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Pastor's Blog
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August 8, 2019, 10:00 AM

"Death Wisdom" from Pastor Greg Rupright


Dear Member & Friends:

Last week, I watched a TV show, In Search Of, hosted by actor Zachary Quinto.  The theme of the episode was the after life.  Questions were raised such as:  Can we live again after death?  Is there an after life?  Do we have a soul?

Quinto traveled to a cryogenics lab in California and spoke to the president of that corporation.  He said that his company had 160 bodies that have had been cryogenically frozen immediately after their deaths.  It cost each frozen candidate $200,000. 

Then Quinto visited a special life-prologation lab at Harvard University.  The researchers there had experimented on mice from the same litter.  One mouse's DNA had been sped up to make it age faster than another mouse whose aging DNA had been chemically slowed down.  One could clearly observe the difference between the rapdily aged mouse and suspended-aging mouse.

Finally, Quinto listened to a neurologist who had interviewed over 4,000 survivors of near death experiences or NDEs.  The NDE survivors were from all walks of life, all ages, all faiths, and people of no faith.  Each NDE survivor described a tunnel ending in a great light and a profound sense of love, well-being, and peace.  The outcome of these interviews led the neurologist to conclude that humans do have a being or soul that survives after physical or corporeal (bodily) life.

As I watched these fascinating interviews, I thought of just how precious life is -- so precious that many people are willing to try and cheat death by buying immortality or discovering ways to physically live forever.  The Wisdom Literature of Israel gives us some wise advice. "Wealth?  It can't save a single person!  It can't pay a life's ransom-price to God.  The price to save someone's life is too high -- wealth will never be enough -- no one can live forever without experiencing the pit" (Psalm 49:7-9, Common English Bible).

And so, I close with a contemporary parable on death wisdom.  There was a man who had worked all of his life and had saved all of his money.  He loved money more than just about anything, and just before he died, he said to his wife, "Now life, when I die, I want you to take all my money and place it in the casket with me because I want to take all my money to the after life."

So he got his wife to promise him with all her heart htat when he died she would put all the money in the casket with him.  Then one day he died.

He was stretched out in the casket, and the wife was sitting there in a black dress next to her best friend.  When they had finished the ceremony, just before the undertakers got ready to close the casket, the wife said, "Wait a minute!"  She had a shoebox with her, and she came over with the box and placed it in the casket.  Then the undertakers locked the casket and rolled it away.

Her friend said, "I hope you weren't crazy enough to put all that money in there with that stingy old man.  She said, "Yes, I promised.  I'm a good Christian, and I can't lie.  I promised him that I was to put that money in that casket with him.  "You mean to tell me you put every cent of his money in the casket with him?"  "I sure did," said the wife.  "I got it all together, put it into my bank account, and I wrote him a check."  The memo line on the check read, "Honey, don't spend it all in once place."

Friends, live long and enjoy all God's blessings in this life as you prepare to share in that life which will have no end.

Abundant Blessings,

Pastor Greg Rupright




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?

Blessings,

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

creation.”

 

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4fz10gafps

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.

Blessings,

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
us.

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.
Amen.

Blessings,

Pastor Greg Rupright


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