Posts Tagged Chautauqua

“Miracle on 31st Street’ – Review – www.ethicsdaily.com

By Mitch CarnellJune 9, 2020 –

If you want to experience joy and feel as though you have been wrapped in a warm blanket of love, then read Susan Sparks’ new book, “Miracle on 31st Street.”

It is a small book of 26 devotionals that will lift your spirits. Sparks spreads out the message of Jesus in a simple but profound manner.

The devotionals are grouped under four headings – Hope, Peace, Love and Joy – plus reflections for Christmas Day and The Day after Christmas.

Quick response, or QR, codes included inside allow readers to obtain a workbook and an Advent calendar.

Born and raised in North Carolina, Sparks knew she wanted to be a preacher by age 7. However, all of her role models in her Southern Baptists circles told her that women could not be pastors.

She then became a lawyer and a standup comedian. After 10 years of being a lawyer, she decided she could deny her calling no longer.

So, Sparks enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where her calling was honored, and later became lead pastor at historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City.

The title of the book comes from the location of the church, which is only three blocks from 34th Street, the location of the famous Christmas movie, “Miracle on 34th Street.”

The book grew out of a series of sermons she preached at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York State.

Sparks takes full advantage of her Southern roots in how she slides the gospel into her wonderful stories. She is a storyteller and a very good one, finding a way to assure us of God’s profound love for each of us in every entry.

In the devotional, “It Is Enough,” she recounts making a cheese grit soufflé and offers a good example of how she uses humor to teach us a biblical truth. “The recipe of life is enough. We are enough.”

In the same devotional she says, “If someone in your life doesn’t call you beloved, it’s their failing, not yours.”

Just to make certain we get the point, she adds, “We are beloved because of who we are. We are children of God.”

The most inspiring story comes in the devotional, “Changing the World with a Five-Dollar Bill.”

Each church member was given a five-dollar bill with the sole instruction to use it to lift someone’s day. The stories that came back from that experience teaches us a lesson on how to do much with little.

Sparks is at her best in the devotional, “Christmas Day.” She quotes a Russian store clerk just after he helps an elderly woman, “If we don’t help each other, who are we?”

You can easily read all the devotionals in one sitting, but I urge you to take your time and savor each one. You will also enjoy giving this book of love and hope to friends.

Mitch Carnell

Mitch Carnell is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” His writings can also be found at MitchCarnell.com.

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Loren Mead, author, teacher, and priest, has died – Great Loss – Good Friend*

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Born in Florence, South Carolina, on February 17, 1930, Loren B. Mead, graduated from the University of the South, and later earned an MA from the University of South Carolina.  After teaching in the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School for Adults for two years, Loren attended Virginia Theological Seminary and received his Masters in Divinity in 1955 and was ordained an Episcopal priest.

He was an educator, consultant, and author who worked to strengthen religious institutions, especially of local congregations. Mr. Mead collaborated with lay people, clergy, executives and bishops, teachers, and others committed to ministry.  A pioneer in congregational studies, he brought together the methods of organization development consultation and applied research for working with congregations.

Born and raised in the segregated South, Loren worked for racial justice and reconciliation throughout his career. Besides marching with a delegation of white pastors in support of Martin Luther King after the death of Medgar Evers, he played a leading role in the desegregation of Chapel Hill.

As an author, he published four best-selling books on the future of the church; The Once and Future Church (1991), Transforming Congregations for the Future (1994), Five Challenges for the Once and Future Church (1996), and Financial Meltdown in the Mainline? (1998).  In addition to a number of articles and chapters in edited works, he is also the author of New Hope for Congregations (1972), Critical Moment of Ministry: The Change of Pastors (1987), The Whole Truth(1987), and More than Numbers (1994).  His most recent book, The Parish is the Issue refocused on his work with congregations as the future direction.

 

In his work with churches, Mead developed a number of resources on the role and work of the interim pastor, the use of conflict management, clergy stress and burnout, concepts of change and development in congregations and their judicatory systems, training methods for executives and bishops.  He was concerned for the personal, professional, and spiritual development of lay and clergy leaders, and especially for the creative possibilities for churches and leaders at moments of transition in role.

 

Mead’s work with the Alban Institute was informed by his career in the parish ministry. After serving in several parishes in North and South Carolina, as well as the UK, until the then Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, John Hines, asked him to direct that denomination’s experimental “Project Test Pattern” for a three-year period.  In 1974, Mead founded the Alban Institute, Inc., developing its national, multi-denominational network of research, publishing, education, and consulting.

 

Mead later received honorary degrees from the University of the South, Virginia Theological Seminary, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale,  and The Episcopal Divinity School.  In 1999, he was named the fifth recipient of the Henry Knox Sherrill Medal by the Episcopal Church Foundation.

Mead’s work lives on in the church. Alban at Duke Divinity, the successor to the Alban Institute, continues his agenda of research and consulting. Institutions like the interim pastorate and the Consortium of Endowed Parishes continue to express the concern for the life of local religious communities that was the heart of his professional vocation.

