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,
There is so much to celebrate as a new year begins! I'm grateful to say that we received $28,000 for our Christmas Eve offering and will be giving away half of that, with thousand-dollar grants given to each school on our list, and a grant to our college and career prep program. The remainder will go to MLK Day of Service expenses. Mark your calendars for a Day to Make a Difference...Jan. 20!
Also, many of you may have seen The United Methodist Church in the news this week, because a group of 16 persons, representing a broad range of theological views within The Methodist Church, arrived at a mediated proposal for addressing our denomination's differences around human sexuality. They have done this work in service to the delegates who will go to our General Conference in May. This is not a "decision to split" as a denomination. It is not "binding." News reports have been misleading on this point. It is a proposal, which will join others, to be considered at General Conference. Only General Conference can actually vote on legislation and make decisions like this for The UMC. This is somewhat analogous to "committee work" on proposals that are being prepared to go before Congress. There is nothing for Glen Mar to do or to decide about it now.
It made the papers, and I'm sharing about it, for a few reasons: 1. Our Bishop, LaTrelle Miller Easterling, was a part of this mediated proposal and shared it with our conference churches. 2. The people around the table reached agreement on a path forward, despite the fact that they represent very traditional and very progressive "wings" of The UMC - important and very different voices within our larger 12 million member global church. For them to come to agreement is significant, it seems to me, and may mean that there is hope at General Conference for us to move past the impasse where our church finds itself. 3. It creates a way for people to minister in their contexts according to their conscience around this issue. We all want to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, faithful to the scriptures, faithful to our Methodist traditions, and faithful to our commitments to welcome all people into the full life and ministry of the church, inviting all people into a relationship with Jesus.
Rather than summarize the plan itself, here is a link to it, along with our Bishop's introductory comments. If you go on the link, there is also an FAQ that might be helpful to you.
Also, on Monday at 9:30 am, there will be a live-streamed panel discussion about this proposal. Here is a link to that as well - and a way to submit questions.
There will be no action required on Glen Mar's part for some time, or even at all, so I encourage you to continue to "do what we do" - praising God, growing disciples and serving the world - and "be who we are" - a place where all are welcome and all are loved.
See you in Church this weekend, where we will go "down the river to pray,"
Dear Glen Mar friends,
Happy new year! 2020 is here, and I'm grateful for a God that is always doing a "new thing," and the chance to begin a new year with you. This year, 2020, seems like a good year to talk about vision (20-20, lol), and as I've shared, we've discerned that God is calling Glen Mar to connect with our community and with each other in deeper ways. Radical, generous hospitality, reflecting the radical, generous, hospitality of Christ, directed to the people in our community, the people God sends to us as guests, and the people God has already sent. This year, we'll have many opportunities for folks to join small groups and Bible studies, and teams of folks working on how to be even more radical and caring to our community and to our guests.
Half our Christmas Eve offering will go to our Day of Service and to local schools, and our college and career prep program - and as I type this on New Year's Day, I don't have the figures yet, but watch this space for the ways Glen Mar is saying to those schools, "We see you, we know your name, you matter."
I'd love to have a Glen Mar person or two join the PTA's of our schools, so that our church could remain connected to those families in a powerful way. Here's a list of schools we would love to join. Are these schools in your neighborhood? Do you have time to go to a monthly PTA meeting? Let me know.
Steven's Forest Elementary
Phelps Luck Elementary
Oakland Mills Middle School
Ellicott Mills Middle School
Howard High School
See you in church, where we will consider some 2020 "Resolutions" - about how to follow Christ more closely, and serve Christ more faithfully, and grow in Christ more deeply.
Love in Christ,
Dear Glen Mar friends,
I'm still full of joy and love from our amazing time of worship last weekend! I'm grateful for music ministry, and all that helped make that weekend happen. As I have continued to think about Mary, the mother of Jesus, I'm reminded that in the Eastern Orthodox church, Mary is called "theotokos" - the God-bearer. In this season of Advent, we are reminded that in a sense, all Christians are called to be "God-bearers,"(not as Mary did - whew!), but in the sense that we bring the good news of the gospel, and we bring God's blessings to others, sharing Christ's peace, love, joy and hope this season.
