From the Pastor

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Wednesday, 01 April 2015 16:29



Dear friends,

Welcome to Spring! Welcome to the Easter season! Welcome to the chance to reboot or press reset!

I remember the first time I realized that hitting ctrl-alt-delete could solve a multitude of problems with the earlier versions of computers. Less than we are now, we were beginning to become more reliant on technology. Then as now, when your personal computer freezes, and you are in the midst of a document or spreadsheet or a even a game, and the screen freezes and nothing else worked, often including the save function, a simple reboot often saved the day.

A while later, I reconnected with a friend from junior high. His life journey had a number of twists and low places. He told me Ctrl – Alt – Delete was his life philosophy. I got John’s point. When we get stuck, sometimes we just need to shut down and restart. We might miss a few things, lose a few things, but there was a fresh start. We aren’t dead; we just start again, quite possibly in a little different  place then before.

Now there is a reset button on our modems, routers, etc. But it isn’t just electronics that needs a reset.  We all get run down; we all need fresh starts. I know even this morning I overreacted to something a son said. I was defensive. I was tired and stressed out about the week ahead and the work remaining and the travel that was going to take place regardless. That is a long way of saying I was stressed and didn’t even really know it until I heard myself taken something personally that wasn’t meant that way.

Breathe and reset.

I know I am not the only one who needs to step back sometimes and hit the reset. Somethings we can do is to find something that refreshes our spirits  and/or reconnects us to our better selves, our families, our friends, our community. Some people find spiritual disciplines such as prayer or meditation help. Ohters find walking in nature to refresh. Something as simple as stopping for a coffee, meeting up with a friend, petting a dog, all little things, help so much to refresh us.

Easter has a reset function, too. After all the heaviness of life, after all the angst of betrayal and denial and death of Holy Week and our Lenten journey through brokenness, what a relief that grace and God’s love provides. One of the beauties of Easter is the hope of new life. It’s the ultimate reset on our lives.

Wishing you God’s peace,

Pastor Lynn


From the Pastor PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 06 March 2015 15:37


Dear friends,

In looking back over five years with Congregational UCC, I see how who we are and who we are becoming boils down to these attributes:

·        we seek God’s guidance in community

·        we honor God with worship

·        we study and wrestle with our faith

·        we strive to make the words of faith flesh by doing justice and sharing compassion


We don’t always get it right, and that’s okay – it’s how we learn and grow – but mostly we have found a way to live into these attributes of faith.


I think that we have a sense of mission and I am grateful for all the leaders and encouragers and workers. My hope is that the next five years will deepen our sense of mission and our playfulness. We have worked so hard and we still have much to be done (we are a small group taking on the projects of groups larger than we are) but there is much joy and play that will happen too.


As we work at practicing Christ’s hospitality as our congregation’s goal for 2015, let’s laugh and sing and pray. Let’s make everything we do understandable to people of any or no religious tradition. Let’s sing songs from all genres and from “secular” and church traditions. Let’s continue our efforts for small group study, reflection and fellowship. Let’s continue to develop relationships built on trust and respect.

I give thanks to God for our ministry together. I look forward to what the future brings. I look forward to seeing what new thing God will do (is doing!) with our lives and our gifts.


Wishing God’s peace to all of you. 

Pastor Lynn

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Thursday, 05 February 2015 15:31


Dear Friends:

Is anyone else sort-of surprised that it is already February? We just finished putting away the Christmas decorations and cleaning up from the annual meeting on January 31. How can it possibly be true that Lent is around the corner?!


I have grown to like the season of Lent. It’s a time for reflecting on faith and following Christ. Lent is not about giving up chocolate or Facebook (although, if either help you in your walk, go for it). It is about confronting our brokenness and embracing a life fully integrated with God’s will for restoration and wholeness.


Once again, Congregational United Church of Christ will offer: worship services on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 7:00 pm (see below), mid-week Lent Gatherings, Wednesdays at 6:00 pm, beginning on February 25 (see below), and Holy Week worship services on Maundy Thursday (April 2, 6:00 pm) and Good Friday (April 3, 7:00 pm). More information will be published closer to Holy Week.


