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.

Bless Teachers in the Neighborhood

Dear Glen Mar friends,

I've been in prayer for our educators and students as the start of a new school year approaches, and I'm really enjoying our August Family Worship Series, God's Neighborhood: Jesus, Mr. Rogers, and Me. Join us if you are in town!

As we get ready for the start of school, I wanted to ask that you join me in prayer for kids and teachers and especially for those schools in our circle of ministry and in our neighborhood. We believe that we are blessed to be a blessing, and we want especially to reach out to the schools around us to be a good neighbor, in Jesus' name.

We're asking folks to donate to our "Blessing Basket for Teachers," as they leave the Spirit Center this weekend. We'll take the funds and go shopping for things teachers need and would be blessed by: markers, pens, sanitizer, stickers, etc. On the weekend of 8/25, we'll assemble the "blessing bags" and get them delivered to Veteran's Elementary School, right here on Montgomery Road. We'll include a little note sharing our support and prayers and perhaps inviting them to come see us for worship sometime.

Won't you help us bless our teacher and student neighbors? And...mark your calendar for Labor Day Weekend's Blessing of the Backpacks. Bring your student or your teacher to worship for prayer to get the year started off right.

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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In the band

Dear Glen Mar friends,

I was so blessed to be with so many others to hear the Quantico Marine Corps Jazz and Brass Band this week as part of our terrific Summer Concert Series. I knew all the old songs and my children knew all the current ones and it was just a great evening. It occurred to me that when church is going right, we are a bit like a great jazz and brass band. Everyone is playing their part and using their own particular gifts, from the tuba to the clarinet to the trombone, and the bass drum thumping underneath. It takes great communication, like when the "leader" nodded to the drummer for the last chorus to "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5 and the drummer nodded back. It takes listening and trust and a commitment to work together. I think United States Marines certainly understand this dynamic of teamwork and mission, maybe more than the average band. There were musicians of many ethnicities and backgrounds, and men and women, from cities and from rural areas too.

Church is like that. We depend on each other and need all the gifts God gives, in each person in the neighborhood, to show and share the love of Jesus, to make the music happen in a way that blesses the community. I'm grateful to be a part of all of it, with you!

Join us this weekend as we continue our sermon series, God's Neighborhood: Jesus, Mr. Rogers and Me, as we look at how to be "Neighborly" and I again change into a cardigan to preach. #loveMr.Rogers.

See you in Church,
Mandy


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Making Space

Dear Glen Mar friends,

I've recently come to see that I often do not give myself space - space between appointments, space to think, space to breathe, adequate space to pray - in the "busyness" that is my living these days.

When we don't allow "space," we tend to forget that life is a gift (all of it, a gift), to be savored and appreciated. We fail to see the beauty God places all around us, in nature, in relationships, and in the joy of meaningful work. We then come to see our life in God, not as valuable for its own sake, but as a "task" to be worked on and fixed.

I want to invite us to put a little margin in our days and weeks, margin even within the task itself, to remember that we are "intrinsically loved creations of God's joy." (Tilden Edwards). It is in those spaces that we turn to God and are reminded that God is on the throne and can be trusted.

I'm grateful for the ministry of folks like DC Veale, our Minister of Missions, whom we will celebrate this weekend, in part because of the way DC has always reminded us that ministry is a "God thing." I recall a sermon he preached that was called "I am not, but I know I AM." The point was that ministry is not dependent on the work of any one person, not any one pastor, not any one program, but is dependent on God, the great "I Am," who calls each of us to use our gifts in furtherance of our mission... "Praising God, Growing Disciples, Serving the World."

Thank you for being a part of the Church, the Body of Christ, at Glen Mar. I'm so grateful for each of you. I wonder how God is calling YOU to serve? In the spaces in between, if we listen, God will speak.

