Silly cooking survey

Who can really cook? No boxed Mac N Cheese or Stouffer’s lasagna. I know there are several of you that can really cook.
I look forward to seeing your surveys.
Who can cook real food, not stuff prepackaged or in a box?

HAVE YOU EVER?
1. Made biscuits from scratch? 🤔🤔I do t think so
2. Fried fresh okra? No
3. Made sourdough bread? I’ve made Amish friendship bread, which is a fermented bread.
4. Fried chicken? No, but I’ve fried tofu
5. Made spaghetti sauce from scratch? No
6. Made any kind of yeast bread? Yes
7. Baked a cake from scratch? Yes
8. Made icing from scratch? Yes
9. Cooked a pot roast with all the veggies? No
10. Made chili from scratch? Yes
11. Made a meatloaf? No
12. Made scalloped potatoes? No
13. Made mac/cheese from scratch? Yes
14. Made a jello salad? Yes
15. Made peanut brittle? No but I’ve made toffee
16. Made fudge? Bo
17. Made cookies from scratch? Yes
18. Cooked a pot of beans from dried beans? No
19. Cooked a pot of greens? No
20. Made cornbread from scratch? Yes
21. Make a pie dough from scratch? Yes
22. Cooked a whole turkey? Yes
23. Snapped green beans and cooked them? Yes
24. Made mashed potatoes from scratch? Yes
25. What’s the most people you have prepared a whole meal for? I’ve helped prep a meal for 60+
26. Poached an egg? No
27. Made pancakes from scratch? Yes
28. Roasted vegetables in the oven instead of boiling them? Yes
29. Made fresh pasta? Yes
30. Made croissants from scratch? No
31. Made tuna salad? Yes
32. Fried fish? No
33. Made baked beans? No
34. Made ice cream from scratch? Yes
35. Made jam or jelly? No
36. Zested an orange or lemon? Yes (and have scars to prove it)
37. Made grits from scratch? No
38. Made an omelet? Yes
39. Lived in a house without a dishwasher? Yes, now
40. Eaten a bowl of cereal for supper? Yes

I would love to see your answers.

Reflection: honestly, a lot of my “no’s” are because I don’t prefer that thing, so I’ve never tried. We also eat more ethnic food than classic American soul food.

I can cook a lot of items that are not on this list. Mexican, japanese, chinese, italian, or french are my go to flavors. Very rarely do I leave the recipe as is, typically I take a recipe and modify it for our preferences.

This list is also quite skimpy on other things that are my skills. A baking list would be much better for me. Donuts, japanese taiyaki, japanese mochi, truffles (including keto fat bombs), shortbread cookies, sugar cookies, molasses cookies, oatmeal cookies, brownie cookies, cake mix cookies, brownies from scratch (and terrible diet brownies), hard candies, home made caramels, caramel sauce, and more.

Also I’ve tried making recipes for special diets. I’ve adapted tons recipes for keto, weight watchers, and vegetarian. I’ve used instapots, air fryers, crock pots, deep friers, george foreman grills, cast iron and more.

Thanks, now I’m hungry. 🥩🥦🍕🍤🍠🍩🍪🍳

Illuminated Discoveries

Message Title: Illuminated Discoveries
Theme: Flopped Inventions & New Discoveries
Season:  Epiphany
Main Text: John 1:43-51
Scripture Reading: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
RCL Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51
Focus: Nathaniel, the skeptic, becomes a disciple of Jesus.
Function: To review the changes of the church over time and recognize the dawn of change to come.
Other Notes: MLK jr birthday

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 Lord, you have examined me. You know me. 2You know when I sit down and when I stand up. Even from far away, you comprehend my plans. 3You study my traveling and resting. You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways. 4There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord, that you don’t already know completely. 5You surround me—front and back. You put your hand on me. 6That kind of knowledge is too much for me; it’s so high above me that I can’t reach it. 13You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. 14I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well. 15My bones weren’t hidden from you when I was being put together in a secret place, when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my embryo, and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me, before any one of them had yet happened. 17God, your plans are incomprehensible to me! Their total number is countless! 18If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand! If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you.

