Somewhere Over the Rainbow

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Bob Ryder

Mark 12:28-31 One of the scribes came near and heard Jesus debating with the Pharisees. Noting that he answered them well, he asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ The next most important is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment more important than these.”

Galatians 3:26-28 In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. [Read more…]

Animal Blessings

“Animals Are Blessings,” Susan Ryder

 On this first Sunday of October, the closest day to the Feast of St. Francis, some congregations observe a “blessing of the animals” service. We participated in one a few years ago at the Unitarian Church, and our youth led animal blessing services the last two years. Bob and I enjoyed bringing Daisy to be blessed last year – and so appreciated the leadership and liturgy from our young people. This year we decided that instead of blessing the animals, we would reflect on how animals bless us. How many of you currently have a pet of some sort sharing your life and home? How many of you don’t have a pet now but had a pet in the past? How many of you have never had a pet animal in your home? Have you ever experienced a blessing from an animal? Let’s hear a couple of readings – one ancient and one modern …

Genesis 2:18-20
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field [Read more…]

Happy 25th NCC!

“This is Us,” Bob Ryder

Luke 19:1-10 Jesus was passing through Jericho and a crowd gathered to see him as he passed by. A rich man named Zacchaeus lived there, he was the chief tax-collector. Zacchaeus was also trying to get a glimpse of Jesus, but he was not tall enough to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view, because Jesus was about to pass that way. When Jesus approached, he looked up and said, ‘Zacchaeus, come down; for I would visit your home today.’  Zacchaeus hurried down and was happy to welcome him. Everyone who saw this began to grumble, saying, ‘He’s gone to be the guest of a sinner.’ With everyone looking on, Zacchaeus said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to find and save the lost.’ [Read more…]

NCC Framing Story – Progressive Christianity

“NCC’s Framing Story – Progressive Christianity,” Susan Ryder

1 Corinthians 12:14ff For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” [Read more…]

NCC Framing Story – Place

“We Are Home,” Bob Ryder


Exodus 3:1-5   While Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, he led his flock beyond the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blaze of fire out of a bush.  As he looked, he saw the bush was not consumed by the blaze. Moses said, ‘I must see this marvel up close, and learn why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw Moses approaching, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ [Read more…]

NCC Framing Story – A Work in Progress

“NCC’s Framing Story – A Work in Progress,” Susan Ryder

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

Romans 12:4-5
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. [Read more…]

Play the Rest

“Play the Rest,” Bob Ryder

“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  Ferris Buehler

“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”  John Lennon [Read more…]

Friends Forever

“Wall Breakers – Bridge Builders,” Susan Ryder

Ephesians 2:14-19
For Christ is our peace; he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create one new humanity, thus making peace. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

Thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi
Beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. [Read more…]

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…]