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Video Series: What I’m Thinking

Each week, Pastor Eric Anderson shares just a minute or two of his thoughts on the upcoming week. But the most important part of “What I’m Thinking” is what you’re thinking. Please share your ideas in the comments, and see how they become part of Pastor Eric’s thinking, too!

What I’m Thinking: Give Thanks

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Hannah burst out in a song of great joy and thanksgiving. What makes you give thanks?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about Hannah’s Song, which opens the second chapter of First Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10). It’s an astonishing outburst of thanksgiving, and Mary would, in fact, sort of pick up some of its themes and even some of its words when she declared her thanks when she was told she would be the mother of the Messiah.

I’m also thinking about friends, neighbors, colleagues at Opihikao Congregational Church UCC down there in Puna. They celebrated their Ho Ike last weekend, a morning of worship and of music and of memorized Bible verses.

Last summer, Opihikao members could not worship in their church. In fact, many of them could not live in their homes. They were literally cut off from the rest of the island by the summer’s eruption.

But with the settling down of Kilauea, the roads that lead down to Opihikao are open once again. People are working to return to their homes, and Opihikao was able to welcome friends and neighbors from churches all around East Hawai’i. The joy – the thanks – the wonder of that room: well, it reminded me of Hannah.

Hannah would have recognized it.

As we look ahead to Thanksgiving, we may not have cause as Hannah did for such deep joy. We may not have cause as Opihikao did – immediate cause – for such deep joy.

But I do know that each of us have some reason reason to give thanks, and I hope that you find that, and let your own song burst forth: in thanksgiving.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear about what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: #thanksgiving, #video

What I’m Thinking: Small Matters

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Jesus watched people giving, and after a woman put two coins in the box and hurried away, he told his friends that she had given more than any of the rest. She had given all she had.

Here’s a transcript:

I am thinking about the end of the twelfth chapter of Mark (Mark 12:38-44). It’s the story about Jesus being in the temple with his disciples, and watching while people put money into the contribution box.

When one woman puts in two small coins – worth very little – and then hurries away, Jesus turns to his disciples and tells them that this woman had given more than all the rest, for the others had given out of their abundance, but she had given out of her poverty. And in fact, had given all she had.

Some years ago I was working with people planning a capital campaign, and there was this pyramid of giving. And at the top was a single donor, who gave roughly a tenth of the total goal for the campaign. And at the bottom was a large number of donors, and their contribution, in the end, turned out to be about the same (one tenth) as that one other person had given at the top of the triangle.

In giving, we tend to focus on those folks toward the top, the ones who can give the tenth or the twentieth, the major portions of what we seek. But it is also true that those many people contributing smaller amounts – they still are absolutely essential. Their gifts make a difference. They matter.

Just as that one woman mattered that day in the temple.

Now honestly, I always worry about that one woman. What did she live on after she placed her two coins in the box? Did she arrive home and discover that she had, perhaps, been miraculously blessed? I don’t know, and frankly, I fear that she did not.

What I do know is that God does love our generous hearts, no matter where we are, top or bottom, of the giving triangle. And God honors us when we share.

And God loves us… always.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: #video, Generosity, Giving

What I’m Thinking: A Sudden Silence

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Jesus had been discussing theology – arguing theology – all day. But when a scribe asked him about the greatest commandment (and then agreed with Jesus about it), nobody wanted to ask him anything further. What is it about the roots of our faith in love for God and neighbor that make us go so quiet?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about those killed at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this past weekend. May their memories live on in the hearts of those who loved them, and may we all honor their memories by laboring for a society which values every person, in which antisemitism, racism, sexism, and all those other forms of oppression which affect so many people – until they all come to an end, and we have made a world in which all people are blessed.

That, in fact, is what Jesus was asked about in the twelfth chapter of Mark (Mark 12:28-34). He’d been engaged in conversation (argument, in great part) with many of the religious leaders and officials to be found in Jerusalem’s Temple: Sadducees, priests, Pharisees, scribes; perhaps an Essene or two wandered by.

But at last, one scribe, seeing that Jesus answered well, asked a foundation question: What is the greatest commandment?

Jesus, for once, simply answered the question. First, it is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the second, he said, is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself.

The scribe? He agreed. Those are the two greatest commandments. And Jesus told him that he was not far from the kingdom of God.

And that ended the conversation for the day. No one, after that, dared to ask him any question.

It seems funny that silence would be brought on simply by reminding people of the foundations of their own faith, the fundamentals upon which the entire religion is based. And yet, that is so often the case for all of us, is it not? The reminder that love and mercy are foundational: love for God, love for one another.

Love and mercy that we too, too often forget.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: #aloha, #foundations, #Love, #mercy, #video

What I’m Thinking: Cry Out

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They told Bartimaeus to be silent, but he cried all the louder: “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” And indeed, how other than crying out does anyone obtain mercy or justice?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking a little bit in advance. I’ll be on vacation this coming week, and I won’t be in church on Sunday the 21st. The Rev. Linda Petrucelli will bring the Good News at Church of the Holy Cross.

On the 28th, the Gospel lesson is found at the end of Mark’s 10th chapter (Mark 10:46-52), the story of the blind man who called out until Jesus healed him. “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

It just strikes me that, in these days when people are unsure of their place in this society – in these days when people feel threatened, discounted, disregarded; when their pain goes unhealed and their sorrows go unheard, their tears undried and their justice undelivered – well, it strikes me that Bartimaeus’ repeated cry, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” – that is the model for many in these days.

It’s been said by many people in many places, by the leaders of justice movements over the years, that justice is not given by those in power, it is demanded by those who are not in power.

So: Let there be mercy.

But first, there must be cries for mercy.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear about what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

The next episode of What I’m Thinking will be released on Monday, October 29th.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: #justice, #mercy, #need

What I’m Thinking: What Holds Me Back?

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When a sincerely pious man asked Jesus how to obtain eternal life, the answer was, at first, easy. “Keep the commandments.” After that, though, it got… difficult.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking this week about a conversation that Jesus had with a man who was righteous, good, pious, as recorded in the tenth chapter of Mark (Mark 10:17-31).

He came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said, you must do what’s in the commandments, to which the man replied, well, these are the things that I have done since I was young.

Jesus looked upon him and loved him, and said, well, there’s just one thing more: Sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and then, come and follow me. At this the man went away grieving because, Mark says, he had many possessions.

I wonder: what is it that keeps each of us from a deep and inspiring discipleship of Jesus. What keeps us from truly following him?

Is it wealth and possessions? For many of us, I suspect, it is. But it also might be power, or position. It might be some sense of one’s place in the community – and for some us, that might be a sense that as long as we understand ourselves as oppressed or forsaken, that that is a part of our identity, of who we are.

Are those things that we can leave behind, to then walk with Jesus? Are those things that we can give away to another and then go and follow Jesus?

I wonder: What is it that keeps me from that depth of discipleship?

What might it be for you?

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear about what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: #commitment, #discipleship
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