Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dessert and Meet & Greet

Please make plans to bring share your best dessert on Sunday Sept. 20 2015. We will share them and fellowship immediately following worship service. You will have a chance to get acquainted with Rev. Tijuana Gray who is our provisional/interim pastoral candidate. Hope to see everyone there.

Pizza Meet & Greet

Please join us at RMCC church fellowship hall on Sept 19, 2015 from 5-7pm for free pizza and a chance to get acquainted with Rev. Tijuana Gray. Rev. Gray is our interim/provisional pastoral candidate. Hope to see you there.

Sunday Guest Speaker

Lisa Buesing will be with us this Sunday, sharing a message from Philippians 4:12-13 and Luke 24:44-53.
A little about me...I have my Bachelor of Arts degree from Alma College and my Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. I live in Kalamazoo and currently work for Portage Public Schools



Friday, September 4, 2015

Rev Karen Tompkins Davis will be with us this Sunday, Sept 6, 2015. Her message is based on the scriptures of James 2:1-17and is titled "Faith Is A Verb."
Rev. Karen Tompkins-Davis was originally ordained in the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. She had the pleasure of serving three different churches in Holland, Saugatuck and Battle Creek before taking a leave of absence. Karen surrendered her credentials with the United Methodist Church in January, 2013, in order to live out of the closet with Kayla, her life-partner of now 21 years. Karen was ordained again with the Universal Life Church in September, 2014. Kayla and Karen were married in South Carolina in April of this year. Karen is an Area Supervisor with the MOKA Corporation, a non-profit agency providing services to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Life . . . Sideways

While driving around today, I found myself stopped at a traffic light with a motor cycle in front of me. Oddly, my first question wasn't, "Why in the world is someone riding in 20 degree weather?" No, that question came later. No, my first observation was the bumper sticker on the back of the motorcycle. In bold, black letters upon a yellow background was the word "LIFE."

If the sticker's intent was to communicate a message, I wasn't sure what it was. Is this a part of the "Life is good" campaign? Is he proclaiming a commitment to a pro-life way of living? Does he really, really like the Milton-Bradley board game? I don't know. I just know that, for this daredevil cold-defying motorcycle rider, "Life" is something really important. Important enough to put on a bumper sticker.

But the other odd thing I noticed is the way the sticker was placed. You see, motorcycles, being the size they are, don't have bumpers. So he'd put this sticker on the back fender, and to make it fit, he'd had to turn it sideways. The words ran up rather than across. He's celebrating life...sideways.

Well, that's the only sort of life there is, isn't there? No matter how much we dream, plan, envision and hope for the "perfect life," no one has one. There are disappointments, hurts, blemishes, sins and wrong turns in everyone's life. Everyone. Even those people you envy who seem to have achieved perfection...well, they're either hiding something or they're dead and living in glory. This world is broken, and for all of us, there are times when life gets...sideways.

If you were to study the lament psalms, those prayers that are meant for when life gets broken, when life runs sideways. And there are more of them in the psalms than songs of praise. Those psalms, we remembered, give us language to pray when we don't know what to pray. They give us words to sing when we can't sing. And those psalms remind us that it's the broken times that allow us to appreciate the good times. It's the darkness that helps us celebrate the dawn. The psalmists always, always, always gave thanks even in the midst of brokenness because it's there, more than any other time, when God's power is clearly seen.

Life...sideways. It's not a bad place to be. It's not a place we would want to stay, but if we're alert, if we are able to pray and praise God even when life is sideways, then we'll find our relationship with God deeper than before, deeper than it would be otherwise. If your life is sideways right now, I want to encourage you: be like my motorcycle-riding friend. Defy the winter, step out into the bad weather, and see what God will do. Praise God even when life is sideways, and you will praise God even more when life is right side up because you will know what God can do.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why Come To Church More Often

written by:

Why should you come to church more often? Because you want to.

I hear this from my congregants all the time. That it’s hard to come on Sunday mornings–people want to sleep in, they have lots to do–but when they do, they’re glad. “I need to come more often,” I hear again and again.

One of our regular Sunday morning volunteers told me she volunteers to make herself come. That’s as good a reason to volunteer as any I’ve heard.

I am not baffled by this thinking at all. I know as well as anyone that it’s hard to do things that are optional, and coming to church is optional. Our lives are filled with the things we have to do. Culturally, church used to be on the “have to” list, but that’s changed in recent decades,

Why is it so hard? For one thing, worship services start on time, not on demand. Arts attendance has also been declining, and fewer people are going to the movies as well. We are increasingly accustomed to being able to watch what we want when we want it, and dragging ourselves out of the house to get somewhere for something that starts at a specific time takes effort.

