Home Pastor's Notes
Pastor's Note PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 February 2013 16:28

From the Pastor:

It seems like Christmas wasn’t that long ago and now, days after our UCC church’s Annual Meeting, we are looking at Lent coming right up upon us! This year, Lent comes very early. Lent is the season that we prepare for the coming crucifixion of Jesus and God’s affirmation of Jesus’ life and teachings and path to God in his resurrection that we celebrate on Easter.

Ash Wednesday falls on the day before Valentine’s Day in 2013. This linking is really quite appropriate. As our culture celebrates “love” on Valentine’s Day, especially romantic love, Ash Wednesday introduces the element of sacrificial love. In fact, the scripture readings for each Sunday in Lent concern themselves with the sometimes challenging part of God’s loving us and our loving each other.

So as we prepare ourselves for the journey of Lent, and as we explore the practice of love at Valentine’s Day and elsewhere, consider these issues the Scriptures raise:

Lent 1 (2/17) – The temptation of Jesus asks to what we are tempted to give our hearts.

Lent 2 (2/24) – Psalm 27 explores trusting God’s love, even when it is tough to do so.

Lent 3 (3/3) – In Isaiah, God loves and disciplines the people who found it difficult to be loyal to God in the wilderness. In Luke, Jesus gives the fig tree (and us) another chance.

Lent 4 (3/10) – All texts concern a love that forgives and reconciles.

Lent 5 (3/17) – In John, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet as a loving gift. In Philippians, Paul says knowing Christ is more important to him than anything else.

Palm/Passion Sunday (3/24) –Love keeps going, even with a broken heart.

Maundy Thursday (3/28) – Jesus, in the Gospel of John, tells us love is the new rule.

Good Friday (3/29) – Love sacrifices all and forgives.

Easter (3/31) – Love conquers even death.

As a faith community, let’s take up the challenge to be more loving. For example, we can go through our closets and donate unused clothing for someone else to wear. We can volunteer to prepare Saturday or Sunday sack lunches (Sunday, just show up about 9:30 and pitch in!) We can agree to bring a dish to the dinner we prepare for New Directions every 3rd Saturday. We can work on increasing the love in our homes and work places by practicing forgiving, speaking with kindness to everyone, or working to love one person that we find … challenging. You get the idea. We are limited only by our imagination.

In God’s love,

Pastor Lynn Bohlmann

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 17:25
 
Pastor's note PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 January 2013 16:35

 

As I am writing this letter, it is a beautiful gray, snowy New Year’s Eve day. I am listening to Sting’s “If on a Winter Night” CD, trying to warm up, trying to understand “Blue Screen” issues on the laptop I have borrowed from my dad. I am reflecting back on the last year, keenly aware of loss and yet remembering tender and sweet moments. The gray and the snow seem to reflect the ambivalence of winter – the magic, the beauty, the cold, the dark, the joy, the playfulness, all joining together in a heady mix.

Every so often, I check email and see the news on the netbook that one family is allowing us to use in worship for our powerpoint presentations. More speculation about the “fiscal cliff,” including a sense of both inevitability and possibility, as we ponder as a nation, what direction we take in terms of economic policy. Good or bad, calamitous or a hiccup, going over a metaphoric cliff provides us the opportunity to rethink our priorities. We would be able to start a new year with a new vision.

As the Genesis 1 creation story tells us (among other things), chaos begets creativity.

This message fits us as a congregation as well. We are a revitalizing church that has tremendous gifts. We have members and friends, both long term and newly acquainted, who share themselves in many ways that bolster life within our faith community and within the Jacksonville community. We have a vision and a mission that centers us in God’s grace and calls us outward to live the compassion and concern for all creation, to partner with God in creating a more just and peaceful world.

We have our own economic concerns but we live out the call that God gives us to love all people, to welcome all people, and to serve all creation. As we move into the month that allows us to breathe after the busy-ness of Advent and Christmas, as we begin to think about how we might continue to live out God’s call to be Christ in this community.

As we prepare for a new year, we renew our vision to be a community of compassion that trusts deeply, prays boldly and gathers people together in love. The God of Christmas, the God who comes to live among us in our everyday lives, will guide us and sustain us as we go deeper and take risks in faith, hope and love.

