Faith Evolving, Lives Transforming
St. Paul's United Church of Christ
1101 Golf Course Rd SE
Rio Rancho, NM
Mailing address P.O. Box 15755, Rio Rancho, NM 87174-0755
Our core values…
Jesus Guided / Intentionally Inclusive / Peace Seeking / Justice Committed
Pastor Sharon's View
Welcome to summer at St. Paul’s!
Summer doldrums! As with every summer, our activities change. Not much in the way of classes, but more in the realm of parties. Since we now have a building that is not conducive to church picnics, we need to meet at places outside the church. If a volunteer wants to organize a church picnic at a public park, I would be happy to support his or her effort. Let me know.
Preaching scripture: I have been preaching from the Narrative Lectionary since last September. The Narrative Lectionary is:
A four-year cycle of readings. On the Sundays from September through May each year, the texts follow the sweep of the biblical story, from Creation through the early Christian church.
The texts show the breadth and variety of voices within Scripture. They invite people to hear the stories of Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the prophets, Jesus, and Paul. Listening to the many different voices within Scripture enriches preaching and the life of faith.
The readings end at Pentecost and resume in September. I have been thinking of a series on which to preach but would like to offer you the opportunity to request a sermon based on a scripture or subject of your choosing. We can have about six topics, so, if you have a topic to suggest, let me know. One member of a former congregation thought of this as “stump the pastor” and always looked for obscure passages for me to work on. You could do the same.
As always, a member of the Congregation is invited to preach one Sunday each month. Several people have said they are interested in preaching — please remind me if you have said you want to preach. This gives me a full week each month to catch up on my work.
So discouraging! As I watch the news about flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, I am reminded that I would love to go on a mission trip to help clean up the mess faced by those who have lost everything. If you have an interest in a mission trip in September, please talk to me. I think we would need four or five to make the trip successful.
Hello, St. Paul’s. Here are a few lines to let you know what the Church Council is up to.
- Faith Development is in summer mode. Stay tuned for upcoming events on Wednesday evenings.
- We have been informed that our architect will not be able to continue to work with us for the foreseeable future. She indicated that she would try to send the initial draft of her work to us.
- The ad hoc committee for advertising continues to work with Ad House on defining an advertising plan for the church. The Facebook page and web site are almost ready for prime time. The committee is also looking into signage for the doors, as we have been informed by visitors that they can’t tell where to go once they get to the parking lot.
- The Council continues to consider our best investment vehicles. Reverend Nelson Murphy, who is retired from the United Church Fund, was at St. Paul’s on May 9, 2015 to present an incredibly informative workshop for investing for churches. We also got information on the investment vehicles available through the United Church of Christ.The council is now organizing a small group, 3-4 people, to begin work on our investment plan and spending plan. These are from actions that came out of the workshop.
- Sean Little volunteered to look into mounting our video projector in the ceiling. He is going to provide the Council with a plan for consideration.
As you can see, the Council is busy conducting the Church’s business and making plans for the future for the congregation. These are exciting times at St. Paul’s.
From the Editor's Desk
The vast majority of those of you reading this article were weaned on the exploits, the comic (mis)adventures of the Looney Tunes characters, Wile E. Coyote and his nemesis, the Roadrunner. As you may recall, no matter how much money Wile E. contributed to the Acme (Hardware?) Company for its latest contraptions and devices, forever he miserably failed in his attempt to capture the speedy elusive Roadrunner. Let us be honest, we all tended to identify with the "beeper", and laughed and mocked the frustratingly feeble attempts to capture him by Wile E., who more often than not, was victimized by his own cunning. He was forever "hoisting himself on his own petard" in his obsessive pursuit. Always at the end, as he lay bruised and battered, but give him credit, never fully beaten, the red and blue Roadrunner would offer a final "beep beep," then speed off down the road. I cannot recall ever being given any hint as to what was the reason for Wile E.'s excessive dislike for and subsequent animosity toward the Roadrunner. Do you know the reason? Perhaps it was presented in an episode I did not see.
Peter Rollins, in his provocative book, Insurrection, invites us to delve below the surface of the superficial, the comical aspects of the pursuit, and ask the probing question, "What would happen if Wiley E. Coyote ever actually caught the Roadrunner?" What if the Acme Company had finally delivered the perfect trap? At last, a smirk of delight would be on Wile E.'s face. What then? Rollins proposes that we can imagine for a few days Mr. Coyote would be deeply satisfied, overjoyed, success at last. But then the truth would hit him and he would feel lost. What is he going to do now that he has finally gotten what he always wanted?
