Pastor's Ponderings

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The Olympics

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The Olympic Games are underway in Rio. Each time the games come around, we have the opportunity to see the athletes from various nations around the world assemble for competition. The highlight of many athlete’s career comes as they step onto the world stage for their moment to show their best.

It is fascinating just how many different sports and athletes there are. Some that can run, swim or cycle long distances. Others do the same things very quickly over short distances. There are Individual events where the athlete stands alone as well as team competitions where athletes have to work together. Jumping, ball handling, rowing, diving, boxing, shooting, the list of events and talents goes on and on. It goes so quickly there isn’t time to take it all in, but in each games there are certain athletes that capture our attention and win our hearts. We watch because we love to see the grace and perfection of the athletes.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews was aware of athletic competition. He uses a race as a metaphor of the life of discipleship.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-1)

No matter how flexible or strong, no matter how old or how young, we can all successfully participate in the life of faith. As we train our hearts and minds and tune our habits, we can see the grace and perfection of Christ evident in our lives as well.

See you in church,

Pastor Steve Larsen


Things to pray for:
• Pray that the Olympic Games go smoothly and safely for all participants, organizers and spectators.
• Ask God to help three other persons who you feel need God’s help today. .
• Ask God to help Calvary United Methodist Church to know how best to serve God and this community.


Here's What I've Been Reading

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I love books and the ways they can inform and teach and enlarge our sensibilities. Here’s a book that I’ve enjoyed reading that I pass along for your consideration with a bit about what I found to be worthwhile:

Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Schrocken Books, 2015) 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes an insightful and timely book about the ways in which religion has been used as a rational for violence. Speaking as Jew, Sacks invites Jews, Christians and Muslims to reconsider their common origin as children of Abraham. He shows that violence carried out in the name of God is based on a misleading reading of the foundational stores from the Book of Genesis that all three of these world religions call scripture. The stories of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac tell us a great deal about who we are and what we have in common. 

“Abraham himself, writes Rabbi Sacks, “sought to be a blessing to other regardless of their faith. That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith. It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief. It is our task to be a blessing to the world. The use of religion for political ends is not religiousness but idolatry. To invoke God is to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but sacrilege.”

And ”At the core of the Bible’s value system is that cultures, like individual, are judged by their willingness to extend care beyond the boundary of family, tribe, ethnicity and nation.” The authors calls the people of each of these three world religion to re-examine the practices of their faith and stand together to confront religious extremism that condones violence, and declare: “Not in God’s Name.”

 Grace and peace,    Pastor Steve

Posted by Rev. Dr. Steve Larsen with