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July 18, 2018, 11:23 AM

"My Own Little Voice"

July 18, 2018

Dear Faith Journey Friends:

In their Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah and his colleagues
introduced us to Sheila, who described her faith as such:
"I believe in God. I'm not a religious fanatic. I can't
remember the last time I went to church. My faith has
carried me a long way. It's Sheilaism. Just my own
little voice."

This gave rise to the widespread use of "Sheilaism"
to designate the real American religion, "just my own
little voice," as the only authorative word in our lives.

While the progressive Christian and universalist part of me
seems to resonate with Sheila's religious perspective, there
is a part of me that wonders if such a perspective might
be limiting, or even self-serving.

At what point does my own little voice replace the Voice
of the Creator who speaks through her creation. I'm talking
about nothing less than revelation, that is, how does God
reveal God's Self? And isn't God's Self greater than my
own little voice as God's creature?

Take a look at the intricacies of creation itself:
the birds that sing; the trees that reach toward the heavens;
the green hills and soaring mountains;
the valleys and the plains;
the lakes and the rivers;
the great oceans pounding the shorelines;
the cry of a newborn child.
All of these things point toward a Creator
who is the very essence of Life Itself.

Perhaps that's why the psalmist declares:
"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made
them a little lower than God, and crowned them with
glory and honor. You have given them dominion over
the works of your hands . . . O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth" (Psalm 8:3-6a, 9, NRSV).

And so, maybe Someone greater than my own little voice
does really exist. How does one find and relate to such
a Being? Perhaps in praying a prayer like that of St.
Anselm of Canterbury: "Teach me to seek You and
reveal Yourself to me as I seek; for unless You instruct me
I cannot seek You, and unless You reveal Yourself I cannot
find You. Let me seek You in desiring You; let me desire You
in seeking You. Let me find You in loving You; let me love You
in finding You."

I believe there is a Voice greater than my own little voice?
The question is: Do you?


Pastor Greg Rupright

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April 25, 2018, 4:10 PM

Telescopes & Eternity by Pastor Greg Rupright

Hello Friends,

Someone once asked me what I’d do if

our astronomers and physicists discovered

intelligent life on another planet.  Or how

about something more unlikely like an

intelligent extraterrestrial civilization making

first contact with we Earthlings.  Would that

make you give up your belief in God?


I said, “No, it would expand my knowledge

of God’s greatness and the diversity of God’s



Peter Tyson, the Editor in Chief of Sky & Telescope

magazine, wrote in a recent article that even with

all our powerful telescopes, we can’t see everything.

He writes, “If we could plop the universe on a scale,

all we can observe with our eyes and instruments

would ‘weigh’ just 5% or so of the total.  The rest

is stuff invisible to us – dark matter and dark energy,

comprising about 26% and 69%, respectively.”


There you have it – the language of science trying

to quantify the infinite.  And that’s cool because

science uses instruments, mathematics and theories to try to

make sense of our universe.  And I’m all for that.

I believe that science and religion/faith can co-exist

and do so to express humanity’s endless quest for

eternity and infinity.


But there is another language that seeks to probe

the vast fathomlessness of infinity.  It is the language of faith.


The ancient psalmist declares, “The heavens are

telling the glory of God: and the firmament proclaims

God’s handiwork . . . In the heavens, God has set a tent

for the sun . . . Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid

from its heat” (Psalm 19:1, 4b, 6).  And that’s just

the earth’s sun!


I liked what Tyson wrote toward the end of his article.

“. . . If there was a Grand Creator (don’t worry, I’m not

going there), I can almost imagine it looking on and winking:

‘You Earthlings pride yourselves on how much you’ve figured

out about the cosmos.  Congratulations.  Now, try your

hand at this.'”


Imagining the vastness of our universe and time itself,

maybe there are some things that we will never understand

this side of eternity.


Thoughtfully Yours With Abundant Blessings,


Pastor Greg Rupright

August 23, 2017, 10:39 AM

Why I'm Glad to be A Part of the UCC

August 23, 2017

Dear Members & Friends of
First Congregational United Church of Christ:

As many of you know, I attended the
United Church of Christ's 31st General Synod
in Baltimore, MD this Summer.  The theme
of General Synod was "Make Glad."

One of the things that makes me glad
to be a part of the United Church of Christ (UCC)
is the new two-year mission, vision, and purpose
campaign that the UCC has undertaken:
"3 Great Loves: Love of Neighbor, Love of Children & Love of Creation."                                                                                                                                                                                     Local UCC churches throughout the U.S. will be sharing how they are                                                                                                                                                                            transforming local communities through their ministries.

One of the ways we show our love of neighbor
is by working together with other faiths to
promote peace and justice.

Check out this link to the UCC video,
"Trading Places," which emphasizes interfaith unity:


At First Congregational UCC, we are visibly showing
our love for our neighbors by supporting and volunteering to help                                                                                                                                                                                          Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services, the Salem Nutrition Center,                                                                                                                                                                                           the Perinton  Food Shelf as well as our new Job Seekers Support Group.

Let's keep on loving God by loving our neighbors.


Pastor Greg Rupright

June 16, 2017, 2:34 PM

Happy Father's Day - God is like a father - from Pastor Greg Rupright

Dear Members & Friends of First Church,

I just wanted to wish all fathers and
those who serve in the role of a father
a very Happy Father's Day.

In the Bible, God is often pictured
as a father.  Indeed, the psalmist
declares, "As a father is kind to his
children, so the Lord is kind to those
who honor him" (Psalm 103:13, Good News
Bible).  When Jesus prays, he calls
God "Abba," meaning something similar
to "daddy" and indicating a very close
relationship of trust and love.

If our fathers model what God is like,
then we know that we are in the loving
hands of our compassionate parent who
guides us, cares for us, and nurtures

And so my prayer for this Father's Day
is: Gracious God, who like a father who
has taught us, grasped our hand, and been
our guide, help all fathers to care for
their children and family in such a way
that they may more fully bear your image
of love made known and being made known
through your Child, Jesus the Christ.


Pastor Greg Rupright

May 11, 2017, 12:42 PM

Happy Mother's Day! - Our Mother's Remind Us of God

May 11, 2017

Dear Members & Friends of
First Congregational
United Church of Christ:

I just wanted to wish all
of our mothers and those
who serve in the role
of a mother, a very happy
Mother's Day!

Most of what I know about
God and faith in Jesus Christ
came from my mother. She would
read Bible stories from the
Children's Bible and take us
to church and Sunday School
almost every Sunday.

So, for my siblings and me,
we learned and experienced
things spiritual, quite literally,
at our mother's side.

In the Bible, the prophet Isaiah
pictures God's relationship with
Israel being like that of a mother
and her child. Isaiah writes,
"Can a woman forget her nursing
child, or show no compassion for
the child of her womb? As a mother
comforts her child, so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem"
(Isaiah 49:15a; 66:13).

So the next time you think of your
mother, think of God embracing you
and holding you as continue on
life's journey.

Again, Happy Mother's Day & Blessings,

Pastor Greg Rupright

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