November 22, 2020

“Prelude to Goodbye,” Bob Ryder


Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant as well as to harvest;
a time to kill as well as to heal;
a time to take things apart as well as a time to put them back together;
there’s a time to cry just as there’s a time to laugh;
there’s a time to grieve just as there’s a time to rejoice;
there’s a time to scatter bricks, just as there’s a time to lay them in place;
there’s a time to embrace, as well as a time to refrain from embracing;
there’s a time to call off the search, as well as a time to begin looking;
there’s a time to give belongings away, just as there’s a time to collect what we need;
there’s a time to tear things apart, just as there’s a time to sew them together;
there’s a time to keep silence as well as a time to speak;
there’s a time to hate as well as a time to love;
there’s a time for war, and there’s a time for peace. [Read more…]

November 1, 2020

“Calling All Saints,” Susan Ryder

Micah 6:8 What does the Lord require of you but to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

Matthew 5:1-10 aka The Beatitudes (New Living Translation)
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. [Read more…]

October 25, 2020

“Resisting Condemnation,” Bob Ryder

Luke 6:37-42 Jesus taught his followers, “Don’t hold others to account, and you won’t be held to account. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you’ll be forgiven. Be generous, and you’ll be treated generously – a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and over-flowing will be poured in your lap. The measure you use dealing with others will be the measure used dealing with you.” He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? The student isn’t above the teacher, but those who practice will be like their teacher. Why do you look at the speck in your neighbor’s eye but pay no attention to the plank in your own? How can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while you’re ignoring the branches covering your face? Don’t be a hypocrite, first clear your own vision, then you’ll see clearly to help your neighbors with the specks in their eyes.” [Read more…]

LGBTQ+ Appreciation

Sunday, October 18, 2020
“New Covenant Community – A Welcoming Congregation,” Susan Ryder

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. 

Bishop Desmond Tutu: “All over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God – and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy.”  [Read more…]

October 11, 2020

“Beginner’s Mind: Letting Go,” Bob Ryder

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

This morning let’s take another look at two concepts from the practice of Zen Buddhist mindfulness: “Letting Go” and “Beginner’s Mind.”  I’ve spoken about them before on a couple of occasions, and they’re worth coming back to as Susan and I count down our last dozen reflections before we retire at the end of this year.  Occasionally I’ve mentioned my appreciation for mindfulness practice via a set of mental and spiritual skills that help manage stress and cultivate an alert / poised approach to living. There are seven principles associated with the tradition as follows… [Read more…]

World Communion 2020

“The Welcome Table,” Susan Ryder


Luke 14:16-22 – Jesus Seminar Translation
“Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the disabled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.’ [Read more…]

September 27, 2020

“Inclusive, Compassionate, Joyful,” Bob Ryder


Matthew 5:13-16 (partial/paraphrased)
You are the light of the world. No one lights a lamp and hides it under a blanket. You hang it from the ceiling, so it lights up the room. Likewise, let your inner light shine so others may see it and be drawn to the sacred coming into the world through you.

Matthew 6:1-4
Resist practicing your piety before others to be seen – there’s no virtue in that. When you give to charity, don’t make a production of it so others will praise you. Those who do such things have received all the reward coming to them. When you give, be so private about it even your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing. Let your charity be between you and God. [Read more…]

September 20, 2020

“We’re Lost and it’s Your Fault!” The Rev. Dr. Teresa Dulyea-Parker, Regional Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for Illinois and Wisconsin


Exodus 16:2-15

2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” [Read more…]

September 13, 2020

“Forgiveness Revisited,” Susan Ryder

Leviticus 23:26-28 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27Now, the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall deny yourselves* and present the Lord’s offering by fire; 28and you shall do no work during that entire day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God.

Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.” [Read more…]

September 6, 2020

“Scientific and Sacred,” Bob Ryder

Daniel Patrick Moynihan – “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Carl Sagan – “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual…The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.

Proverbs 23:23 – Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. [Read more…]