Sweet Spots

Ideas and messages from Len Sweet.

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Pastor’s Prayer for 21 July 2019

All-powerful God,
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
Pope Francis (Laudato Si)

Singing Your Story

People need stories; they need to be part of an ancient mythos that embraces the future. We all need to know our story. Since I found out I was adopted as an infant two years ago, I needed to find out my birth story and the stories of my birth family. I already had a large collection of stories from my Family (adopted), but for whatever reason, when I learned that I had a birth family, my soul thirsts for more of the story. The one thing that has comforted me in my search is that I am already part of the big story: The story of Jesus. In Luke 10:38-42 we find Mary wanting to hear the story from Jesus while Martha was only interested in being a good hostess. Read the verses and then think about it in connection with the following songs:

“Blessed Assurance” Shirley Caesar
“I Love to Tell the Story” – A Cappella – Chris Rupp
“Lamb of Glory” by Steve Green

Which one of the sisters had the right understanding of what it means to be in the story with Jesus?

Sweet Salvation

Sweet SalvationStory Lectionary14 July 2019The Creation Story –the Third Day (Genesis 1)Moses First Miracle Turns Water to Blood (Exodus 7:14-21)Honor the Lord with First Fruits (Proverbs 3:9-10)Psalm 104: The Lord Gives WaterThe Lord Has Made Proclamation (Isaiah 62)The Lord Will Prepare a Feast (Isaiah 25:6-9)Again You Will Plant Vineyards (Jeremiah…
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The Samaritan Transgressor

The Samaritan TransgressorLectionary14 July 20195th Sunday After PentecostAmos 7:7-17Psalm 82Colossians 1:1-14Luke 10:25-37Text to LifeIn the aftermath of all the holiday hoopla of the Fourth of July, it is good to remember what kind of country we are celebrating, or at least what kind of “neighbor” our nation was in its…
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Pastor’s Prayer for 14 July 2019

Lord, set our hearts on fire and let us live for you. Use our lives as kindling for the work you need to do. Use this holy fire to prepare a holy feast. Serve us as a blessing to the little and the least.

Prayer for Pentecost, Lori Wagner

 

Circe

Circe
by Madeleine Miller
–Review by Teri Hyrkas
Confession: I loved mythology as a teenager. Greek mythology, Norse mythology, and Native American legends, fables and stories were all on my bookshelf during my teen years. Filled with strong characters, many layered histories and tangled plots of gods and mortals, how could one resist the impossible journeys, outlandish exploits and clever solutions contained in these stories?
The publication, then, of Circe by Madeleine Miller was an intriguing invitation to re-visit an old interest. Circe, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of the sun god, Helios, and the water nymph, Perse. In the epic poem, The Odyssey, Circe was depicted as a trouble maker who had magic powers. She used her powers to bring humiliation upon the hero Odysseus and his crew of sailors when she turned the crew into pigs while they visited her island of Aiaia. At least, that is the story told by the great poet, Homer. But what if we heard the tale from Circe’s point of view? How might the story change if we learned what motivated Circe’s treacherous actions toward the sailors? What insights might we gain by revisiting the account not from the elevated position of the reigning gods, heroes and beloved poets but from the perspective of a belittled and ignored lesser deity who was considered a loser? This is exactly the setting that author Madeline Miller has created in Circe (Little, Brown& Co., 2018.)
Madeline Miller was uniquely prepared to be the author of Circe. When she was a little girl, her mother read the myths to her at bedtime and they immediately became her bedtime stories of choice. As she grew up, Miller continued to treasure mythology’s ancient legends and went on to study Latin and Greek in high school and then college. Her particular love was The Iliad and the character of Achilles, who is the subject of her first book, The Song of Achilles. It took ten years for Miller to write The Song of Achilles, which won The Orange Prize for Literature (UK) in 2012.
Interestingly, Miller has written Circe in the first person. Because of this autobiographical voice, we are privy to Circe’s thoughts. Miller uses this technique as a tool to enmesh us in Circe’s growth as a character. We empathize with her as Circe learns the truth about the nearly unstoppable power and divisive activities of her father and other family members. The reader is taken by surprise along with Circe when her love-based efforts to control her life backfire and Circe becomes the victim of her own naiveté. We grow in wisdom and shrewdness with Circe as she faces provocations from the whims of the gods and eventually experiences some success in her dealings with them.
It is very clear that Miller is in her element in the writing of Circe. She knows all the major and minor Greek gods and heroes and their messy disputes as they appear in the annals of mythology and we meet many of them in the course of the story. Miller is breezily familiar with the hierarchies, troubled relationships and perplexing back stories of the mythological characters and incorporates this knowledge into her bold — and sometimes crude — depiction of Circe’s life and that of her extended family. Circe, who Miller describes as a “fascinating character,” is a little known Greek god, and, says Miller, “is one of the few females in mythology who is able to live independently and have power without being punished for it…” There is also an aura of mystery that surrounds Circe which Miller wields to artful advantage in her book.
If this isn’t enough to win over the reader, Miller’s writing certainly is. Madeleine Miller’s writing is phenomenal. Through the metaphor rich thoughts of Circe, author Miller makes it possible for readers to be fully immersed into the dangerous expeditions, feats of bravery, the triumphs and the failures involved in the complex, interwoven stories of Greek mythology.
Here is a fun bonus: As wonderful as the book Circe is to read, it is even more enjoyable as an audiobook. Narrated by Welsh actress Perdita Weeks, the legends of the heroes as they appear in Circe’s story become more three dimensional with Weeks’ skillful reading. Weeks’ narration portrays the action and emotion of the fable wonderfully well, and her ease in pronouncing the Greek names of people and places lifts that burden from the reader, also.
According to the Bloomsbury website for London and Oxford, Circe is an international bestseller and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (UK), 2019. It is also a Sunday Times (UK) bestseller and The New York Times (US) number one bestseller.
As much as I was glad to get another taste of mythology in Circe, it was noteworthy to read this line from the final chapter: “I thought once that the gods are the opposite of death, but I see now that they are more dead than anything… .” Strong words, and wise words, from the character Circe herself. And yet the confrontation between mercy and justice, love and betrayal, the weak and the powerful are very much alive today and the great myths continue to present these important struggles through poetry, song and entertaining sagas such as Madeline Miller has given us in Circe.

Music and Spirit

Music carries with it a spirit. Depending on what you hear determines your mood. Today, I want to encourage you. One of the verses in The Lectionary is Colossians 1:1-14

I want you to read this and imagine Paul is talking to you.

9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s[d] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled[e] you[f] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.[g] (New Revised Standard Version (NRSV))

How great a thing that we are Redeemed by such love.

Be Overwhelmed by His love.
“Yahweh Love” By Petra

Be encouraged because you are His.
“Yours” By Steven Curtis Chapman

Be still and know He has a design for your life.
“Be Thou My Vision” By Eden Symphony Orchestra

These are songs that bless my heart. What songs bless your heart?

Pomegranate Love

Pomegranate LoveLectionary7 July 20194th Sunday After Pentecost2 Kings 5:1-14Psalm 30Galatians 6:1-6, 7-16Luke 10:1-11, 16-20Text to LifeCan you see what I have in my hand? [Lift up high a pomegranate]Pomegranates are an amazing, ancient fruit. And they always surprise. Give a five-year old a pomegranate as a snack, and he or…
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