*Loren offered me great help when my own Church life was shaken.  I first met him at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State. He influenced me for the rest of my life.

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Morning Worship: Faith plus God equals a miracle, Canales says

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Rev. Isaac Canales Delivers His Sermon On “Don’t Forget To Remember” During The Sunday Morning Worship On July 16, 2017 At The Amphitheater. PAULA OSPINA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

“In a crisis of fear, when we face a crossroad, we have to make up our minds to continue in faith, hope and trust in God, or are we going to pay more attention to the circumstances than God,” said the Rev. Isaac J. Canales at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service in the Amphitheater. His title was “Don’t Forget to Remember,” and the Scripture reading was Numbers 13:1-16 and 32-33.

“My title is something of a Yogi Berra-ism,” Canales said.

He and his wife bought breakfast sandwiches for their flight here since there would be no mealservice, and “Mexicans and pretzels don’t mix.” As they sat and opened up their sandwiches over Kansas, Canales asked his wife if she brought the insulin. She said she thought he had brought it; it was on her checklist but she forgot to look at the list.

He was accusing her of forgetting to remember. Luckily, it was all right when they arrived and they got the medicine they needed.

God had promised the people of Israel a land flowing with milk and honey — the milk and cheese of goats and the honey and sugar from dates. But fear came upon the people as they waited to go into the promised land.

“Their fear brought a loss of memory of what God had done for them,” he said.

In Numbers, Moses sends spies into the land of Canaan and they come back with a report cautioning against taking over the land. It was a land of giants, they said, that devoured its own people, and the Israelites looked like grasshoppers in comparison.

They forgot that God had brought them out of the land of Egypt, that God opened the Red Sea for them to cross, that God gave them manna and quail in the wilderness, “without a bakery or butcher shop in sight.” God gave them water from a rock, shade by day and fire by night.

“When we face crises, we are tempted to despair, to give up on hope and we turn to the solutions of our own mind and heart and we forget how strong God is,” he said. “We tend to look at the size of the giants rather than God.”

Fear results in a loss of courage and perspective. The spies started to think on their own, instead of thinking with God on their side.

“They made the obstacle bigger than God and gave up on themselves and God,” he said. “Your God is bigger than the problem, bigger than the giants, who just cast long shadows.”

Hope and faith are necessary today, too.

“We can’t give up on God and stop praying for our president,” Canales said. “He needs prayerand God is still in charge. God is never out of control; he is always in control of everything.”

The spies saw a mighty civilization when they were in the Canaanite city of Hebron. Canales said that fear makes us lose focus. Even the names of some of the spies had fear in them. Shammua, who came from the tribe of Reuben, has a name that is translated as “puts the lie to the words of the Holy One.” Nahbi, from the tribe of Naphtali, means “hid from the words of the Holy One.” They believed the lie that they were only grasshoppers to the giants.

“It was the lie of rationalism and lack of hope,” he said. “When we are too rational and exclude the mystical hand of almighty God, when we forget that he brought us through every crisis, we try to solve the problem without faith and trust in God and Jesus through the Holy Spirit.”

We lean on things that are handmade, we trust too much in technology, he said.

“Not by might nor power but by my spirit, says the Lord,” Canales said. “God told Moses at the burning bush to take off his handmade sandals as a sign of trust that he was on holy ground.”

There were two spies whose names point to trust in God, who remembered what God had done. Caleb means dog, a sign of faithfulness, and Joshua means “the Lord is our savior.” They had faith when the others did not.

Nine years ago, Canales was given a 1 percent chance to live by his doctors. They had to remove his colon and large intestine and revive his heart 21 times. They gathered his family and said there was not much hope, except for one radical procedure they could try.

“The emergency room was packed out with people praying for their pastor. My wife said I had a 99 percent chance with God and to do the operation, and here I am,” he said. “I asked the Lord why he has given me my life and he said ‘To encourage people.’ Nothing is impossible with God if we don’t forget to remember. And God can do it again and again and again.”

Caleb and Joshua represent the minority report of faith and hope.

“We are a minority around the world,” Canales said. “But a mustard seed in the hand of God is a miracle. Caleb and Joshua are symbols that in every ‘no’ (in the world) there is a ‘yes’ from God.”

To trust in God is our hope, he said.

“Jesus is the hope for my salvation,” Canales said. “What he has done for others, he can do for you.”

Fear begins with a loss of memory and fear without faith forgets the great covenant God made with Israel to be his people. Fear makes people lose heart so that we see the Canaanites as giants.

But God made grasshoppers and a grasshopper with God is a helicopter, he said.

“When we lose perspective, we are truly alone; we are defeated before the battle starts,” Canales said. “In the face of a crisis, don’t forget to remember what God has done in the past. Faith plus God equals a miracle.”

