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Pastor's Note - April 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 21:39

From the Pastor

As we plan for our Seder and our Maundy Thursday service, and as we look through the darkness towards the hope of Easter, I hope that each one of us allows ourselves to acknowledge dark times in our lives and in our world. Yet I also hope that each one of us holds on to the hope of new life that comes. I hope that we all trust in the promise that crucifixion isn’t the final answer but new life is. I hope that we all will be open to this newness of life however it may appear to us, whether in a new birth, a new phase of a relationship, new ministries, new confidence and sense of purpose. In each of the ways that new life will be around us, I hope that we see Easter, see Jesus and his life affirmed, in them.

As I continue to experience life, it seems for me more and more that Jesus appears to us in the ordinary moments of life, more than in dramatic moments. Author Frederick Buechner has written:

Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but... at supper time, or walking along a road.  This is the element that all the stories about Christ's return to life have in common: Mary waiting at the empty tomb and suddenly turning around to see somebody standing there - someone she thought at first was the gardener; all of the disciples except Thomas hiding out in a locked house and then his coming and standing in the midst; and later, when Thomas was there, his coming again and standing in the midst; Peter taking his boat back after a night at sea and there on the shore, near a little fire of coals, a familiar figure asking, "Children, have you any fish?"; the two men at Emmaus who knew him in the breaking of bread.  He never approached them from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.

My hope for all of us is that after the sound of the trumpet turns silent, as the fragrance of the lilies fades, we experience Christ in our ordinary, day-to-day experiences. And may we be filled with God’s grace to be Christ to one another.

Peace,
Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 21:40
 
From the Pastor--March 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 02 March 2012 17:50

From the Pastor

As we continue our journey in Lent, a time that invites introspection and preparation to participate in new life, we have been having various conversations about church: what it means to be church, how we organize ourselves, what our mission is. It’s been a rather serendipitous experience to have so many, seemingly random, conversations that continue to touch upon this theme.

One of the interesting connections that these conversations have with the season of Lent is that there is an implicit recognition of our humanity. It seems that we recognize that even though we want to be just and faithful, we know that we aren’t always. We aren’t always patient and kind. We don’t always practice justice. We don’t always walk with humility with God – knowing that God is God (and that we are not). That is part of the human condition. It seems to be part of our very DNA.

One of the blessings, then, in being part of a faith community is that we acknowledge this fact to be true. We may see it more easily in others than ourselves (unfortunately) but we do know that we are all human and that we all need to grow. We recognize as part of our own spiritual growth that we aren’t always good or compassionate. We can deny it, but that is foolish as well as arrogant. We can be resigned to it, but that is lazy and tends toward immaturity. But we can use our own failures to teach us humility and empathy. This humility invites us into grace. Feeling less judgment toward others, we are free to accept ourselves and to practice compassion.

What does this have to do with the conversations about “church?” We all come together, agreeing to walk with one another, to deepen our relationship to God and to increase our service to one another and to the rest of the world. The focus of Lent on reflection and introspection encourages us to affirm our desire to do good as well to embrace humility.

I am encouraged by the depth of awareness and the conversations that people are having as we continue to wrestle together with how we, the Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, will live out the radically, inclusive love of Jesus and how we will “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.”

Shalom,

Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 16:51
 
Pastor's note Feb. 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 02 March 2012 17:50

From the Pastor

As we continue our journey in Lent, a time that invites introspection and preparation to participate in new life, we have been having various conversations about church: what it means to be church, how we organize ourselves, what our mission is. It’s been a rather serendipitous experience to have so many, seemingly random, conversations that continue to touch upon this theme.

One of the interesting connections that these conversations have with the season of Lent is that there is an implicit recognition of our humanity. It seems that we recognize that even though we want to be just and faithful, we know that we aren’t always. We aren’t always patient and kind. We don’t always practice justice. We don’t always walk with humility with God – knowing that God is God (and that we are not). That is part of the human condition. It seems to be part of our very DNA.

