Archive - TCC Flash
Articles that were published within the last 30 days
« Back to TCC Flash
In our summer sermon series, we’ve been looking at some of the remarkable stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Hebrew scriptures. What is interesting is how often God communicated to them through dreams. When Jacob was on the run from his brother Esau for swindling him out of his birthright, he had a dream of the heavens opening and angels descending and ascending to him. He dreamt of angels descending from heaven and ascending back again. It was probably like an escalator. Angels are symbols in the Bible of God’s messengers coming down from heaven to speak to us. In response, our prayers ascend back to God. Through this dream, Jacob realized that despite running from God, he couldn’t get away. God was always there behind the scenes.
This week we start the Joseph saga where Joseph, a bit of a brat and daddy’s favorite son, tells his brothers about two dreams he had. In the first, he and his brothers were working in a field when his sheave rose up and all the other sheaves (his brothers’) bowed down to him. In another dream, the sun and moon and eleven stars (again, his brothers) were bowing down to—you got it—him. As you can imagine, this didn’t greatly endeared him to his brothers. While the dream proved to be true, there are some things best kept to oneself.
Did you know that one-third of the entire Bible is dedicated to dream or vision material? Here are a few examples of dreams in the Bible:
Abram (God spoke of the future slavery of his people in Egypt and of a coming Promised Land)
Jacob (staircase into heaven)
Joseph (had dreams & interpreted dreams for Pharaoh)
Gideon (had a dream that he would defeat the Midianites)
Solomon (the gift of wisdom came through a dream)
Pilot’s Wife (told her husband not to have anything to do with Jesus)
Ananias (had a dream calling him to assist a man named Saul)
Paul (had a dream to stay and work with the new believers in Corinth)
Jesus’ birth stories (there were 5 dreams & 3 visions)
Carl Jung (1875-1961), the forefather of analytical psychology, found great significance in dreams and saw them as gateways to self-discovery and spiritual insight. John Sanford, an Episcopal priest and psychologist, building on Jung and other psychologists, wrote a ground-breaking book in 1986 called, Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language. He makes the case that as in the Bible, God continues to speak to us through dreams. “God dreams,” as he calls them, are where the content is from God and given for a specific purpose such as warning of danger, pointing you to help someone in need, or to bring Christ or some word or deed of encouragement to someone. If the interpretation is true, the dream will usually plant itself in your heart. Some dreams might not be understood for years (example of Joseph’s early dreams in Genesis).
Sanford warns that we should test our dreams to see if they are indeed of God. If you have what you think is a “God dream,” go directly to God in prayer and ask for confirmation: ultimately, dreams should bring further understanding & peace, not confusion. Check your dreams against Scripture: God doesn’t say one thing in the Bible and the opposite in a dream. Share it with a trusted friend and see what they think.
God has spoken to me through dreams over the years—some profound, some not so much. But what I have learned is that God wants to speak to us, have conversation with us, even if it means whispering in our ears while we’re asleep!
For those of you who lovingly sponsored a Church World Service school bag, thank you again from your Missions Committee! You have until the fall to return them (October 1st, to be exact), but the month of August is a perfect time to find all of your needs on sale. Though the cost of the supplies is relatively low, it never hurts to save a few dollars when you can! Please drop your completed bag into the marked bin at the side entrance any time between now and October. Happy shopping!
Earlier this month we received a very unexpected visit to the church office. Jacquelyn, a single mom and Tewksbury resident referred to TCC by the Food Pantry in May 2017, came by to deliver three $50.00 Market Basket gift cards. She was so appreciative of the help and support she received from our Deacon and the Love Offering program, she wanted to share that feeling with other families in need. She had lost her job and was despairing about not making ends meet and feeding her kids. TCC welcomed her, gave her hope, and helped her feel more connected to her community.
If you ever wondered if the Love Offering collection each month is effective, if it makes a difference in the lives of those served by it, this example is a strong testament to its positive impact. Not everyone can do what this person did, but what a moving example of God's Love in Action!
In 1993 the Wall St. Journal ran an eight-page ad announcing the launch of a new document sharing format call PDF. As many of you probably know, PDF stands for Portable Document Format and all agree that it is the most efficient way to share files across different devices and operating systems.
