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.

GOD’S Welcome – YOUR Smile

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Last weekend, I preached on the so-called "Foolishness of the Cross," and one of the things I talked about was that the Church isn't just a random group of folks that are "friendly" or "hospitable." It's not about "doing hospitable things." The Church IS hospitality, the Church IS Welcome (to all), the Church IS friendship, because the Church IS the body of Christ, who is welcome itself! As Advent and Christmas approach, seasons that are all about the grand hospitality God shows in sending the baby Jesus, God calls EACH of us to show welcome to guests and to each other in this place. It starts by committing to SEE one another. Would you be willing to say YES to that invitation by

  1. Pray for the people God will send to worship as you drive to church on the weekend, so that when you arrive, your heart is in a place of welcome? (I see you...)
  2. Smiling at people, looking them in the eye, and offering a warm welcome during worship? (I see you...).
  3. Joining our hospitality team as a greeter, welcome center host, or connector (which just means person who looks for people who look lost or unconnected after worship and goes to talk to them) (I see you...)
  4. When we interact with each other in love, each one in the room is beloved by God, and here as God's beloved guest. Show curiosity about them, learn their name if you do not know it. Think about ways they can connect into our church.
  5. Look for ways to show radical hospitality. What can YOU do that would make guests (or even people who are here all the time) want to give Glen Mar a great "review?" Share an umbrella. Open a door. Hook a person up with a pastor or a caring minister if they seem to need care or a listening ear.

Thank you for "being God's welcome" in this place. It's not just one person's "job." It's "Who We Are."

See you in Church,
Mandy


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All Saints’ Eve

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Halloween is coming, and All Saints' Weekend is here too! I love this time of year, and I love both of those celebrations, because I think of Halloween as "All Saints' Eve."

The period between Halloween and the winter solstice in late December coincides, at least in our part of the world, with the darkest time of the year, with shorter days and longer nights. In the medieval period, dark was pretty dark, apparently, and it was a dangerous time. In our "Edison-ized" society, where light is taken for granted, we tend to forget that. But long cold nights meant for dangerous travel back then. People were eating the food they had stored since the crops were all harvested and the land covered with ice. It was a risky and vulnerable time of year.

At this darkest time, the Church gathered its "little lights" together, its saints, for help through this "long dark night of the soul." Halloween, then, was a time to get out the scary things, the skeletons and beasties, and to say, in effect, "Bring 'em on! We are ready for your worst. There is nothing in this darkness that will prevent Christmas, and the coming of the Light of the World." Is it any wonder that Dec. 25 comes on the heels of the winter solstice, as the days begin imperceptibly to get longer?

I know there are many of us who choose not to celebrate Halloween for other reasons than these, but there is something powerful about a Church that can endure the scariest and darkest of times. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:5 (NRSV).

See you in Church, Saints!
Pastor Mandy


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Go Nats!

Dear Glen Mar Friends,

I must confess I'm filled with joy at the fact that the Nats are in the World Series. I love watching the joy with which they play The Game (Capitalized intentionally because baseball is a Godly Lovely Sport). In May, expectations were low about what this team would accomplish, but together they bonded as a team and seemed to truly love what they got to do, and that they got to do it together. I love that the earworm "Baby Shark" (doo doo doodoodoodoo) has become their "theme song" ever since Parra chose it for his "walk-up" song in honor of his young daughter. I love that they dance in the dugout after the score a run.

I have come to realize that the joy of the Nats is sort of similar in my spirit to what it is like to serve the Lord, what it is like to work as one of your pastors on the Field of (God's) Dreams here on New Cut Road. What do I mean? Well, ministry is a team sport, for sure, and all the best of what we do happens when we do it together. The "6-4-3" of the way the ushers care for folks as they come in, the dance of a mission trip or Walk to Bethlehem, always a team sport, with each one bringing their gifts to use together in service of God's mission. And certainly, ministry and service and worship and discipleship at Glen Mar is about joy. It feels like a dance after an RBI off the left field wall. It comes from knowing that we work in the Lord's vineyard, that this is "God's gig," if you will.

