The Pastor's Ponderings is a weekly note from one of the pastors that is sent to the congregation. If you would like to be included in the list of email subscribers to the Ponderings, you can subscribe here. Current subscribers wishing to unsubscribe can do that here as well.

Be still

Dear Glen Mar friends,

With the lower COVID numbers in the state (and Howard County) and the slowly increasing availability of vaccines, our Task Force has determined that we can again welcome small groups of worshippers to our Spirit Center for our livestreamed service. We will "open" on Sunday 3/14, and set an attendance limit (50). Masking, social distancing between groups and preregistration will be required. In addition, the Task Force and our worship teams will be looking at other ways to safely worship together this spring, and is considering options like perhaps an outdoor service (with singing, because it's outdoors!) or perhaps a second indoor service, where higher numbers would be allowed because we would not need cameras for livestreaming that second service. Stay tuned....We will be circulating a survey about your current situation and what you might feel comfortable with via Pastor's Ponderings on 3/5 and in worship on 3/7. And....we will be continuing regardless to livestream a service so that we can continue to reach an "at home" congregation.

In my Lenten prayer time this morning, I spent some time with Psalm 46:10. I wanted to invite you to pray that with me in a specific way. Pray each phrase.

Be.
Be still.
Be still and
Be still and know.
Be still and know that
Be still and know that I
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that I am God.

Now pray it in reverse:
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that I
Be still and know that
Be still and know
Be still and
Be still
Be.

This Sunday, we'll be continuing our series, "7 Words: Listening to Christ from the Cross" with "Today you will be with me in paradise." I hope you'll join us as we continue our Lenten journey together.

See you "in church" - on 3/14!
Pastor Mandy

PS I know many are frustrated with how hard it is to obtain a vaccine these days (though I think it's heading in a good direction). If you are a Glen Mar member in a population that is in particular need, we may be able to hook you up with a helper to assist you in navigating the process. Contact Pastor Mandy at Mandy.Sayers@glenmarumc.org .


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Lent and Listening

Dear Glen Mar friends,

As we work our way through February, I'm grateful that it is a month of love, and of course, chocolate! It's also the month that Lent begins. And...for the record you do NOT have to give up chocolate for Lent. I'm not sure why that even became a "thing." The two go together, love and Lent. God's valentine to the world was Jesus, God's Son. When God wanted to show God's love for the world in full, God sent Jesus to be God-With-Us. In Jesus we see how we are to live, in service to those on the margins, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, helping those who are desperate or in need. In Jesus' ministry we see how Jesus' Lordship looks so different from the lordship the world was used to.

As I write this, I'm listening to some Taize music, specifically, "The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom," based on Romans 14:17. It sounds like a valentine from our Creator to us, in the month of love. When Jesus came proclaiming and embodying the kingdom, the response to this threat was crucifixion. On the cross, Jesus suffered and died, a sacrifice for human sin. On Easter Day, God raised Jesus, conquering the power of sin and death, and everything that would kill us, forever.

During Lent we will listen to God, in our "give me 5" practice of prayer, generosity, worship, scripture study and inviting our friends. We will listen to the words of Jesus from the cross to carry us through this season. Listening to God is sort of like when you misplace your phone-which is on vibrate of course - and then we ask someone to call it. We get really still and quiet. Our ears perk up in all directions in order to be ready to hear that little buzz. We quiet down and yet we are on high alert at the same time....This Lent, we will quiet things down and heighten our attention to the "still, small voice" of God and our own true self.

Come and rest, Come and listen, and I'll "see" you in worship!

Pastor Mandy


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“Give Me 5” for Lent

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Lent, from the Anglo-Saxon word for spring, is my favorite season of the church year. It is a time of preparation for baptism in the early church, and a time to draw closer to Christ through prayer, fasting, worship and service to others. For this Lenten time, will you join with me in these practices, as a way to strengthen our faith and prepare for Christ's Resurrection Day? Let's do a "Give Me 5!"

