Lent 1 – Who Do You Say That I Am?

“Jesus as Spirit Person,” Susan Ryder

The season of Lent is traditionally observed as a time of prayer and spiritual commitment to prepare us to walk with Jesus to Jerusalem. On this first Sunday of Lent, we hear the story of Jesus’ baptism, followed by a 40-day wilderness sojourn, a version of which is found in all three synoptic gospels – Mark, Matthew, and Luke – wherein Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. The experience prepared him for his ministry of preaching, teaching and healing, which ultimately led to his death on the cross for the sins of the world. According to that interpretation, Christians traditionally view Lent as a time of preparation, contemplation, and sacrifice. We usually observe Lent a bit differently at NCC, and this year is no exception. Our theme for the next six weeks will stem from the question Jesus asked his disciples in Mark 8:27-29: Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked them, “But who do YOU say that I am?” [Read more…]

Evolution Sunday

“For the Love of Science,” Bob Ryder

What are you curious about? Is there a question you have about the world, something you’ve always wondered? What causes you to say, “How did they do that?” “How does that work?” “Where does this or that come from?” “How did they figure that out?” And if you find out the answer to your question, how might it change you? How might it leave you the same – for better or worse?

One of the benefits available to humanity living in the age of Google is that you can type the words, “How do gravitational wave detectors work?” and within a few seconds find this… [Read more…]

In Good Faith

“In Good Faith,” Susan Ryder

Mark 1:21-34
They (Jesus and his first disciples) went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching — with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” [Read more…]

Back to the Future

“Back to the Future,” Bob Ryder

A few quotes …

“I thought I was a bad Christian. I found out I’m a progressive Christian.” Scott

“We’re going to have to be light on our feet.” Chris

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead [Read more…]

A Stone of Hope

“A Stone of Hope,” Susan Ryder

Micah 6:6-8
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Matthew 17:20
For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Martin Luther King, Jr. – “I Have a Dream” speech
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. [Read more…]


“Home By Another Road,” Susan Ryder


Isaiah 60:1-6 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD. [Read more…]

New Year’s Eve

“It’s About Time,” Bob Ryder


“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  Henry David Thoreau

“The present moment is the only moment available to us and it is the door to all other moments.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Allen Saunders / John Lennon

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  Ferris Bueller [Read more…]

Advent 4

“What a Friend,” Bob Ryder

Luke 2:1-20
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. [Read more…]

Advent 3

“Wonder Women,” Susan Ryder

Luke 1 (selected verses)          
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, and both were getting on in years. Once when he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. Even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.” Soon after his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. [Read more…]

Advent 2

“Who Were We Expecting?” Bob Ryder

Lk 7:18-23  (excerpts) John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ When they found Jesus, they inquired of him as John has instructed. And Jesus answered, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.’ [Read more…]