Sunday, December 4 – “The Way of Transformation”

View this recorded version of Sunday Worship from December 4, 2022.

Bible Verses

Romans 15:4-13 and Matthew 3: 1-12

Reflection: The Way of Transformation

Excerpts from the reflection by Rev. Dr. Fred Grewe:

“In the first text, from Paul’s letter to the Romans, there were several things that that stand out for me.

Paul Encourages his friends in Rome to live in harmony with one another. That together they would glorify God; that they would work together to help make the invisible God visible, as I’ve been saying for these last few weeks; and that they would welcome one another with deep hospitality–and that’s why these things are so important to us.

As I began this interim period as pastor for our congregation, I started to read a book–it’s a classic book, like 40 years old. It’s been a classic, written by a man named William Bridges. It’s called ‘Transitions’. And in the book Transitions, Bridges makes the point that all of us as individuals, and every organization in every community, goes through periods of transition in their existence, and that these transitions have 3 certain markers.

Transitions begin with an ending, which seems counterintuitive, and then there’s this neutral time where nothing really seems to be happening, and then that’s followed by the new beginning.

But that’s the three-step process for every transition, and we’re in that now as a congregation and some us are personally involved in those kind of transitions. I know I am–having left a job I had for 17 years as a hospice chaplain before coming in to this position as interim pastor. So the three-step process: a definitive ending, a neutral time, and then a new beginning.

Paul encourages us to be in harmony with one another, to really get along. I’ve been reading this week from Thich Nhat Hanh and in his ‘Living Buddha, Living Christ’, and it’s as a wonderful book, and in that Thich Nhat Hanh the Buddhist teacher says one of the 5 wonderful precepts of Buddhism is this–and I think this is very much in accord with what Paul wrote to his friends in Rome–but Thich Nhat Hanh writes one of the 5 wonderful precepts is this:

‘Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and to relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I’m determined not to spread news that I don’t know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.’

And I think if he (Thich Nhat Hanh) knew Paul from Tarsus they were on the same page, and how we as a community should speak to one another and get along–and that’s what this whole listening post process is about–that we would speak our truth with kindness.”