The Rev. Robert M. Franklin, Jr., director of the Department of Religion, presided. Judith Davidson Moyers, president and CEO of Public Affairs Television Inc. and life partner of Bill Moyers, read the Scripture. The women of the Chautauqua Choir sang “Samba de las Escrituras (A Scriptural Samba),” by Ken Berg. The responsorial Psalm 91, “Be with Me Lord,” was written by Marty Hagen; Peter Steinmetz served as cantor. The offertory anthem was the world premiere of “Chautauqua Anthem” by Paul Moravec. The Motet Choir commissioned the piece in honor of Jared Jacobsen’s more than 20 years of service to Chautauqua Institution. The organ postlude was “God Among Us (La Nativité, IX),” by Olivier Messiaen. Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, directed the Chautauqua Choir. The Robert D. Campbell Memorial Chaplaincy Fund and the Lois Raynow Department of Religion Fund provide support for this week’s services.

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Morning Worship: Chautauqua’s compass set on paradise, Holmes says

by MARY LEE TALBOT on   The Chautauqua Daily

There were many problems in the church in Corinth, but there was one in particular that Paul kept coming back to, said the Rev. J. Peter Holmes at the 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning worship service. His sermon title was “Island Life,” and the Scripture readings were Psalm 133 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a.

In 1 Corinthians 1, 3 and 12, Paul comes back to the problem of divisions in the church. Some said “I belong to Paul,” others to Apollos, others to Cephas (Peter), and others to Christ.

“Imagine, the church had these incredible pastors, what a blessing — and they were not getting along,” Holmes said.

Similarly, there are divisions in our world today.

“I did not have to cross the border to learn about the divisions in your country; the whole world knows,” Holmes said. “The world sees our religious divisions and there is a whole generation who sees the bad mouthing among us and has said ‘Enough.’ ”

Holmes told the congregation that we have to be honest about who we are, but that we have much to learn from other religions without compromising who we are. He described a conversation he had with Rabbi Arthur Waskow about a gospel text and how he came away with a whole new perspective.

The squabbles in our own churches do damage to what faith in Jesus Christ is all about, Holmes said. There are divisions about theology, leadership, money and music.

“Paul called the Corinthians back to something,” he said. “Paul said that he had done the planting, Apollos had done the watering, but it was God’s one purpose and Spirit that made the church grow.”

We are here to do God’s work, he told the congregation; faith always comes back to God because God so loved the world. Paul used the metaphor of a team, but in 1 Corinthians 12 in the letter to the Corinthians, he used the metaphor of the body of Christ.

“It was brilliant,” Holmes said. “We are to be the body of Christ, empowered by the Spirit to carry on Christ’s work in the world. That is why unity is important; if we don’t have unity then we are not doing the work of Christ.”

Holmes thought that the Corinthians read Paul’s metaphor as something humorous. Paul wrote that the foot cannot say to itself that it is not a hand, therefore it was not part of the body. The ear could not say it was not an eye, therefore it was not part of the body.

How ridiculous it would be if the body were all eyes — where would the sense of smell be?

“It is a reminder to us how much we need each other and how ridiculous it is if we think we can do it all on our own,” Holmes said.

Holmes is a great fan of “Doc Martin” star Martin Clunes. Clunes does documentaries for the BBC and one of Holmes’ favorites is about the islands that surround the British Isles, the little islands around the big islands.

One of the islands Clunes featured was Forewick Holm in the Shetland Islands, whose one inhabitant, Stuart Hill, declared it the “Sovereign State of Forvik.” The island is only 2½ acres, and when Clunes landed on the island, Hill asked for his passport.

“I think Paul was holding up a mirror to all those who allow divisions to rest in the heart,” Holmes said. “They can end up looking silly. Paul reminds us that we need each other. We have a high calling to be Christ in the world. We need God and God’s Spirit to always draw us together.”

Paul wrote at the end of 1 Corinthians 12 that he had a “more excellent way.” Holmes said Paul was still speaking to the divisions as he named them clanging symbols or noisy gongs. He was calling them back to love because Christ came in love. Paul called the Corinthians to be “re-membered,” to be put back together with love and patience and kindness, he said.

Clunes visited another island in the Outer Hebrides, Barra, home of Clan MacNeil. It has a population of 1,200; everyone knows everyone and is known by everyone. Yet it is a warm, welcoming place and even outsiders feel cared for. For Clunes, it was a kind of paradise on earth.

“Oh, Chautauqua, you have got your compass and navigation system set on paradise,” Holmes said. “Stay close to the love that enfolds you. Wherever you go, take it with you, and together may we know paradise in our cities, churches, places of worship, homes and hearts.”

The Rev. Dan McKee presided. Shelby Frank, a scholarship student with the International Order of the King’s Daughters and sons, who is pursuing a bachelor’s in education in public Health at the University of North Texas, read the Scripture. Joseph Musser, piano, Barbara Hois, flute, and Rebecca Scarnati, oboe, played J. S. Bach’s “Trio Sonata in D Minor” for the prelude. The Motet Choir sang “Psalm 133,” by Richard Proulx under the direction of Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music. The Alison and Craig Marthinsen Endowment for the Department of Religion and the John William Tyrell Endowment for Religion provide support for this week’s services.

TAGS : 9:15 AMISLAND LIFEMORNING WORSHIPTHE REV. J. PETER HOLMESWEEK TWO

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