Dream On

NOTE: Summer Interim Co-Ministers Linda Bruce and Rev. Willie Salmond presented joint reflections at the 8:30 AM service at Compo Beach and the 10 AM service at Saugatuck Church. Both are below.

Dream On

Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC
© Linda Bruce
July 23
, 2017

Dream on… dream on… dream on…

Dream until your dreams come true….

No, you won’t find in that in the Bible.

The band – AEROSMITH…

Singer / Songwriter …Steven Tyler… the year was 1976 and it was my high school coronation ball…

The senior ball for the campus king and queen,  and all the court…

Don’t know if they have that anymore….

I did the artwork for the program…

Castle in the sky… I thought appropriate for campus king and queen…

Yes… I dreamed of my life as a princess…

And while I did marry my Knight in shining armor, 13 years later… my dreams changed… ( I GREW UP)

No more castles in the sky….  I wasn’t going to be a princess…. Charles married Diana….

And as the dreams changed….. I changed….

I had experiences of oh… wow.. something’s going on here… something weird…..something divine…

In times of joy and sadness….

God was surely here……But I didn’t know….

These Unexpected blessings….. came at times when I was at my lowest points..

The declining health and deaths of my grandmother and father.. and the death of my son…

All broken dreams

And my new dreams were more like petitions…   I didn’t know what to do…

I asked for guidance for the one thing to do the next day…

Show me the way…

Or God, give me the courage to get out of bed tomorrow…

And feeling more ambitious…  God, help me to get up before noon…. Maybe take a shower

I don’t know what to do Jesus…

God…  I don’t know what to do.

And I felt God was always there…. I knew…..

Because sometimes in the middle of the night, I had a revelation

Or an idea.. or a plan…

Or sometimes that inspiration came to me in the morning… the one thing…

The one thing that I needed to do for that day.

I gave everything up to God….

And I received unexpected blessings…

Whether we call it intuition, the subconscious, the still small voice, a prophetic dream…

The love of community

The kindness of strangers

I called it divine intervention…..

And what about these unexpected blessings in the everyday?

How am I sensing and experiencing God’s presence with me, in the midst of my life?

How are you?

Sometimes I experience God in the moment….

Often I see God in the eyes of the stranger….

When I am outside … I can’t help marvel at God’s creative energy

That blesses us every day….

And sometimes that’s when I start to day dream….

I can observe but a lot of the time. I think….

I Think… what does this mean?  What am I to make of it?

God is with me and will keep me where ever I go…  Really? How does that work?

I’m a questioner, I want to get things…. I want to get things right…….

I’m reminded of my family binge watching old Monty Python shows.

Monty Python was a British surreal comedy group popular in the 70’s.

My husband and two kids are splitting their sides with tearing eyes they are laughing so hard.

I look at them quizzically…  I don’t get it…

The kids in stereo say… MOM! There’s nothing to get! It’s just funny!

There’s nothing to get……. IT JUST IS!

God will always be with us…  It’s just the way it is…. IT JUST IS!

Genesis 28:15 Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.. for I will not leave you…

So dream on.. dream on.. dream on… dream until you hear the truth…

And then dream some more…..

Because we’re human…  and when we hear the word,  a lot of the times, it doesn’t stick…

And we like to negotiate with God.. make deals… ask for more signs….

Seldom are we transformed overnight…

But God is steadfast and enduring…

So… engage your senses and Dream on…

Amen.

Dream On

Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC
© Rev. Willie Salmond
July 23
, 2017

Jacob says “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.”

Take a look at Raphael’s beautiful painting. Jacob is in his prime – young, strong, virile, a head of curly hair.

However the truth is he finds himself at a crossroads in his young life. He is in fact fleeing for his own life. Jacob the deceiver by trickery has stolen the blessing of Isaac the birthright from Isaac from his brother Esau. And a blessing when given cannot be returned, cannot be revoked. Technically the bible should be calling God the God of Abraham the God of Isaac and the God of Esau.  But no. God’s grace never goes by the book.

The title for God is now the God Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.

Esau is furious and wants to kill him. His mother and father tell him he must not marry a foreign woman but he must go to Uncle Laban and be advised who to marry. And then all alone he arrives in this wilderness place at a crossroads in his life. Full of guilt maybe even remorse for what he has done. And with his mind full of confusing thoughts he lies down and falls asleep.

Sounds familiar?  I wonder if you find yourself at a crossroads in your life this morning? Perhaps like Jacob you are disturbed by a very broken relationship which you would like to see healed. Perhaps like Jacob you feel the guilt for a hurt you have caused. Perhaps like Jacob you don’t see clearly the way forward in your life.

There is a bit of Jacob in all of us.

Then Jacob has a dream. He is not given answers to his conundrums. He is not told how he will reconcile with Esau or how he will find a wife someone to love. Instead he is given a moment of pure grace. A vision of heaven and a ladder from earth to heaven. Angels descending and ascending. A moment of pure grace.

When Handel was completing his Hallelujah Chorus (King of Kings Hallelujah, Lord of Lords Hallelujah) he wrote in his journal “I did think I did see the heavens open and the great God himself on the throne.”

Pure grace and from it a magnificent piece of music.

