Central Rocky Mountain Region Anti-Racism Training Communion Invitation

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One of our takeaways from today’s anti-racism training is that racism makes invisible the humanity of those who have been marginalized by systems created to dismiss the validity of their existence.
 
As human beings in relationship with one another we, for the most part, first long to be seen.
 
What does it mean to be seen and what does this table have to do or say about what it means to be seen?
While [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
 
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
 
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Mark 14:3-9
Structural and systemic racism attempts to make invisible anyone in society whose skin color is black, brown, or in other words, something other than white.
 
As the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we make the statement each time we offer communion that everyone is welcome. When we make that statement, the deeper message we are expressing is that we/I see you.
 
Do we really mean what we say?
 
Throughout scripture, our Savior presents himself as someone who saw everyone regardless of their station in society or cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This table then is a humble celebration of the fact that Jesus saw and continues to see each and every one of us.
This invitation to the table was written by the Rev. Darryl Searuggs, an ordained Disciples of Christ pastor, and leader of the Central Rocky Mountain Region’s Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation Team. 

Offering Invitation | 7.14.19

I base what I do off a single philosophy: don’t hurt anyone else. It was born out of my nihilism phase. “Nothing matters. We’re all going to die anyway.” While it may seem riddled with a lack of compassion and a reason to shirk all responsibilities and bonds, it became a mantra for me. The belief that nothing existed gave me the ability to loosen my grip on my depression, anxiety, and bonds to the things that weren’t healthy or didn’t matter.

Before long, it became to take shape as to what that actually meant to me. I began to realize that by nothing, I meant the rules we give ourselves, the unneeded stress that forces us, as a part of society, to compromise and shrink part of ourselves because the fear of stepping out of bounds outweighs the excitement of new experiences that may be an inch, a foot, a mile outside of who we believe we are. The reminder that death is inevitable helped me focus on where I was and who I was with without fear of the future.

My nihilistic mantra pointed out what I already knew: that people are what mattered. From there, it was a short leap to decide that if nothing matters, if we are to return to dust, what matters is what we do on Earth. The people we impact and the things that we do, as small as cooking a meal for a family shelter, planting wildflowers thanks to prepackaged seeds courtesy of Heart of the Rockies, or smiling when making eye contact with a newborn, leave an impact on the world. If I am to leave an impact, I intend to make someone’s life better, because people are what matter.

Nothing was able to show that to me better than the love and support that I have received here. You all have impacted my life in one way or another, and for that I am forever grateful. From providing my sister and I small mints, or picking up my shoes when I left them under a chair, or giving me hugs for years on end, every little action you take has made me stronger and has prepared me for the life I intend to live. Maybe it took nihilism to reinforce that actions had bigger impacts than I anticipated, but you taught it to me in the first place.

Our moments are fleeting, and in reflecting on my upbringing and short life, I’ve come to treasure each small memory. I am secure in who I want to be. I want to give of myself because you have given to me for my entire life. I smile when I see a group of kids playing Groundies, hike and seek, and black widow, because you once smiled at me when I did so. I encourage passion and kindness because you instilled those qualities in me. I learned because I watched; the reason I am who I stand before you as today is because of the generosity I experienced from each of you.

So, thank you for your gifts and smiles and support. Thank you for being such a big part of my life, and for helping me reach for and recognize the beauty and perfection in the world. You will always be a part of me.

Please give as you feel called, as you have given to me all these years.

Kyra Adamson is a long-time, beloved member at Heart of the Rockies Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This fall, she begins her freshman year at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, where she hopes to find a community of faith that will continue to nurture and support her.

Communion Invitation | 6.30.19

I love sleep. It’s one of my favorite activities.

But the past few months my sleeping schedule has been all out of sorts because I started a night shift job. And the issue is not staying up all night at work (thank goodness!) but adjusting my schedule on my days off, so I don’t miss out on some of my other favorite things like being in community with others.

And when I do make it to the important things, even if my body is tired my heart is refreshed and full of life.

We come to this table to be in community with one another and to experience new life that Jesus gave for us.

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An invitation to the Lord’s Supper given by Beth Harding on Sunday, June 30. The sermon text was Acts 20:7-12, in which Eutychus falls asleep and out the window during Paul’s long-winded preaching. Paul, upon realizing what has happened, goes down and proclaims life in him. Then, after breaking bread together, “they left—Paul going one way, the congregation another, leading the boy off alive, and full of life themselves” (Acts 17:20, The Message).

The love in this room

I have big news this week.

My boyfriend, Paul, and I adopted a dog on Monday. Sammie is a 6 month-old chocolate lab, and so far she is a very good girl. It only took us one trip to the Humane Society and one meet-and-greet with her to know that she was the one for us. She is definitely still settling into our house, but she is happy and seems to know how much we love her and loves us in return.

For many, the first day of church or your first day at a new church is a bit intimidating. I remember when I first came to Heart of the Rockies…

Yes, I spoke English and was familiar with the Disciples of Christ, but I didn’t know the people and traditions of Heart of the Rockies. It takes courage when you first walk in to a new place and meet a new group of people.

I can tell you that on my first day in this congregation, I knew the Holy Spirit was doing great things here. I could feel the love in this room. 

The Pentecost Offering received today goes towards helping develop new faith communities. These groups will be different from us, but you can bet that the Holy Spirit will be moving there as well.

