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.

Love lifted me

Dear Glen Mar friends,

"Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, love lifted me!" The hymn writer uses the image of lifting to describe Jesus' rescuing him from sin, and the quagmire of life left to his own devices. Psalm 40 talks about a God who lifted the psalmist out of the miry clay and set his feet upon a rock. Perhaps you have known the feeling, either in your spiritual life or in your personal life, where you have needed a "hand up," or a "lift" from where you are to where God is calling you to go. Sometimes God's hand comes through a person, who provides the lift that is needed.

It is in these spaces, where need meets love, that we see the wonder of grace, giving love we didn't earn, lifting us when we are least able to help ourselves. When I went off to college, my parents got smarter in my eyes very quickly, as I began to see what they had done for me, the sacrifices they had made, for my education and as an investment in God's future for me. I said to Daddy one day, "I..I..will never be able to pay you back for all you have done for me." His response was, "Oh honey, of course not. That's not how love works. One day, your child will have that same look on her face, and you will explain to her, about grace, and extravagant love."

What is God calling you to do to show God's extravagant love? Perhaps God is calling you into a prayer life more focused on gratitude and less on complaining. Perhaps God is calling you to "lift" someone through visiting the lonely, or feeding the hungry, or writing a note to someone who has "lifted" you. Maybe God is calling you to "lift" someone in love through "Filling the Van" with food for our neighbors in Hurley?

At the Glen Mar Golf classic, in the rain, we raised $40,000 for Grassroots homeless ministry in Howard County. In Tarboro, two dozen Glen Martians served Christ by lifting roofs and doing construction repair. 25 youth lifted their hands to say, "Yes, I follow Jesus. Here I am Lord, send me."

I hope you'll join us this weekend as we talk about the nature of hope, and honor fathers, and lift up some praise to our God who cares for all of us.

See you in Church,
Mandy


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Back in the saddle/pulpit

Dear Glen Mar Friends,

It's Pentecost Weekend at Glen Mar, and we have the holy privilege of confirming some wonderful young people as well. We always hear that the youth are "the future of the church," but in reality they are the church now too. Our youth so often lead the way in mission and ministry, and that's certainly true now as our Tarboro NC mission team serves Christ on our behalf in North Carolina. We continue to pray for them as they work and serve and share.

Pentecost is a time to be reminded that God's Holy Spirit enlivens and sends forth the Church to serve. The Holy Spirit is the way God acts in the here and now, always bringing new life, new possibilities, hope and healing. I am excited to see all the ways God's Spirit is moving here at Glen Mar.

As we pray for victims of gun violence in Virginia Beach and in our own hometown, I wanted to lift up that this weekend is also "Wear Orange for National Gun Violence Awareness." It was started in 2015 by the friends of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year old who was shot and killed in a park in Chicago in 2013. On the anniversary of her death, her friends wore orange to school to honor her memory. As people of faith, we pray that God would help us see and work for a world filled with God's justice, love and peace.

I wanted to invite YOU to wear orange in worship this weekend if you feel so led, in memory and honor of victims of gun violence. (Red for Pentecost is another option too).

On Saturday, June 8, from 2-4 pm, I'll be attending a county-wide event to raise awareness for gun violence, as it affects all communities - regardless of race, age, socio-economic status, gender, religion or education level. The family-friendly event will include children's activities, entertainment, snacks, remarks and information tables from a robust group of nonprofit and county agencies that provide vital resources to the community. It will take place at Joseph Square in Harper's Choice Village if you'd like to check it out.

I hope you will join us in worship as I will be preaching for the first time in a while (I'm very excited to be "back in the saddle/pulpit").

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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Picnic Plans

I'm excited about Sunday's church picnic to celebrate all the great things we've been able to accomplish for Christ this year - all because you put YOUR gifts of time, talents and treasures in the hands of the Master. It's appropriate that we celebrate with food and fun! I really love that Jesus enjoyed meals with people of all descriptions. One of the criticisms of him was that he ate with tax collectors and sinners a lot. (See Luke 7:34). We of course gather at the Lord's Table regularly to share in God's grace.