One of the blessings, then, in being part of a faith community is that we acknowledge this fact to be true. We may see it more easily in others than ourselves (unfortunately) but we do know that we are all human and that we all need to grow. We recognize as part of our own spiritual growth that we aren’t always good or compassionate. We can deny it, but that is foolish as well as arrogant. We can be resigned to it, but that is lazy and tends toward immaturity. But we can use our own failures to teach us humility and empathy. This humility invites us into grace. Feeling less judgment toward others, we are free to accept ourselves and to practice compassion.

What does this have to do with the conversations about “church?” We all come together, agreeing to walk with one another, to deepen our relationship to God and to increase our service to one another and to the rest of the world. The focus of Lent on reflection and introspection encourages us to affirm our desire to do good as well to embrace humility.

I am encouraged by the depth of awareness and the conversations that people are having as we continue to wrestle together with how we, the Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, will live out the radically, inclusive love of Jesus and how we will “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.”

Shalom,

Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 16:46
 
Pastor's Note Jan. 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 15:22

 

From the Pastor:

Happy New Year to all of you!

   I have been thinking a bit about who we are and how we see ourselves and what strengths do we want to build on to help Congregational United Church of Christ live into its vision. These have come up not only as a result of my own ponderings about setting priorities, etc. but also through conversations with various people. Seemingly unrelated conversations about administrative structure of church ministries, about music, and about providing hospitality at the church have all had my juices flowing about just how do we see ourselves and how do we want to see ourselves. I invite each of you to take some time to reflect on what we do well, what we don’t do well, how we could do tasks (e.g. meetings) differently. How do you see God calling us to live out God’s extravagant welcome? Please, as you have ideas, thoughts, comments, questions, random tangents, etc., share them! I would love it if you would share them with me. If not, please share them with each other so that all ideas are considered. Each person has a perspective and experience to share!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Epiphany to you!

   In keeping with what was shared from the Illinois Conference- UCC Annual Meeting last June, i.e the need for congregations to develop “biblical literacy”, I have been trying to increase “liturgical literacy”. I am hoping to give some grounding for what the various church seasons mean, what we are reading (and why, sometimes) in the lectionary, etc.

   As you probably know, we finished a four week season of Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for the coming of Jesus. Advent ends with Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The Christmas season is more than Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. It lasts until Epiphany. Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, celebrates the coming of the Wise People to toddler Jesus, as told by the author of the Gospel of Matthew in Matthew 2:1-12. The word “epiphany” means the revealing of Jesus as God. There is a season of Epiphany just as there is a season of Christmas.

It seems natural to think of Christmas as the greater feast in the church, if for no other reason than it is the greater one in our culture. But in many ways, in terms of history, and in terms of story, Epiphany is the greater moment of celebration. Epiphany is part of the mystery of Christmas. We celebrate not only that God becomes flesh (the Incarnation of Christmas) but also that Jesus, as the Son of God gathers the whole of humanity into himself. God becomes revealed and fully available to all who want God.

     So as we follow the flow from the season of Advent to Christmas to Epiphany, we are invited to do the following:

   Advent invites us to watch and wait and nourish the Spirit within and among us ~ and prepare a place of the coming of Christ. 

     Christmas invites us to wonder and rejoice alongside the shepherds and all who first experienced the birth of Christ cannot fully comprehend. Christmas invites us to birth Christ within us.

Epiphany invites us to awaken and grow the birth of Christ in us. Light continues to be a dominant metaphor as the light of Christ shines – in Jesus and in us who follow. As we grow this presence of Christ within us, we become greater disciples of Jesus and grow in holiness. Some traditions talk about this process as rebirth, discipleship, or sanctification.

God’s light, in the world and in us, is constantly challenged by forces within us and within our world.      The whole idea of a self-giving love can be anathema to us on any given day. That is one reason we come together to worship – liturgy (free or structured) - because worship is designed to empower us with God’s love and God’s wisdom so that we can continue to love no matter what.

All in all, that’s a tall order. With God’s help, we can recognize the light and shine it in our lives.

God’s peace to you.

Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 16:43
 
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