The problem for Wile E., and, perhaps for us, is that when we get what we have been driven to achieve, we may discover that it "does not actually give us the eternal joy we thought it would." Remember that scene in the movie, Grumpier Old Men, where Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau finally catch the big fish they have been seeking to hook for years. But then after a brief discussion they release it. Wiley E. had spent all his screen life in pursuit, but now the pursuit is over. Might this cause anxiety, could it "plunge him into despair?"
An alternative, what if Wiley E. renounced his pursuit? But then, he would yearn for the chase, and imagine over and over in his mind that one day soon he would capture his elusive foe. What could possible match the goal he had given up?
A compromise solution? Wile E. could continue his pursuit while secretly sabotaging his efforts by using defective equipment that would guarantee failure. (It would almost appear that this was what he had actually been doing openly.) Now wouldn't that be depressing?! So it would seem that Wile E. can either capture the Roadrunner, get what he desires, and then despair, or he can constantly chase him, and never get what he desires, and then despair.
Rollins then challenges us with to consider whether these are the only options available to us in our relationship with God: on the one hand "experiencing God and finding out that life really isn't that different in the aftermath; not experiencing God and feeling empty, constantly chasing God and never finding rest." He more than implies that these are our options if we perceive of God as an object or person "out there" to be pursued or not to be pursued. Even perceiving of God as an object to be loved proves problematic. Whenever God is treated as an object, "then we always experience a distance between ourselves and the ultimate source of happiness and meaning."
By contrast, a third option, a radically different way of understanding God's presence in our lives, and that is, meaning is discovered when we experience God not as something out there, but rather God as a presence that is "made manifest in our very midst." And how is God made manifest? Rollins boldly contends that "God is present in the very act of love itself." Furthermore, a point that I first made in my Credo in seminary and many times since, but better stated by Rollins, "we do not find happiness by renouncing the world and pointing our desire toward the divine, but we discover the divine in our very act of loving the world. God is loved through the work of love itself." Both evangelic writers Matthew (18:20) and John (4:20) fully understood that it is via love that we are infused with new meaning, joy and fulfillment.
Whether or not our lives, our world, have some ultimate meaning is not as crucial as some might suggest, for "love births meaning, brings meaning into the world, and renders the world meaningful even amidst the feeling that everything is fleeting." By the power of love, our lives are transformed and the world is rendered wonderful. Love is revealed as the source and depth of the transformation of the "mundane into the sublime."
The reason that Christianity is often referred to as the religion of love is not because its adherents are more loving but primarily because of the "way it transitions us from the idea that the highest truth is to be loved to the (noble) idea that the highest truth is love itself."
"(God's) way is through love in which we all are.
It is truly - A Love SUPREME."
John Coltrane, 1946
CHEERS from the PUB
What a view! No, I’m not talking about our newsletter (St. Paul’s View), though it is a sight to behold. With summer starting, we may be planning trips to scenic places, or remembering past vacations where expanses of beaches, canyons, forests or city skylines delight onlookers. Some of us are fortunate to live year round where windows frame the mountains – a room with a view.
Breath-taking views are featured on a PBS series I’ve been watching, about skyscrapers. A recent episode focused on One57 in New York City, nicknamed “The Billionaire Building,” which overlooks Central Park. Its 90 stories include a 30 story 5 star hotel, with 94 luxury residential condominiums above, plus 2 penthouses – each 10,000 sq. ft. One of the first units, the top penthouse, sold for over 90 million dollars. The most economical unit is priced at 6 million.
Interiors are filled with Italian marble, exquisite wood and other top-of-the-line amenities, along with expansive glass to see unrivaled views of the Park and the city. So, the residents will get their money’s worth.
I say that with some irony. When I heard the price tag of that penthouse, my mind raced to how that amount could be put to better use. Such a sum could equip schools in the struggling neighborhoods of New York City with higher salaries to attract talented teachers, along with more computer and science labs and funding for arts programs. Other possibilities: enticements for businesses to move in providing good paying jobs; cultural centers and other facilities for life-long learning. 90 million could change the trajectory of thousands of families for whom opportunities have been few.