INVENTION: As we are in the season of epiphany, a season of discovery and “ah-ha! moments,” it felt appropriate that the next invention we would talk about would be the light bulb.

  1. ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE: Who invented the light bulb?
    1. Technically, this is a trick question.
    2. PHOTO
    3. ANSWER:  Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb like our history teachers’ claim.
  2. Invention of the Light Bulb
    1. PHOTO: The beginning designs for gas lighting, lamps, and light bulbs started in the late 1700’s, well before Edison’s time.  
    2. In fact, 22 inventors paved the way for inventors Joseph Swan or Thomas Edison to make progress in this field.
    3. Thomas Edison actually bought a patent from a team of inventors and changed it before making his own patent. 
  3. Thomas Edison was noted for many failures along the process of inventing a more efficient light bulb. Some notes from his journal say he was stuck testing 6000+ filament materials for an extended amount of time.
  4. Thomas Edison wasn’t the first to design a light bulb. Historians note that Thomas made the most efficient bulb of his time. Manufacturers could modify his design slightly for commercial reproduction.
    1. Sources:
      1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incandescent_light_bulb
      2. https://www.livescience.com/43424-who-invented-the-light-bulb.html
      3. https://www.fi.edu/history-resources/edisons-lightbulb
      4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J66e1X_w6i0
      5. https://www.energy.gov/articles/history-light-bulb
      6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q4rQDN6Z4s

TRANSITION: In our text for today, we see an illuminating conversation that may not lead to commercial reproduction but to a changed life. As we explore this passage, I want us to consider the commitment of a disciple of Christ.

SCRIPTURE: John 1:43-51 43The next day Jesus wanted to go into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 44Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.” 46Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” Philip said, “Come and see.” 47Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here is a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are God’s Son. You are the king of Israel.” 50Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these! 51I assure you that you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up to heaven and down to earth on the Human One.”

EXPLAINATION: Nathaniel, the skeptic, becomes a disciple of Jesus.

  1. This morning we are in the Gospel of John. This is an important thing to note because of how different John’s gospel unfolds compared to Mark. We will spend a lot of time in Mark of over the course of 2021 and maybe you’ll be able to hear the difference between his voice and the other gospels by 2022.
    1. Does anyone remember the goal of John’s gospel?
      1. to show Jesus is God made flesh or Jesus is divine (Meriah’s answer: different from the image of Roman gods coming to earth to mess with humans.)
  2. In the gospel of John, right after Jesus’ baptism, he calls disciples.  By this point in John’s narrative, Jesus has already called Andrew and Peter. Andrew was one of John the Baptist’s disciples.
  3. Philip, from the same town as Andrew & Peter.
    1. Word gets around in a small town… I feel like those might be lyrics to a John Mellencamp song?
    2. Bethsaida was small, think Groomsville size. So small that archeologists are not confident of its location. Different sources will tell you different things.
    3. Philip knew Andrew & Peter and was willing to listen to what they had to say.
  4. Nathaniel- Philip was quickly convinced, so he grabbed Nathaniel to share the news.
    1. He was skeptical at first
    2. It swayed Nathaniel to believe when Jesus said he saw him under the fig tree.
      1. What about this changed his mind?
  5. Jesus calls Nathaniel on his easily persuade opinion
    1. Jesus pauses to teach Nathaniel in this moment. This wasn’t some simple starry-eyed or awe filled fantasy. This commitment to be Jesus’ disciple was life changing.
    2. Jesus has these same hesitations in the next chapter of John with a crowd
    3. John 2: 23-25 23While Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, many believed in his name because they saw the miraculous signs that he did. 24But Jesus didn’t trust himself to them because he knew all people. 25He didn’t need anyone to tell him about human nature, for he knew what human nature was.

TRANSITION: Something illuminated in Nathaniel’s mind, and he was ready to leave everything behind and follow Jesus. His life would never be the same. But Jesus was calling him to a deeper belief.

  1. Following Christ was more than a starry-eyed belief in a magic trick or fortune teller. Following Christ was a lifelong commitment to a different way of thinking, speaking, and living.