  1. Pray 5x a day: Upon rising, at mealtimes and when you go to bed. If you can't think of what to pray, start with Thank you, God. Or try a 5-finger prayer....Thumb: those closest to you, friends and family. Pointer finger: those who point the way - praying for teachers, healers, pastors and helpers. Third Finger (tallest): Leaders (in government and otherwise) and those who make hard decisions. Ring finger (weakest): Pray for those who are sick, hurting, or in need and lastly (pinkie) for your own needs.
  2. Read 5 verses of scripture a day: Let's read through the Gospel of Mark together. It's the shortest gospel, and the one assigned for this lectionary year.
  3. 5 acts of radical generosity per month: Maybe you'd like to give the money you would normally spend on something that you are giving up to the church as a Second Mile Offering? Maybe you'd like to make cookies for your neighbor? Or send cards each week to Glen Mar's shut ins? Donate some canned goods to the food bank?
  4. Join us for worship throughout Lent (starting with our Ash Wednesday services!) and
  5. Invite 5 people to join us for worship: Now is a time when people need the Lord more than ever...and it's easy to share the link to our website or our Easter services with friends.

Ash Wednesday will have 2 options for worship: a Zoom service at noon or a drive-in service in the Glen Mar Parking Lot (details in email). And, get ready for our Lenten series, "Listening to Christ from the Cross."

See you in worship,
Pastor Mandy


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Loneliness, Lent and Love

Dear Glen Mar friends,

This weekend, there promises to be some activity at Glen Mar - come visit the youth bake sale in the Glen Mar parking lot from noon to 2 p.m. Proceeds will support the HoCo food bank and World Vision, feeding hungry people locally and around the world. We'll also be collecting non-perishable food for the food bank....I'll see you all there!

This weekend we will continue our Overcome series by talking about loneliness (literal and figurative) and the ways that God helps us when we are lonely. We worship a triune God, a God who is by nature "a community" (Father-Son-Holy Spirit), and a God who also knows what it is to be lonely, as in when Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" When we feel disconnected and in a wilderness of isolation, how can we find the gifts God wants to give us, and how can we model new ways of connecting? Hope to see you online at 10 am on Sunday!

Lent is just around the corner! Our theme will be "Listening to Christ from the Cross" and I'll be using Susan Robb's book, Seven Words: Listening to Christ from the Cross, if you're looking for a devotional book for the season. If you don't read the book, you won't be "behind," but the sermon and the book will give a chance for deeper study (Much like our Incarnation Advent study).

See you "online,"
Pastor Mandy


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Here I am, Send Me

Dear Glen Mar friends,

I've spent more time on Zoom than usual this week, because this week we had virtual examinations of candidates for ordained ministry in our conference of the United Methodist Church. We ask them about their call, and about theology, and polity and ethics. They talk about God's grace and tell the story of a God who is calling them to serve the church in the role of ordained deacon or elder. Our own Alexandra Thomas (Amanda and Jon's daughter) was approved through this process just today, and she'll be commissioned at our next Annual Conference. Alex did a great job at the exam, and I was especially proud, because she is "one of our own." Alex was active in youth group and especially enjoyed mission trips. She preached at least once on Youth Sunday...and preached for us pretty recently also. To get to have these holy conversations with people of all ages, nations, and races, to hear how God has worked in their lives, is a great part of my job. It is such a reminder of a living God, a resurrected Christ, and a pesky Holy Spirit that blows where it will.

All Christians are called to ministry - the use of their gifts in loving God and neighbor and building up the church. Some are called to the specific work of ordained ministry, as their role in the body of Christ. And it was such a blessing to see how God has brought Alex this far along the way. This is some of what it looks like to "grow disciples" of Jesus Christ. And Alex is not alone. Each of us is called to works of love and service, and we want to help everyone to grow in this way. (There is someone reading this right now, I'll wager, whom God is calling to be a pastor. And if that's you...you have 3 pastors who would love to talk with you more about how to explore that calling).

As Alex's church home, we pray for her, and give thanks for her ministry and gifts. And you have a ministry and gifts as well! Whenever we use our gifts to build up the church, to be a blessing to others, I think God's eyes sparkle.

Join us this weekend online as we continue our Overcome series, where we'll examine how God helps us journey through grief (we'll learn this week from Job and from Jesus too). I hope you'll join us - you're in for a blessing!

See you "online,"
Pastor Mandy


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