hands and feet of Christ, and follow Jesus’ mandate to “Serve one another in love.” We keep in contact with our college aged students through sending them “Cram Boxes” packed with goodies to help them get through finals weeks in the fall and the spring.

Service Station: High School students will enjoy participating and even helping to lead the Service Station at 9 on Sunday mornings.

Praise Band: High School students with musical gifts are invited to help plan and play for the youth chapel band and can also play with our Sunday morning praise band.