INTERPRETATION: Churches experience change over time, but the message stays the same.

  1. LIGHT BULBS: It took at least 22 people and thousands of experiments to produce a commercially reproducible light bulb. After all of that time, we don’t use the Edison Bulb anymore.
    1. Perhaps you have purchased some stylistic light bulbs that mimic the Edison Bulb. However, the time of the Edison Bulb is long gone. It is no longer efficient, nor is it as cost effective.
    2. Lighting has changed to fit the times.
  2. State of the Church: We cannot continue to do the same thing but expect different results. Nor can we expect to ‘go back’ when we have ‘enough’ people. Ministry will continue to move forward and adapt, as the church always has. 
    1. Because of COVID numbers are low in ALL churches
    2. Because of 2020 church culture is changing
    3. Because of divide in politics churches are splintering
  3. The Church (unified) has had a history of adapting.
    1. After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples and early Christians had to worship and learn in alternative ways. Gentile Christians typically met together in houses. Some still identified as Jews who followed Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and therefore still went to the Temple, a tabernacle or synagogue. 
    2. As the first few generations of Christians aged, the political climate in the Roman empire changed. Christians worshipped in secret, using symbols and word of mouth to find the location of a gathering. 
    3. Emperor Constantinian had a religious experience and attributed it to Christ. He claimed his victories in war were because Christ was on his side. The Holy Roman Empire developed out of this. They merged church and government in this period. Christians worshipped in public but the message got mixed up in politics.
    4. As the unified church splintered over disagreements– about theology, politics, or what they considered scripture– things became more bloody. 
      1. Christians didn’t need enemies anymore, Christians killed Christians in the name of Jesus.
      2. RELIGION TREE – Flash forward centuries to today. The major branches of religion have split so many times that we have to make it look like a tree to illustrate our lineage
        1. 2nd photo – Baptists take up about 1/8 of the tree. Baptists are so bad at getting along with other Baptists that we keep making a different type of Baptist.

APPLICATION: To review the changes of the church over time and recognize the dawn of change to come.

  1. The Church needs to adapt as the times change. The message doesn’t change, but perhaps the ministry or worship setting changes.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
    1. What are some changes we have experienced in church worship styles since your childhood? (Before 2020)
    2. What are some fresh developments you’ve seen in churches or ministry in 2020?
  3. Liberty has adapted & changed from its organization in 1854 until 2021.
    1. History of gathering:
      1. Met in houses
      2. Log cabin
      3. White building
      4. Brick Church that burned
      5. New Church
    2. I remember rumors that women and men used to sit separately during the service.
    3. Women were not part of leadership or even in attendance at business meetings.

CONCLUSION: Liberty has adapted and grown over the years. I don’t want us to go into 2021 full of fear about the possibilities of change. I want us to hold strong to the promises of Jesus with confidence that God will guide us into the next chapter.

As we look back at the changes to light bulbs or even the history of the church, I hope we find peace. Change is a constant companion of the living. As we continue to grow in our faith, we will see transformations occur in ourselves and in our communities.

Faithfulness to Jesus includes a willingness to set aside our goals and listen for the Spirit’s guidance. Perhaps these things we listed will be in our future, or perhaps other innovative ministries are coming our way, but God’s love and salvation remains the same.  

Waters Changing Tides

Originally preached on 1/10/2021

Message Title: Waters Changing Tides
Theme: Flopped Inventions & New Discoveries
Season: EPIPHANY (started Jan 6th)
Main Text: Mark 1:4-11
Scripture Reading: Psalm 29
RCL Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11
Focus: John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, and a voice claims Jesus as his son.
Function: To commit or recommit to the continual transformation of our baptism.
Other Notes: (Wisemen arrived!) (Hidden Ministries/Mission of the Month)

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 29 You, divine beings! Give to the Lord—give to the Lord glory and power! 2Give to the Lord the glory due his name! Bow down to the Lord in holy splendor! 3The Lord’s voice is over the waters; the glorious God thunders; the Lord is over the mighty waters. 4The Lord’s voice is strong; the Lord’s voice is majestic. 5The Lord’s voice breaks cedar trees—yes, the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon. 6He makes Lebanon jump around like a young bull, makes Sirion jump around like a young wild ox. 7The Lord’s voice unleashes fiery flames; 8the Lord’s voice shakes the wilderness—yes, the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9The Lord’s voice convulses the oaks, strips the forests bare, but in his temple everyone shouts, “Glory!” 10The Lord sits enthroned over the floodwaters; the Lord sits enthroned—king forever! 11Let the Lord give strength to his people! Let the Lord bless his people with peace!

