Redding Pilgrim
Congregational Church, UCC

Who Are You: Epiphany 2017

The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb God named me. – Isaiah 49:1

The beginning of a new calendar year is a time when we often reassess direction and ask questions yet again about who we are and where we are going in life. We make resolutions, we sign up at the gym (again), we vow to be better people. This year we will take a deep journey into the question, “Who Are You?” We will discover that “who we are” is indelibly linked to “Whose we are.” What amazing things could happen if you lived into your best, most passionate, loving self? Let’s find out what transformations can happen in just 9 weeks!

Follow Your Star | 1.8.2017
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. – Isaiah 60:1  …there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. – Matthew 2:9-10

The Wise Ones found what they were looking for by following the lighted path. When we trust the “star” that God hung out for us, we move toward life in its fullest and discover joy beyond imagining. What paths is God shining light upon for you? We will take the next 9 weeks to implement movement toward a brighter future than we can imagine.

Connect With Your Belovedness | 1.15.17
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. – Isaiah 42:1

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17

Can you imagine what relationships could be like without the human fear of rejection? This Sunday we remember our baptism and the voice of God which proclaims to all of us, “You are my beloved.” Let’s live in the abundance of grace and acceptance and just see what happens when we offer that to others!

Know Your Name | 1.22.17
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb God named me. – Isaiah 49:1  When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi”… “We have found the Messiah.” – John 1:38, 41

The question of “who are you” often starts with a name. In the scriptures, people begin to describe Jesus by many names–Rabbi, Messiah, Lamb of God–as they tried to understand who this special person was. What descriptors do you want to be known by? Who has God called you to be?

Claim Your Vocation | 1.29.17
For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. – Isaiah 9:4  And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. – Matthew 4: 19, 20

We continue this Sunday with the idea that God has called us, not just by name, but to a special purpose. When we find and claim our own vocation–that which fulfills us and creates good in the world–we are freed from the bonds of what others may expect of us or claim for us. Discipleship comes in many, and sometimes unlikely, forms.

Embody Beatitude Living | 2.5.17
God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8  When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:  “Blessed are… “ – Matthew 5:1-12
Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:  “Blessed are… “ – Matthew 5:1-12
Two of the most powerful and poetic lessons for life appear in the scripture readings this Sunday. The definition of beatitude is “supreme blessedness and happiness.” In our search for happiness among the “stuff” of life, have we missed the point? What difference would it make to embody a love for justice and kindness in our everyday lives?

Live With Integrity | 2.12.17
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. – Isaiah 58: 11  You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot… Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. – Matthew 5: 13, 17

Something with “integrity” is stable–all the parts are supporting the whole. We are invited to examine all the parts of our lives to see if they point toward the fulfillment of our identity, vocation and call. When all things work together for good, the parched places in our lives become watered and our saltiness never loses its taste. Are you a self divided?

Create Right Relationships | 2.19.17
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…  – Deuteronomy 30: 19  So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23, 24

Who we are cannot be fulfilled in isolation. We were made for relationship and for passing on the life and love given to us by God. We’ve all experienced the pain of broken relationships and the joy of restored ones. How does our relationship to others define us? How does living in right relationship with friend and stranger send reverberations into the world and into the future?

Proclaim Transformation | 2.26.17
The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain… Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. – Exodus 24:12, 17

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves… suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” – Matthew 17:1, 5

We have walked in the light, we have heard the assurance of belovedness, we have named and claimed our place in the world, our passion, our vocation, our mission. Now it is time to proclaim to the world from the mountaintop that transformation is possible. How have you changed in the last 9 weeks? This Sunday will include testimonies and answers to the question, “Who Are You?”