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.
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,
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,"
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,
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).
Into a world which needed you
My wish for you
Is that you continue
To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness
To allow humor to lighten the burden
of your tender heart
In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter
To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined
To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you
To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely
To put the mantel of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless
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
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
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
To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit
To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name
And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue
See you Online,
Dear Glen Mar friends,
"As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:27-28).
I was listening to a podcast where an African American pastor was sharing that when he was in seminary, and he brought up the racism he was experiencing in his life, his white theologian friend said, "God doesn't care about racism." Apparently, the friend was referring to passages like this one from Galatians, that in Christ somehow, because we are One in Christ, we can all just ignore the pain, brokenness and sin of racism. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Because we are one in Christ Jesus, we are called to care for one another, and to speak out against injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves, as we promise to do when we are baptized. Because we are one in Christ Jesus, we expose and reject racism, institutional or personal. Because we are one in Christ Jesus, we reach out our hand to any brother or sister who falls into the hands of looting, violence or trouble of any sort along the Jericho Road. We cannot be silent or pass by on the other side. And because we are one in Christ Jesus, what happens to all people, including people named Breonna Taylor, Amaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, and George Floyd, and countless others, matters to us, and matters to our God.
My heart aches for our country, as our news broadcasts show again the pain of racism, violence, division, and partisanship. I pray for peace and safety for protesters, and peace and safety for bystanders and peace and safety for those called to serve and protect. I pray for the neighborhoods where there is so much fear, anger and tension right now. I pray for mothers and fathers of children of color, and for how they must feel, and for the talks that they have to give their children that I never had to give mine. I pray for our police officers and give thanks for the vast majority of law enforcement officers that do their difficult and dangerous work with honor and integrity.
My prayer is that we can model what it means to be One in Christ by standing with brothers and sisters who are in pain and who are being hurt. My prayer is that we will stand together, bound by the blood of Christ, people of all ages, nations, races, and politics, to say that we will overcome hate with love, violence with peace, hardness of heart with compassion, and partisanship with brotherhood.
This weekend, we will participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion (online), as a way to share in the mercy and grace Christ offers in his body and blood, as an act of repentance and healing, and as a way to show what Oneness in Christ is. I don't know about you, but I'm hungry for the presence of Christ that we find at the Lord's Table. I'm eager to join all of you, in all our diversity and backgrounds, for that Holy Meal. At that Table, we are a family. And at that Table, we can model a different way of being - A way that honors our liberating God of the Exodus, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose love was so boundary-defying that he was crucified for it, and our divine life-breath, the Holy Spirit. The title of my sermon will be "It Takes a Village" and my text will be the Great Commission. Please come. Your presence makes a difference - it won't be complete, it won't be the same, without you, without all of us. (It's BYO Elements - all you'll need will be a bread of your choice and a drink of your choice. The Holy Spirit will do the rest).
See you Online,