INTRO INTO EPIPHANY:  We entered into the season of Epiphany on January 6th. This season is a time of revelation, discovery, and proclamations. As we look at revelations about Jesus, we will also look at discoveries and inventions, some successful and some flops. Perhaps these discoveries will inspire our own revelations.

INVENTION:

  1. Did you know that Post-It Notes were a mistake?
    1. In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M in the United States, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead, he accidentally created a “low-tack”, reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. (WIKI)
    2. There is a claim by another gentleman, Alan Amron, that he was the one who actually invented the tech, but the story gets quite confusing to follow.
  2. Sources:
    1. https://www.businessinsider.com/failed-experiment-created-post-it-notes-2014-9
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-it_Note 

TRANSITION: The legend of Post-It notes speaks of failure as the gateway to success. This failed experiment became a staple of office supplies.

Though the epiphany that leads to Post-It notes is not a glamorous one, our text for today will lead us to another epiphany on a much grander scale. What will Mark’s epiphany teach us?

SCRIPTURE: Mark 1:4-114John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Intro to Mark: Mark is the gospel for Year C in the Lectionary. Mark is the reader’s digest Gospel. He is quick and to the point. Mark is not the Gospel to search for details about Jesus.
    1. Mark did not tell a Christmas story. Instead, Mark’s Gospel starts with John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness.
  2. John The Baptist:
    1. John, in the wilderness –camel’s hair etc
      1. In the Hebrew Bible, God met people in the wilderness
        1. Hagar, Moses, The people of Israel
      2. John’s appearance & diet is to draw a parallel to
        1. Nazarite vow- a person set aside for holy work
        2. Prophets- OT writers describe other prophets looking this way-i.e. Elijah.
    2. John’s words mimic the prophets
      1. Note- in Mark’s Gospel, John does not draw the link between Jesus  & “the one coming.” In other Gospels that thought is linked.
      2. “Change your hearts & lives”
  3. Baptism:
    1. People of Judea & Jerusalem were getting baptized
    2. We’ve talked about this before, baptism for a Jew was common but different from what we Baptists do today.
    3. Ancient Jews used ceremonial washing frequently to set people or things apart for God’s use.
      1. Jesus is among them, receiving this baptism. We consider Jesus’s baptism the beginning of his ministry.
    4. This baptism was about transformation.  Some translations use the word repentance. But I think that word can have a very grand sensation without a lot of meaning.
      1. I love the CEB translating the Greek to say “Change your hearts and lives.
      2. Knowledge of God’s intentions should change us.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. A voice reveals Jesus as God’s son at his baptism. (No thanks to John -.-)
    1. Many ponder why Jesus needed baptism, if he was perfect.
      1. Some say this baptism was the first act of connecting heaven and earth.
      2. Some say Jesus’ baptism was only an example
      3. Others consider it his commissioning for his ministry.
  2. Our Baptism is about a commitment to be continually transformed by God’s Spirit. Not living by our own ideas or standards, but allowing ourselves to be changed by God’s guidance.
    1. John uses the phrase: “Change your hearts & lives”
      1. Our baptism is a commitment to Christ and the ongoing spiritual growth journey.
      2. Baptism isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.
    2. If you would like to talk about being baptized and committing to the ongoing faith journey, talk to me or a deacon after church.
      1. As Baptists, we baptize those who will say that: “Jesus is our savior”  and can commit to growing with a body of believers (Liberty, specifically).

APPLICATION: Epiphanies in our world– To commit or recommit to the continual transformation of our baptism.