Yet the same could be said for all those ornate cathedrals in Europe or other grand structures – that the money spent on them could have helped alleviate the poverty prevalent in those days. I understand the frustration, but I am a huge fan of architecture and art. Detractors say that about the space program – a waste of money. I like the space program.
Choices. I suppose most choices are not completely bad, or good. And how a billionaire spends her money is not my concern. Truth be told, I’d enjoy living in the clouds and watching the seasons change in Central Park out my window.
On Pentecost Pastor Sharon told us the story of the Tower of Babel, saying how the project started off as a community working together. This is good. As the tower grew bigger, so did the egos involved. Not so good.
We have a building project at St. Paul’s, too. When we work together, worship together, learn together and have fun together, we build up connections among us, our sense of community. A place where we feel affirmed for who we are. A place we want others to call home, too. More people to join in the work, the worship, the learning, the fun. More people who hunger for the spiritual freedom we enjoy.
Our aim is not to “tower” over other churches who have splashier programs. If that’s what someone is looking for, the choice is out there. What we offer is an authentic celebration of God’s love without conditions for everyone. Plus, we already have a room with a view!
The Name of YHWH is a strong tower; the upright rush to it for security.
Postscript: The developers of One57 boasted that theirs was the tallest residential building in New York City – until a few months after its completion, when 432 Park Avenue began construction.
Faith Development Ministry
Wednesday Evenings in June
St. Paul’s is an “Open and Affirming” Congregation. Wednesday gatherings for this month will focus on deepening our understanding of what this means. We’ll explore accurate information about those who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered), plus see compelling movies dealing with opposition from society and family members.
Hosts for these evenings:
June 10 – Loretta Stein
Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families, we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Documentary: 2007 Sundance Film Festival Nominee / Grand Jury Prize.
June 17 – Patricia Stover
The story of an 11-year-old’s love of dance and his hope to become a professional ballet dancer, while facing ridicule from his father and older brother. British film: nominated in 2001 for three Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Screenplay.
June 24 – Gary Pyland
Drama surrounding the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s, taking an unflinching look at the nation's sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth to a city and nation in denial. HBO film: won 2014 Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie.
Start times – 6:30 pm
For more information, please speak with Loretta Stein.
All are welcome to attend.
Mission of the Month
Strengthen the Church Special Offering:
Invest in the Vision
Strengthen The Church (STC) is a special mission offering to reimagine and build the future of the UCC. Shared at the conference and national levels, STC largely supports youth ministries and full-time leaders for new churches in parts of the country where the UCC voice has not been heard.
As God calls our congregations to be the "church" in new ways, your generosity will plant new churches, awaken new ideas in existing churches and develop the spiritual life in our youth and young adults. STC funds will also be used to award grants to help congregations communicate the "God is still speaking," message.
Thank you for supporting the United Church of Christ.
Saturday, June 13th at 10:00 am
East Central Avenue from Girard Blvd SE to Expo NM – Gate 3
You are invited to march with members and friends of St. Paul’s UCC.
We have a banner to carry, and thanks to John Stover,
we have a truck to ride in for those who get tired of walking.
Saturday, June 13th at 11:00 am
Expo New Mexico – Gate 3
310 San Pedro Dr NE
We will have a booth as an information center
for anyone who wants to learn more
about St. Paul’s UCC.
Questions? Please contact Loretta Stein.
The Sunday afternoon Book Group will meet at Church on
June 14, 2:00 pm.
Title: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
All are invited to be a part of the discussion.
Excerpt from Wikipedia:
The book won the 2009 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. Its title comes from the poem "Locksley Hall" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
The plot of the book revolves around two central events. The first, laid out clearly in the book's opening pages, is the sensational real-life feat of the Twin Towers tightrope walk of Philippe Petit 110 stories up, performed in 1974. This lays the groundwork for the author's description of the human ability to find meaning, even in the greatest of tragedies, for which the Twin Towers serve as a metaphor.
The second central event, which is only revealed halfway through the book, is the fictional courtroom trial of a New York City prostitute. This serves as a sort of point of balance, bringing the book back down to its more earthly, and therefore more basic story lines.
Happening in the Southwest Conference
Note from the Lay Academy:
To everyone who came out to First Congregational United Church of Christ in Prescott, thanks so much! We had a wonderful time, and look forward to seeing you September 11-12, 2015 when the congregations of El Paso, TX, host Rev. Dr. Vernon Meyer for his session “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven… But Do You Want to Go Today? The Rapture Revealed.”