Recently, I came upon an article that put a new twist on PDF. Denise Pope, the co-author of the book Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids recommends using the acronym PDF to help support the overall well-being of kids. She says kids (and grownups) need more PDF time in their lives: Playtime, Downtime, and Family/Friend time. Our culture places such a high value on achievement, productivity, and success that it is easy to think of playtime, downtime, and family/friend time as things that are fine, but not compulsory. Why, as in most choices, does it have to be “either/or” instead of “both/and”? Productivity and achievement are important AND so are playtime, downtime and family time.
This formula follows the pattern of Sabbath in the scripture: of Jesus taking mini-retreats to pray and be alone before his day began, and of loving God with our heart, soul, mind and strength. Balance, wholeness and wellness are part of the abundant life Jesus promises. I know that when I neglect my need for playtime, downtime, and friends and family time in my life, my sense of wellness suffers. Like the lumberjack who never takes time to stop and sharpen his axe, I too, can became dull and less. All work and no play will make us dull indeed.
Summer is a wonderful time to improve our PDF, for all ages. My mother-in-law would always say, “You take family vacations to create memories.” Those who have children, prioritizing PDF time will create those memories and deepen bonds of love.
And to think, like you, I assumed PDF was just a universal way to share files. Turns out it’s a universal format to enrich our lives.
From July 5th through the 14th, I was backpacking with two hiking buddies in the Sawtooth and White Cloud Wilderness in Idaho. It was some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever witnessed. Snow covered mountains soared 9,000 feet to the sky. Stunning waterfalls and rushing streams were everywhere because the snow pack was melting. We had to bushwhack, cross rivers, and change our routes several times because some trails were impassable. We camped every night by mountain lakes whose temperatures were in the 30’s. Good for a refreshing 2 second bath. We also watched a full moon wax above us every night.
People ask me why I like backcountry wilderness hiking. First, I see stunning wonders that can’t be appreciated unless you make the effort to go see them. Second, because I have wonderful hiking partners who love to walk the same backcountry routes I do. And third, because I find an encounter with God that I would never otherwise discover. I commented on Sunday morning while on the trail that church had just begun. My friend Peter said, “We’ve already been in church for three days!” I couldn’t agree more. The Reformer, John Calvin, said there are two books that reveal God to us: the book of scripture and the book of nature.
“The heavens are telling the glory of God,” the Psalmist asserts, “and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4).
This is but one of hundreds of Bible verses about how the creation speaks of the Creator. There’s no speech, nor are there words, and there’s no vocal chorus and yet we see and hear something beyond what our eyes and ears can sense. We tend to appreciate nature more in the summer because we’re outdoors more, but we also hear the cacophony of birds singing, waves roaring, and trees swaying in the breeze. We smell freshly mown grass, taste crisp watermelon, and feel cool water when we plunge into a lake. And also because we’re New Englanders and get 3 months a year in the summer when we can glory in creation (unless you like snow sports).
Nature tells us a lot about God. Paul put it eloquently when he wrote: “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that mortals are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
We can see the depth of the Creator in the ocean, the vastness of God in a star-studded sky, the majesty of our Maker in alpine peaks, and God’s power in the fury of a hurricane. Of course, we hear the golfer who says, “I can experience more of God on the golf course on Sunday morning than I can in church.” And I’ll bet he calls God’s name when he slices his ball into the woods one more time. But that is not the whole story.
A parishioner once told me that her dad taught her, “Yes, you can meet God in nature, but unless you go to church you’ll never learn that God is a God of history and a God of redemption.” I’ve always remembered that. God is not just a cosmic power or creative spirit, but a personal God who cares about and is active in our world and in our lives. Nature can’t tell us that. The Gospel gives us that. “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) God speaks supremely through Jesus Christ, but we can also be sure that nature speaks about God!
So yes, let us join the chorus of rocks and roots and radishes, of cows and caterpillars and cardinals singing our “Alleluias!” to God for the joy of being alive and doing what we’re best meant to do. Let us be alive to the presence of God in nature. But let us revel most in the knowledge that we are children of God, loved passionately, and hear God most clearly in the words of life that our Lord speaks.
There are several local events this month, plus a historic tri-conference annual meeting taking place:
LOCAL CHURCH PUBLIC EVENTS
Friday & Saturday – July 21 & 22, 2017; 8:00 AM-3:00 PM
Old Sloop Fair at FCC-Rockport