  1. An epiphany has happened in our country this week on January 6th. Division has become so strong that Americans were attacking Americans.
    1. I recognize bringing up this topic is difficult. The story has become so convoluted that it is difficult to agree on what is happening and what these events mean. We don’t know who to listen to or who to trust, and politicians continue to fuel the flame.
      1. We have two separate narratives active in the news.
    2. How did we get to this place? We have stopped considering the perspective of our opponents and have labeled them our enemies.
      1. We have become so focused on being right that we have become virtually unteachable.
      2. When you are so determined to be right that you cease to show love, you are no longer right.
  2. The job of a pastor is scary during events like this. We may have our personal convictions and believe them just as passionately as you believe your convictions. But we must also tread carefully or risk repercussions from speaking of our convictions.
    1. The world encourages pastors to be spiritual guides, but to keep their political thoughts to themselves. “Stick to scripture,” leave the politics out of it.
      1. Scripture informs the rest of our lives. It is all connected. Your faith should inform your politics.
    2. We hear an opinion that we disagree with and our tendency as humans is to talk to everyone BUT the person we disagree with. Gossip spreads like wildfire. No healing happens.
      1. We rush to protecting our allies and reject any thoughts from our opponents.
      2. I’ve experienced this very thing in my own life.
    3. How is this behavior showing we are God’s people?
      1. How is our language showing we are God’s people?
  3. Defense is our natural reaction. I want to interrupt that moment right now.
    1. Liberty is a diverse group of thought. Not everyone in this room thinks the same way about what happened on January 6th. But the people you are sitting next to are not your enemies. They are your brothers and sisters in Christ.
    2. Together WITH our differences, we can listen for the Spirit of God to speak.  Together IN our differences, we can evaluate the messages we hear and listen for God’s truth. We need diversity of heritage, economic status, and voting record. We need a body of believers with critical thinking skills in order to challenge the voices attempting to sway our attention.
    3. In this space, we are not republicans or democrats, tea party or libertarians, we are followers of Christ.
      1. Unity doesn’t mean that we stop being an individual with thoughts and feelings. Unity means we are working together for a solution rather than taking our toys and playing somewhere else.
  4. Action: We are going to take some time to reflect together. There will be a song playing and I invite you to listen to the words or reflect on these questions. If you would like a copy of these questions just raise your hand.
    1. Song & Reflection prayer for our country
      1. Where is God asking me to speak? Where is God asking me to listen?
      2. Where is God calling me to let go? Where is God calling me to stand up?
      3. They Will Know We Are Christians: by Jars of Clay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugQwh-phnZY

CONCLUSION: Sticky-Notes were birthed out of failure. This failure led to a HUGE success.

The biggest failure in the church is believing we don’t need people who are different than us worshipping next to us. The church choosing to only worship next to people they agree with on every single thing leads to a church who has lost its way.

I need you. You need me. We need each other. If we want our faith to continue to grow and be stretched beyond our limits, we need to work together. Share your differences in love and work together to find a God centered solution.

Invitation to baptism & commitment to growing with this church.  

Shout it from the Roof Tops

Message Title: Shout it from the Roof Tops
Theme: God’s consistency
Season: Christmas
Main Text: John 1:(1-9), 10-18
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1:(1-9), 10-18
Focus: Jesus was present & part of the plan from the beginning.
Function: To practice awe and wonder while considering the implications of our beliefs on our lives.
Other Notes: (Hidden Ministries/Mission of the Month)

SCRIPTURE READING: Jeremiah 31:7-14 7The Lord proclaims: Sing joyfully for the people of Jacob; shout for the leading nation. Raise your voices with praise and call out: “The Lord has saved his people, the remaining few in Israel!” 8I’m going to bring them back from the north; I will gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the disabled, expectant mothers and those in labor; a great throng will return here. 9With tears of joy they will come; while they pray, I will bring them back. I will lead them by quiet streams and on smooth paths so they don’t stumble. I will be Israel’s father, Ephraim will be my oldest child. 10Listen to the Lord’s word, you nations,  and announce it to the distant islands: The one who scattered Israel will gather them and keep them safe, as a shepherd his flock. 11The Lord will rescue the people of Jacob and deliver them from the power of those stronger than they are. 12They will come shouting for joy on the hills of Zion, jubilant over the Lord’s gifts: grain, wine, oil, flocks, and herds. Their lives will be like a lush garden; they will grieve no more. 13Then the young women will dance for joy; the young and old men will join in. I will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy; I will comfort them. 14I will lavish the priests with abundance and shower my people with my gifts, declares the Lord.

