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,
Last week we talked about how to overcome fear, in favor of faith and love. This week, we'll address what God gives us to overcome the fatigue of a long COVID season, and the fatigue of brokenness. Are you "tired of being tired?" Is there a balm in Gilead? Yes. Come worship with us online this weekend and be refreshed, and be restored for the work God is calling us to do. We'll pray for our nation, and for one another.
I spent today in prayer, and watching the Inauguration in the background. No matter who gets elected, seeing the pomp and circumstance, hearing oaths given, and the poetry, always brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. My prayer is that our country can find a pathway forward that would honor God with love and grace and brother and sisterhood and live out love of God and love of neighbor (See Matthew 22: 34-40).
In that prayer time, I was also drawn to Isaiah 58, the Old Testament scripture for Christmas Eve:
"6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.... If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday...Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in."
I'm grateful for the countless ways Glen Mar is a repairer of the breach and the restorer of streets to live in. Our amazing MLK Day of Service is a prime example of that, as so many of our fellow churches and neighbors joined in service projects right where we live. From jump ropes for foster kids to fleece hats for our unhoused neighbors to neighborhood cleanups and clothing drives, we honor Jesus in our service and the witness of Dr. King, too. Another way to be a repairer and a restorer is to sign up for Courageous Conversations about Race and Religious Bias (see below). Glen Mar hosted this event a couple years ago and it was such a blessing. I encourage you to sign up as a way to listen and to reach out to one another.
I'm so grateful to be your pastor...see you "online,"
Dear Glen Mar friends,
Last Sunday's theme was "A God Who Overcomes" as part of our Overcome: Hope and Healing in the New Year. This week we will (I promise) look at how God helps us overcome "fear." The Bible is full of situations where people's fear is the thing that gets in the way of their relationship with God and with each other. God's message to fearful people is often "Fear not, I am with you" or "Peace be with you." How can we have God's peace in this season, and how does God's peace equip us to be Christ's body in the world? (And yes, wearing a mask is an act of faith, not fear). Dr. King said, "We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear..." so come Sunday, and let's do some building together.
In a year full of losses for so many, I wanted to lift up our Journey through Grief group. There's still room for people to join today and tomorrow for the group. It's not just for people who've experienced grief in ways we think of right away, but for anyone who is having a hard time with this year gone by, and who could use a reminder that we are not alone on the journey. Contact Marti Windram by Saturday to join in.
Also, our time together to pray on Wednesday was really important in light of that day's events. It's in my heart to do it more. On Sunday 1/17 through Wednesday 1/20 at noon each day, join us on Zoom or right where you are, to pray for our nation, and for peace, that there would be no violence, and instead a spirit of hope and healing. The Zoom link is in your Pastor's Ponderings email (if you're subscribed), or you can pray where you are. I want to invite you when you pray to light a candle (safely) as a reminder of our call to be salt and light.
See you online,
Dear Glen Mar friends,
I'm grateful for those that joined us for prayer (either on Zoom or on your own) on Tuesday to pray for our nation and for peace. Like many of you, I have watched in shock and horror as our capital was overrun by rioters who broke windows, chased police officers, and vandalized spaces. I have never in my life thought that I would see what I saw, including a Confederate flag in the Capitol Rotunda. So many of our friends and neighbors have dedicated their lives to defending the US Constitution and served with honor in our government or our military, resolutely doing their duty to God and Country regardless of political party. My heart breaks for the events of this week that so disrespected those things. I hope you will continue to join me in prayer for our country, for healing and for the rule of law. I'm heartened by the bipartisan condemnation of this violence and I'm hopeful it can be a sign of healing to come.
Alexis de Tocqueville was a French diplomat who visited the USA in the mid-nineteenth century and wrote about his impressions in his seminal work Democracy in America. He observed, "The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults." My prayer is that we can be continually repairing and recommitting so that we can continue to be and to grow into an America as good as the promises we make, about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", about "a government of laws and not of men," and that "all...are created equal."
