Pastor's Ponderings

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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

My Cup Has Overflowed

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A poem from an unknown source to help you have a larger perspective on life. Referenced in the sermon on Sunday, July 10.

My Cup Has Overflowed

I've never made a fortune,
it's probably too late for that now,
but it doesn't matter all that much
because I'm happy anyhow.

As I go along life's journey
I'm reaping better than I sowed
I'm drinking from my saucer
for my cup has overflowed.

I don't have a lot of riches
sometimes the going's tough
but I've got a wife and kids that love me
and that makes me rich enough.

I just thank God for the mercies
and the riches he's bestowed
I'm drinking from the saucer
for my cup has overflowed.

I remember those times when things went wrong
and my faith was drawn out thin,
then all at once the dark clouds broke
and the sun came through again.

Lord, help me not to gripe
about the rough roads I've hoed;
I'm drinking from my saucer,
for my cup has overflowed.

If God gives me strength and courage
when my way gets steep and rough.
I'll not ask for other blessings
I've already been blessed enough.

May I never be too busy
to help another bear his load
I'm drinking from my saucer,
for my cup has overflowed.


Posted by Rev. Dr. Steve Larsen with