Harbingers of Spring 2-24-2019

Listen to the SermonLast year in early March our front yard’s Silver Leaf Maple hosted a woodpecker from, well, I don’t know exactly where. He/She made an appearance again last Saturday, nearly three weeks earlier than last year—the chosen pecking spot just slightly higher and to the right of last year’s spot. I’ve read that woodpeckers prefer a near-dead or already dead tree because the excavating is easier than on live trees. So, despite how glad we are to have this little one visit, I guess it’s not great news for the tree. I can’t help wondering: Is he/she the same woodpecker that treated us last year to a daily dose of hammering our maple tree? Where did he/she spend the winter and where will he/she go when the weather warms up?

Our woodpecker is a welcome harbinger of spring—up and at-’em early and busy most of the morning. Increased activity seems to be the hallmark of spring. It’s in the air despite the last gasps of winter cold. Take a look at this week’s announcements and you can see our church shaking off winter, getting ready to make hay: Brunch Church. Choir practice. The Unity Women’s Empowerment Circle. The Men’s Group Power Hour. The book club. A potluck lunch and “Conscious Conversations.” A “5th-Sunday” gathering at Carol Light’s house. A children’s program. A cruise! These are just a few of the things sprouting at UCOG.
For everything there is a season. The season of planting is upon us. This week and the next few weeks as we watch nature put on her splendid show, ponder this: What would you like to cultivate in your church family? What will we plant this spring at UCOG? What harvest do we want to reap?
Preparing for this Sunday:

The Gospel of Matthew sets Jesus’ seminal teaching moment on top of a mountain—the iconic Sermon on the Mount. Luke’s Gospel offers a similar teaching, but the sermon in Luke is delivered from, literally, a “level” place. This “Sermon on the Level Place” is often translated as the Sermon on the Plain. Did Jesus (or the authors of these Gospels) choose vastly different venues to make a point? The choice of venue becomes even more interesting when we realize as one commentary notes, that the word “level” used to describe the setting in Luke, is a Greek translation of the word used by the Hebrew prophets and Wisdom writings found in Jeremiah, Daniel, Joel, Habakkuk, and Zechariah—a word often referring to places of corpses, disgrace, idolatry, suffering, misery, hunger, annihilation, and mourning. What’s going on here? On this seventh Sunday after the Epiphany we begin to get the picture—all is not as it appears on the journey to inner transformation, a journey that promises freedom and abundant life. Join us this Sunday as we explore Luke’s choice of settings, this version of an iconic teaching, and the Wisdom it has to offer.

Ponder this:
In Chapter Four of The Wisdom Jesus, Cynthia Bourgeault speaks of “going beyond the mind to the larger mind.” How do we do that?