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…]

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…]