Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mosaic in December

Happy Thanksgiving Mosaic! We are moving through the season of gratitude and into the season of giving. I can find a lot of spiritual gravitas in the calendar placement of these two holidays, can you? I bet so, when we contemplate the product of gratitude ... Of course, we all know that giving brings us into alignment with God. Focusing our attention and hearts outward is the thrust of the life giving energy of the Spirit. I hope you are finding it.

I appreciate Lynda for taking lead in Sunday's gathering. Fred gets credit for urging me to participate in the guy's fishing retreat (Fred, Miles, Richard Y'Barra, me, and three other men from San Marcos). This guy's group has been meeting for several years and has generously included me as a "tag along." I don't often get to attend the meetings, but sure appreciated the chance to come out and play. We'll have to tell you about the blue whale we caught ...

As you know, Mosaic steps up its community presence in the month of December, as well as, helps to raise funds for those less fortunate. It's the logic of a Christological church crossing the month of the year that commemorates the greatest gift to Creation. God gives of Himself. We follow His lead. Each Sunday in December we will be following the Advent Calendar and lighting the Advent Wreath to "prepare Him room" in our hearts. As is our custom, we will culminate the Season with a Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve. I hope you can make each gathering.

Some notables for December include the following: We will be Ringing the Bells for Salvation Army on four separate 12-hour days. Be sure to bring your can goods each Sunday morning, since, we will be collecting food for the Christian Cupboard throughout the month. Also, the children will be getting involved by collecting food in their neighborhoods by the wagon load! We will also take our customary Holiday Stroll through the nursing homes Caroling and loving along the way with a Wassail and Dessert fellowship afterwards. Our Friday night movie, The Nativity Story, will be hosted by our children to raise money for Heifer International, our Christmas offering (they will be serving Taco Soup--mmm, mmm, good!). I hope you'll make plans to join us for all these wonderful opportunities! Please return e-mail me to sign up for Salvation Army. I need a flurry of bell ringers starting the first weekend in December!

Thanks for your gift of presence!

Happy HOLY days!

Pastor Jim

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Faith Seeking Understanding

Here's some more thoughts from one of our fellow sojourner's. Barry is a highly analytical and thoughtful type (retired Nuclear Engineer). It's interesting to me how God showed up for him. I actually took this from an e-mail that he sent to my friend Gordon Atkinson (a.k.a.--"Real Live Preacher").


I am a friend and parishioner of Jim Taylor’s, and I followed a link in his email announcing your visit tomorrow – and I read your “Preacher’s Story” with great interest. Although our histories are very different, we have moved to the same place – the “spiritual journey.” I don’t know if you still doubt the existence of God, but I thought you might be interested in how I became convinced of God’s existence.

I once spontaneously did something for another person, that is, I committed a true act of totally altruistic charity. The immediate result was a wonderful feeling that welled up in my heart, a feeling of pure joy. It was not like the way your heart swells up and your eyes tear up at the end of a tear-jerker movie – this was a million times more intense than anything I have ever felt. In discussing this with a Christian friend, he suggested that I had experienced God’s grace. There is more to this story and how my life has changed, but for now, let me make one point. This experience convinced me that God exists. No other explanation is possible. It was not psychological or mental, it was physical. I am a very rational person with an engineering degree, high IQ, very skeptical – In fact, my gift is what I call “critical analysis.” The existence of God, for me, is certain. It is not just a belief, it is something I KNOW.

However, the question now is: “What is the nature of God?” Clearly, the God who allows bad things to happen to good people (like Jenny) does not actively interfere in the realities of the world. It (God – I prefer a genderless pronoun) does, however act through people. This restriction on Its’ power is contrary to everything we have been taught about It. I’ll state the obvious: The God you pictured truly does not exist. God truly does exist, but not as we all had pictured it.

Our task is now to discern the nature of God. “God is love” is a pretty good start, for a working hypothesis. We can, in the same way, identify what we think god probably is not. For example, God would not encourage us to hate others for any reason, not to be kind to others, etc, etc. By the way, if you look at what Jesus said and did, he was pretty consistent with the above. (obviously, a lot more could be said here) Bottom line – the existence of a God, which was the model for Jesus, is not irrational at all. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Love in Christ, Barry

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rainbow Connections by Irma Rodriguez

(We're never alone on our journey; so, it makes sense that others would have stories to tell. Here's a recent contribution from a gal in our Mosaic family.)
I have always been a seeker. Always trying to look for answers. Trying to find answers to the problems of humanity, trying to find the meaning of life, trying to find God. Trying to connect to something bigger than myself. This song from Kermit the Frog seems to sum it up for me.

Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbow's are visions.
They're only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some chose to
Believe it,
But I know they're wrong. Wait and see.
Someday we'll find it,
The Rainbow Connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish
Would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
And look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing
That keeps us star gazing?
What so we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it
That Rainbow Connection
The lovers the dreamers and me.
Have you been half asleep
And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Are these the sweet sounds that called
The young sailors?
I think they're one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it
There's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it
The Rainbow Connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

I was born a Catholic and began my search. I learned about the God who created heaven and earth and my mind grabbed onto that image of God (and His blessed mother, Mary) and held it tightly like a closed fist. I thought if I just held on to my faith, I would find the connection and find peace. But, I did not. So, I left the Catholic church and opened my hand and my mind and I began my search again.

As a teenager, I learned that Jesus saves and caught a new glimpse of God and I knew this was it, so I held on as tightly as I could. Satan tried to shake my faith, and challenged my fundamental beliefs, but I was strong. I knew if I just held on long enough, I would feel the connection and feel the joy. But in the end, I did not. So I reluctantly opened my hand. And I thought, maybe there was nothing to find.

But I kept looking and this time, I was not going to close my hand until I was sure I caught the image of the true God. I read books about philosophy, other world religions, books about the meaning of life. I looked around the world to try and understand humanity and what we all are really doing here. I tried to really listen to the voice of God and the voice of man.
And then I heard.

I mean, I realized I had been hearing all along, but had not recognized. I heard it from everywhere. I heard it from music, books, philosophers, world leaders, from Jesus, Budda, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., from babies, grandmas, friends, neighbors, from trees, sunsets, puppies, from the ocean, stars and the rainbow.

And what did I hear?

I heard faith, peace, joy, hope, forgiveness, mercy, longsuffering, kindness and love. Most of all I heard love. God is love and God is everywhere and God is everything,
God is you and God is me. And my hand will stay open forever catching different glimpses of God coming from all the inner universe of minds to the outer regions of the universe and beyond.