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Advancing in the Spirit

‘Advancing’ in the spirit by which we can be fed;
Our search for truth is central in all that’s done and said;
In openness we search but it’s not for certainty,
For God is not restricted to our theology.

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In Praise of Doubt

If our beliefs prevent our search
For new and different creeds;
Let us beware of narrow views
Where dogma often breeds;
With new, exciting facts we learn
Much love can come about;
Yes! Those who grow in their beliefs
Can sing in praise of doubt.

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The Tie that Binds

The questions before us in this e-bulletin are two: How important are beliefs in an evolving faith? and, Does community need to agree on belief? More generally, the issues pertain to the tie that binds community and the experience that underlies that tie.

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Way of the Cross

Rev. Sam Alexander is Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael, CA. He is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., and Union Seminary in Virginia, M.Div. Sam has served congregations in Maryland and in the San Francisco Bay area and is currently Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael. He serves as an Adjunct Instructor in Homiletics at San Francisco Theological Seminary. What they call, “his provocative sermons” have inspired, disturbed, and delighted his congregations.

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Along the Way

The Right Moral Way has not changed over time and remains psychologically sound. In a “Psychology Today” article entitled ‘The (Only) Seven Spiritual Principles We Need to Succeed’, Karl Albrecht reveals traditional key values for moral living that are still crucial in contemporary times.

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Easter Essay: Believe the Story or Trust the Promise?

Easter calls attention to the traditional, fundamental “beliefs” associated with the Christian religion – if only for a day. The secular world pays little attention to the nuances of Christian “faith” in a post-Christian world. Easter is a liturgical season that lasts for seven weeks. In Christian tradition, the time between the resurrection of Jesus and his “ascension” into the sky (Pentecost) replaces the time between the Jewish Feast of the Passover and the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Not only do most Christians concentrate on the resurrection story – often literally. Editorial writers for supposedly sophisticated secular media seem to feel obligated to attempt to find meaning in the traditional religious legend of a dead man walking out of his tomb. But “faith” does not mean “belief.” “Faith” means “trust.” “Faith” further means “confidence.”

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Beyond Belief: Spiritual Practice as the Focus of Christian Community

Dogma and doctrine should not get in the way of practicing Love, who is God. Doctrines can be interesting: they help us understand the origins and background of our religion. But repeating creeds is not the price of admission into Christianity. Instead of caring whether the story of Jesus’ resurrection was a fact or a myth, let’s look in the story for inspiration to turn from the way of death to the way of life. Let’s care about our neighbors without jobs or health insurance, face the resentment in our hearts that needs to be released, become activist citizens, and learn to bring our careers in alignment with our highest values. Let’s gather in churches, soup kitchens, work-places, living rooms, and cafés to support each other in doing things that matter, and let go of old doctrines that don’t.

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We Are One with the Creatures (Sato)

We are one with the creatures,
One with the plants,
One with the life of Earth.

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Topics: Arts and Music, Social & Environmental Ministry, and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 7: Integrity of the Earth. Seasons & Special Events: Earth Day. Resource Types: Chants and Hymns.

Ghost Ranch NM

Written May 13, 1991

Each tuft of desert grass
God gives a separate place
Profligate with space
That pilgrim feet may pass.

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Topics: Fiction and Poetry, Social & Environmental Ministry, and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 7: Integrity of the Earth. Seasons & Special Events: Earth Day. Resource Types: Poetry and Readings.

Living for a Change

Each river, mountain, flower and tree
Are part of life’s rich tapestry
All sharing in our joyous celebration
But nature we can never own
The earth is only ours on loan

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Topics: Social & Environmental Ministry and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 7: Integrity of the Earth. Seasons & Special Events: Earth Day. Resource Types: Prayers and Readings.

Comparing Fundamental and Progressive Christianity: One Person’s View

I’ve done much thinking of my own. Though not an expert nor having a theological degree (I am a former psychologist), I would like to share the listing I came up with that, to me, contrasts Biblical fundamentalism with what I perceive Progressive Christianity to be. Later in life, my listing may allow room for changes as I continue to grow spiritually.

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The Problem I Have With Easter

All of the great mystics and spiritual teachers like Jesus and Buddha were clear……authentic spiritual growth is not something that can be given to us. No one else can do the work for us. We have to discover, and then embrace, the courage required to take the inner journey; to shine the light of our consciousness into the shadows of our egoic mind. This is not a journey for the feint of heart.

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What Does Easter Mean? (Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18)

The power of life that raised Jesus is accessible and available to all people, even those who have not heard of Jesus. The risen Christ, the cosmic Christ who is Lord of all can take many forms and answer to many names. Our text says that God shows no partiality, that anyone who fears God, and that does not mean to be afraid of God, but anyone who respects and honors God, and anyone who does what is right, anyone who does what is just and good and compassionate shares in the life of the risen Christ.

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Scapegoats and Lightning Rods (Matthew 27:27-44)

The image of a scapegoat recalls a ritual performed by ancient Israel on their holiest day of the year—Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. A goat was chosen by means of casting lots. Actually there were two goats chosen, one was killed as a sin offering to make atonement for the holy place, the other was allowed to live to make atonement for the sins of the people.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 8: Compassion and Selfless Love. Seasons & Special Events: Advent, Holy Week, and Lent. Ages: Adult. Texts: Matthew. Rituals: Communion. Resource Types: Sermons.

“I Am…” – A Reflection for Holy Week

Being a child of God – for Jesus and for the rest of us – is a poetic way of describing our direct, personal engagement with Ultimate Reality. It is an artful expression of ourselves as physically integrated with the divine essence of the cosmos. Being the son or daughter of God does not mean that any of us can leap off the cross in a single bound.

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Church Music Search 2015

This annual and international church music contest calls authors and composers to create congregational hymns, choral anthems and orchestral music that engage and exclaim liberal Christian theology and associated themes. Download the PDF of this flyer here

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In Between the Cross and Rising

From the Boundless Life collection

In between the Cross and Rising,
In between our grief and light,
Lie the tombs of hibernation,
Times of inner healing’s might.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. Seasons & Special Events: Easter. Resource Types: Hymns.

Love One Another

Love one another as I love you all;
In others’ needs hear my insistent call.
I bid you wear with me love’s seamless dress,
Welcome the outcast from the wilderness.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus and Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons and Easter. Resource Types: Hymns.
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