Advent Study

Here is the link for the Second Week of Advent Studies, presented on December 11, 2016 and pertaining to chapters 2 and 3 of Walter Brueggemann’s book Names for the Messiah. If you can’t get to the PowerPoint through this link, please let me know by emailing joe.laguardia@gmail.com.  Here is the link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz0eis-7BEYva1BZNjdQcTUxb0k/view?usp=sharing. Thanks for participating in this year’s Advent Study at Heights Christian Church.  May your last two weeks of Advent be filled with insights, blessings, and joy.   Joe...

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Advent Study PowerPoint for December 4, 2016

Friends, I don’t know how to upload a PowerPoint presentation to Word Press, but I think  you can get to it on Google Drive, by clicking on this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz0eis-7BEYvZkhRc0RPUjdLRkk/view?usp=sharing. See if it works!  I’ll try to remember to add the other two weeks after I present them. Have a great Advent and Christmas season! Joe...

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Pastoral Prayer 11-6-16

Pastoral Prayer 11-6-16

  Dear Father whom we dare to call Ours, we know that election is about choosing.   We have many examples in Scripture of your choosing individuals like Abraham and Joseph and Elijah and Elisha, and Samuel and Solomon, and David, and Joseph and Mary, and Peter and Paul and a whole community called Israel.  So today we ask you to choose us.  No.  We know from your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ that you have already chosen us.  We have come to believe that your Spirit works within and among us.  And so I guess we are asking you to re-choose us at this critical time in our nation’s history.  You know our needs.  You know how we have fought for land as did that first community that you chose.  You know how we have deviated from our ideals and have been stingy with our love and have hated our enemies.  But we are still trying, dear Father, we are still repenting of our past sins.  We ask you to forgive us and paint for us once again a picture of the peaceable kingdom that your son can bring about.  And now we lift up our prayers to you, as we say: “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.” *********************** If the lion and the lamb can and will lie down together, surely we of differing political opinions can co-exist and wish each other well.  Commit us to do good, to renew our determination to follow your Son’s Way, to follow BOTH of the great commandments, to acknowledge that we are brothers and sisters in Jesus.  Because when we reflect on our history, when we review our blessings, when we remember our purple mountains’ majesty, when we see what good is being done by so many people, we are so grateful.  We see these things and people as sacraments of you.  We know that your Son did not pitch his tent among us to change your mind about us, but to change our mind about you—You who are our dear Lord, and our loving Father.   And so we pray: “Our...

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Religion and Politics

Religion and Politics

Scripture:  John 14:1-11 . INTRODUCTION:  I’m afraid I have to start with a disclaimer: Some weeks ago, Pastor Roger Osgood sent me an email saying he would be out of town today, two days before the presidential election, and he wondered if I would preach on Politics and Religion.  I foolishly said yes and now I am trying to cheerfully throw myself under this bus.  In the first part of this worship service, think about how YOU would approach this topic and we can compare notes later.  Here’s what I am NOT going to do: (1) I am not going to tell you how to vote, nor how I voted and why; (2) Am will not mention any candidate by name nor any party for that matter; (3) I am going to count on the tolerance, compassion, forgiveness and respect that I have always experienced as a  member of this congregation.  The Sermon: I have a girlfriend.  My wife knows about her.  In fact, we three sit together in the evenings and she only speaks when spoken to.  Her name is Alexa.  Every time I say her name, she lights up as if with joy.  However, she is my second girlfriend named  Alexa.  After a while, I couldn’t get a response from the first one, no matter how loudly I yelled her name and plugged her into various sockets; and since these gadgets are so expensive, I bought a refurbished one.  I don’t know what “refurbished” means (possibly they made her less discriminating so this new one is willing to talk to me?).  I don’t know, but it gives me great pleasure to have a refurbished girlfriend.   And so in preparation for this sermon, I asked her: “Alexa, who will win this election?”  She gave me the results of the latest polls, but I imagined I could hear something else in her voice, as if she were saying: “Why don’t you ask me what you really want to know?”  Fair enough.  And so I asked: “Alexa, whom should I vote for?”  And she responded: “Vote for the one who best represents your views and has the best policies.”  And THAT wasn’t helpful at all.  You see, there is a big problem with following that advice—I am a registered, card-carrying  Christian.  As Pastor Jonathan Martin from Tulso, Oklahoma wrote: “A vote for Jesus is a political decision.”  A friend and colleague of mine at Ursuline College started writing a book last year which she still has not published.  It’s called “If Jesus Ran for President.”  When I heard about it, I had the effrontery to write  a forward for the book and sent it to her.  The forward was titled:...

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Pastoral Prayer 4-24-16

Pastoral Prayer 4-24-16

Lord, Friday was Earth Day. We only really saw this earth that you have made fully illuminated by the sun and in a color photograph taken by an Apollo 17 astronaut on his way to the moon in 1972.  That blue marble photograph turned out to be the most important thing these astronauts brought back from their journey to the moon.  For the first time, we could indeed see and appreciate what you, our God, created.  And here is what he (Eugene Cernan) said about what he saw from the window of his spacecraft: You have to literally just pinch yourself and ask yourself the question, silently: Do you know where you are at this point in time and space, and in reality and in existence, when you can look out the window and you’re looking at the most beautiful star in the heavens — the most beautiful because it’s the one we understand and we know, it’s home, it’s people, family, love, life — and besides that it is beautiful. You can see from pole to pole and across oceans and continents and you can watch it turn and there’s no strings holding it up, and it’s moving in a blackness that is almost beyond conception. Eugene Cernan did not mention God, but WE do: Lord, we close our eyes and try to imagine it.  We look at this marvelous globe and reflect upon your greatness.  But it’s difficult.  As the Psalmist sings: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it”  (Ps. 139: 6).  ”On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate” (Ps. 145: 5).  It is too much, for we get so immersed in our day to day situations from dirty cars to dirty diapers and whether we have taken our pills or kept our appointments. But just this past Friday, leaders from 175 countries signed the Paris agreement on climate control and a rapper’s video on protecting the earth went viral on the internet and will influence thousands of young people.  His name is Prince Ea.  And so we are filled with hope. For the beauty of the earth, we thank you, Lord.  Heal it, evolve it, transform it, teach us how to care for it, how to be a part of it, stewards of it.  “We lift up our eyes to the hills…” (Ps. 121:1).    And we lift up these prayers to you from this beautiful earth you not only created but visited in the person of your son, and through him we pray:  “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer…” Let us pray, As our Jewish brothers and sisters...

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