Jeff’s Jottings – April 2018

We’ve spent the bulk of the past three months (nine out of thirteen weeks) in our worship services looking at some major social issues and how the gospel applies to them, how following Jesus calls us to address them. And in a few weeks (starting on Mothers Day and continuing for 40 days), the Poor People’s Campaign* will be calling us as Christians into the streets for action on justice issues.

I don’t know about you, but I need to pause for some reflection and renewal. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do for six weeks, through the Easter season. Starting on April 8, we will use a cup as the central image in a six-week sermon series inviting us to reflect on our spiritual lives.

We drink from cups, so they can remind us of our thirst for God and how that thirst is quenched. We also hold cups, we fill cups, we empty cups, we wash cups – and these activities can be metaphors for our spiritual lives. With a cup’s emptiness, fullness, brokenness, flaws, and blessings, perhaps we can see our own lives.

Joyce Rupp, whose The Cup of Our Life inspires this sermon series, writes about how rich these metaphors can be: “A cup is a container for holding something. Whatever it holds has to eventually be emptied out so that something more can be put into it. I have learned that I cannot always expect my life to be full. There has to be some emptying, some pouring out, if I am to make room for the new. The spiritual journey is like that – a constant process of emptying and filling, of giving and receiving, of accepting and letting go.

“The cup has taught me many valuable lessons for my spiritual growth. I have learned that my life holds stale things that need to be discarded and that sometimes my life feels as wounded as a broken cup. I have learned that I have flaws, chips, and stains, just as any well-used cup may have, but that these markings of a well-traveled life need not prevent me from being a valuable gift for others. I have learned that the contents of my life are meant to be constantly given and shared in a generous gesture of compassion, just as the main purpose of a cup is to give its contents given away. I have especially learned gratitude for all those moments when the unexpected has transformed my life into an abundant cup of blessings.”

I invite you to select one particular cup to use during these six weeks. It could be a coffee mug, a sippy cup, a wine glass – any cup, really, though you might want to think about using a cup that’s part of your daily life. And you might want it to be a cup you can bring to church each week to hold during the sermons.

And I should probably tell you something about the sermons. I big hunk of them will be spent in reflection and discussion. The seats in our sanctuary will be arranged in little groups of three to facilitate directed quiet discussion among triads, reflecting on that week’s theme (introduced by Pastor Brenda or me) as it applies to our own lives. The logistics of this may be a bit challenging, but I hope you’ll enter into this with an open mind and a charitable heart.

Finally, one closing thought. There seems to be something quite right about the timing of this series. Our Adult Sunday School class just started a discussion series of the book, A New Way to Be Human. From what I’ve read about the book, it too is an invitation to reflect on our spiritual lives. You’re welcome to join the class; they meet in the Fellowship Hall from 9:00 to 9:50 a.m. each Sunday.

Easter is about God calling forth life. May this sermon series and whatever other spiritual practices you engage in during Easter draw you deeper into newness of life.

Pastor Jeff

*You can learn more about the Poor People’s Campaign at

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