Please join us for as many worship or casual gatherings as you can. We deepen our faith and build our community. Both help us to be agents of God’s love and compassion in a hurting world.

Wishing you all God’s peace.

Pastor Lynn

December 14 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 December 2014 16:53


Dear friends:

Everybody I know, including me, wants something more:  some people want more money, some want more time, some ache for more health, some want more love.  Everyone I know wants something more. It’s part of being human. Most of us are aware of at least an occasional emptiness and we want to fill it. What we crave may differ but we all yearn for something.

Maybe that is the reason God invites us into the season of Advent:  during the four weeks of Advent that lead up to Christmas we’re encouraged to become a little bit more comfortable with our emptiness.  We’re asked to learn how to wait – and watch – and listen and rediscover the love of God that is already present in our lives so that we don’t get trapped in worry or fear, because that can never fill our emptiness.

Advent trains us to meet Jesus, whose coming we await. (That’s what Advent means – coming.)  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. 

That’s why the Christian church begins it year with Advent. Advent offers a challenge and alternative to our hunger for more.  Advent asks us to be still – to take a long, loving look at what is real – to learn how to see the signs of God’s call to love and offer hope that are all around us.

Most of us can’t change the world – but we can touch somebody’s life that needs us. Advent teaches us to live fully and love fully while we wait.

God’s peace to you.

Pastor Lynn 


Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2014 17:01
Pastor's Corner11/14 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 November 2014 15:50


Dear friends,

I am watching the sun come up while I write this post. When I was out with the dogs, the air felt crisp and wonderful. What a good way to start the day, made better by the coffee that was just finishing its brew.

Fall is here and I am glad. I am gaining a new appreciation for the melancholy in fall as I move into the fall season in my life. The colors are beautiful and the air is crisp but both presage a type of death that will ultimately lead to renewal. There is something beautiful in itself yet that both leads to a time of loss and renewal.

Thank goodness for the seasons and their reminder about the repeating cycles of life. They are one way that the external world holds a mirror up for our lives, both as individuals, families, even institutions like the places that we work and the church itself.

It is no secret to anyone that the culture we live in is very different from the one 20, 30, 50, 100 years ago. Practicing religion or engaging in spiritual growth and discipleship as a community is not central to the practice of life. Groups like our church are on the fringes of society and yet continue to play a vital role not just in equipping us all for living out the message of God’s hope, love, peace and justice in a very hurt and divided world.

Congregational UCC is not immune to the struggle.  We continue to live and witness as faithfully as we can and we will continue to be an advocate for God’s love and hope and dignity for all of God’s good and beautiful creation.

We are, however, making some changes to reflect the economic reality of the day. Starting this week, I will also engage in ministry at Salem Evangelical UCC in Quincy. I will continue to serve as minister here at Congregational UCC but will spend about 15 hours (plus travel time) in Quincy, visiting people who are homebound. Salem will reimburse Congregational for my time.

Time will tell how exactly this change will impact daily or weekly ministry here in Jacksonville. This coming holiday season won’t see much change at all; in fact, there will be an increase in activity as Advent gatherings occur on the Wednesdays in December and Longest Night (a service of solace) is observed.

One change that is likely is that I will not be able to attend all ministry team meetings but will still attend the majority of them. I will look to shed responsibilities such as being Vice-President of the Jacksonville Conference of Churches. I will continue to be active in the community and will continue on the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library Board and on the Illinois College Fine Arts Series Board.

My hope is that most weeks I will go to Quincy on Mondays and Tuesday. This is our first week and already that is not happening. We will all see what works better for my schedule and for this church. (Salem Ev. UCC doesn’t care which days.)

The office will still have regular hours. Our secretary will work W-F, 9-12, except for the week with the third Tuesday, in which case she will work T, Th, F. [For those of you who did not know that we had decreased secretarial hours from 15 – 9, starting in July, I apologize.] Mary H. has volunteered to work the phones, etc. on Monday mornings when I will be in Quincy.

Sometimes change creates anxiety but I hope that all find peace with the transition. To me it feels like a gift that allows Congregational UCC to breathe and continue to ponder how we live a bold witness for hope and transformation in this day and place.

Let’s live from a place of gratitude and grace, extending that to all.


Pastor Lynn

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 15:08

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