Won't you come on out to the "ballgame" this weekend at Glen Mar? We'll be commissioning friends in faith for our confirmation classes, calling folks off the bench to help train up God's latest prospects for the future. I'll be continuing our Covenant sermon series as we talk about what it means to be a witness. And I promise not to play "Baby Shark" (doo doo doodoodoodoo), but whenever God's people gather, it's a "curly W" win for a world that is need of God's transforming love, justice and peace. Come be a part of it!

See you in Church
Mandy


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Encourage one another

Dear Glen Mar Friends,

I saw a "Facebook challenge" the other day that challenged us not to complain for one whole day. I guess for some that would be a hard thing to do, particularly in a culture that I think invites complaint, criticism and negativity. I was reminded however that as Christians we are called to do more than just "not complain." We are called to be encouragers. We are called to come alongside one another with a helping hand, a cheerful heart and a forgiving spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, in The Message version, "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it." The NRSV says, "Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up..."

I wonder how God might be calling each of us to be encouragers, to build each other up, individually and as a church? How can we be more encouraging than we are? How can we build one another up?

It can be as simple as being quick to "pitch in" for someone who is not feeling well, or going through a hard time. It can involve deep listening, and fervent prayer. There are so many ways to build one another up. Choosing to point out something great about someone, choosing to express gratitude, instead of criticism...Saying YES when asked to serve, and treating one another with kindness. Seeing one another with the eyes of Jesus.

Between now and Sunday, can you encourage 5 people in some way, big or small? I suspect there are people in our church family that are in need of some "building up" in a world that has a tendency to "tear down."

We have every reason to be encouraged with a God like the one we have. We have every reason to build up when our church, and our lives, are built on the rock of Christ.

Be encouraged! I see you, I know your name, you matter.

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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I see you…

Dear Glen Mar friends,

"I see you, I know your name, you matter."

At our recent visioning day with Leadership Board, we worked on the "next faithful step" that we believe God is calling Glen Mar to take as a church. Our work together led us to reconnecting with the mission and vision that led Glen Mar to establish this great big church on a hill in the first place. That mission and vision you know well enough - we lift it every week in worship. We also believe that our God calls us to be a blessing to and in ministry with and for all of our neighbors. We are "blessed to be a blessing."

It's time to expand the breadth and depth of our hospitality here at Glen Mar. We are already a "friendly church" but it's sometimes easy to think that "someone else" is in charge of sharing God's welcome to each other and to others.

At our visioning day, this vision was summarized by, "I see you, I know your name, you matter." This pattern is one that we see in the gospels, as Jesus sees people other people tend to overlook, and reaches out to them, and then goes further by caring about them, and inviting them into life-giving relationship with him.

What would it be like if we prayerfully "saw" our neighbors as Jesus sees them? Who in your neighborhood needs a blessing, a healing, or a community of love and forgiveness? What if we "saw" the people around us in worship or in the Gathering Place as Jesus sees them? What if we reached out and engaged one another in conversation instead of simply remaining silent, in the neighborhood or the grocery line or even in the sanctuary? (Not just "I see you" but "I know your name"). And then what if we looked for ways to reach out to people to show them how much they matter---to Jesus, to Glen Mar, to us, in Jesus' name?

I want to invite you to begin to see, and connect, and reach out in deeper ways so that we can share the love of Jesus, make disciples of Jesus, and transform the world, one neighbor at a time.

Will you commit to being a prayer partner? Perhaps God is calling you to help with hospitality, to join our hospitality team, or be a friendly greeter to welcome folks God sends. If this resonates with YOUR spirit, please let me know.

Together, we can make a real difference for the neighbors, and share the love of Christ. "I see you, I know your name, you matter."

See you in Church,
Mandy


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