Advent 2 – A Child Shall Lead Them

This morning we continue our series on what it means to be a people of mystery. Later in the service we will add greens to our growing Advent wreath on the table behind me, and light the Peace candle. Those three elements – mystery, greens, and peace – all came together like pieces of a puzzle as I considered the Lectionary passage from Isaiah assigned for this second Sunday of Advent.


Isaiah 11:1-9
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. [Read more…]

Advent 1 – A People of Mystery

“What Does it Mean to be a People of Mystery?” Bob Ryder


Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “A voice is crying out In the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” John wore clothing made of camel hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey for his food. The people of Jerusalem and all Judea and the region along the Jordan were going out to him to be baptized in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. [Read more…]

The Whole Truth

“The Whole Truth,” Susan Ryder

 Are you aware of the power of your word, of speaking truth? What are some of the ways you’ve experienced the power of your word in your life? Consider that question as I share a few readings.

 Matthew 15:1-20 (selected verses)
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’”

Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” [Read more…]

What Would That Be Like?

“What Would That Be Like?” Bob Ryder

From Psalm 139
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast. [Read more…]

Choose Curiosity

“Choosing Curiosity Over Judgement,” Susan Ryder

This morning we continue our theme of what it means to be a people of curiosity as we consider the spiritual practice of choosing curiosity over judgment. We’ll begin with a couple of readings.


Luke 19:1-7
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” [Read more…]

What Do You Know?

“What Do You Know?” Bob Ryder

Matthew 18:21-22 (paraphrased) Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, if one of our group wrongs me, how many times am I to forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, seventy times seven.

Luke 10:25-37  A lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ [Read more…]

Then They Came for Me

“Then They Came for Me,” Susan Ryder


Matthew 25:34-40
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” [Read more…]

Mindful Maintenance

“Mindful Maintenance,” Bob Ryder

Matthew 6:25-29 ‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

Matthew 7:1-5 ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For the judgement you give you will be the judgement you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite – first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. [Read more…]

Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do

Sermon: Let the Beauty we Love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. -Rumi

Susan Baller-Shepard

Come Holy Spirit Come

Good Morning.

Thank you for inviting me to join you in worship this morning.

I’m going to share some words, reflections, then hand the microphone to hear your thoughts.

When Susan and Bob invited me and told me your theme for the month,

I said yes immediately. [Read more…]

Beauty as Self-Transcendence

“Beauty as Self Transcendence,” Bob Ryder


Frederick Buechner: If you lose yourself in your work, you find who you are. If you express the best you have in you in your work, it is more than just the best you have in you that you are expressing.

Nobody – Emily Dickenson
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Proverbs 12:15 – Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice. [Read more…]