2900 County Barn Rd. Naples, Fl. 34112

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There is a certain branch of American Protestant Christianity that is the most vocal in our society. It tends to be more conservative in its theology and has sided with a political party. One, we are not that branch of Christianity. Jesus says as it is recorded in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." The folks that align themselves with a political party are only pushing their own agenda just like anyone else. It is never a faith issue. Most often it is about an ‘ism’ like race or class. They have forgotten the essence of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

In another piece of scripture, Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." The political leadership is treating children who are seeking asylum in this country the exact opposite of what Jesus says to do. This Sunday we will hear about the exiled nation of Israel and how Rachel weeps for her children.

Politicians attempt to use faith and scripture as a way to woe voters and sad to say it works at least in part. In reality faith and politics do not go together. While a person’s faith may have an effect on their behavior and indeed it should, one’s faith should not take sides in a political party.

A person’s faith should guide a person’s moral and ethical behavior. That behavior should then be used to guide their actions and responses to political issues rather than aligning with a particular party across the board.

If one takes the time to read through the Bible one will see that from the very beginning kings and leaders of nations have acted poorly many times and as a result people have suffered at the hands of those kings and leaders.

I believe God gave us Jesus as the perfect example of how we humans are supposed to act. Act with love to God, love to our neighbor, the orphan and the widow, feed the hungry cloth the naked, and call out injustice when it rears its ugly head against the good of humanity. Many of these same people also claim Jesus is returning soon. I put no stock in what these false prophets say. In my humble opinion, Jesus if he is to return won’t do so until we stop killing each other, we all get along and there is enough for everyone, hunger and disease are no more.

It saddens me when religion, faith and church are given a bad name by any means. Sadly there are those in prominent positions today aligning with a political party that are doing just that.

They do not speak for this church. We do our best to follow the example of Jesus by accepting and loving all people, no exceptions. If you are looking for a place to question faith and to learn more about Jesus and how faith in Jesus can help you in your daily life, please come by.

Our nation celebrates its independence from Great Britain this week. It was the beginning of a bold experiment and the framers of the Constitution had a mighty task before them, how to form and frame a government that is run by and for the people. Since none of us were there at the time we can only imagine the amount of work and difficulties those in power at the time had in making the effort come to fruition.

It all began when those first explorers were in search of a better life or perhaps a new trade route to the far east of new ways to make money. For the folks that this church is named for, they were in search of religious freedom. Freedom to worship and not have the state tell them what they could do.

The church today is about and has always been about a different kind of freedom. What the church offers is spiritual and emotional freedom. Have you ever known a person who has been able to quit an addictive behavior like using tobacco products, alcohol or other drugs? What changes did you see in that person? These are perhaps some of the best and easiest to see examples of what freedom within a person is like. An addictive personality keeps a person in an emotional prison without an opportunity for freedom and growth and to become the person God meant them to be. It doesn’t have to be an addiction to a substance it could be a person in an abusive relationship who finally decides enough is enough and frees them from the relationship. Or it could be some other internal thing going on with a person. It matters not what is keeping person from being the person God intended them to be as long as person recognizes they are not free and have a desire to be free. It is a process. An initial step towards freedom can happen in an instant when a decision is made to stop. The process of being free is a lifelong way of living that begins the moment the decision is made. What better time to examine your own self to see if you are free indeed than the fourth of July.

I remember when I was doing student teaching (I am certified in elementary education) I was in a fifth grade class. The way the teacher taught writing and grammar was to have the students write a story on their own. They would self-edit the story. Then ask another student to edit the story then the teacher would make the final edits. In the end the story would be read to the class.

There were two sisters in the school who were adopted. They were originally from Vietnam. In one story the older child wrote about how she and her pregnant mother walked for days to escape the horrors and violence of war in southeast Asia. She told how her mother died in childbirth. The baby that was born was the younger sister that was now in the school where I was. Reading her story was heart wrenching. It is impossible to fathom the trauma this young girl went through in her young life. She was not alone and is not alone.

The sad reality is today there are more refugees in the world than there ever were before. This country used to be the champion of human rights and now because of the current leadership we are turning way from our core beliefs, morals and ethics and adding to the chaos of the world rather than alleviating the pain and suffering of those seeking refuge and a better life. God only knows how much short and long term spiritual, emotional and physical damage is being done to children and families.

This behavior is in no way faith based. Not Christian, not any faith. It is faithless. The decisions of the national government are based on money and power, not faith. Since members of the administration like to quote scripture no doubt there are a lot of ministers like myself who are saying, go ahead bring it on. Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

The denomination this church belongs to accepts all people and we stand by that. We are all children of God in need of God’s love and we try to live that out in our daily lives. This denomination does not support the actions of separating children from their parents and is working with others to bring about change.

 

 

Humanity has been in search of meaning forever. Archeologists, anthropologists, theologians and scientists of all sorts have been trying to figure out where we came from and why we are here. So far, no one knows. You may be thinking how can a pastor be saying that? What about the book of Genesis and the creation narratives? Well, in this denomination we look at the Bible as the inspired word of God, not the inerrant word of God. That means that the folks that wrote down and or dictated the words to scribes were inspired by their faith to write what they did. Does that approach mean we have less faith than other denominations? No, it is that we look at our faith in light of what God is still creating with intelligence, questions and prayer. I have said in sermons that the known world of the Bible was limited in geographic range and knowledge. The known world of the Bible was the middle-east and Mediterranean region of the world. The people of the Bible did not have the advancement of knowledge we do today. Their concept of the heavens and universe is much different than ours today thanks to the Hubble telescope and astronomers and scientists who study the heavens. We also have the advantage of peering into the smallest particles of matter through electron microscopes to see strands of DNA, what an atom looks like and so much more. The writers of the Bible did not have these things to help in their search for meaning in life and God.

One of the things that has not changed for people of faith is that we continue to look at life of all kinds and marvel at the entire creation of earth, sea and sky. We call the creator God, some call it intelligent design. Indigenous people have called it the Great Spirit. Whatever you name it, it is impossible not to marvel at all of creation from the tiniest particle to the far distant galaxies light years away.

What will future generations be able to see with the aid of science and technology that we cannot see today? Just like the people of biblical times, centuries from now humans may see a whole lot more of creation than we are able to see today. That is a good reason for science and religion to work together. We are both in search of the same thing, the answer to how we got here, why are we here and where we are going.

We have more questions than we have answers. This we know, along the journey of life we continue to question our faith, ask pertinent questions about life and marvel at creation.

Those two words are important to our health and well-being.  Yet a lot of times we neglect them.  In our fast paced society we don’t take time to rest.  The desire to do more, be active is a symbol and symptom of our society.  We do not take enough time to rest even though Jesus tells us to.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  If you notice he is actually not saying rest but where to find rest.  We find our rest in him.  Which leads us to, how do we find rest in Jesus?  The best way is to set aside some time in the day to sit in prayer and meditate on God.  The first thought to this idea may be, “I don’t have the time!”  That, my friend, is the very problem.  We think we have to always be doing something.  We are not called human doings, we are called human beings.  To be with Christ is to find rest in his presence.  Rest and pray.  Three simple words that we can incorporate into our lives on a daily basis to become more healthy, more compassionate, more loving and more like Christ.

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MAYFLOWER CONGREGATIONAL UCC

2900 County Barn Rd 
Naples, Florida 34112

Office Hours: 
8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mon - Fri.

Sunday Worship 9:30
            Refreshments 10:30

Church Phone: 239-775-0055
Fax Number: 239-775-3253

Pastor Alan's Cell: 239-227-8500

office@mayflowernaples.com
pastor@mayflowernaples.com

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