INTRO: Though many of you have already taken down your Christmas decorations, this a still a season of awe and wonder. On Dec 29th, 2020 NASA took a poll through their twitter feed @NASAHubble to pick the Hubble photo of the year. Let’s take a look at the four options.

  1. 2020 Hubble space telescope photos
    1. Cosmic Reef
    2. Jupiter
    3. Saturn
    4. Neptune
  2. Which is your favorite?
  3. Polling Results PHOTO
  4. Did you know that most photos taken by Hubble have been digitally edited in one way or another?
    1. This doesn’t mean NASA is lying to us, but that the technology we use to capture photos doesn’t work like a typical camera.
    2. Through the data they receive they are able to make estimations about the colors in the photos.
      1. “Finished color images are actually combinations of two or more black-and-white exposures to which color has been added during image processing. The colors in Hubble images, which are assigned for various reasons, aren’t always what we’d see if we were able to visit the imaged objects in a spacecraft. We often use color as a tool, whether it is to enhance an object’s detail or to visualize what ordinarily could never be seen by the human eye.”
    3. Sources:
      1. https://www.space.com/8059-truth-photos-hubble-space-telescope-sees.html
      2. http://hubble.stsci.edu/gallery/behind_the_pictures/meaning_of_color/
      3. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-hubble-images-are-manipulted-2015-3
      4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=WSG0MnmUsEY
      5. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2015/01/05/hubble-revisits-an-icon-the-pillars-of-creation/#close
      6. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/05/dear-hubble-space-telescope-transformed-astronomy-and-us-all/

TRANSITION: Humanity has been curious since the very beginning about our world and the heavens above.In our text for today, John starts his Gospel focusing on the vastness of creation. Let’s zoom out with John and see the big picture of the story of Jesus.

SCRIPTURE: John 1: 1-18 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2The Word was with God in the beginning. 3Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being 4through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. 6A man named John was sent from God. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. 9The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. 10The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. 11The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. 12But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, 13born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. 14The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full  of grace and truth. 15John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’” 16From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; 17as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known.

Explanation:

  1. Intro to John’s Gospel: John’s Gospel wants everyone to know that Jesus didn’t enter the scene at Christmas. Jesus has always been on the scene. Jesus wasn’t some dude that God liked and claimed as his son. Jesus was God in the flesh. But there are other gods who have similar stories, so John’s gospel focuses on Jesus’ divinity and its uniqueness to other stories of gods-made-flesh.
  2. “in the Beginning” should bring us back to Genesis 1:1. John is saying that Jesus was present at creation as the Word.
  3. Word, Life, Light- Jesus is more than just a man that we meet at Christmas.Jesus is God, who was present with us at the beginning.

INTERPRETATION & APPLICATION: To practice awe and wonder while considering the implications of our beliefs on our lives.

  1. Awe & wonder are significant elements in our worship of God. Our God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This idea is way bigger than my brain can understand. The complexity should lead to worship.
    1. And perhaps worship starts out as questions which can lead to wonder.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:  I want to play a philosophy game with you for a moment. I will ask a question that I want us to ponder together. I am not looking for a “right answer” but for thoughtfulness.
    1. Why did God make other “stuff” besides earth & the sun?
      1. Did God make creation FOR us?
      2. If not, then why did God make creation?
    2. When I think about these questions, and the answers I develop, it changes the way I view the world and how I interact with it.
  3. Honesty time: When I read scripture, I don’t always think of a tangible way to apply the words I read. Frequently, the words continue to inform me about who God is and the collective information adjusts my behavior.
    1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
      1. One nugget from this book: The way we think or speak about ourselves places a large impact on our habits or behavior.
    2. This passage in John makes me think, “… Ok, and now what?” I don’t hear a practical step screaming out from this passage. However, I am filled with awe about God.
  4. AUDIENCE ENAGEMENT: How would the knowledge that Jesus was present at creation and not just at Christmas change things for you?
    1. How do your beliefs create a chain reaction to other parts of your life?

