2900 County Barn Rd. Naples, Fl. 34112

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The eclipse that happened in the US certainly caught the attention of the nation.  Here in SWFL unless you had the correct eye protection, the afternoon just got a little dim for a while.  As many watched online or on television the excitement the eclipse generated in the areas of the country where it was in totality was something to behold.  The next eclipse will be in 2024 so we won’t have to wait all that long.  Start planning now!

There is something about celestial happenings that create interest in most of us to one degree or another.  Here in SWFL it is the sun as it disappears below the horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.  We call it a sunset, but it is the earth revolving that makes the sun to appear as though it is sinking into the gulf.  People have always gazed and howled at the moon.  When the moon is full, people reportedly act stranger than normal.  Just ask an emergency Room nurse or doctor. High tides during a full moon may be higher than normal.  Being a star gazer is another hobby some folks have.  How many people across the nation this week viewed the eclipse with their telescopes? 

One could go on and on about the effect celestial happenings in the sky have on humanity but if we look at biblical times for a moment and we will see there are no differences there either.  The ‘heavens’ and celestial happenings have fascinated people since God made ‘heaven’ and earth.  The most famous celestial event surrounds the birth of Christ and the wise men following a star which came to rest over Bethlehem.

Some of the more evangelical folks today said the eclipse which crossed America was a sign from God that we need to repent as a nation.  They cited some Old Testament scriptures.  When I read these things I just shake my head and think, this is one of the reasons people don’t come to church.  It shows how out of touch these religious people are with the knowledge and science of today.  They rely on Old Testament scriptures that were written down centuries ago when the people of the time did not have the understanding of the universe we do today.  I sometimes mention in church the images from the Hubble telescope.  I am amazed at the images and how vast the universe is.  Our understanding of the ‘heavens’ is expanding all the time, if we look and learn.  It gives me a sense of awe and a sense of wonder about how on this one little planet in the vast universe we even exist.  The miracle is the Creator we call God has given us this place and time to exist and live and have a meager understanding of how life works. 

One of my favorite photos was taken from the moon by the Apollo astronauts.  It shows this earth without boundaries, an orb floating in space just like an unknown number of planets in an unknown number of galaxies across the vastness of space.  It makes one feel small and insignificant.  It also makes this writer thankful for the life I have and the opportunity to continue to observe and learn about celestial happenings.

Race is the news of the day.  I recently saw a Facebook post by an educator that explains it for what it is.  There is only one race on this earth, the human race.  The superficial difference is skin pigmentation. When you stop and think about that fact, it shows how shallow and misguided humans are.  Many people over the centuries including this country today determine the worth of a person by the pigment of their skin. 

Years ago, I tutored children after school.  In one instance I tutored a girl in first grade.  I showed up at this family’s home right after their dinner time.  When it came time to end the tutoring, the family thanked me for what I did for their daughter.  In the course of our conversation, they told me in the six years they had lived in this country I was the first non-Hispanic person to come into their house and treat them like normal.  They were from Puerto Rico.  Dad worked for the phone company and mom had a job with the public school system.  I am not tooting my own horn here, but am pointing out how rampant racism is in this country.  I felt bad for these folks that even in their own home they felt the sting of racism. This event happened in the early 1990’s, but the events of this past weekend show that we as a nation have a long way to go.  The family moved back to Puerto Rico, in part because of the treatment they received in this country.

I have often said on Sunday mornings that by living Jesus’ example of reaching out to those who are marginalized by the dominant society we learn to treat all people with the respect that all people deserve.  I said it in the sermon time last Sunday when in Paul’s letter to the Romans he writes, “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes,” (Romans 10:4).  What Paul sees is that those who are rejecting Jesus are so stuck in the law of the day they are unable to see the grace Jesus brings and the new way of living.  Instead of following law after law in order to be a good person in Jesus’ day, Jesus gave his followers and us only two laws, love God and love your neighbor as yourself.  There were no other disclaimers or conditions on that. Can it be any easier? Yet we as humans throughout our history have found it so hard to do.

The events of the past weekend should cause everyone to examine their own biases and prejudices especially those of us who make the claim that we follow Christ and his teachings.

If you look around these days you may be thinking, ‘can things get any worse?’  It seems that no matter where you look there is division, angst, fear, violence and the list goes on.  Those of us of a certain age may be heard to say, ‘It wasn’t like this when I was growing up. Things were different back then.’

Ah, the good old days.  Reality is if you take the time to look, humanity has not changed much since the written record began.  One of the best examples of the written record of course is the Bible. In it you will see humans behaving badly, just as bad as humans do today.  Much of the bad behavior in the Bible is couched in the religion of the day.  That is when people point to the hypocrisy of religion and it is easy to see why. 

But that is not the point of the story of the Bible.  The point is to show God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit at work in humanity in an effort to change the course of humanity and the course of history.

Jesus laid it out quite simply for all of humanity on how we are to act as humans on this earth.  There is no real getting around what he said.  Love God, love neighbor, forgive, always act with compassion and mercy and lift up the downtrodden. The stories that appear in the Gospels are filled with examples of how we who follow Jesus are to act.  It is plain and simple.  It has to be, for humanity is plain and simple.  It is plain and simple so anyone anywhere is able to understand the words of Jesus.

Sadly though, humans always seem to twist Jesus’s words to fit their own agendas and desires.  That has been seen recently with the current administration and some of the more evangelical conservative Christians. It appears to this writer that these people who claim to be Christian have forgotten the basic tenets of the Christian faith in order to see their personal agenda brought forth.  That agenda has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus but is their own creation and desire. 

All one has to do is search the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and you will not find judgement, condemnation or rebuke from Jesus, only when Jesus goes after the powers that be who are attempting to destroy him.  Those in our society today who judge, condemn and rebuke are not Christians even though they may claim to be.

This writer’s goal on Sundays is to try and interpret the scriptures both old and new in the time and place they were written and apply them to our society and lives today.  And all the time keeping the words and teachings of Jesus at the forefront of all we do.

Jesus never turned anyone away, neither do we.

 

On Sunday, July 16, Mayflower, after a lengthy process was approved as a Blue Zones Project Faith Based Community.  We held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the end of our worship service then celebrated in the Family Life Center.  The Blue Zones Project has identified nine key concepts for living a longer healthier life.  By adopting these principles into one’s daily life, there is a good chance you will have a better quality of life. 

The Blue Zones Project covers all aspects of a person’s life and for church folk the easiest one to work on is faith and spirituality.  Blue Zones Project has found that if a person participates regularly in a faith based environment it adds years to your life.  But we already knew that as faithful church attenders.

Combining that with the other eight principles of the Blue Zones Project, we look forward to a brighter future and better well-being individually and as a congregation. Please join us on a Sunday to hear about how God works in your life and how adopting the principles of the Blue Zones Project may enhance your life and livelihood. 

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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