I Am Number Three

I Am Number Three    Genesis 2:1-3, 15-17, 3:1-8    Matthew 4:1-11    Russell Eidmann-Hicks I recently read a psychologist talking about what it is like to counsel billionaires.  He has seen a number of them. (There are about 2,800 in the world – and of course millions of wannabees…)  One key observation this psychologist makes is that billionaires believe that the rules do not apply to them; they don’t have to obey them.  People are constantly catering to these folks, encouraging them to bend or break the rules.  Because of the astounding depth of their wealth, they can do things most people think is impossible.   Rules just don’t apply.  They feel above them.   In our story today Jesus is being encouraged by the Tempter to act this way.   The Tempter says, “Look, you’re the son of God, right? God’s Son!  So the rules don’t apply – do whatever you want [...]

By | 2017-03-15T13:39:32+00:00 March 15th, 2017|March 2017|Comments Off on I Am Number Three

Spirit of Generosity

Spirit of Generosity   Acts 2:43-47    John 3:1-17      The wind of the Spirit blows free.  Can you hold the wind?  Can you grasp God?  Can you contain the Spirit?  Being free is not just being able to do whatever. And freedom is less about physical freedom and more about inner freedom. We’re free to jump into water whenever we want, but if we don’t know how to swim, it doesn’t lead to freedom.   We’re free to order whatever we want, but not if we can’t pay for it.  Freedom is more than just acting free – it is having the resources to be free.    That is what Jesus is point to in his conversation with Nicodemus.   This is what spiritual practices teach: inner freedom. We’re now in the season of Lent, and we are encouraged to take on spiritual disciplines and to repent for our misdeeds or indiscretions [...]

By | 2017-03-15T13:36:47+00:00 March 15th, 2017|March 2017|Comments Off on Spirit of Generosity

Salt in the Soup

Isaiah 58:6-12   Matthew 5:13-20   Russell Eidmann-Hicks A dash of salt tosses zing into a dish, spice into a soup, pizzazz into a pizza.   A pinch of salt perks up a bland recipe.  Salt cleanses and preserves, it kills bacteria – and so it’s good to gargle with when you have a sore throat.   Salt isn’t boring, a little bit goes a long way. A slim ray of light illuminates a dark corner, a dismal closet, a dank cellar.   One candle in a lantern is all that’s needed to beam a path through a night-shrouded wood.   A small bulb in the right location brightens a large room.  You don’t put a light under a box or a basket; you put it up on a stand or a table, so it radiates everywhere. So what is Jesus saying here?   What do salt and light have to do with being a church, with [...]

By | 2017-02-22T16:55:29+00:00 February 22nd, 2017|February 2017|Comments Off on Salt in the Soup

Loving Enemies

Leviticus 19:1–2, 9–18      Matthew 5:38–48    Russell Eidmann-Hicks How can we possibly love those who hurt us, reject us, shame us?  How can we open our hearts or forgive those who have been nothing but cold and cruel, hard and mean?  Jesus sets a very high bar for us today. About two weeks ago, we got a call in the church office from a man named Wayne, who said that he needed help with a car ride.   We get a number of calls from people asking for assistance, and need to sort out which are legitimate and which are scams.  I called Wayne back and talked with him and ended up driving him from a motel on Rte 35 in Middletown to one on Rte 9 in Marlboro, so that he could catch a bus back home to Los Angeles, CA.  Here’s his story:  He suffers from AIDS in a severe [...]

By | 2017-02-21T14:26:26+00:00 February 21st, 2017|February 2017|Comments Off on Loving Enemies

A Prophet’s Call

Isaiah 49:1-7       John 1:29-42     Russell Eidmann-Hicks Hunter Camp, a seminarian, wrote this in the Christian Century about tensions that pulled at his heart on a trip overseas: “My seminary group drove into the Hungarian countryside, which was not breathtaking, and stopped at an orphanage.   The reality of the children’s home shattered any idyllic images we might have conjured. Unpainted cement buildings with brown stains stood upon bare grounds with rivulets of muddy water.   Over the entrance was an arch that read, in Hungarian, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?  Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isa. 49:15)            A plump nurse led us through a labyrinth of dimly lit hallways and sparsely decorated rooms.  I tasted bile rising in my throat.  A sense of powerlessness pervaded the room where we stopped.   I walked [...]

