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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
 
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