Our Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, will be making a farewell appearance in Albuquerque on Wednesday, July 15. There will be an evening reception at First Congregational UCC for anyone interested in speaking with him. More information will be in the July View. Rev. Dorhauer will become our denomination’s General Minister and President at the General Synod gathering in Cleveland, Ohio, June 26 through June 30.
O ever creative and renewing God,
the bounty of your gracious Spirit is all about us.
We are embraced by that Spirit
through the wonders of an endless night sky with its millions of lights,
each declaring the radiance of your presence.
We are embraced as we view the majesty of a distant horizon
and give thanks for the life that pulses within every blade of grass,
every living, breathing creature, every handful of earth.
For in their life, O God,
is the signature of your endlessly creative presence.
From ucc.org worship ways
Written by the Rev. Wade Schemmel
Conference Minister, retired, Northern Plains Conference
On the Calendar
Wednesdays in June
Office Hours for Pastor Sharon
9:30 – 11:00 am
Einstein Bros Bagels
Near the corner of Wellspring Ave. and Unser Blvd.
June 10, 17, 24
Wednesday Evening Film Series – theme: LGBT
Albuquerque Pride Parade / Pride Fest
Parade begins at 10:00 am
Speak with Loretta Stein for details
Sunday afternoon Book Group
2 – 4:00 pm
St. Paul's Leaders 2015
Rev. Sharon Smith-Littrell, PhD
William W. Williams
Assistant Financial Secretary
St. Paul’s View Staff
You may submit articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Canary Special Collection Photo
San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive
Taken on April 19, 2013
Internet Archive Book Images
Getty Research Institute
Page 524 of "Prodigiorvm ac ostentorvm chronicon : quae praeter naturae ordinem, motum, et operationem, et in svperioribus” (1557)
(mythical animals, curiosities and wonders)
Pastor Sharon’s View
Swedish National Heritage Board
The bar at Skrea beach in Falkenberg.
Format: Original postcard, tinted
Internet Archive Book Images
San Francisco Public Library
Image from page 718 of "Building & engineering news" (1914)
From the Editor’s Desk
The National Archives UK
Three cartoon figures of women carrying an aeroplane, a shell and a machine gun.
WWII Poster (salvage)
Artist: Cyril Kenneth Bird [Fougasse]
Cheers from the Pub
Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries
First National Bank Building, 9th and Main Streets, Richmond, Va.
Postcard (not postmarked)
“This magnificent 19 story office building erected in 1912 is one of the highest and most modern structures of its kind in the South.”
U.S. National Archives
First-nighters posing for the camera outside the Warners' Theater before the premiere of "Don Juan" with John Barrymore, Washington DC
Taken on August 6, 1926
Series Photographs Depicting "Life in the United States", compiled 1942 - 1946, documenting the period 1881 - 1946
Mission of the Month
The Field Museum Library
Church building in Cuba
Hand Colored Lantern Slide
Allison V. Armour Expedition, December 21, 1898 - March 11, 1899
Plant collecting and photography for botany in Bermuda, Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Yucatan
Pride Parade / Fest
Photograph at corner of 1101 Golf Course Rd. (looking east)
Dianne Phelan Muller
Taken on May 4, 2015
U.S. National Archives
Historic Trinity Church on Lower Broadway at the Foot of Wall Street. Behind Loom the Towers of One of Manhattan's Newest Giants, the World Trade Center
Photographer: Wil Blanche
Taken sometime in 1973
U.S. National Archives
Beach at Lake Powell
Coconino County, Arizona
Photographer: Lyntha Scott Eiler
Taken circa 1973
NASA on the Commons
“Lighting Up the Night”
Viewed from the Banana River Viewing Site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery arcs through a cloud-brushed sky, lighted by the trail of fire after launch. The 13-day mission delivered more than 7 tons of supplies, science racks and equipment, as well as additional environmental hardware to sustain six crew members on the International Space Station.
Taken on August 29, 2009
New South Wales, Australia
St. Paul’s Leaders
Hobie Cats on Smathers Beach: Key West, Florida
Taken November 1978
Internet Archive Book Images
Image from page 124 of "Transactions of the American Philosophical Society" (1771)
The great secondary basin of the Mississippi, with the comparative elevation of the range of mountains called in general the Alleghany
Flaming sky at Monroe Beach: Key West, Florida
Taken February 1979