By | 2017-01-17T14:32:54+00:00 January 17th, 2017|January 2017|Comments Off on A Prophet’s Call

In the Flow

Isaiah 42:1-9   Matthew 3:13-17 A couple of years ago, when a group from our church went on a bike ride in the Finger Lakes in upstate NY, Martha & I took a side trip up the Watkins Glen gorge.  Over thousands of years water carved through the mountain’s rock to fashion an intricate and glorious path, filled with deep pools of crystal clear water and imposing cliffs.   We climbed up the walkway, created by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.  As we looked down into this gorge in all its beauty, I was struck by the wonder of smooth stone slides and round deep pools, all hung with moss and pine.   The power of water over time is astounding – it is able to carve pathways through stone. Chinese Sage Lao Tzu, writing in 500 BC said: “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away [...]

By | 2017-01-09T19:18:04+00:00 January 9th, 2017|January 2017|Comments Off on In the Flow

God With Us

Matthew 1:18-25    Luke 2:1-20     Rev. Rusty Eidmann-Hicks Be careful what you ask for…you just might get it!   A young soldier sat in a bus station waiting for his bus and feeling sorry for himself.   An elderly woman nearby said, “Cheer up, young fellow.  It’s Christmas.  You know, Santa, ho-ho-ho!”  The soldier said, “Let him go ho-ho-ho himself!  When I was ten I asked him for a soldier suit.  This year I got it!”   Some gifts you just don’t want. God needed to be careful for what God asked for… Christmas at first looked like a rotten deal.   Too many complicated personalities and hurt feelings and control issues.  Look what happens in just one of the stories of Jesus’ birth stories.  Poor Joseph…. Can you imagine how he felt?  Mary stops in one day and says, “O Joseph, don’t be upset, but I’m pregnant – Hey it’s [...]

By | 2017-01-02T14:58:47+00:00 January 2nd, 2017|December 2016|Comments Off on God With Us

To Everything There is a Season

Ecclesiastes 3:1-9, 8:6-8a, 9:7-12    Matthew 2:13-23     Russell Eidmann-Hicks “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”  Another translation of this is ‘emptiness, emptiness, all is emptiness – and a striving after wind.”  The writer of Ecclesiastes, is traditionally known as King Solomon – but more probably a teacher in the wisdom tradition from the 3rd century BC.  The teacher is an elder sage, rooted in the natural world, and speaks of the meaning-lessnes of a life not centered in God, a life solely focused on the changing tides and seasons of life.  Jesus was very influenced by this ‘wisdom’ teaching. Like modern day existentialism, the writer sees little essential purpose in life, beyond enjoying day to day pleasures and work; but understands the beauty and fragility of life, and the eternal nature and unknowability of God. “To everything there is a season…a time to kill, and a time to [...]

By | 2017-01-02T14:53:58+00:00 January 2nd, 2017|January 2017|Comments Off on To Everything There is a Season

Make a Joyful Noise!

Make a Joyful Noise!   Psalm 98  John 1:1-14    Russell Eidmann-Hicks In 1936, amid the gathering clouds of war that would turn much of Europe and Asia to wilderness, author E. B. White penned this note in The New Yorker: Shopping in Woolworth’s in the turbulent days, we saw a little boy put his hand inquiringly on a ten-cent Christ child, part of a creche. “What is this?” he asked his mother, who had him by the hand. “C’mon, c’mon,” replied the harassed woman, “you don’t want that” She dragged him grimly away, a Woolworth Madonna, her mind dark with gift-thoughts, following a star of her own devising.   We gather here this Christmas morning, having taken a break from opening presents and sharing the many gifts that we give to each other, to remind ourselves of the real meaning of this day.    It is good to be here, because it [...]

By | 2016-12-28T17:12:29+00:00 December 28th, 2016|December 2016|Comments Off on Make a Joyful Noise!

Strong, Humble & Kind

Strong, Humble, and Kind    Isaiah 35:1-10,   Luke 1:39-56 Krista Tippet, in her book: Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, shares this creation story, that comes from the Hasidic tradition of the Middle Ages: “In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. In the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand, thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. “The wholeness of the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until [...]

By | 2016-12-12T15:36:18+00:00 December 12th, 2016|December 2016|Comments Off on Strong, Humble & Kind