At the Cusp of a New Year

“Letting Go, Looking Forward,” Susan Ryder

Letting Go
Throughout the darkest Sundays of the year during the season of Advent, we have been considering what it means to be a people of hope. Next week, as light slowly starts to return, we will begin to consider what it means to be a people of vision. This morning, during this in-between time, we find ourselves on the cusp of a new year. Maybe you’re eager to begin anew, hopeful for what lies ahead as you summon your will to make changes for the better, anticipating tomorrow through the lens of a clean slate. Or perhaps you feel anxious about 2019, worrying or even dreading what may lie ahead. So on this last Sunday of the year, it seems fitting to catch our breath for a moment, looking back on and forward to where we’re headed from a the relative security of the New Year’s home base. Rather than our usual reflection, we’ll participate in a couple of rituals this morning to reorient and get out bearings during this moment between what was and what will be.  Think of this as a chance to restock our spiritual backpack – getting rid of excess ballast that weighs us down and balancing the load so we can focus on we can make the most of the journey ahead with all the joys and challenges it certainly has in store. [Read more…]

Advent 4: Hope vs. Obliviousness

“Hopefully Observant,” Bob Ryder


Thesaurus –
Oblivious – unaware of what’s happening around you
Observant – aware, insightful, engaged

Luke 2 (selected verses)
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 place for them in the inn. [Read more…]

Advent 3: Hope vs. Complacency

“Hope vs. Complacency,” Susan Ryder

Isaiah 61:1-4
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

John 1:6-9
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. [Read more…]

Advent 2: Hope vs. Optimism

“Nevertheless,” Bob Ryder

Fire and Ice– Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. [Read more…]

Advent 1: Hope vs Despair

“What Does it Mean to Be a People of Hope? Hope vs. Despair,” Susan Ryder

Jeremiah 33:14-16
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.

Luke 21:25-28
There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. [Read more…]

Being Jesus

“What Does it Mean to Be A People of Courage: Being Jesus,” Susan Ryder

Nelson Mandela
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

St. Catherine of Siena Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire! [Read more…]

Courage in the Face of Our Mortality

“Courage in the Face of Mortality,” Bob Ryder

Continuing our series on courage, on this last Sunday of October we turn our attention to courage in the face of mortality. It seemed appropriate to think about death in these days before our observances of the Day of the Dead, All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain, All Souls, and All Saints Days. Let’s begin with a few readings: [Read more…]

Courage in the Face of Turmoil

“Courage in the Face of Turmoil,” Susan Ryder

Matthew 6:25-29

Therefore I tell you, 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. [Read more…]

LGBT Courage

“The Courage to Be Yourself,” Bob Ryder

This morning as we continue our series on “What does it mean to be a people of courage?” we’ll consider the courage of LGBT people as part of the observance for LGBT history month, and National Coming Out Day this past Thursday.


CNN AC360:  (CNN Published on Jun 26, 2015) [Read more…]


“What Does it Mean to be a People of Courage?” Susan Ryder

Luke 18:1-5
Then Jesustold them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”

Galatians 6:9So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. [Read more…]