CONCLUSION: Knowledge of the wonders of God *should* stir something inside of us. Much like seeing the majesty of space leads to awe and wonder. It’s exciting to talk about the discoveries NASA and Space X are making. Do we talk about our discoveries with God?

The goal is not to provide a guilt trip but a time of reflection. We have survived 2020 and know that there are no guarantees in 2021. How do we make 2021 a year that God’s kingdom comes to this world? The possibilities are in your hands.

COMMUNION: As we dwell in the awe of God, we will also take time to celebrate communion together.

Let’s dwell in the mystery of Bread & Juice, as it represents Jesus’ body and blood and the salvation we receive through him.

One Year Anniversary

I’m grateful for today because it marks the day I married the most amazing person in the world. Joshua King is the best partner a girl could ask for. He’s kind and loving. He’s tough and strong. He’s smart and creative. He’s a dreamer. He’s funny and vulnerable. He’s the balance to my crazy and I’m the balance to his. He’s the justice to my mercy. He keeps me balanced and nurtured.I genuinely love this man. Alexanda Fitterer, I finally understand why you always want to be around Mike. Happy anniversary to my husband, my best friend, my partner. 1 year went by in the blink of an eye…. Course it could have been a few other things distracting us (like a pandemic and holidays and murder hornets).I love you, Joshua Lee.

Another 2020 Bingo & our Christmas letter

As we all know, 2020 has not been the best year – and that is an extreme understatement. For Josh and I it was super important to start 2020 getting married. We have to say that was our best decision of the year.

Though we had to postpone our honeymoon for an unknown future date, we have been able to start off our first year of marriage learning how to depend on each other and grow as a couple.

Both of us have explored many hobbies during this year: Meriah has enjoyed sewing, crocheting, baking, painting, rearranging furniture and painting rooms, making wreaths, and decorating for the holidays; with a new hobby of playing video games. Josh has explored many hobbies as well. Some hobbies he explored included home brewing hard cider, mead, and kombucha. Oh, and he made homemade cheese a couple times! That was tasty! The main hobbies being blacksmithing and woodworking, writing, cooking, C# coding, and much more.

We got chickens. Yes, chickens. On a rather spur-of-the-moment trip to Rural King we adopted six baby chickens and Josh built a chicken coop. We later adopted three more. Though they did not stay with us permanently. Shout out to Daniale and DJ for helping us simplify our flock. We also had bunnies for a while, intending to be meat rabbits, but then we also had a short period of time exploring being vegetarians and ethical carnivores. In the end, we are enjoying some beef from my South Dakota family – and trying to make wiser choices with our eating habits by purchasing locally or directly from farmers as much as possible.

For those keeping track we now have five chickens who all lay eggs and are excited to bless others with those eggs. We have five cats. We also have two dogs. We joke that we are somewhere in between a zoo and a farm. We do have dreams of owning a homestead hobby farm one day.. We will see what the future holds.

In the spring and early summer Meriah was predominantly in a digital church format that pushed her creativity and technology capabilities to the limit. Pastoring a church is difficult when you are separated from each other – nor is it easy to make wise choices about keeping people safe when it’s hard to find consistent information. However, our church has been fortunate and so far we have not had devastating cases of COVID-19. One benefit of being part of a rural church is that our exposure is decreased, but it still has made a challenge for worshipping and feeling God move.

For the last couple months, Josh has been working through TEK Systems at SMC in Noblesville. He does tech things that are way over my head but is very much so appreciated for his good hard work by the company. Meriah only ever hears positive things about Josh from his work. He is also continuing to learn more skills in the tech world that could enable him to diversify his job opportunities.

More recently Josh has helped with music at the church and Meriah is extremely grateful. The last two Sundays we have sang together and he played guitar. It has been a beautiful experience. Meriah struggles to express what a blessing it is having him by her side; professionally, personally and in every way.

