4th of July Weekend

“Declaration of Interdependence,” Bob Ryder 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I begin with a sincere wish that you have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July weekend.  The 4th falls on a Tuesday this year – maybe with some luck you’ll be one of those who get Monday off and have an extra-long holiday – if so, good for you.  Amid whatever rest and relaxation you can cobble together, whatever feasting you might partake of, whatever chores or travels or entertainment you might have planned, do take a moment on Tuesday to appreciate the unimaginably courageous and unlikely beginnings of the United States.  Taking nothing away from my commitment to the separation of church and state, commemorating our origins as a daring stand against oppression is not only patriotic, but an inherently spiritual exercise.  While I’m convinced that worship is most authentic when we understand ourselves to be acting as disciples of Jesus rather than citizens of a nation, the two identities are not mutually exclusive, and we commit no betrayal of our faith in honoring the valor of soldiers and civilian patriots who, in 1776, rejected subjugation to a tyrant and withdrew from the mightiest empire in the world, bequeathing to us our homeland. [Read more…]

Loss through Living

“Creeping Chronology: A Journey of Loss Through Living,” Jim Turner

Hebrew Scriptures: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8
(This Carpe Diem passage morphs into a series of metaphors related to aging.)

Christians Scriptures: John 21:18 & 19
(In this passage a proverbial expression to Peter is wrongly taken as a prophecy that Peter would be Crucified.)

Contemporary Literature: “The Little Boy and the Old Man,” by Shel Silverstein
Said the little boy, ‘Sometimes I drop my spoon.’
Said the old man, ‘I do that too.’
The little boy whispered, ‘I wet my pants.’
‘I do that too,’ laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, ‘I often cry.’
The old man nodded, ‘So do I.’
‘But worst of all,’ said the boy, ‘it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.’
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
‘I know what you mean,’ said the little old man. [Read more…]


“Continuing in Our Time What Jesus Began in His,” Susan Ryder

At the beginning of the Reflection I gave this past Easter Sunday, I read the version of the story that comes from Mark’s Gospel.

Mark 16:1-8 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them. [Read more…]

Reality Squared

“Reality Squared,” Bob Ryder

Picture Snoopy – in your mind’s eye imagine the Peanuts character in his “World War 1 Flying Ace” persona and wearing his pilot uniform. He has the helmet and goggles resting on his brow. He wears a scarf billowing off his shoulders. And he has that walk, that cool gate striding along with his eyes closed, calm and confident as he makes his way onto the Aerodrome and toward his “Sopwith Camel” preparing for dawn patrol in morning’s first light. [Read more…]

The Mountain of Too Much

“The Mountain of Too Much,” Susan Ryder

How do you cope with anxiety? What practices do you turn to help alleviate stress when you are feeling overwhelmed? Some questions for you to consider as I share a few thoughts.

Leviticus 23:22 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-15 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.

John 14:1 Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Read more…]

Mother Earth

“Love Your Mother,” Susan Ryder


Genesis 1:1, 31 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

James Baldwin For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. [Read more…]


“Salience, Patience, Compassion, Justice, and Other Stuff I Found Lying Along Constitution Trail,” Bob Ryder

A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing. . .”
– Mary Oliver

“Do you have the patience to wait
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?”
― Lao Tzu [Read more…]

Beginner’s Mind

“Beginner’s Mind,” Bob Ryder

“You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” Albert Einstein

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

This morning let’s consider the concept of “Beginner’s Mind.” Occasionally I mention my appreciation for the practice of mindfulness, an approach to meditation based in the tradition of Zen Buddhism. It’s comprised of interrelated cognitive skills that help to manage and reduce stress as well as to cultivate a poised/creative approach to living. There are seven principles associated with the tradition including… [Read more…]

Easter 2017

“Tell It Again” Susan Ryder

Nathan Kirkpatrick writes, “My colleague Christine Parton Burkett reminds [us] that children, after hearing a well-told story, never respond, ‘What does it mean?’ Instead, with glee and abandon they exclaim, ‘Oh, tell it again!’ She reminds [us] that, as human beings, we never really outgrow our love of a story well-told; there is a part of each of us that wants to cheer, ‘Oh, tell it again!’ Several years ago in The New York Times Sunday Review, the Swedish writer Henning Mankell wrote that ‘a truer nomination for our species than Homo sapiens might be Homo narrans, the storytelling person.’ Mankell’s argument was not that the biologists are wrong or that we are not thinking creatures but rather that we are also — and maybe even primarily — storytelling creatures. We make sense of the world and our place in it through story. Story is how we create meaning, how we interpret reality, and how we come to know who we are and why we are. That is why when we hear a story that we know is good and true, we say, ‘Oh, tell it again.’

And so we tell it again this morning – the Easter story – from Mark’s Gospel. [Read more…]

Palm Sunday

“What Is Truth?” Bob Ryder


Luke 12:2-3
Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, nothing secret that will not become known. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. [Read more…]