We are finishing one (church) season, and are about to begin another, in which we hear God’s invitation first to see the light in the darkness and, second, to live out being that light. I see hope and joy among us; I feel trust and renewed energy. Let us work, pray and play together as we continue to be a progressive witness to God’s grace, as we engage in acts of justice, compassion and fun!

Happy New Year!

Pastor Lynn

 
 
Pastor's Note PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 15:47

 

From the Pastor:

We stand at the beginning of December, awaiting Christmas and all the joy that holy day can bring. But first, we begin a new church year with the season of Advent, a season of watching and waiting and hoping. We start with a season of darkness, looking for God’s light. We start with a season that knows a little sadness because as a community we are seeking God’s comfort even as we may be walking in darkness. That darkness may be within our psyches or it may be within the world.

One of the beautiful, and truly counter-cultural, aspects of Advent, part of the wisdom of the season, is that it allows us, invites us, urges us to experience both the celebration and the sadness as we seek God’s comfort and God’s presence in the waiting for the coming of Jesus.

I am not great about waiting. I don’t know about you but sometimes (often?) I need to remind myself that waiting can be a time of creativity as ideas percolate in our minds and imaginations, that waiting is what most of the world does, that waiting increases patience, which increases tolerance, which leads to acceptance, which opens us to love, which, well, you get the idea.

I need this time of waiting and reflection. It’s just like waiting for a baby to be born or adopted. This time of “incubation” and waiting yields a beautiful creation, more healthy because of the wait. While pregnancy is not a perfect analogy that holds for all situations, it does show us this time of waiting for God transforms us, opens us, deepens us, and matures us. (And it is a better metaphor than the other one I thought of – how the flavors of marinara sauce deepen and blend as it simmers.


And so Advent invites us to learn to wait. That waiting is one way that God is present with us and comforts us in the darkness. I have noticed with my own life that when I slow down, when I wait, I lose some of the distractions that have kept me from seeing the comfort and the presence of God that God has already brought, or is bringing, into my life. In our multi-tasking society, I doubt I am alone in this manner.

As we move into the next weeks, let’s be intentional about taking some time to walk, instead of running, to listen and to look for the signs of God’s presence, for the signs of Christ’s coming, that are there in our lives. Enjoy your friends and families. Enjoy the holiday parties and gatherings. But remember to wait and watch and hope, to slow down and celebrate God’s presence and comfort even in the sadness and the craziness that can mark these days.


Hoping God’s peace for all of you,

 

Pastor Lynn

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 December 2012 15:48
 
Pastor's Note - September 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 September 2012 21:08

 

From the Pastor

A few years ago, I was reading the e-newsletter that Spirituality and Practice, a website of Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat compile and maintain. While I would often find something interesting or insightful, on that particular day I was more struck with the realization that I needed more of that. The article that struck me was on equanimity (www.spiritualityandpractice.com/practices/features.php?id=17965).   The Brussats define equanimity as “a state of inner balance that enables you to remain calm and centered in the midst of all the turmoil in your life.” Equanimity allows us to experience the bad and the good, the changes in our lives, and remain calm and centered.

Once again I find myself in a place that would be aided by a deeper cultivation of this spiritual quality . As many of you know, my mom is dying, the final stage of her journey living with cancer. There is sadness, for sure, but also a sense of peace. My mom has lived well and continued the spunk and liveliness, the desire to live and love, throughout her illness. She is dying the way she lived, although maybe with more graceful acceptance of all things and all people.

So our family is renewing relationships and finding peace. I am thankful for the faith community that my parents have as they are being well-cared for during this transition. I am thankful for our Congregational UCC community for its care and prayers and encouragement. I am grateful that our God is a God of love and a God who chooses to be in relationship with us. I am grateful for the life that Jesus lived and the life that he renews within us.

As our tradition has Jesus say: “ Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, JB Phillips version).

For all of us seeking calm in the center of whatever storms in our life, for all of us seeking rest, for all of us seeding God’s embrace, the very heart of God is calling us to rest, to be comforted , to be healed. We may then share the healing and compassion that God has given and be empowered to live out God’s peace and justice.