David Livingstone traveled from north to south Mongu, Senanga, Sesheke and came across the Victoria Falls. One mile across a crashing powerful waterfall and spray and spray and spray with rainbows in the mist. Moshi tunya the local people call it. The smoke that thunders.

Livingstone wrote

“Scenes so beautiful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”   Ascending descending. In this moment of his Africa exploration, avid Livingstone was granted this moment of pure grace.

Angels descending ascending.

Then Jacob is given two promises. You shall lead a great nation and through you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

Jacob wakes and says “Who me? Surely not. I’m the deceiver. I’m on the run. I have no wife to love no family. But he also knows something special is happening. “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.”  A moment of confession. He has been unable to see the hand of God in his life. But this dream is the beginning of something special.

Fast forward and we begin to see the unfolding of this grace moment in Jacob’s life. Fast forward and God speaks to him again. “You shall be Israel” the name of the new nation.  Fast forward again and Jacob and Esau are reconciled. Fast forward and Jacob finds himself in Egypt of all places. Following a terrible drought Jacob his sons and their families are desperate for pasture for their flocks.  They turn to Joseph in Egypt.  The one whom they sold into slavery and who is now Pharaoh’s right hand man. Joseph graciously says come. Then there is this lovely moment when Jacob who is now old meets Pharaoh the world’s most powerful man. Pharaoh likes him. Asks how old he is.  I have clocked 130 years and let me tell you some of them have been harsh even evil. Then Pharaoh bows his head and a strange thing happens. So strange that the author of Genesis mentions it two time. Jacob blesses Pharaoh the world’s most powerful man.

In that moment Jacob must have remembered his dream of heaven and the promise. Through you shall all nations be blessed. Even Egypt.

Pray for this grace moment in your life especially as you find yourself at a crossroads. Pray for a unique God moment to be just yours and yours alone. A private, secret, special moment. In our Christian faith the grace moment is that moment each week like this morning when we confess our sins in unison.  And then kneel before the cross of Christ as we receive forgiveness.

“There was none other good enough to pay the price of sin

He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.”

Jacob’s young life was just beginning. He had no idea what was ahead and he was fearful.  But as he woke from his dream he knew that something special was happening in his life.

“Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.”

As some of you know it has been my pleasure and privilege to work with vulnerable young people in Uganda. In February this year I went back to Kampala to attend the graduation of a young woman Josephine at Makerere University. This was a moment of pure grace. At her party at home afterwards she spoke of her struggle with HIV/AIDS, her struggle with poverty with hunger. And at the end of her speech she looked down and then made a long speech about her shoes and thanked them. Walking to Makerere, walking home from Makerere. Walking to the library. Walking to church.  Thank you shoes. Thank you.  The impossible had happened. She graduated from university. A moment of pure grace.

Pray for that moment of pure grace in your life. And then other parts of your life will fall into place. Step 1. Say with Jacob “Surely God is in this place; and I did not know it.”

Let “Angels descend with songs again. And earth repeat the long amen.”

Amen.

Good Soil

Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC
© Linda Bruce
July 17
, 2017

Foolish People

Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC
© Rev. Willie Salmond – Saugatuck Church member
April 30, 2017

Mud in the Eye

Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC
© Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton
March 26, 2017

Scripture: John 9: 1-41

I was just sitting there, hoping my neighbors might be feeling generous that day.  I had a couple coins in my cup to clink together – barely enough to buy a bit of bread, but enough to get the attention of passers-by. It being the Sabbath, I was feeling optimistic.  Folks always gave more on the Sabbath – although my need was just as great the other six days of the week.  They would pass by on their way to or from the temple, stirring up the dust where I sat, and toss a coin my way in hopes that their act of charity would put them in a good way with God.

I often wished I could look those people in the eye, wished I could stop them in their tracks with a piercing gaze…. because I wanted more than anything else for them to look at me, to really see me, not just the cup in my hands; or the holes in my robe; not just my bowed head…  but ME – a person, alive and breathing, a person who laughs and cries, feels frustration and joy, fatigue and hope and hunger – just like any other person. Continue reading →

Living Water

Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC
© Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton
March 19, 2017 – Third Sunday of Lent

Scripture: John 4:5-42

Last week we listened in on Jesus’ conversation with a Pharisee: a Jewish insider by the name of Nicodemus, who came to Jesus after dark to interrogate him about the things Jesus had been saying and doing. This week, Jesus has a very different encounter with an unnamed Samaritan woman – an unexpected twist, because the Jews and the Samaritans hated each other. Unlike the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus, this encounter takes place outdoors in broad daylight, between Jesus and a woman who was herself an outsider. Hear the story in the woman’s own words...

I didn’t realize that I was waiting, or for whom.  When I set out late that morning, I thought I was just headed out to collect water, like I did every midday, as the sun beat down. This was my routine: walking one way along the well-worn path with an empty jar perched on one shoulder; walking back with the water-filled jar balanced on my head. Day in and day out, that’s what I did.  It was as routine as grinding the barley flour, baking bread, preparing the lentils and sweeping the house, milking the goats, chasing the children…out to the well and back again.

It was only later, much later, that I realized I’d been waiting my whole life to meet the man who waited for me at the well that day. Continue reading →