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"After Sunday worship I feel refreshed and ready to start a new week. Worship calms me and makes me want to be a more giving and forgiving person."

 

 "I am here to share my soul, body, and mind with our bigger family who shares our worship to God and the entire universe.  This is my worship experience at church."

 

Worship at FCC Essex follows a traditional liturgy, but God still speaks to the world today from these ancient words and rituals as if they were new.  Music and spirit and art and words and silence center us and inform us.  Our style of worship brings comfort, soothes the spirit, challenges the mind, strengthens our love of each other, and empowers us for doing good in the world.

We share our church home with Ivoryton Congregational Church. They worship at 8:45 am on Sunday, and we worship at 10:30 am.

Other special services of worship are celebrated throughout the year during Advent (Christmas) and Lent, as well as ecumenical events with other churches in Essex and within the UCC.

 

 

 

September 16, 2018

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 116:1-9
James 3:1-12
Mark 8:27-38


Reflection on Mark 8:27-38

Every way we turn in the life of the church, we seem to hear the question of "who Jesus is." More conservative voices seem to have a clear and compelling answer about Jesus' identity and our need, first, to accept him as our Lord and Savior, and second, to convince others to do the same. More progressive voices seem to strive to explore the mystery of who Jesus was and who Jesus is in our lives today; they also seem to focus on Jesus' deeds as much as his words in order to understand his identity.

Perhaps a clear answer is more compelling than a mystery for some people, and yet, both have their power in our lives, and perhaps we need both: clear answers and an appreciation of mystery.

A sudden illumination

Shane Hipps has written a fascinating book, Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith, in which he describes a conversion that "can feel like a light switch has been flipped from off to on, and everything is suddenly illuminated," and a different kind of conversion that can "feel like the gradual brightening of a long darkness--or like a long fade from clarity into doubt."

Perhaps the Gospel of Mark so far has been about the gradual brightening of the disciples' understanding of who Jesus is. Peter's bold claim about Jesus might sound like a "light switch" experience of conversion, but he's taken some time to get here, after witnessing one impressive deed of Jesus after another, and hearing Jesus proclaim the reign of God throughout the first part of Mark's Gospel.

Like us, Peter has stumbled and struggled at times, but today he seems to have a moment of great clarity. Hipps reassures us that we will find Jesus in both "the darkness and the light. In both sudden epiphany and unhurried evolution."

Hearing about Jesus, and encountering him

What we have heard ("Who do others say that I am?") and what we have been taught is important, but so is the encounter we have with Jesus, the experience of Jesus in our own lives and in the life of the church. Is this a question that you spend much time contemplating?

Scholars agree that not only Peter but the rest of the disciples must have recognized Jesus as the Messiah (see Andrew in John 1:41); why else, they ask, would those disciples have given up everything to follow him? In a culture where most people still claim to be followers of Christ (although few of us give up everything to follow him), perhaps there is a second question in our own lives: "So what?" So, what will we do, today, in our lives, if we accept Jesus as the Messiah?

 


Read the scriptures and this entire reflection here.