Shalom, Pastor Lynn

 
Pastor's note--April 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 September 2012 14:21

From the Pastor

 

A few years ago, I was reading the e-newsletter that Spirituality and Practice, a website of Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat compile and maintain. While I would often find something interesting or insightful, on that particular day I was more struck with the realization that I needed more of that. The article that struck me was on equanimity (www.spiritualityandpractice.com/practices/features.php?id=17965).   The Brussats define equanimity as “a state of inner balance that enables you to remain calm and centered in the midst of all the turmoil in your life.” Equanimity allows us to experience the bad and the good, the changes in our lives, and remain calm and centered.

Once again I find myself in a place that would be aided by a deeper cultivation of this spiritual quality . As many of you know, my mom is dying, the final stage of her journey living with cancer. There is sadness, for sure, but also a sense of peace. My mom has lived well and continued the spunk and liveliness, the desire to live and love, throughout her illness. She is dying the way she lived, although maybe with more graceful acceptance of all things and all people.

So our family is renewing relationships and finding peace. I am thankful for the faith community that my parents have as they are being well-cared for during this transition. I am thankful for our Congregational UCC community for its care and prayers and encouragement. I am grateful that our God is a God of love and a God who chooses to be in relationship with us. I am grateful for the life that Jesus lived and the life that he renews within us.

As our tradition has Jesus say: “ Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, JB Phillips version).

For all of us seeking calm in the center of whatever storms in our life, for all of us seeking rest, for all of us seeding God’s embrace, the very heart of God is calling us to rest, to be comforted , to be healed. We may then share the healing and compassion that God has given and be empowered to live out God’s peace and justice.

 

Shalom, Pastor Lynn

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 16:45
 
Pastor's Note --August 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 August 2012 15:33

 

From the Pastor

Greetings, all!

I hope that you are enjoying a sense of refreshment and renewal. Even for those of us who seem like life has thrown at us about as much as (more than?) we can handle, this summer has been filled with moments to connect with one another, with friends, with family. Many have enjoyed vacations or staycations. Many have slowed their pace down in ways large or small. Regardless of what we have done this summer, we all seek a sense of peace.

I think we all yearn for peace. Peace with ourselves. Peace with others. Peace between nations. Peace with creation. In a world filled with anxiety and violence, in a country fed on a culture of fear, we long for peace. We long to be instruments of peace. Maybe we long for other people to be instruments of peace. We want the peace that passes all understanding to fill our hearts (Philippians 4:7).

We at Congregational UCC have stepped up efforts to live out our witness to peace and our call to be peacemakers. As you will read in this newsletter, we began monthly Peace Pole prayer gatherings in July. (Stay tuned for location changes in extreme cold or storm, although we might all be so glad to have a rainstorm that we celebrate outside). We will observe the Hiroshima Day of Remembrance at the Peace Pole on Monday, August 6, at 6:00 pm. We are interested in integrating people’s hopes and interests so please feel free to share any ideas with me or with any officer or member of the Faith Ministry Team.

We are also in the midst of our first annual Peace Camp. So far 6 kids, with 3 more joining later this week, are enjoying making peace poles, planning and planting a peace garden, learning to drum together (harder than it sounds – we are making some very cutting edge rhythms!), using photography to capture what speaks to the kids of peace – including being silly with each other, and learning yoga. A very heartfelt thanks to all of you who have prepared the space in the basement, tilled the garden, planned the events, donated snacks and books, came to drum or support the kids, led the activities, prayed for the children and the planners, and all other acts that support Peace Camp.

Our Summer Sunday Study has been on Shalom and what that means in the Bible and what that means in our lives. We really do believe that the way of peace is important.

Why is peace something that matters so much? We believe Jesus calls us to the way of peace and we know that he declares peacemakers to be blessed and children of God (Matthew 5:9). The way of peace can heal the divisions in our country and our culture. Commitment to the way of peace offers hope after random violence erupts in a theater in Colorado. The way of peace calls out after an increase in racially, ethnically, religiously or gender/sexuality based violence. The way of peace challenges the rightness of war but demands that those who serve get adequate physical and mental health treatment. The way of peace questions allocation of resources (official FY2013 USA budget: Department of Defense - $613.4 BILLION).

