Manna in the Wilderness

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
Exodus 16:1-18
Sermon audio:

“We live here now, though we always meant to leave.” So reads a line in Gillian Wegener’s poem entitled “Chorus”, which describes how that which is at one time strange becomes home. She continues:

We never meant to stay.
This place was marked as just for now, as stepping stone,
as temporary on our well-drawn maps.
But for one reason or another, years pass
and we find ourselves hot-stepping with jobs and kids
and this and that and a million little possessions.

I love the way that she describes how inertia anchors us down. Anyone who has ever moved parents after forty years in one house knows this is true. Addresses quickly become habitual, then the only place that’s ever felt like home. Wegener captures the magnetism that familiarity possesses, because you don’t know when, as she says, “various wayfarers… will stop for lunch and find themselves staying for years’ worth of dinners.”

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God’s Good Creation

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Sermon audio:

When was the last time you cut open a ripe watermelon? Not the pale pre-cut cubes you get in plastic at the grocery store. I mean a whole huge melon, dark-green from the late summer sun and heavy with juice? Sliding a sharp stainless steel knife into a perfect round melon, you are Galileo, discovering otherworldly beauty. As the sides of a fresh watermelon fall open on the cutting board, the dark pink inside turns itself out for all the earth to marvel at. An aroma of sweet summer rises from the cut, hundreds of black seeds lie hidden in orderly rows, the ripe sugars are already almost in crystal form, and an ample rind provides green armor for the treasure within.

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Blessings in the Seasons of the Year

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11a
Sermon audio:

Labor Day weekend carries bittersweet emotional significance. This weekend marks the close of official “summer” in our culture. We’re accustomed after Labor Day to look for leaves changing, temperatures dropping, and farmers harvesting. Though some schools have already started fall classes, this time still marks the customary divide between summer and school. For those fortunate enough to have the time and money, now is the last best chance to enjoy luxurious summer vacation before the industrious frenzy of fall activities sets in. Even those of us still in town this weekend enjoy time to rest and catch our breath, but the seasons are changing and the calendar is as well. Labor Day specifically honors and prepares for the season of work, by pausing work for an extra day in many—though not all—positions.

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Blessings in the World

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
Matthew 5:1-12
Sermon audio:

The community organizer and activist Harvey Milk served as a San Francisco city supervisor in 1978. He was the first openly gay politician in California, and before his assassination he made a name for himself as a happy warrior enlisting people in the causes close to his heart. If you remember this time, or saw the film a few years ago about his life, you might remember his signature phrase. At the beginning of rallies and public speeches he would start out, “My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you!” Continue reading “Blessings in the World”

Blessings in Threshold Moments

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
Psalm 42:1-8
Sermon audio:

In C.S. Lewis’s children’s classic The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund is one of four children who hide in a closet, then discover that it’s a secret passage to a mythical world. The other three children fall in company with talking animals allied with Aslan, a powerful lion described by Mrs. Beaver as not safe, but good. Edmund, a mean, greedy and selfish boy who goes through the wardrobe by himself, is recruited by the evil White Witch to betray his friends so that he can have all the Turkish delight candy he wants. Eventually, his deceit is uncovered, he realizes all the wrong choices he has made, and he is rescued by the forces of good. However, then he must come face to face with Aslan, the fierce lion who knows how Edmund’s betrayal endangered everyone. Edmund finds himself at a threshold moment between his past nastiness and whatever waits on the other side of this fearsome encounter. Continue reading “Blessings in Threshold Moments”

Celebrating God’s Presence in the Extra/Ordinary

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture readings:
Psalm 148
Luke 12:27
Sermon audio:

The famous UCC theologian Reinhold Niebuhr used to say that pastors should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. So I’ve brought both today: a Bible from my bookshelf, and today’s Star Tribune. This week, the newspaper is thicker than the Good Book! It might be that I chose a travel-size Bible, and this is a Sunday edition, but it’s also the case that the news this week has continued its overflowing pace.

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Celebrating God’s Presence in Each Moment

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture readings:
Psalm 113
Matthew 6:11
Today’s poem:
“The Way It Is” by William Stafford
Sermon audio:

I woke up this morning on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Javen and I have spent the last few days there with his parents, celebrating his dad’s birthday and retirement. It was a magical trip, filled with great food, leisure time, pleasant company and incredible scenery. Today as with the two previous mornings, I got to sit in stillness outside our cabin, warm coffee in hand, listening to quiet lapping water and birdsong as the majestic sun started its ascent from azure blue water into cloudless sky. On the North Shore, it’s only natural to gaze in wonder at the cosmos and say along with the psalmist: From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised. Continue reading “Celebrating God’s Presence in Each Moment”