See you in Church,
Mandy


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Keeping Church Weird

I've never been to Austin, Texas before, but I hear one of their slogans is "Keep Austin Weird." I assume this means, don't let the presence of tourists take away the thing that attracted us in the first place - the cool music, the general acceptance of quirky unusual people, the fear that once something wonderful is discovered it will get all domesticated and made like every other place in the world. Colorful quickly fades to khaki and tie dye individuality becomes a blue oxford shirt. Not that there's anything wrong with a good blue oxford shirt. I have a soft spot in my heart though for the quirky place, the place for the refugee from normal life, the place where 80-year-old retirees and tattooed teens and businessmen and stay at home moms sort of hang out and accept each other - where PhD's and GED's share food and music and life together.

Church can look on the outside like the opposite of "weird." People who are not in the church tend to think that the church is super-civilized and domesticated. A place where we all wear our best clothes and where we're all on our best behavior. A quiet place. A calm place. Not at all a weird place.

However, when you look at the Savior, the one we purport to all be following, the one who brings us all here at such an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning, he looks a little like he might be from Austin, or Key West or some other Certified Weird Location. And I don't just mean the facial hair and the toga and the sandals. I mean the crazy way he tended to proclaim life in the midst of death. The way he ushered in a brand-new weird way of thinking. In a world where the rich seemed to be the ones who owned everything, Jesus came and said, Blessed are...

The poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. The whole Kingdom. Weird.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God....

Weird.

And the part about loving enemies and praying for those who persecute you.

Weird.

And all the going places and healing people and upsetting religious and secular authorities...all the eating with tax collectors and sinners, all that feeding the hungry, all that hanging out with ne'er do wells. He was so weird and so threatening that they crucified him...and on Easter, proved singularly hard to keep in the grave.

That's not just weird...that's "The World Turned Upside Down" (cue fife and drum, if you were in worship a couple weeks ago) ....

I'm so glad to be the pastor of a church that embraces the "weird" and life-transforming truth of the Gospel.

See you in Church,
Mandy


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More than you can handle

Dear Glen Mar Friends,

“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, you know.” The lady behind me in the store was on her cell phone, on speaker, on high volume. “It’s just the truth.” I bit my lip and vowed again never to do that speakerphone thing to other people in public. I did the mental calculation of whether to speak or be silent as the guy scanned my groceries. She hung up and I thought, “Well, here goes.” I tried to sound nonchalant and not like One of Those Religious Nuts. I cleared my throat. I said, “Hello.” (See, you have to be so erudite, so super-genius-y, to be able to talk to people). She said hi back. I said, “They have nice corn on the cob today….” And then I said, “By the way, I was NOT listening to your conversation or anything, but about that God not giving us more than we can handle thing…”

I said, in my experience, God provided the help I needed to get through impossibly hard times, and when I was driven to my knees, God was there. I may or may not have talked about Elijah and the Broom Tree. She laughed at the funny parts and seemed receptive.

What folks think about is probably 1 Corinthians 10: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

In the context of temptation, Paul’s encouragement is to lean on God to resist it and look for a “way out” that is not to sin.

However, when people pull out from this the idea that “God will never give us more than we can handle,” we tend to think every burden and trial and tribulation is a. sent from God and b. for US to bear heroically while God sits by and watches. I think neither of those things are true. Trials and tribulations and tragedies are part of what it means to be human. Sometimes our suffering is the result of our own bad choices, and other times, it’s just because we are human, and we live in an imperfect world. And God does not just add on weight and watch us carry it.

No, God bears our griefs, and suffers with us, and sits with us, and sends the Spirit to pray for us when we cannot, with sighs too deep for words. The burden is not on us to carry stoically the wounds of life. Instead, we should realize that we can lean on God, that we are not alone, and let God carry our burdens, when, as will happen, we end up with “more than we can handle.” The Bible is full of people who ended up with (way) more than they could handle on their own. And they cried out to God for help, for justice, and for comfort (and help with the carrying).

Having way more than YOU can handle is a great opportunity to remember that YOU are not called to “handle” it on your own. “Cast all your anxiety on him (God), because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.

See you in Church,
Mandy


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