And let’s face it, most of us struggle to do the things that are good for us. Oh yes, attending church is good for you! Google “mental health church attendance” if you don’t believe me. Attending church is up there with eating more fruits and vegetables on the list of “things that are good for me but I struggle with anyway.”

But there’s more to it than “it’s hard to get myself to church.” Church attendance used to be a signifier of conformity and commitment to cultural norms. Now, at least in the liberal religious tradition, it’s an expression of counterculture.

The world around us is increasingly online; church requires presence and face-to-face interaction.
The world around us privileges the needs of the individual; church privileges the needs of the community.

The world around us requires little commitment from us; at church we are often asked to volunteer time, give money, and make commitments to continue to volunteer time and give money.
The world around us allows us to isolate ourselves from people of different generations, with different values and beliefs; church requires us to get to know these people and even DO things with them!

The world around us values materialism, consumption, and entertainment; church challenges us to commit to values that call us outside ourselves.

That last point gets to one of the cruxes of attendance: church doesn’t even always feel good. One of my congregants categorizes services as either candy or medicine.  ”Candy” are those services we leave feeling joyful and full of love for the world and for each other. “Medicine” are those services where we’ve been challenged to make change in our lives and in the world. Like choosing to watch a somber documentary film instead of the latest Marvel movie, coming to church is sometimes the no-fun option. But taking our medicine is “good for us,” my congregant would say, and I agree with him.

I’m sure there’s more. Attending church is so countercultural that many of us are afraid to mention it to friends. Does anything more powerfully say “weirdo” these days than “I went to church on Sunday?” (My colleague Jason Shelton calls us “dorks,” which he applies specifically to Unitarian Universalists and not just churchgoers in general. I can live with that.)

So if you’re struggling to get to church regularly, know that there are strong cultural forces that make it difficult. And maybe knowing that will help you actually get there more often. You may be glad you did.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bible Study Cancelled Nov 19, 2014

Due to inclement weather, bible study tonight is cancelled. If you must drive, please be safe.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Game Night November 7th

You are invited to join us for game night for a great time of fellowship and fun!

When: November 7, 2014

Time: 7:00 PM

Where: 3864 Benjamin Drive NE, Grand Rapids MI

Water will be provided. Feel free to bring snacks and/or your own non-alcoholic beverage.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Do You Approach Worship?

How do you approach worship? Is it just something you feel you have to do, an obligation to be met? Is it just a place where you talk with some friends and put in your time for God? Is it a joyful thing, or a mere ritual to go through? How do you approach worship? It's an important and vital question because the way we approach the weekly time of worship will determine what we get out of it.

In survey after survey, the thing people say they want most from the time of worship is to "connect with God." And in those same surveys, most of the people say the one thing they don't get out of worship is that sense of being in God's presence. Yes, some of the fault rests on we pastors, who too often simply plug in the same elements every week with little regard to any sense of unity or purpose in the service. But sometimes it's also because we come expecting so little from our worship. We get out of it what we put in it.

Joshua Harris, in his book "Stop Dating the Church," suggests several things we can do during the time of worship to get the most out of it, to increase our openness to what God wants to do in and through that time. The first thing is to remember why we gather. It's not for entertainment or to be part of a social club. We gather to worship God, and so ultimately it doesn't matter if we like the songs or the style or the sermon or even the people who sit around us. The purpose of worship isn't to make us happy. The purpose of worship is to lift up the name of Jesus and to remember that we are his people. Worship should shape us for the week to come, not just leave us with a warm, fuzzy feeling. In fact, if worship is really effective...we might just leave feeling uncomfortable because we've been in God's presence.

There are, in most worship services, two main opportunities to participate in worship. One is in singing. Many a pastor will tell you that they probably have had more complaints about music than anything else because we tend to focus on whether or not we know the song or we like the song. But the song isn't the point. God is. We sing to God. The words we use should glorify God, and beyond that, in a really well-thought-out worship service, they should contribute to the overall theme of the day. If we can focus on the one we worship rather than our own personal preferences, music and singing becomes a way to express praise and gratefulness to God.

The other way we participate is during the sermon. No, not necessarily in "talking back" (though if the preacher asks a question, he or she is probably expecting an answer!), but in listening. And, again, not to the preacher but to what God is saying through the preacher. The sermon is, at its best, God's word applied to this particular congregation. If the preacher has worked hard all week to prayerfully bring the Scripture to the congregation, is it asking too much for the congregation to listen and seek what God is saying to them? We will be held accountable for what we have heard regardless of whether it moved us emotionally or not. That's kind of a scary thought!

For some people, it's helpful to take notes, although that's not helpful for me, but I know it is for others. The main thing is to listen for what God is saying and seek to apply it to your life in some concrete way during the week.

How we approach worship shapes our lives and our week. Worship is the central act of the Christian, and it shapes our hearts and lives. How will you approach worship this weekend?