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Wednesday, 07 December 2016 15:38

 

Dear friends:

Everybody I know, including me, wants something more: some want more money, some want more time, some ache for more health, some want more love. On a less individual level, most of us long for an end to division and living in fear. Whatever it is, we all want something. Most of us feel at least an occasional emptiness and we want to fill it. What we crave may differ but we all know what it is to yearn.

We are in the season of Advent, which is the four week period of waiting for the coming of Christ. In this lead-up to Christmas, we have an opportunity to become more aware of this emptiness and our yearnings. At the root of our yearning is a longing for hope, peace, joy and love, all of which may be met in the path to God that is Jesus.

Jesus comes to bring us comfort, rest and peace. Jesus comes to share hope with those who are afraid. Jesus comes to offer meaning to those who wonder what the point of living is all about. Jesus comes to share with us the gift of God’s grace. Jesus comes to meet us, love us, and heal us. Jesus is the light shining in the darkness that the darkness cannot overcome.

We have that Light of the World in us! Let’s acknowledge the darkness, both within and without, but trust in the Light. (Bring those feelings of loss and lack of hope to the Longest Night Service, 12/21 @7:00. That’s what that service is all about!) Let’s look for flickers of light and love and hope shining and add our light to it.

God’s peace to you. Pastor Lynn

 
pastors note 11-16 PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 November 2016 01:43

 

Dear friends,

There is a story of an old woman who is hiking and finds a stone of great value. Shortly after finding it, a hungry man comes to her, begging for a bite of food. She agrees and opens her bag to share her food. The beggar sees the stone and asks for it instead. The old woman freely gives it away. A few days later, the man returns with the stone. He tells the woman that even though he could sell it and provide for himself for a month, he wanted something else, something more valuable. He wanted what she had on the inside. He wanted what would allow her to give of herself without hesitation.

I often wonder what causes us to give freely. In our lives, where even in relationships and faith communities it can feel as if there is score keeping, it can be difficult to be truly generous - to give freely, without counting the cost, without expecting anything in return. The woman in the story seems to possess the gift, the secret of true generosity. Maybe she knew the mystery of God’s grace, the secret of God’s abundance, the promise that with God all things are possible.

The spirit that recognizes grace cannot but be generous in return. The spirit that recognizes abundance cannot but share and give. The spirit that recognizes God’s vast possibilities cannot but embrace the impossible. Generosity is a spiritual practice. Generosity is as big a gift to the giver as it is to the receiver. It is what enables us to participate in ebb and flow of life, as well as in the ministry of the church.

On November 20, Gratitude Sunday, we give thanks for the gifts of the past and the gifts of the future. We give thanks to God for these gifts and we share what we are grateful for. We celebrate both generosity and gratitude with a Community Thanksgiving Lunch, inviting all who worship and all who are hungry to join in a Thanksgiving Lunch.

In peace,

Pastor Lynn

 
pastor's note PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 October 2016 14:32

 

“I planted, you watered, but God gave the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6

What is the difference between the words “Growth” and “Change?”

Change can be scary; Growth is exciting.

Change can be superficial; Growth is a spiritual maturing.  

Change can be good or bad; Growth is ultimately positive.  

Change can be losing numbers; Growth is bonding more tightly in the face of loss.        

 Change doesn’t mean Growth; but Growth means Change.

Our congregation is typical of many others. Sometimes we feel like we are losing in the culture. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and irrelevant. We all want to grow in number but few want to change.

When we look at children, we see how much they grow, often so quickly. My younger son is excited every time he gets measured at the Dr’s office because it shows how much taller he is than the last time.

This growth is true of adults too. As I go through my father’s belongings, one of the more enjoyable, if not bittersweet, moments is looking at photos. There are pictures of my father as a young man, of my parents in the early days of their marriage. There are pictures of my parents in their 40s, which I used to think was when they were old. Now I marvel at how young they looked.

We grow; we change; it’s a fact of life.

This fact applies to institutions, like the church, as well. Congregational UCC in 2016 does not look the same as it did when the sanctuary was completed in 1859. It doesn’t look the same as it did at the congregation’s 150th anniversary in 1983. Nor does the world around us look the same.

“I planted, you watered, but God gave the growth,” Paul writes in a letter to the church of Corinth, trying to heal the divides that existed among them. This verse reminds us that Change is the work of humankind; Growth is the work of God. Change is doing things different for the sake of doing something different; Growth is becoming more like the people or community that God calls us to be. This is the challenge for us now as a church.

As the culture around us shifts, as people relate to church and plan their schedules differently than they did even 20 years ago, we need to figure how God is calling us to be church together. It may be scary sometimes. It will most certainly be exciting. But as long as we do it together, as long as we are holding God in our decisionmaking process, we will discover who God is calling us to be. And that’s Growth.

Wishing you God’s peace,

Pastor Lynn

 
pastor's note 9/16 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 September 2016 15:24

 

Dear friends,

I hope that you have enjoyed a time of rest and renewal over the (sometimes) slower rhythms of summer. Now that the summer is unofficially over, it seems that the pace of life returns to a season that has more of a focus on learning and producing.

As we look forward to renewed purpose and meaningful activity, I pray for all of us that we remember to rest in God's being. Our God of Eternal Love desires rest and renewal as well as creativity and meaningful life for all creation. Every so often, but especially when life feels terribly busy or chaotic, take a moment to breathe and rest in God.

As part of the ebb and flow of seasons, we celebrated the ministry of John Steckel as Music Director on August 28. And, we celebrate the start of Hank Cronnister's ministry with us as Music Director. Hank is already planning for special music in each service, ranging from the choir, to vocal or instrumental solos and other music. Please encourage Hank as he starts his new role.

Blessings on each of you!

Pastor Lynn

 

 
fromthe pastor 8-16 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 14:55

 

Dear friends,
Thank you all for the wonderful expressions of sympathy, offers to
help, etc. that came from you as my Dad suffered a fall and proceeded
somewhat slowly to die. Your kindness and compassion truly touched
me and affirmed just what a caring community of faith we have, in all
its extended circles.
I know that death is part of the natural cycle and I trust that in
death, we return to God, the source of life and love. Yet it is also a
time of pain and bittersweet reflection. We, as followers of Jesus and
his path to God, are ultimately people of resurrection. We trust that
love trumps hate and life is stronger than death. Through this mystical
Spirit of Christ, we experience resurrection too. This is seen not only in
whatever we hope happens at our death but in our ability to put one
foot in front of the other and continuing to live, to love, to hope.
Please know that my family is not the only one to grieve at the
moment. Our beloved member, mentor, friend, as well as husband,
father and grandfather to his family, Iver Yeager, also passed in the
last two weeks. I know that expressions of love and sympathy to
Natalee and Ruth and her brothers are well appreciated.
Praying that we may all be kind and gracious to each other and to
this world that needs it.
In God’s peace,
Pastor Lynn

 
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