“’Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
(1 Kings 19:11-13)
In the story above the great prophet Elijah was running for his life. He was fleeing the wrath of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. He went out into the wilderness for protection. Exhausted, he made his way to the mountain of God, Mount Horeb, the same mountain where God had met with Moses and given him the ten commandments.
While on the mountain the prophet is told God will come and speak with him. When God does however, God doesn’t come in the mighty wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, but rather in the “sound of sheer silence.” Although in the past, God’s presence had been made known through such dramatic occurrences, this time God chose to reveal God’s self in something as ordinary as silence.
I was reminded of this passage, as I’ve been considering how we can often “look for God,” in the more dramatic experiences of life. We can think the presence of God is usually revealed within the extraordinary moments, rather than the ordinary ones. Yet, the witness of scripture is clear, while God can choose to be revealed in dramatic fashion, often God chooses to do just the opposite. The challenge of a life that seeks to be in harmony with God, is to see that what we often think of as ordinary, simple, or commonplace, is also full of God’s grace and presence.
Reflecting upon this further, a wonderful quote by the brilliant French mathematician, philosopher, physicist, scientist, inventor, and theologian Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) came to mind. “Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.” It’s understandable our attention will be drawn to the dramatic at times when it comes to our notions about God. After all, God is the Creator of the Universe, the Savior, and Sustainer of us all! However, time and time again, the witness of scripture and the life of Jesus itself, show us there is something of God’s presence in life all around us, especially the common and often overlooked experiences, places, and people.
As we continue to enjoy these summer days and all the gifts contained within them, may our senses be heightened to the presence of God in all the gifts and moments of life, not only the dramatic, exciting, thrilling, and extraordinary, but also the simple, the common, the local, the subtle, the unassuming, and the everyday.
Blessings, Pastor John
The book of Acts has been called the “first book of church history.” It contains some interesting stories about the life of the early church. Acts continues the story of the Gospel of Luke by tracing the movement from the resurrection of Jesus all the way to the time the Apostle Paul was in Rome preaching the gospel. The progress the book takes is mainly geographical, with the word about Jesus starting first in Jerusalem and then moving out to Samaria, then, the seacoast, then, Damascus, Antioch and Cyprus, Asia Minor, Europe, and finally Rome.
The first half of Acts will be the focus of this study, which is mostly about the early church in Jerusalem and its relationships. During most of this time Peter, is the main leader in this story. The second half of the book primarily focuses on Paul, and his leadership. We can do the second half in another study.
Because the Book of Acts is 28 chapters long, we’ll be considering two chapters a session. The dates for the sessions are below. Two classes will be offered, one in person during the day, and the other on-line in the evening. The daytime session will begin at 12:30 and finish by 2:00 PM. It will be held in the Parish Hall. The evening session will be via “Zoom” and start at 6:30 PM. Both will be offered on Tuesdays. The schedule for the classes is below. Please sign up in the Parish Hall or email me if you are interested in participating.
September 13th Chapters 1 & 2 The story continues and the gift at Pentecost
September 20th Chapters 3 & 4 Healing, preaching, and getting into trouble
September 27th Chapters 5 & 6 Sharing goods, another arrest, tensions within the church
October 4th Chapters 7 & 8 Martyrdom of Stephen, and the word spreads
October 11th Chapters 9 & 10 The conversions of Saul and Cornelius
October 18th Chapters 11 & 12 Peter’s defense, the gentiles, Peter’s escape
Our next church hike will be held on Saturday, August 27th. Joy, Bailey, and Pastor John will plan to meet all who are interested at our church’s parking lot at 10 a.m. This month we plan to go to Flax Pond in Dennis. This is a gentle walk around a beautiful pond, a dog friendly spot! The loop will be about two miles in length but can be adjusted based on interest of participants. All ages are welcome and again, feel free to invite a friend.
The Thrift Shop and Furniture Barn’s semi-annual Super Sale is planned for Saturday, September 17th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Thrift Shop and Furniture Barn will be open as usual. In addition, many extra sale items will be spread out on the front lawn, in the driveway and back to the Furniture Barn for this special Super Sale. Plan to stop by for lots of great bargains!
We are grateful for all the volunteers who continue to work tirelessly to make this special offering available to the community.
Pickups for both the Shop and Furniture Barn continue to be busy! Anyone who might like to lend a hand on a pickup would be greatly appreciated. Please call Penny Bach if would like to help.
“Gratitude is action”
(Courtesy of SYUMC member)
If you have a talent, for singing or playing a musical instrument, don’t hide it under a bushel! We’d love to hear you share your gift during a worship service this summer. While the choir takes the summer off and gets a well-deserved rest, this is a great opportunity for some of us to help lead worship and bless others through our gifts. If you would like to find out more, please speak with Cameron, our Minister of Music.
Our summer beach services began on Sunday, June 27th with a beautiful summer day. They will continue now through the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend. Be sure to gather at Smuggler’s (Bass River) Beach at 7:30 AM to enjoy this wonderful summer ministry of our congregation. People who live out of town or don’t have a beach sticker can still park in the lot during the time of the service, as long as they move their cars when the service is over. Bring a chair if you’d like, or there are seats built into the fishermen’s pier. If it rains, we still have these early morning services, they are simply moved to our historic sanctuary.
For years, our congregation has had a practice of collecting non-perishable food items for members of our community experiencing food insecurity. These collections stopped when the pandemic hit. At our last meeting of the Church Council, it was decided to intentionally start them up again. Local food pantries, like the “Hands of Hope Outreach Center Food Pantry” of the Cape Cod Council of Churches, are receiving contributions. So, on the first Sunday of each month, communion Sunday, we are inviting members and friends to bring in non-perishable food items that will be brought to local food pantries. As we gather to be fed by the “bread of life,” may we be mindful of our neighbors who are finding it difficult to, consistently put enough food on their tables. Baskets will be available in the narthex on communion Sundays to receive our donations. Examples of items that are appreciated include cans of baked beans, white tuna, Spam, or other forms of canned meat. Chef Boy R Dee, Stove Top Stuffing, Boxed scalloped or mashed potato, Rice A Roni, or Pasta Roni, Hamburger Helper, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Crackers or Cookies, Mayo, ketchup, mustard, cake or brownie mix. Thank you for considering this opportunity.