A Persistent Faith

One of my many joys working with young people over the years is to hear profound answers to simple questions – ones that I don’t expect. It is these answers that make me think and say to myself, “Gee whiz! I wish I had thought of that!”

One time I remember time teaching young people about Jesus calling the fisherman to be disciples.  So often I have asked the question, “And why did Jesus call fisherman?” Most of us learned the rote answer, “Because he wanted to make them fishers of men.”

This particular time when I asked this question, a young person answered, “Jesus, called the fishermen because fishermen are persistent.” The young person then went on to explain, ” When my grandfather goes out fishing he never gives up. He fishes day after day.  He goes out fishing weather he catches anything or not. He never gives up. Jesus wanted people like that.”

This past week in our discussion of The Serenity Prayer, we discussed the line, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. I did not mention this Sunday morning, but here is a perfect illustration of this line. Making a living as a fisherman is not easy. It involves many long hours, oftentimes dealing with adverse elements of nature. It’s hard, often times very hard. And yet somehow, all seems forgotten with a great haul on a particular day.

Obviously, this child’s answer went much further than I ever expected. As a people we are called to a persistent faith in good times and not so good times. It is good for us to reflect on this as we consider how we utilize our faith. It is good for us to realize as we enter into a time of transition.  How easy for us to get wrapped up in our wants, our needs, and our fears! How easy it is easy for us to forget that a strong, persistent faith yields us a wonderful dividend – hope!

Think about it,

I Love to Ride My Bike

Bike riding has become my new passion. I bought my first Hybrid bike when I “supposedly” retired from ministry in Connecticut two years ago. Every day that I could, I would ride my bike around Van Cortland Park near our home in Riverdale, or on the beautiful Saw Mill Trail that wound its way up Westchester County through upstate New York. Not only is it great exercise, but it a wonderful way to see more than you would if you were driving a car. On the other hand, hills that seemed insignificant in a car proved to be major hurdles to be conquered as one peddled furiously to the top. My Hybrid bike took me where I wanted to go quite nicely as it was called a “touring” bike.

After Cameron and I got settled out here in Sunnyvale, we decided to join a bike club, which lead to our discovery of the AIDS LIFE CYCLE  (ALC) event held each year during the first week in June. In it over 2000 cyclists raise money and ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, 745 miles. Last year the event rose close to 15.5 million dollars. It is quite an event!

Well, needless to say it didn’t take long before both Cameron and I got caught up in the fever of this Bike riding epic. We joined South Bay Blaze, which is a training group that helps riders prepare for the ALC event with rides progressing in difficulty each week.  The club ends its training in May with a 71-mile ride around Lake Tahoe. After that it is believed one should be ready for the 745 miles journey to Los Angeles.

At one point I realized that I needed a much lighter road bike to do all of this riding up and down the hills of California, also a bike that was built to go a tad faster. The Hybrid was fine for New York/New England trails and trips to the grocery store, but definitely not for the challenges presented by the California terrain. So now with my new Cannondale, I am training, and loving it.

A few sentences ago I mentioned that you see more, and notice more when you ride. The same goes for the group you ride with, you see them more, and appreciate their commitment to what everyone is doing together as a team. No matter where we are in our lives, I believe challenges are good. Working with others with a common goal in mind is good for the soul, be it singing in a chorus, riding bicycles and raising money for a good cause, or even working together in a church. Imagine!


Back to School

I love the “back to school” time of year. I remember getting new clothes, a new pencil box (Do they even have them anymore?), and a new notebook with classy, colored subject dividers. School used to start the Wednesday after Labor Day. I feel sorry for the young people today who go back sometime in August. Regardless, with the close of the summer holidays, we get back into our routines.

This Fall I will be offering a Bible/book study opportunity on Wednesdays at 11AM in the Pastor’s office at the church. We will start with a “Faith Questions” sessions where we discuss issues that concern us, which will help determine what book we would like to examine. I love doing groups like this. My late start in the spring and the coming of the summer schedule did not lend itself to a weekly study. Our first one will be on September 10th.

Occasionally I also like doing a sermon series, based on a popular prayer, Bible passage, or topic. With this in mind, I will be preaching a series on the Serenity Prayer. Most people know the first four lines. And yet, there is a substantial amount spiritual riches in the lines that follow. I’ve included a copy of it here as a road map, so to speak.

I look forward to the weeks to come, our “back to school” time, where we jump in and embrace mutual learning opportunities.


The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that God will make all things right
If I surrender to God’s will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with YOU forever in the next. Amen

Reinhold Neibuhr- 1926