This weekend, we'll truly rejoice, in the deepest sense, as we look at what Christian joy is all about. Where does it come from? How do we find joy in every season, including seasons that may feel divisive or painful or "joy-less?"
And, I'm grateful for our chance to be "theotokos" in our giving this Christmas season, especially on Christmas Eve. As a reminder, we'll give half of our Christmas Eve offering away: splitting the offering between Day of Service Meals and schools that need a blessing. When I called the Assistant Principals from our list of schools, they "exclaimed with joy" at the unexpected grace we offered. Several of them already knew what they would do with the money: subsidizing field trips for needy kids, forgiving school lunch debt, buying needed equipment, and more.
Please invite friends as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and give the Birthday Boy some great presents - as we do every day, in "praising God, growing disciples and serving the world."
See you in Church this weekend!
Dear Glen Mar friends,
At Glen Mar, we give away half our Christmas Eve offering, because Christmas is not our birthday, but a chance to give a gift to our community in Jesus' name. This year, Leadership Board affirmed that we will give our offering to two places.
First, we will feed the hungry by contributing the cost of the meals for the 100,000 meals that we will assemble during our MLK Day of Service. These meals will feed hungry people locally and overseas, and will support that important community event.
Second, we bless schools - we will use our offering to "pay it forward" to some community schools that are especially in need of a blessing. We will give each school a grant of several hundred to $1000, or more depending on the amount we collect. I've encouraged each school to use this Christmas gift from us in whatever way they choose but in a way that blesses their families, perhaps something that would be hard to afford without us. These schools were selected based on need - and I know a school you love is probably not on the list. But this is a good beginning - and will help Glen Mar solidify our presence in the neighborhood in Jesus' name.
- Stevens Forest Elementary
- Swansfield Elementary
- Phelps Luck Elementary
- Oakland Mills Middle
- Guilford Elementary
- Our college and career prep program in Baltimore
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Come to Christmas Eve and give a little extra to honor Jesus, the Birthday Boy. Bring friends. We will have a Facebook event link soon you can share, and a way to give your offering if you are traveling for Christmas Eve.
What a great way to share the love of Jesus with people in need! These schools have promised to report back about how they used our gifts - and many have invited us to come present the gift!
See you in church this week - Saturday at 5 for our hope and healing service and Sunday at 9 and 11 (note time change, this weekend only) for our Christmas Cantata! Another gift to be shared in this season of peace, hope, love and joy.
Dear Glen Mar friends,
As soon as I finish with this Pondering, I will go to the "costume room" for my fittings for Walk to Bethlehem. This gift to the community last year welcomed 1500 guests and featured over 300 volunteers. For many this has become a "family tradition." I want to thank each of you who have volunteered in setup or who will help this weekend, at the event itself or maybe as part of the "cleanup crew." This event was born when we had been in prayer about how to give a gift to the community - a gift that would proclaim Jesus and his Lordship and make the gift of Jesus (the best gift of all) more real for a world that needs Jesus so badly.
I love that this event features so many followers of Jesus who are ready to work together to be the body of Christ - that means cooperation and helping instead of contentiousness. It means a true spirit of welcome for those who will come this weekend. Would you join me in praying for those whom God will send? People from all generations, some who will hear "the story" for the first time? Will you join me in prayer for the teams of people diligently serving? Will you lift up our music ministry as they prepare a cantata and for our worship teams as Advent is upon us?
I know the Holy Spirit is present and will be present in the life of Glen Mar in the coming weeks. I'm grateful for your openness to the Spirit's presence and leading and for the radical welcome I know each of you will offer all our guests between now and the New Year.
I hope you'll make your presence in worship a priority this Advent season. This weekend, we'll be singing about and learning about and giving thanks for the HOPE that Jesus offers...a hope we cannot manufacture or quench - a hope that does not disappoint - because it is rooted in who Jesus is, and the gift Jesus is.
See you on the road to Bethlehem,