Peace is something we yearn for. Peace is something we can learn. Peace is the way of our Christ.

Shalom,

Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 16:48
 
Pastor's Note - August 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 04 August 2012 21:20

From the Pastor

Greetings, all!

I hope that you are enjoying a sense of refreshment and renewal. Even for those of us who seem like life has thrown at us about as much as (more than?) we can handle, this summer has been filled with moments to connect with one another, with friends, with family. Many have enjoyed vacations or staycations. Many have slowed their pace down in ways large or small. Regardless of what we have done this summer, we all seek a sense of peace.

I think we all yearn for peace. Peace with ourselves. Peace with others. Peace between nations. Peace with creation. In a world filled with anxiety and violence, in a country fed on a culture of fear, we long for peace. We long to be instruments of peace. Maybe we long for other people to be instruments of peace. We want the peace that passes all understanding to fill our hearts (Philippians 4:7).

We at Congregational UCC have stepped up efforts to live out our witness to peace and our call to be peacemakers. As you will read in this newsletter, we began monthly Peace Pole prayer gatherings in July. (Stay tuned for location changes in extreme cold or storm, although we might all be so glad to have a rainstorm that we celebrate outside). We will observe the Hiroshima Day of Remembrance at the Peace Pole on Monday, August 6, at 6:00 pm. We are interested in integrating people’s hopes and interests so please feel free to share any ideas with me or with any officer or member of the Faith Ministry Team (Michael B, Meredith D, Fran R, Darlene N, John S, and any of you who would like to join!).

We are also in the midst of our first annual Peace Camp. So far 6 kids, with 3 more joining later this week, are enjoying making peace poles, planning and planting a peace garden, learning to drum together (harder than it sounds – we are making some very cutting edge rhythms!), using photography to capture what speaks to the kids of peace – including being silly with each other, and learning yoga. A very heartfelt thanks to all of you who have prepared the space in the basement, tilled the garden, planned the events, donated snacks and books, came to drum or support the kids, led the activities, prayed for the children and the planners, and all other acts that support Peace Camp.

Our Summer Sunday Study has been on Shalom and what that means in the Bible and what that means in our lives. We really do believe that the way of peace is important.

Why is peace something that matters so much? We believe Jesus calls us to the way of peace and we know that he declares peacemakers to be blessed and children of God (Matthew 5:9). The way of peace can heal the divisions in our country and our culture. Commitment to the way of peace offers hope after random violence erupts in a theater in Colorado. The way of peace calls out after an increase in racially, ethnically, religiously or gender/sexuality based violence. The way of peace challenges the rightness of war but demands that those who serve get adequate physical and mental health treatment. The way of peace questions allocation of resources (official FY2013 USA budget: Department of Defense - $613.4 BILLION).

Peace is something we yearn for. Peace is something we can learn. Peace is the way of our Christ.

Shalom,

Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 21:32
 
July's Pastor's july 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 09 July 2012 16:46

 

 

From the Pastor

Greetings all,

It was quite a surprise leaving IL in 90+ degree temperatures to arrive to a cooler Florida. It was an even greater surprise to find our family in the near-paradise that Disney creates (it’s not called the Magic Kingdom without reason!) in the midst of a tropical storm. The plus side, lines were shorter for rides because of the almost constant rain; and the rain and seeking shelter, or riding roller coasters regardless, added to the sense of adventure. My family had a great time. We had the opportunity to spend more time with my parents and the boys got to act as Jedis and pirates and wildlife conservationists.

Probably because of walking miles every day with wet, heavy sandals, the straps cut into my feet, even with moleskin. After a few days, I noticed that while my right foot had a nice, straight line for a sore spot, my left foot had … a Mickey Mouse head! Really. I laughed but when I looked at it again a few minutes later, it really did look like the mouse ears. I smiled for a couple of reasons. First, I thought it so Disney that their branding would appear everywhere. Second, I knew that in another place only a week before, I wouldn’t have seen the mouse ears. But because I was in a place with “hidden Mickeys” throughout the Parks, I saw three circles as the famous Mickey face.

