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…]

What Do You Know?

“What Do You Know?” Bob Ryder

Matthew 18:21-22 (paraphrased) Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, if one of our group wrongs me, how many times am I to forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, seventy times seven.

Luke 10:25-37  A lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ [Read more…]

Then They Came for Me

“Then They Came for Me,” Susan Ryder


Matthew 25:34-40
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” [Read more…]

Mindful Maintenance

“Mindful Maintenance,” Bob Ryder

Matthew 6:25-29 ‘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.

Matthew 7:1-5 ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For the judgement you give you will be the judgement you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite – first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. [Read more…]

Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do

Sermon: Let the Beauty we Love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. -Rumi

Susan Baller-Shepard

Come Holy Spirit Come

Good Morning.

Thank you for inviting me to join you in worship this morning.

I’m going to share some words, reflections, then hand the microphone to hear your thoughts.

When Susan and Bob invited me and told me your theme for the month,

I said yes immediately. [Read more…]

Beauty as Self-Transcendence

“Beauty as Self Transcendence,” Bob Ryder


Frederick Buechner: If you lose yourself in your work, you find who you are. If you express the best you have in you in your work, it is more than just the best you have in you that you are expressing.

Nobody – Emily Dickenson
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Proverbs 12:15 – Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice. [Read more…]

Beauty in Work

“Finding Beauty in Our Work,” Susan Ryder

Hildegard of Bingen:
A person becomes a flowering orchard. The person that does good work is indeed this orchard bearing good fruit. Whatever humanity does with its deed in the right or left hand permeates the universe.

Jesus: By their fruits you shall know them.

Tao Te Ching: In work, do what you enjoy.

Bhagavad Gita: They all attain perfection when they find joy in their work.

Ecclesiastes 3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a person should enjoy their work. [Read more…]

Balance as Beauty

“Balance as Beauty,” Bob Ryder

Khalil Gibran quotes…

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children. [Read more…]

People of Beauty

“What Does It Mean to Be a People of Beauty,” Susan Ryder

Genesis 1:26-27; 31 – Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; so God created humankind in the image of God; male and female. God saw everything God had made – the light and dark, the waters and sky, the dry land and plants, the creatures of the air, water, and land; and humankind – and indeed, it was very good.

1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Henri Nouwen – “We are indeed brothers and sisters not only of all other men and women in the world but also of all that surrounds us. Yes, we have to love the fields full of wheat, the snowcapped mountains, the roaring seas, the wild and tame animals, the huge redwoods, and the little daisies. Everything in creation belongs, with us, to the large family of God.” [Read more…]

Spiritual Downsizing

“Spiritual Downsizing,” Susan Ryder

Whenever it’s my turn for a Pastor’s Choice Sunday, I often check to see what passage the lectionary offers for that week. For those of you unfamiliar with the lectionary, it’s is a listing of Scripture passages assigned for each Sunday of the year. Sometimes a passage from the lectionary will inspire me and I’ll use it as the basis for my Reflection – and sometimes not so much. This week’s gospel passage was a challenging one, and I considered skipping it, but it kept whispering to me for several days, so I decided to go ahead and take it on. The passage is from Luke and is colored pink by the Jesus Seminar in The Five Gospels, which means scholars believe Jesus probably said something much like this. Pink and red (which means Jesus undoubtedly said it or something like it) are often assigned to Jesus’ sayings which are the hardest ones to hear … this morning is no exception.

Luke 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But Jesus said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” [Read more…]