Whose Voice Do You Hear? by Pastor Leah Rosso

There are certain sounds and voices in our lives that we hear differently than all the others. Walk around with anyone who loves to bird watch, and you'll know immediately what I mean. You can be having a perfectly normal conversation about something and all of a sudden they've stopped walking; stopped listening to the conversation; it is almost as if they have tuned everything out, because what they've heard is a bird they've been looking for; or a rare bird they've only hear recordings of; or a favorite bird. And when they hear that bird call, they stop and listen and look-- because they are attuned to listening for the sounds they love.

When I was growing up our neighbor, Rick, used to go out with the other boys in the neighborhood, including my brother, to play touch football in the afternoon. They would stay out as late as they could. But each evening, as dusk grew darker and darker, Rick’s dad would walk out onto his deck, put two fingers in his mouth, a blow. The loudest, shrillest, whistle I have ever heard would come forth and within five minutes Rick would at his house, and my brother would walk in the door. Rick's ear was tuned in to that whistle-- even in the middle of a football game.

A Time to Plant, A Time to Grow by Pastor Leah Rosso

This sermon began with a children’s book called, “The Promise” by Nicola Davies. In that story, a girl who has learned to steal in order to survive comes across a woman one night with a huge bag. They fight over the bag until the woman says, “If you promise to plant them all, you can have it.” Not knowing what she was promising, assuming there was food and money inside, the girl makes the promise and runs home with the bag. She is startled to find out that the bag contains hundreds of acorns. She goes to bed that night realizing the promise she has made and feeling hope for the first time. She then spends her life planting the acorns and making her community and other communities more beautiful and full of life.

In this story, The Promise, the little girl finds out by accident that a generous spirit produces beautiful fruit. She does not go out trying to become a generous person who will change her community. But when presented with the opportunity, when she steals the bag of acorns— she immediately recognizes what is in front of her.

So often I think a spirit of generosity is both counterintuitive and also resonates deeply within us. It’s counterintuitive because our culture keeps telling us there’s not enough. Just this past week at our staff meeting we were reflecting on how commercials aren’t set up to sell us products so much as they are set up to sell us unhappiness. In order for us to want to buy something, they have to prove to us first that we are not whole without it. So we are bombarded each day with messages that we aren’t enough, that we don't have enough, that we aren’t unsatisfied.

EcoJustice - What We're Learning from the Earth by Pastor Leah Rosso

The man who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, Frank Gehry, was asked what inspires his work. And his answer surprised a few people. He said that what inspires him most are the limitations and constraints that are put on him. With the Guggenheim, it was the need for impeccable acoustics which inspired the soaring, graceful steel exterior that has made that building iconic; and when he won an award for his design of the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, he said it was because of the strict standards of acoustics that were needed that led to that design. He remembered a project he took on once that had no constraints at all, and he found himself having a really difficult time-- he kept asking himself what the project was about and questioning himself on what kind of an architect he was. He finds that in order to do his best work, to be his most authentic and creative self, he needs limitations and constraints.

In a study of 1.7 million people who won awards in their fields-- people like you and I who do normal, everyday jobs, what they found is that the people who are most creative and do the best work are those who are under constraints of some kind-- limitations like the kind you and I deal with everyday. It's a lesson that nature has been trying to teach us for years.

Trusting in God's Way of Peace: Week 6 of Living Unafraid by Pastor Leah Rosso

One summer I was driving to Martin, SD with our youth group, headed out for a mission trip. We were obligated, of course, to stop at Wall Drug, and we even drove an extra hour to make sure that they got to at least see the badlands before we headed south to Martin. But one of the things I remember most about that long drive, was driving through this one little town. I wish I could remember the name of it, but to be honest I just wasn't paying that much attention. We had been driving through one small town after another for awhile now. Except in this small town, there was a traffic jam. That's what first got my attention. We began looking around for signs of what could be wrong that 6-10 cars were stopped at the Main Street. I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, though, no broken stoplight or an accident or even road construction of some kind. So we waited, curiously, wondering what this was all about. And after a few minutes, we got our reward. For while we were stopped on the main highway, going through town, traffic was actually stopped for what was happening on Main Street-- going perpendicular to where we were headed. An 18 year old man and an 18 year old woman were standing in a convertible, moving along Main Street through the intersection of the highway, dressed to the nines, crowned for the occasion. Another car behind them advertised the real estate agent from two towns over, and then behind that was the marching band. I hadn't heard them up to that point, perhaps just because I wasn't listening for them, but there they were, playing their hearts out in the midst of a July heat, and after them came several other cars advertising this or that. And then I began to notice that indeed I could see some people sitting on lawn chairs if I craned my neck enough to see past the cars in front of me. This was a grand occasion and we almost missed it! They passed by and I expected traffic to start up again, but everyone kept waiting, and then, five minutes later, we saw them again-- having gone around the block, they were now crossing the highway again on their way to wherever the end of the parade was going to be. By now the kids in my car had stopped whatever they were doing-- unplugging their ears from headphones-- and were watching to see if they could spot the King and Queen again. And within minutes, it was done, and traffic went on.

I imagine anyone watching the crowd and Jesus march along that day would’ve seen it much like I saw that small town parade— fun to watch, a curiosity maybe, but somewhat easy to forget. After all this was the season of Passover; hundreds of people would’ve been streaming to Jerusalem to celebrate at the temple. The only people who would’ve even noticed Jesus entering, were those who knew Jesus— who knew that the Pharisees and other religious leaders were looking for Jesus—had threatened, him, really, if he were to show up in Jerusalem.