That thought sticks with me. How often do we see what we expect to see or hope to see? Is my sighting of Mickey on my left foot closer to seeing the face of Jesus on a tortilla or closer to seeing someone you just met all over town or seeing/hearing a word that’s just learned frequently when you know you had never encountered it before. (That happened to me a couple of years ago reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna. I had never heard “lacuna” before. And it is pretty unusual. But since reading that book I have heard it on various news shows and read it in various places). We tend to see/hear what we know of or what we look for.

On a more practical level, I think of the parenting advice that also comes from teachers. Catch your children being good. Start looking for what they do well and remark on that. Pretty soon, before any real change in children’s behaviors or attitudes take place, the change comes on those of us observing. We start to see how much good is there. Noticing the good, we notice more good. Pretty soon the lens we use to see starts to see the positive not just in the one(s) we are first watching but in many places. Hopefully, even in ourselves.

There is so much in our lives that are signs of God’s love and grace. Friends who care. Music that moves us. Ideas that inspire us. Animals that befriend us. Food to eat. A comfortable place to sleep. Air conditioning that cools us (especially true for those of us who have lived part of this summer without it).

Our faith community is a true blessing as well. We are a diverse group of totally human people who care deeply about bearing witness to God’s desire for peace, for love, for wholeness, for justice for all people. We are welcoming and friendly. We are concerned and caring. God continues to speak and we continue to listen. God continues to show us love and beauty and God’s goodness. May we use God’s vision as our lens to see those we live with and those we encounter.

Peace,

Pastor Lynn

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 16:45
 
Pastor's Note - July 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 21:27

From the Pastor

Greetings all,

It was quite a surprise leaving IL in 90+ degree temperatures to arrive to a cooler Florida. It was an even greater surprise to find our family in the near-paradise that Disney creates (it’s not called the Magic Kingdom without reason!) in the midst of a tropical storm. The plus side, lines were shorter for rides because of the almost constant rain; and the rain and seeking shelter, or riding roller coasters regardless, added to the sense of adventure. My family had a great time. We had the opportunity to spend more time with my parents and the boys got to act as Jedis and pirates and wildlife conservationists.

Probably because of walking miles every day with wet, heavy sandals, the straps cut into my feet, even with moleskin. After a few days, I noticed that while my right foot had a nice, straight line for a sore spot, my left foot had … a Mickey Mouse head! Really. I laughed but when I looked at it again a few minutes later, it really did look like the mouse ears. I smiled for a couple of reasons. First, I thought it so Disney that their branding would appear everywhere. Second, I knew that in another place only a week before, I wouldn’t have seen the mouse ears. But because I was in a place with “hidden Mickeys” throughout the Parks, I saw three circles as the famous Mickey face.

That thought sticks with me. How often do we see what we expect to see or hope to see? Is my sighting of Mickey on my left foot closer to seeing the face of Jesus on a tortilla or closer to seeing someone you just met all over town or seeing/hearing a word that’s just learned frequently when you know you had never encountered it before. (That happened to me a couple of years ago reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna. I had never heard “lacuna” before. And it is pretty unusual. But since reading that book I have heard it on various news shows and read it in various places). We tend to see/hear what we know of or what we look for.

On a more practical level, I think of the parenting advice that also comes from teachers. Catch your children being good. Start looking for what they do well and remark on that. Pretty soon, before any real change in children’s behaviors or attitudes take place, the change comes on those of us observing. We start to see how much good is there. Noticing the good, we notice more good. Pretty soon the lens we use to see starts to see the positive not just in the one(s) we are first watching but in many places. Hopefully, even in ourselves.

There is so much in our lives that are signs of God’s love and grace. Friends who care. Music that moves us. Ideas that inspire us. Animals that befriend us. Food to eat. A comfortable place to sleep. Air conditioning that cools us (especially true for those of us who have lived part of this summer without it).

