Give ’til it Changes You

Dear Covenant Kin, So here we are—Stewardship Sunday. Stewardship Sunday is when we collect pledge cards from the gathered community so that we can plan for ministries in the coming year. Most of the world hears pleas for money on this morning, but that, as you well know by now, is not how we do it. So at this point, you haven’t heard much about money, instead, you have heard a whole lot about the plans that you all made during New Beginnings for what ambitious future ministries you want to take on as a community. Hasn’t it been exciting to hear all of these future visions? And this week, all of the Young Adult Volunteers we have supported throughout the years will be casting a vision for us about how we, as a single, mid-size congregation can have an impact on global mission—talk about ambitious. So here it is—the ask. Our Covenant family has remarkable visions of a future

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Meditation and Queen Elsa

Last week I began an online Masters in Interfaith Action through Claremont Lincoln University. It is a school that brings together people of various faith traditions in the same classroom (online classroom that is), to not only study things like ethics, social justice and theology, but to also engage each other in hopes that a faithful and meaningful dialogue might begin. The course work has been tremendous, and rather than just adding more stuff to my pile, has had the reverse effect—reducing stress. Here is why: one of my first courses is on mindfulness—the practice of being truly present. It is akin to meditation and contemplation, but really has to do with how we are living each moment, not just those that are actively used for meditation or prayer. I thought an interesting way to use my reflection this week would be to share one of my discussion assignments with you. Then, ask the question—how might you practice mindfulness? Discussion

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Go and Do Likewise

The Good Samaritan is as much about international politics as it is about neighbors. When most of us think about the “Good Samaritan,” we go back to Sunday School mode and remember being told something along the lines of, “Jews didn’t like Samaritans.” So we simply think this is a case of people that aren’t liked. As you could surmise, I want to push that a bit deeper. First of all, Samaritans weren’t just disliked or different. Samaritans were the people of Northern Israel that the folks from around Jerusalem really didn’t like. We forget the sense of history that overhangs all events in the Middle East. In this case the Samaritans were the folks that had split off from Judah and created the Northern Kingdom. Not only was there a deep internal divide between North and South, but international politics with Assyrians and Babylonians actually pitted the two nations against each other in battle. Both wrote nasty things about

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Being Sent to Make a Difference

And so the stewardship season begins… I am so thankful that Covenant thinks about stewardship differently than so many churches. In many a church, this time of year is filled with pleas from the pulpit or guilt trips. I am happy to say that I really don’t think this church has ever done stewardship that way, but sees quite clearly the deeper meaning of what we are taking about. It isn’t about money. It’s about giving thanks. Typically, during the stewardship season we have had many congregants speak in worship about the various things they are thankful for, as well as, how their faith and life have been impacted by the church. This year we will be going in a slightly different direction. The leadership of the church has been listening very carefully to you throughout the New Beginnings Process, and there were four areas of ministry that rose to the top as places you told us you wanted our

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Don’t Be Hatin’!

Matthew is a self-hating Israelite. Or as David Lose put it in his blog this week, “I kind of think Matthew’s a punk.” In this case, what both Lose and I are referring to is the fact that this week’s passage is all about manipulating people to dislike the same people Matthew dislikes—in this case the scribes and the Pharisees. I will openly admit that much of what I am putting together here is in line with what Lose said in his blog, You can check it out here: Crazy Love. But I want to build one more thing into the conversation where I don’t think Lose went far enough. So let’s review…This is the parable of the wicked tenants. Land Owner sets up a nice vineyard, rents it out, tenants aren’t paying the rent, owner sends servants to collect, tenants beat them, owner sends more servants, tenants beat them, owner sends son, tenants think that if they kill the

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