Praying with Eyes Open

Dear Glen Mar friends,

I'm taking a few vacation days this week for much-needed rest and renewal. I'm spending a lot of quality time with Eric and the kids, and staring at big bodies of water and lots of time in prayer.

There are many ways to pray to God, and God is always more ready to hear us pray than we are to pray. But I wanted to lift up to you a couple different ways to think about prayer. Ignatian spirituality talks about prayer as apophatic or kataphatic. Apophatic prayer is prayer without words, an emptying (like centering prayer) and kataphatic is prayer with words, images, metaphors.

Eugene Peterson, quoting Annie Dillard, takes things a step further. He says apophatic prayer is "prayer with the eyes closed" - approaching a God who is "Immortal, Invisible, God only wise" as the hymn suggests. This is the way of praying most of us know. Kataphatic prayer, he says, is prayer with the eyes open, in a way, where what we see in the world can be a sort of window to God. I'm not talking about idolatry or worshipping created things. I'm talking about when we see a beautiful sunset and in it, we know we are not alone. There is a Creator and it is not "me." Time away in nature is a chance for kataphatic prayer - with eyes open - as dolphins play, and pelicans dive, or as we spend time in the ancient cathedrals of mountain ranges or even telling family stories around the family table. We can see that "God is love," and that the "heavens are telling the glory of God." (Psalm 19).

This week, why not try a little "kataphatic" prayer - prayer with the eyes open. Where do you see God's presence? Share it on Glen Mar's Facebook page-maybe with a picture!

This Sunday, I'll be preaching on the parable of the sower - and the ways our extravagant sower flings seed, like grace, and the lessons we can learn - as soil, and seed - from our sower.

See you online,
Pastor Mandy


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4th of July!

Dear Glen Mar friends,

As I write this, the July 4th weekend is upon us. I pray that you can take some time to give thanks for the blessings we share from God, and for the ways that our country lives up to the best of who we are, and are called to be. "May God shed his grace on thee...and crown thy good, with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!"

This weekend, we will gather online for worship with Holy Communion, so be sure and have a bread and a juice of your choice ready to share in the Spirit with your church family. We'll also welcome Pastor Melaina, who is already beginning to have meetings with individuals and small groups via Zoom to get into the swing of things.

I'll be preaching on a favorite and beloved passage from Matthew, where Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." It may seem like we've done nothing but "rest" in this COVID time - why are we so tired? How can we claim the freedom we are offered in Christ to give him our burdens, and if we take his "yoke" upon us, what does that mean? And what do we gain?

You won't want to miss it. I hope you will share the link with friends so that we can all worship together.

Also, just a reminder that in the summer, our schedules get more flexible so you might not "tune in" as regularly to church. I find that hard to believe because worshipping our amazing God is a joy, and our online worship is so meaningful to me. But just a reminder that we are grateful for your presence and your giving year-round, to cover year-round expenses and do year-round ministry. Thank you for your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness!

We are currently accepting requests for outdoor gatherings, with social distancing, at the church. All requests have to be approved by our task force, so if you want to gather, email me the info and I'll take it to the team and get back to you. Our youth have had some socially distant "game time" and we are in the process of planning more small events.

See you online,
Pastor Mandy


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You are not alone

Dear Glen Mar friends,

From my devotional reading this morning I was drawn to Luke 10:1-2. "After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'"

He sent 70 people on ahead of him...which sounds like a big number to me. And then I noticed when I read this with my glasses on, that he sent them in pairs. "Two by two" if you will. As this COVID business continues to wreak havoc with whatever is easy or feels normal, I'm reminded here that ministry is never really a solo operation. This is good news because sometimes we feel like Moses, who appointed judges over the people because keeping them straight was getting to be too much for one guy. It's tempting to think, as a pastor anyway, that it's "all on me" to figure out and to reassure and to somehow wave my magic "when there's a pandemic" wand from seminary to make this go away. (Hint: there is no such wand. All they gave me was a diploma).

If ministry is in fact something to be shared, with its burdens and benefits, then we can work together to make the burden lighter. This may look like being patient with the pace of "regathering," or reaching out to church friends you haven't seen in person to talk to them (sometimes a call from you is more healing than a call from "a pastor."). It can look like prayer for one another and care for our neighbors. Individually, we can't do much...but together and in Christ, we can do "all things," including choosing NOT to do All The Things Right Now.

See you "online,"
Pastor Mandy


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A Busy Week

Dear Glen Mar friends,

There is so much "life" in the life of Glen Mar these days, and while we have not officially "opened" yet, we are doing some "new" things at 4701 New Cut Road. This week, our Vacation Bible School is being filmed - that's right, a virtual VBS! We'll make it available the week of July 13, but you can go at your own pace. And it's not just "watching" VBS - it's interactive. You'll have crafts and games and actions to do, because, even on the Rocky Railway, "Jesus Power Pulls Us Through." (Trust Jesus!).

We are preparing for our Early Learning Center to be open on Monday June 22. We are excited to welcome our children back to learning and fun, so that parents can work. We will only have one entrance "open" and we are asking "church folk" to honor the building's ongoing closure so that we can get ELC up and running safely.

We are also planning an outdoor, physically distanced, Confirmation service that we will share online. Stay tuned for details on that.

Our Task Force for Re-Entering Well is working on a simple set of guidelines for what people can expect as we continue to gather in safe ways. We want to plan our gatherings in ways that prioritize safety, and make it possible for our facilities crew to keep things clean.

I know as restrictions loosen, folks want to get together, and we are actively working on it. But, what the county will allow is not always the safest option for church. For example, the County permits a large group to gather in worship, but our Conference and Bishop have set a cap for indoor gatherings at 50. I so appreciate your patience as we work on these initial steps together (ELC reopening, confirmation), and I'm very grateful for your continued prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness in this time.

This weekend is Father's Day, so I hope you'll make a special effort to join us with your Father's Day Brunch. We'll pray for and give thanks for our fathers, the music is going to be awesome, I'll be preaching on the Matthew lectionary for the day - a particularly challenging one - and the sermon title will be "Family Ties."

See you Online,
Pastor Mandy


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Continue

Dear Glen Mar friends,

I've written many words already this week, and had countless hours of Zoom meetings. My soul is tired of typing and staring at screens. I'm sustained by the Holy Communion we shared last weekend and all the ways that we are making a difference in the world because of you. So, today I am "pondering" scripture from Hebrews about endurance and a poem called "Continue" by Maya Angelou.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Continue
Into a world which needed you
My wish for you
Is that you continue
Continue
To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness
Continue
To allow humor to lighten the burden
of your tender heart
Continue
In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter
Continue
To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined
Continue
To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you
Continue
To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely
Continue
To put the mantel of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless
Continue
To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise
Continue
To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected
Continue
To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer
And let faith be the bridge
You build to overcome evil
And welcome good
Continue
To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit
Continue
To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing
Continue
To float
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name
Continue
And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue
Eternally

See you Online,
Pastor Mandy


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Glen Mar Church is still closed to the public. However, Glen Mar ELC has reopened. Online worship will continue on Sundays at 10 AM. Click for more information