First Congregational Church Rockford

A Message for You

January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

God holds the future by REV. LAURIE TENHAVE-CHAPMAN First Congregational Church, Rockford As I walked my dog around the lake in temperatures nearing 50 degrees, I thought back to the headliner forecasts in November. “Harsh Winter Ahead” the meteorologists warned from the newspaper, broadcast studio and Internet news. I remember thinking, “How do they know?” If the 10-day prediction is a guess and the next-day forecast is seldom right, then how can they offer a broad brushstroke prediction for a whole season? “What do they know indeed?” I snorted as I walked on soft soil in early January. (But I knocked on the wood of a nearby tree to make sure!) People like to make predictions and are heralded as true seers when they get it right. Particularly as a new year looms before us, prophets of all stripes are apt to cast their verdict for how reality will shape up the next 12 months. Most of us do not hasten to read the predictions of Jean Dixon or those who have taken over for her in recent years. We’ve learned that envisioning the future is of limited value. What we hopefully have learned is that God alone holds the future. Our best investment of time and energy is in a spiritual life that helps us to know and trust more and more deeply the God who created this Earth in which the snow falls, the storms squall and the sun shines. What we know for sure is that we will have moments of great joy in 2012, surprising beginnings and unexpected endings. There will be losses both great and small, some emotional, some financial, others relational. Through all this we have to know what remains constant. Trust in anyone or anything other than the God who knows and loves us would be misplaced. The Bible describes God as an anchor, a rock, a redeemer, a refuge, a fortress that protects us from enemies. The Bible also says that God is love. So take that walk around the lake as long as you can. Snap on your cross-country skis when snow blankets the ground. When the storms force you to hibernate and your kids get their long-awaited snow day, reflect on the One who provides […]

A Message for You

November 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

‘Tis the season to give  by REV. LAURIE TENHAVE-CHAPMAN First Congregational Church, Rockford Recently I had time to kill between meetings so I went to a small, upscale mall to bide my time. I thought I would be joining throngs of shoppers, bustling around with packages. I was wrong. It appeared that I had missed a PR campaign that unveiled a new purpose for this public space: Geriatric Walking Center! Older couples with varied degrees of mobility looped around me as I tried to get some work done. Every now and then I’m struck with the reality of our depressed economy. As sneaker-clad septuagenarians circled me in this once-vibrant mall, entering nary a store, I was reminded that it’s not business as usual. When we start to write “November” on our checks, we begin to move mentally toward Thanksgiving. With whom shall we share this special holiday? Who will host? What foods do we wish to have on the table? Are there travel arrangements to be made, a dog to be boarded, table linens to buy? In the past few years, perhaps financial restraint has led us to answer those questions somewhat differently. Much that we used to take for granted now feels like a gift. There is a tremendous opportunity for us in these financially lean times to embrace all that is good about our lives. Affluence has seldom led to a more grateful people. Hard times call us to greater creativity about how to use our gifts. A resilient resourcefulness, that has perhaps lain dormant, brings us into new places with new people that we wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. We are also discovering that our lives are more than our work. If we are having to “settle” for underemployment, unemployment or less-than-optimal jobs, we need to recognize that the greatest blessings have to do with human relationships. Family, friends, a warm house and grateful hearts gathered around a Thanksgiving table are what matter most. Whatever your circumstances I invite you to give thanks to God for the bounty in your own life. Look for ways you can be of service to others, even if your own means are limited. Items may be “repurposed”; spaces may be used for different functions. But giving God […]