Our faith community is a true blessing as well. We are a diverse group of totally human people who care deeply about bearing witness to God’s desire for peace, for love, for wholeness, for justice for all people. We are welcoming and friendly. We are concerned and caring. God continues to speak and we continue to listen. God continues to show us love and beauty and God’s goodness. May we use God’s vision as our lens to see those we live with and those we encounter.

Peace,

Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 21:32
 
Pastor's Note - June 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 June 2012 21:30

From the Pastor

Welcome to Summer! We just celebrated Pentecost, a day that we lift up God’s pouring out of God’s spirit on all people: male and female, young and old, Republican and Democrat, gay and straight, rich and poor, black, brown, yellow and white, and, well, you get the idea. In the spirit of the season (that continues as “ordinary time” until Advent), we celebrate God’s Spirit that gathers diverse people together and celebrates the gifts that each person offers. How wonderful is that? Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, Christianity in the United States has seen continued restrictions on Roman Catholic nuns and at least two cases of fundamentalist Protestant preachers calling for detention camps or execution of LGBT people. From clamping down on those who serve those on the outcast, to preaching a gospel of hate, the public perception that Christians are projecting are ones that are more and more restricting and repellant to the culture that we live and breathe in. A culture that offers many gifts but could also use a
bit of transformation (e.g. ongoing wars, an astonishing gap between the wealthiest 400 Americans and everybody else, high poverty rates and people who are hungry, etc.)

I give thanks for the ongoing witness of Congregational Church. As do many congregations within the United Church of Christ, Congregational takes seriously Christ’s call to offer radical hospitality to all people. In a day when many outside the church seem more filled with love and grace than those who speak for the church, this witness of welcome is transformational and inspiring.

It takes a lot of practice to welcome people wherever they are on life’s journey without trying too hard or putting on any appearance of strings or pressure. But I think Congregational really has internalized this call. We are all still working on our issues and will always be learning how to be the beloved community. I am proud of this band of followers!

Another aspect of recognizing the Spirit’s work among us involves creating and sustaining community. I have heard that Mother Theresa once noted that the leading disease in America is loneliness. Given the fact that many of us live away from extended families and given the intense political polarization, more and more of us ache for community. Churches seem a natural antidote for that loneliness. We can bring our selves to a gathering of other people, each of us broken but striving, and give and receive nurture and encouragement. Given the hatefulness that the public face of Christianity often projects, we will likely have to earn credibility. How do we go about making our welcome known? How do we earn that credibility? As we all walk the talk, the Spirit will enable the witness.

In God’s peace,
Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 21:32
 
Pastor's note--May 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:02

 

From the Pastor

 

   I have been doing some reading about church vitality and renewal off and on since seminary. I recently purchased Diane Butler Bass’ Christianity for the Rest of Us, which is a 2009 book that explores ways of thinking about and being church. Her book concludes a three year study of various neighborhood congregations that are affiliated with “mainline” denominations (like the United Church of Christ). I think the book will be quite helpful as it not only chronicles the ups and downs of the neighborhood church, it points to practices that vital, faithful congregations practice, many of which we already do (like hospitality). After reading the book, I may suggest that various other leaders in the congregation read it so that we can have rich conversations. (See, another reason to go to Vision Coordinating Team meetings!)

   When I read a review of the book recently, I remembered that a couple of years ago, I had copied a 20 point renewal program from either her blog or another blog that credited Bass with the plan. I wish that I had the exact cite, or the right site. I find it insightful, humorous, and thought-provoking. I hope that you do as well.

 

Twenty Point Church Renewal Plan

Diane Butler Bass


Be genuine. Do not under any circumstances try to be trendy or hip, if you are not already intrinsically trendy or hip. If you are a 90-year-old woman who enjoys crocheting and listens to Beethoven, by God be proud of it.

 

Stop pretending you have a rock band.

 

Stop arguing about whether gay people are okay, fully human, or whatever else. Seriously. Stop it.

 

Stop arguing about whether women are okay, fully human, or are capable of being in a position of leadership.

 

Stop looking for the "objective truth" in Scripture.

 

Start looking for the beautiful truth in Scripture.

