Trust – Community

“Trust in the Community,” Bob Ryder

Lately I find myself fascinated with the story of Billy Beane, General Manager and Vice President of the Oakland Athletics.  His career is recounted in the book “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis, as well as in the motion picture by the same name. The hook of the story is Billy’s ahead-of-the-curve, game-changing insight for recognizing overlooked/undervalued talent in baseball players, and assembling winning teams for a small fraction of the enormous salary deployed by big-money dynasties such as Boston and New York to entice superstars. [Read more…]

Building Trust

“Building and Rebuilding Trust,” Susan Ryder

 As we continue our discussion of what it means to be a people of trust, we’ll begin by listening to a story told by BrenéBrown in a video on “The Anatomy of Trust.” I will link the video online and on Facebook so you can watch the whole thing – it’s about 20 minutes long, and worth the watch. For now we’ll just watch the first five minutes. [Read more…]

Trust in Adversity

“Trust in Adversity,” Bob Ryder

“No one ever said life is fair.” (author unknown)
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” (author unknown)
“Tough times don’t last.  Tough people do.” Robert Schuller
“Good things come to those who wait.” (author unknown)
“You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” Rolling Stones
“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet’ Helen Keller [Read more…]

The Sacred Mystery of Life

This statement of faith by Jim Pruyne is a lightly edited excerpt by Dick Watts and Gwen Pruyne of two Reflections he offered at New Covenant Community, the church of which he was founding pastor. It was read at his memorial service at First Presbyterian Church, Normal, Illinois, on June 15, 2019.

The Sacred Mystery of Life
By Jim Pruyne

My belief is tentative, incomplete, ever changing, open to revision as I seek to listen to life in order to experience the presence of the sacred in all that surrounds me.

When I am asked whether I believe in God, I offer my current, tentative understanding.  When in the biblical story Moses pleads with God to reveal his name, the answer comes, “I am who I am.” Those words derive from the Hebrew verb, “to be.”  That is, God is not a being, but Being itself. [Read more…]

People of Trust

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

This morning we begin our June/July worship series dealing with what it means to be a people of trust. It’s a topic with many different facets, so we’ll have much to explore over the coming weeks. This morning we’ll consider what it means for us as progressive Christians to be a people of trust – and I’ll invite you to ponder a question. When it comes to your own spirituality – where do you put your trust? In yourself and your own agency or responsibility? In God? Or a combination of the two?

Be thinking about that question as I begin with a couple of readings.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. [Read more…]

Easing the Rocky Parts

“Journeying: Easing the Rocky Parts,” Rev. Jim Turner


Hebrew Scriptures – Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Christian Scriptures – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – Excerpts from article,

“Suicide in the Bible” by Paul Middleton[Read more…]

Mapping Our Trail

“Journeying: Mapping Our Trail,” Rev. Jim Turner


From the Hebrew Scriptures:  Genesis 1:31-2:3

From the Christian Scriptures:  Mark 6:30-32

An adapted excerpt from a poem by Billy Collins

Aristotle [Read more…]

Like a Mother

“Like a Mother,” Susan Ryder


Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. [Read more…]

Worthy Hospitality

“Worthy Hospitality,” Bob Ryder

Ephesians 4:1-12 (fragments) – I beseech you to lead a life worthy of your calling, with humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain unity in the bond of peace.  Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift – some as apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin – “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” [Read more…]

Journey to Wholeness – Easter

“It is Finished?” Susan Ryder

We’ve considered several different aspects of our Lenten journey to wholeness, beginning with the importance of spiritual preparation and grounding; then finding friends to travel with us; being true to our authentic selves; learning humility; accepting our humanity; and living with integrity. This morning we turn out attention to resurrection experiences as part of our pursuit of wholeness, using the Easter story as our jumping off point. I invite you to listen with new ears and open hearts to the reading from Mark’s gospel.

Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. [Read more…]