This weekend, I'm looking forward to beginning our worship series, "Overcome: Hope and Healing In the New Year" by preaching about what Scripture teaches us about overcoming fear. I'll be looking at the story of Jacob, whose fear made him dread meeting his brother on the other side of the river Jabbock, and whose encounter with a God who wrestled with him, led to a new name, a new life, and a new way of walking for Jacob, now called "Israel." It's been a hard week. Let's pray and worship, remember our baptisms, and affirm who we are called to be. Y'all come.
See you "online,"
Dear Glen Mar friends,
'Give me a place to stand, and I will move the whole earth with a lever.' -Archimedes
Archimedes (c. 287-c. 212 BCE), a Greek philosopher and mathematician, noticed that if a lever was balanced in the correct place, on the correct fulcrum, it could move proportionally much greater weights than the force actually applied. He calculated that if the lever stretched far enough and the fulcrum point remained fixed close to Earth, even a small weight at one end would be able to move the world at the other.
The fixed point is our place to stand. It is a contemplative stance: steady, centered, poised, and rooted. To be contemplative, we have to have a slight distance from the world to allow time for withdrawal from business as usual, for contemplation, for going into what Jesus calls our "private room" (Matthew 6:6). However, in order for this not to become escapism, we have to remain quite close to the world at the same time, loving it, feeling its pain and its joy as our pain and our joy. The fulcrum, that balancing point, must be in the real world.
That's from Richard Rohr's devotional for 12/30. As we look to 2021, I'm grateful for a place to stand, in God's Word, in prayer, in life in community with brothers and sisters in Christ at Glen Mar. May we bathe this year with spiritual practices that ground us in Christ's Lordship, and our own baptismal vows, and may we stand close to the world's need, loving it, feeling the pain and joy of our neighbors and sharing in it. From that posture, Christ can use us to move the world.
This Sunday, I'll be preaching on the Magi ("In a Different Light") and the difference Jesus makes, especially in a new year and a new start. We'll share in Holy Communion online. And we'll wipe the slate clean on the old year, and turn toward the light of Christ for a new year.
See you "online,"
Dear Glen Mar friends,
Merry Christmas! As you may know, Christmas is not just one day, it's a whole season (hence the song "12 Days of Christmas) that starts on Christmas Day and runs through Epiphany on Jan. 6. My prayer for you is that this Christmastide can be full of meaning and peace and health and joy. I'm so grateful for the celebrations of Christmas Eve, and for the ways that Christmas was NOT canceled this year!
Glen Mar Church, the building, has been technically "closed" to meetings and gatherings for a long time now, but for the period 12/25-1/1, we will be really closed, as staff take a well-deserved break for Christmas in a time when there is usually not much activity at the church. If you need help during that time, the best thing to do is page the pastor on call, who can be reached by dialing 410-748-1320, keying in your phone number and hanging up. You'll get a return call right away.
Also, we will be worshipping online only on 12/27, using a worship service that the District Superintendents of the Baltimore Washington Conference of the UMC have put together for local churches to use. In this way, we can benefit from their gifts, and our worship and tech team can have a bit of a break as well. And... we added a few Glen Mar folks into the service as well (quite a few if you count all the Dans).
For the month of January, we will be asking folks to worship "online only" as well, because of the anticipated post-Christmas COVID surge. We will still livestream our service from the Spirit Center, so your experience from home will not change. While we feel confident in our procedures to keep people safe in worship, we also want to be prudent and care for one another well. We'll re-evaluate at the end of January.
Worship in January is going to be amazing. Jan. 3 we will celebrate Epiphany Sunday with the familiar visit of the magi to the baby Jesus. On Jan. 10, we'll start a new sermon series called "Overcome: Hope and Healing in the New Year" that I hope will be a blessing to you.
Thank you for all you have done to help Glen Mar continue to "Be the Church" in a challenging year. Glen Mar is exactly the sort of faithful, flexible, committed collection of Jesus Followers that the world needs right now. I'm so proud to be one of your pastors.
See you "in Church",
PS On a personal note, thank you for the cards and gifts and expressions of the season! I'm often in a state of busy-ness in this time that makes Christmas cards an impossibility and sometimes even thank-you's fall through the cracks. So please, accept this as my expression of thanks for all your generosity and love.