 

Actually read the Scriptures. If you are Episcopalian, go buy a Bible and read it. Start in Genesis, it's pretty cool. You can skip some of the other boring parts in the Bible. Remember though that almost every book of the Bible has some really funky stuff in it. Remember to keep #5 and #6 in mind though. If you are evangelical, you may need to stop reading the Bible for about 10 years. Don't worry: during those ten years you can work on putting these other steps into practice.

 

Start worrying about extreme poverty, violence against women, racism, consumerism, and the rate at which children are dying worldwide of preventable, treatable diseases. Put all the energy you formerly spent worrying about the legit-ness of gay people into figuring out ways to do some good in these areas.

 

Do not shy away from lighting candles, silence, incense, laughter, really good food, and extraordinary music. By "extraordinary music" I mean genuine music. Soulful music. Well-written, well-composed music. Original music. Four-part harmony music. Funky retro organ music. Hymns. Taize chants. Bluegrass. Steel guitar. Humming. Gospel. We are the church; we have a uber-rich history of amazing music. Remember this.

 

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

 

Learn how to sit with people who are dying.

 

Feast as much as possible. Cardboard communion wafers are a feast in symbol only. Humans can not live on symbols alone. Remember this.

 

Notice visitors, smile genuinely at them, include them in conversations, but do not overwhelm them.

 

Be vulnerable.

 

Stop worrying about getting young people into the church. Stop worrying about marketing strategies. Take a deep breath. If there is a God, that God isn't going to die even if there are no more Christians at all.

 

Figure out who is suffering in your community. Go be with them.

 

Remind yourself that you don't have to take God to anyone. God is already with everyone. So, rather than taking the approach that you need to take the truth out to people who need it, adopt the approach that you need to go find the truth that others have and you are missing. Go be evangelized.

 

Put some time and care and energy into creating a beautiful space for worship and being-together. But shy away from building campaigns, parking lot expansions, and what-have-you. Make some part of the church building accessible for people to pray in 24/7. Put some blankets there too, in case someone has nowhere else to go for the night.

 

Listen to God (to Wisdom, to Love) more than you speak your opinions.

 

This is a fool-proof plan. If you do it, I guarantee that you will attract young people to your church. And lots of other kinds of people too. The end.

 

I laugh when I see some of those. I feel proud of our congregation on some points. And I feel convicted on other points. I look forward to hearing from you what your reaction is.

 

Peace,
Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 16:49
 
Pastor's Note - May 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 May 2012 21:36

From the Pastor

I have been doing some reading about church vitality and renewal off and on since seminary. I recently purchased Diane Butler Bass’ Christianity for the Rest of Us, which is a 2009 book that explores ways of thinking about and being church. Her book concludes a three year study of that various neighborhood congregations 1-6 are affiliated with “mainline” denominations (like the United Church of Christ). I think the book will be quite helpful as it not only chronicles the ups and downs of the neighborhood church, it points to practices that vital, faithful congregations practice, many of which we already do (like hospitality). After reading the book, I may suggest that various other leaders in the congregation read it so that we can have rich conversations. (See, another reason to go to Vision Coordinating Team meetings!)

When I read a review of the book recently, I remembered that a couple of years ago, I had copied a 20 point renewal program from either her blog or another blog that credited Bass with the plan. I wish that I had the exact cite, or the right site. I find it insightful, humorous, and thought-provoking. I hope that you do as well.

Be genuine. Do not under any circumstances try to be trendy or hip, if you are not already intrinsically trendy or hip. If you are a 90-year-old woman who enjoys crocheting and listens to Beethoven, by God be proud of it.
Stop pretending you have a rock band.
Stop arguing about whether gay people are okay, fully human, or whatever else. Seriously. Stop it.
Stop arguing about whether women are okay, fully human, or are capable of being in a position of leadership.

This is a fool-proof plan. If you do it, I guarantee that you will attract young people to your church. And lots of other kinds of people too. The end.

I laugh when I see some of those. I feel proud of our congregation on some points. And I feel convicted on other points. I look forward to hearing from you what your reaction is.

Peace,
Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 21:37
 
«StartPrev12345NextEnd»

Page 4 of 5
Copyright © 2017 jaxucc.org. All Rights Reserved.