As we take time to reflect on 2020, the initial thoughts are: “boo this year has been a dumpster fire!” It’s easy to think of the negative things that have happened this year, including: toilet paper shortages, wildfires, killer wasps, and socially distanced worship settings to name a few. All of those things are awful – but when we look back on it, we genuinely see the people who haven’t given up on us. We see people who have continued to enrich our lives in creative ways as we have gone through this weird, hard, growing type of year. We leave it thinking we are blessed and grateful for our family, friends, and the place we live.

Yes, Christmas letters are frequently only about the positive. We don’t expose our dirty laundry. There were definitely hard moments. We both have made mistakes and are working to grow as humans. We both are learning how to communicate and love both each other, our community, and our God better. 2020 hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, but we want to take gratitude into 2021.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year from the Tigner King family. We hope it won’t be too long before we hug you again.

Love from the Tigner Kings ❤️

2020 Clergy Bingo

2020 has been a unique year. Here’s a fun bingo thing for identifying difficult things that happened or new experiences or learning opportunities from 2020.

The blank

Mine filled in

I definitely had the opportunity to do more of these but half way through the year I chose to step back from ALL the zoom opportunities.

Did anyone else get “zoomed out”? I’m tired of technology and I never thought I would say that.

I used a highlighter on 4 because it wasn’t EXACTLY like the wording. I used fb live instead of zoom. I had a nightmare I gave covid to church members and they died. I used other cliches “pandemic” “epidemic” etc. I was IN a wedding as a bridesmaid with COVID restrictions.

Covid Christmas

Day 1 (Thursday- Christmas Eve): Josh and I drove to see my parents for Christmas, knowing that we would need to make extra precautions with COVID to stay safe.

Good news, we brainstormed the dream of a ramen shop. We got very practical and the weather was quite cooperative.

We surprised my best friend Alex. She cried!

Day 2 (Friday): Christmas morning we a ate delicious quiche and orange rolls. Them video chatted with my brothers & Lizy in MN.

We opened presents and loved the thoughtful gifts from my mom and dad…. Including a special ornament

We had delicious chicken enchiladas for supper and watched White Christmas and Klaus while relaxing and decorating “ugly sweater” cookies.

Day 3 (Saturday): grocery shopping at local asian markets. Poke bowls & sushi for lunch.

Not pictured is the delicious Jambalaya my dad made us for supper. 😋 My inner cajun was so happy.

Day 4 (Sunday): coffee with our friend Andrew to meet his girlfriend. Bagels 🥯. A relaxing afternoon and then nachos with my best friend and play some Jack Box games.

Day 5 (Monday): Josh and I went for a walk and played pokemon. I played The Survivalists on my switch. My mom and I made sugar cookies. Then we binged some Netflix and played more games while dreaming up plans.

Day 6: Tuesday
We bought items for ramen supplies that we couldn’t get easily in Indiana.

We were going to meet friends for lunch but they were sick so we didn’t get to see them this trip 😦 we still ate at the tasty place they suggested.

My dad made us “Gold miner stew” for supper 😋 I’m telling you my taste buds were happy.

Day 7: Wednesday
My mom and I had coffee with a friend Cheri.

Josh and I prepared hot-pot for my parents for lunch.

Then we said goodbye to my SD peeps with some very terrible ramen.

Day 8: Thursday – driving home! Left at 5:30 am CST (6:30am EST) and arrived 6:45pm EST. Josh drove the whole way!

Shout out to Brenda Sears for the Subway gift card. It felt like a healthy meal on the road.

Aaaaaand we were in bed by 8:30pm. We barely rang in the new year. Video games kept us awake.

Post-trip notes:

  • don’t be fooled. We spent much time napping, playing our switches, or watching movies with my mom. Mom introduced me to the Selena netflix show and we watched it all.
  • COVID was in the front of our mind with minimal adventures, social distancing, mask usage, and hand washing/sanitizer habitually.
  • I love visiting family but am so glad to be back in our home with our animals and our bed.