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A very good girl.

Written by Kate Cooley for worship on Pentecost Sunday | June 9, 2019

Pass It On

In a former life, I was obsessed with Amish Friendship Bread.

If you’re smiling right now, you’re familiar with the process of making Amish Friendship Bread. If you’re rolling your eyes and groaning, you’re really familiar with it.

For those of you less familiar, here’s how it goes: It starts with a “starter bag”: a soupy mix of ingredients in a gallon Ziploc bag. You receive it from a “friend,” and you tend it for the next ten days, occasionally squishing it around to mix the ingredients and keep the rising agents alive, and at one point in the process, adding several more ingredients into the bag, and then taking out of the bag enough of the soupy mixture to make four NEW starter bags, which you then give to other “friends,” and possibly keep for yourself for future use. Meanwhile, your bag goes on to become a loaf or two of sugary sweet bread so good that my department mates at my last school referred to it as “crack bread” and first adored me and eventually cursed me for its regular appearance on the breakroom table, in all its cinnamony, diabetic-coma-inducing glory.

But those four starter bags…every ten days. This process was as high-maintenance as it was pound-packing. And nobody has enough friends to hand off four starter bags every ten days. Friends who at first accepted them with delight eventually would change direction when they saw me coming, avoiding eye contact lest I foist upon them another Ziploc bag full of soupy, yeasty bread goop. And can you imagine how it multiplies with rabbit-like proliferation? Each of those four starter bags produces four more within a week and a half. And each of those produces four more. And so on! There aren’t enough friends in a city for that level of fecundity!

It ruled our lives. I swear, at one point, my best friend and I were crossing town to bag-sit during each other’s out-of-town trips, to squish each other’s bread-goop bags on the days bag-agitation was called for, just to keep the madness going.

I think maybe Amish Friendship Bread ultimately did more damage to my friendships than anything else, and eventually I had to give it up. Each cycle, the extracted new starter-bag goop got ladled down the sink, and for a while, I limped the process along just making the one new starter bag for myself as the current concoction went on to make the addictive final product, and mostly ate it myself, in my classroom or alone in my house, like a miser.

But that’s not how it was meant to be. It wasn’t half as decadent, not remotely rewarding to just make it for myself. It didn’t even taste good anymore, really. (Plus, within a few months, nothing in my closet fit besides). It was meant to be shared.

The Amish had the right idea, even if the bread was more fuss and abundance than anyone wanted. It was the passing on that was good. What if it had been mere kindness instead of bread-starters one had to pass on to four people every ten days?

If the thing you were passing on was more treat than burden, if it were spare change, loving words, the deep-into-one’s-eyes gaze that says, “I see you…”

If we gave those out every day…and the people to whom we gave them gave them again…that would catch on.

Let’s try it.

Written by Christine Engelen, rockstar high school English teacher and recovering Amish Friendship Bread-making fanatic, as an invitation to offering in August 2018.

Table Talk | 8.25.18 Communion

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In 2015, our denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), took a huge step in relaying God’s message to the world. The Disciples of Christ, at our General Assembly, created a new tagline: All Means All. This statement means that no matter your sexual orientation, gender, race, etc., you are always welcome with us in the house of God.

This was such a huge step for our church as a whole because we finally accepted and understood what Jesus was trying to tell us all along–that at God’s table, everyone is welcome.

It doesn’t matter if you have everything you need or are barely scraping by; you are welcome at God’s table.

It doesn’t matter where you are from or your backstory; you are welcome at God’s table.

It doesn’t matter who you love; you are welcome at God’s table.

Being invited to the table is not something that you have to earn. Communion is not something that you can deserve and no one can be banned from God’s table. The table is an open invitation party, and you just have to show up. You just have to be willing to share in communion with the diverse and vast community of God. You just have to be willing to extend the invitation to come to the table to yourself and others. You just have to accept the love of God for yourself, and for everyone else around you.

Written by Ella Johnson, a junior at Fort Collins High School, on the occasion of the installation of our new pastor, Daniel Lyvers. Ella is active in Christian Youth Fellowship and serves on ECOY (Executive Council on Youth) for the Central Rocky Mountain Region.

Photo credit: Christine Engelen

 

Big fish, little fish

There is a small lake in our neighborhood that is annually stocked with fish.  Stocking day has become a small community event where people bring boats and 5 gallon buckets.  The fish are released from the hatchery truck into the buckets and then dispersed by boats around the lake.

Several years ago a mom brought her three-year-old son.  He arrived with his little yellow sand pail.  My husband put some water in the pail, then added a single minnow.  The little boy was mesmerized!

When mom told him it was time to put the fish in the water, he balked.  She explained that it needed a bigger home in which to swim and wanted to be with the other fish.  Finally he relented.  As he gently released the minnow at water’s edge he wistfully said, “Good-bye, my friend.”  Then he turned, and with just the tiniest bit of pride said, “I let him go.”

None of us can be the only fish, the biggest fish, or the smallest fish here.  Each of us depends on God and this community, and God and this community depend on us.  But, like the little boy, we sometimes want to hold on  –  to what?  Our time?  Building relationships?  Sharing our resources?

We each have our own unique abilities to contribute.  It’s sometimes good to say “good-bye, my friend” to that which we hold back.

Let us bring our tithes and offerings.

Written by Sue Krueger for the offering invitation on Sunday, June 10, 2018.