People of Resilience

“A People of Resilience – John Lewis,” Bob Ryder

Jeremiah 1:4-8 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.’ [Read more…]

People of Resilience

“People of Resilience – Bayard Rustin,” Susan Ryder


Isaiah 2:4 He shall judge between the nations, and arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers.

Galatians 3:28 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.

Bayard Rustin: “My activism did not spring from my being gay, or, for that matter, from my being Black. Rather, it is rooted fundamentally in my Quaker upbringing and the values that were instilled in me by my grand-parents who reared me. Those values are based on the concept of a single human family and the belief that all members of that family are equal.” [Read more…]

People of Resilience

“A People of Resilience,” Bob Ryder

Amos 5:24

“…let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

It was 60 years ago yesterday when four African American college students – Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr and David Richmond quietly sat down at a whites-only Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina and remained there when they were asked to leave.  It was a sit-in – a peaceful protest challenging segregation in the “Jim Crow” south, and it was one of the most catalyzing events in the American Civil Rights movement. [Read more…]

Practice What You Preach

“Practice What You Preach,” Susan Ryder

Matthew 23:1-7 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places… But I say the greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” This continues through the chapter, beginning each new section with “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” [Read more…]

Hold On to Your Thread

“Hold On to Your Thread,” Susan Ryder


Luke 6:27-36
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. Be compassionate, just as God is compassionate.” [Read more…]

People of Integrity

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


Matthew 5:33-37…  You have heard it was said in ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” I tell you, don’t swear at all – not by heaven, for it is the home of God and his to share or not; not by earth, for it is the Lord’s garden and not for us to trade on; not by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the King and his to rule. Don’t even swear on your life – you can’t make one hair on your head grey, black or blonde. When you have something to say, don’t talk in superlatives, don’t be hyperbolic, don’t exaggerate. Just let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.” Anything more than that makes you a liar. [Read more…]


“Epiphany,” Susan Ryder

The story of the Magi is a classic one, like Oedipus or Hamlet or Moby Dick, and such stories can contain truths that speak to us, whether or not they are factual. Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “It is not that facts don’t matter. It is just that they don’t matter as much as the stories do, and stories can be true whether they happened or not. You do not have to do archaeology to find out if they are genuine, or spend years in the library combing ancient texts. There is another way home. You listen to the story. You let it come to life inside you, and then you decide on the basis of your own tears or laughter whether the story is true.” So I invite you to listen to what is true for you in this story from Matthew:

Matthew 2
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” And hearing this, Herod the king was troubled, and all Jerusalem as well; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. [Read more…]

2020 Vision

“2020 Vision,” Bob Ryder

What is your vision for who you want to be in 2020?  What activities do you practice to stay on course?  What images or ideas or songs or poems help you cultivate the best version of yourself?  As we approach a new year and a new decade, are there aspects of your life that you want to discard, to add, to keep and strengthen?  Take a moment and see what occurs to you.  Keep those questions in mind and I’ll invite you to respond in a few minutes.

A reporter once asked A.J. Muste, a Dutch-born American clergyman and pacifist who protested against the Viet Nam War, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?”  Muste replied, “Oh, I don’t do this to change the country.  I do this so the country won’t change me.” [Read more…]

Advent 4 – Mystery of Christmas

“The Mystery of Christmas,” Susan Ryder 

Mysteries abound this time of year, the perfect time for us to consider what it means to be a people of mystery. When we were younger, the mysteries of December included how Santa knows what we want for Christmas, and how does he deliver toys to all the children the world in one night? How does he get into your house to drop off gifts if you don’t have a fireplace and a chimney? How does he see you when you’re sleeping and know when you’re awake, and which of his lists you’re on? [Read more…]

Advent 3 – Animal Planet

“Animal Planet,” Bob Ryder

Genesis 1:26-31 – God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. [Read more…]