It reminds me of my grandmother's dining room table, which in my memory was the size of a football field. She had 5 kids and many, many grandchildren. We'd gather for Sunday dinner and Granddaddy would always say the blessing, but I noticed before he said it, it was my grandmother who started it by staring meaningfully across the table and saying, "Joe..." It was a reminder that he not forget that important step in his fatherly responsibilities.

The food that weighed down the table was a gift from God - especially in summer, when we had tomatoes from the garden and true Vidalia onions and fresh cucumbers and hot biscuits. And the faces around the table, all kin to me, by blood or by marriage, also gifts from God. When we gather around the table, or for Sunday's picnic, I hope you'll take a moment to thank God for the bounty provided and for all the people God has sent and will send to be a part of our family (related by baptism)!

See you in Church,
Mandy


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Lo-ost and found

Dear Glen Mar Friends,

As I was thinking about Jesus as "Good Shepherd" for this weekend's preaching, I remembered this encounter from my "young mother" days.

"Mommy, it's lo-ost." My three-year-old makes "lost" a multi-syllabic word. His blue eyes register concern. He wiggles in his booster seat.

"What's lost, honey?" I'm making a peanut butter sandwich.

"My white jet plane."

I look in front of him at the fleet of aircraft assembled on the placemat. "It's in the toy room, right where you left it. You have more than enough planes to get through lunch."

"But it's lost, Mommy. We have to find it. Because it's lo-ost."

What follows is a fruitless discussion in which I point out that something is not lost if we actually know where it's located, that we don't have to have physical possession of something to protect it from the realm of stray socks and dropped pacifiers. My son is unconvinced. If the plane is not where it's supposed to be, if it can't be loved and flown and talked to, what does it matter if we know where it is?

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who counts each sheep as valuable. The sheep are so precious that it's not enough just to know where they are. Jesus wants to teach them, to move their hearts to repentance and faith and to love them even to the point of dying for them. I think Jesus wants this for each of us sheep, too.

That's the joy of our worship, that we have been loved and searched for and brought home. That's the joy of our Christian journey, that when we stray from God's path, God will follow us and bring us back and reconcile us over and over again. That's the joy of our common life together, that we are in turn the searchers and the found ones. This weekend, we'll continue our sermon series with Because He Lives: From "Lost" to "Led." #seewhatididthere

I hope you'll join us this weekend and bring MOM to church too. We'll be celebrating our graduates at the 930 service also!

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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Making a difference

Dear Glen Mar friends,

I'm so glad to be in the season of Easter with you! Because He Lives...we can move from Fear to Faith, as Pastor Jen reminded us last week. This week, we will explore that Because He Lives...we can move from "empty" to "enough."

This week, I'm excited to share that we are sending out information packets sharing all the difference YOU have been able to make through your giving here at Glen Mar over the past stewardship year. When I looked at the brochure showing all the ways we are "Praising God, Growing Disciples, and Serving the World," tears filled my eyes, knowing that Glen Mar is full of people whose faith is making a real difference in the lives of real people. In that packet, you'll also find more information about how and why to make a pledge for the next year. I want to invite you to be in prayer for the coming weeks about how God might be calling YOU to give. Commitment Weekend will be 5/18 and 5/19, followed by a church picnic.

Between now and then, will you join me in praying each day this simple prayer?

God of Resurrection, remind me that all I have is a gift from you. Show me how you are calling me to share those gifts through my giving, so that everyone might know the difference that Easter makes.

In addition, starting next week, be on the lookout for a week's worth of daily devotionals to help us grow in faith, hope and love and grow to be as generous as our generous God?

God is so good, and deeply provides all we need to do God's work. I'm amazed at what God can do if each of us simply place our gifts in God's hands. Like the loaves and fishes, Jesus takes our small acts of faith and brings forth life-changing fruit.

The local church is where the real work of church happens. That is the place where people show and share and experience the love and welcome of Christ. Glen Mar has always been, and will always be, a place where people can meet Jesus and grow as his disciples.

I'm so proud to be your pastor and so very grateful for your generous, faithful spirit.

See you in Church,
Mandy


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