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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: Jacob’s Ladder

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I’m thinking this week about Jacob’s Ladder. It’s a vision where Jacob is on the run. He goes to sleep in this place, and he dreams about, well, a ladder, going up into heaven with angels coming up and going down.

When Jacob wakes, he says, “Surely the Lord was in this place, and I did not know it.” And so he anoints a rock with oil, and he renames the place “Beth El,” “the House of God.”

Which makes me wonder about what makes a place sacred?

There are so many places that we call sacred in the world. Some of them, it’s clear, the sacredness has to do with some sort of stunning reality about the place: its grandeur, its beauty, its distinctiveness in the midst of the world.

In other cases, it’s clear that it’s what we human beings do with it that makes it sacred. A pu’uhonua — which has been dedicated for centuries to seeing that people become safe and forgiven — that has a special feel of sacredness about it, but so does a summer camp, where for many years young people get to enjoy one another, the outdoors, and their relationship with God.

So I’m thinking about sacredness, and about how we, and God, make places sacred.

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: #sacred, #video

What I’m Thinking: Sibling Rivalry

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Genesis 25 is all about the contest between two brothers – Jacob and Esau – to see which one will dominate the other. Must it always be this way?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about twins. I’m thinking about family. I’m thinking about conflict and struggle. I’m thinking about Genesis 25, the stories about the birth of Jacob and Esau: Esau first, with Jacob clinging onto his heel as they’re born.

And I’m thinking about Jacob cheating his brother out of his birthright, literally for a pot of stew.

Are there human relationships that can’t be muddled, wounded, that can’t be damaged and undercut by this constant grasping for power, by this desire to be the one in ascendance, the one on top? Well, I don’t know. But I do think that Christianity is a religion that calls us to explore that, and to come as close as we can to it.

So even as we seek for the places on which to stand, on which to declare our truth, I think there’s a fundamental truth on which we stand: that we are children of one mother, children of one God, children whose struggles with each other grieve our parents, children who should love one another.

That’s what I’m thinking! I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: #conflict, #power, #video

What I’m Thinking: Interesting Test

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I’m thinking ahead to the Scriptures for Sunday, July 9th, this week. It’s not that I’m that efficient; it’s just that I’ll be away next Sunday (and mahalo to the Rev. Rae Lelili’o for bringing the good word on July 2nd!). I’ll be thinking of everyone while I’m at the General Synod of the UCC.

But doesn’t Abraham’s servant (whose name didn’t get recorded) have an interesting idea about the virtues of young women? The one he wants to be “The One” is the one who makes sure that both people and their animals get water. Hm.

Here’s a transcript:

Somewhat unusually for me, I’m thinking ahead this week: the Scriptures for July 9th, rather than the lectionary texts for July 2nd.

Why? Because on July 2nd I will be in Baltimore, Maryland, for the General Synod of the United Church of Christ. I’ll actually be a reporter and a photographer there, so take a look at and at the Hawai’i Conference of the UCC website to see some of the news that I’ll be contributing to from General Synod.

But that means I’m not preaching until the 9th, so if you want to wait on this one until then, go ahead.

But what I’m thinking about is in the 24th chapter of Genesis, when Abraham’s servant goes back to his homeland up in Ur of the Chaldees in order to find a suitable bride for his son, Isaac. 

And the servant has this interesting test. He goes and stands by a well and he prays that, “Let it be the one to marry my master’s son who, when I ask her for some water, will also offer to get water for the camels.”

Interesting test, isn’t it?

It’s a test of a young person’s compassion and thoughtfulness, not just for a human being who is there to get some water as a drink, but also for the animals that that person has brought with them.

As it happens, of course, the test works, and Rebekah does become the wife of Isaac.

I just wonder if it’s a test that we can apply both to ourselves – when somebody asks us for something, what is it that we offer as well? – but also, it’s a test for the things that other people tell us that we should do, or that are right to do? Does it, in fact, equate to offering a cup of water to the person who asked, and of making sure that that water is extended even to those without human voices?

That’s what I’m thinking! I’m curious about what you’re thinking: so leave your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

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

What I’m Thinking: Under Stress

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Jesus often favored the “Tell it like it is” approach to teaching his disciples rather than a gentler one. Matthew 10 combines both, strangely. Jesus reassures, but he also makes clear that his followers face struggle.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking this week about Jesus’ continued instructions to his disciples, which are found in the 10th chapter of Matthew (Matthew 10:24-39). 

It’s a funny kind of section. It seems almost to go back and forth between expressions of reassurance to predictions of real struggle.

Jesus talks about God knowing about every single sparrow, and telling the disciples that they are more valuable than sparrows. And yet at the same time, he promises dissension within families: father and son, mother and daughter separated from one another because of the gospel.

He doesn’t really give much instruction for how to cope with all this stress. Just simply this: Keep going. Keep loving. Keep striving. Keep proclaiming good news to the people, and do not let all the struggles toss you aside.

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

Categories: What I'm Thinking
Tags: #stress, #video, #WhatImThinking

What I’m Thinking: No Shoes, No Bags

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When Jesus sends his disciples (his followers, his students) out on an independent project, he doesn’t tell them what to bring. At least, nothing tangible.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking this week about the instructions Jesus gives to his disciples in the ninth and tenth chapters of the gospel of Matthew (Matthew 9:35-10:16). He calls the twelve and then he sends them out, so that there will be more messengers of the Good News than just himself going to the villages of Galilee. 

Now most of the time when leaders prepare others to go out and do an important work, they tell them about the things that they need to have available that will make things work. But not Jesus.

No, when he talks about things, he talks about things that they should not bring with them. No extra shoes, no extra clothes, not even a bag to carry them in — since after all, what use would that be?

No, when he tells them about the “things” to bring: he tells them to bring the power of the Good News, and he tells them to bring their courage and confidence in their faith.

In a society where we are preoccupied with things and stuff, this is awfully refreshing, and great Good News to me.

That’s what I’m thinking! I’m curious 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: #courage, #GoodNews, #materialism, #stuff
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