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,
I must confess I'm filled with joy at the fact that the Nats are in the World Series. I love watching the joy with which they play The Game (Capitalized intentionally because baseball is a Godly Lovely Sport). In May, expectations were low about what this team would accomplish, but together they bonded as a team and seemed to truly love what they got to do, and that they got to do it together. I love that the earworm "Baby Shark" (doo doo doodoodoodoo) has become their "theme song" ever since Parra chose it for his "walk-up" song in honor of his young daughter. I love that they dance in the dugout after the score a run.
I have come to realize that the joy of the Nats is sort of similar in my spirit to what it is like to serve the Lord, what it is like to work as one of your pastors on the Field of (God's) Dreams here on New Cut Road. What do I mean? Well, ministry is a team sport, for sure, and all the best of what we do happens when we do it together. The "6-4-3" of the way the ushers care for folks as they come in, the dance of a mission trip or Walk to Bethlehem, always a team sport, with each one bringing their gifts to use together in service of God's mission. And certainly, ministry and service and worship and discipleship at Glen Mar is about joy. It feels like a dance after an RBI off the left field wall. It comes from knowing that we work in the Lord's vineyard, that this is "God's gig," if you will.
Won't you come on out to the "ballgame" this weekend at Glen Mar? We'll be commissioning friends in faith for our confirmation classes, calling folks off the bench to help train up God's latest prospects for the future. I'll be continuing our Covenant sermon series as we talk about what it means to be a witness. And I promise not to play "Baby Shark" (doo doo doodoodoodoo), but whenever God's people gather, it's a "curly W" win for a world that is need of God's transforming love, justice and peace. Come be a part of it!
See you in Church
Dear Glen Mar Friends,
I saw a "Facebook challenge" the other day that challenged us not to complain for one whole day. I guess for some that would be a hard thing to do, particularly in a culture that I think invites complaint, criticism and negativity. I was reminded however that as Christians we are called to do more than just "not complain." We are called to be encouragers. We are called to come alongside one another with a helping hand, a cheerful heart and a forgiving spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, in The Message version, "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it." The NRSV says, "Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up..."
I wonder how God might be calling each of us to be encouragers, to build each other up, individually and as a church? How can we be more encouraging than we are? How can we build one another up?
It can be as simple as being quick to "pitch in" for someone who is not feeling well, or going through a hard time. It can involve deep listening, and fervent prayer. There are so many ways to build one another up. Choosing to point out something great about someone, choosing to express gratitude, instead of criticism...Saying YES when asked to serve, and treating one another with kindness. Seeing one another with the eyes of Jesus.
Between now and Sunday, can you encourage 5 people in some way, big or small? I suspect there are people in our church family that are in need of some "building up" in a world that has a tendency to "tear down."
We have every reason to be encouraged with a God like the one we have. We have every reason to build up when our church, and our lives, are built on the rock of Christ.
Be encouraged! I see you, I know your name, you matter.
See you in Church,
Dear Glen Mar friends,
"I see you, I know your name, you matter."
At our recent visioning day with Leadership Board, we worked on the "next faithful step" that we believe God is calling Glen Mar to take as a church. Our work together led us to reconnecting with the mission and vision that led Glen Mar to establish this great big church on a hill in the first place. That mission and vision you know well enough - we lift it every week in worship. We also believe that our God calls us to be a blessing to and in ministry with and for all of our neighbors. We are "blessed to be a blessing."
It's time to expand the breadth and depth of our hospitality here at Glen Mar. We are already a "friendly church" but it's sometimes easy to think that "someone else" is in charge of sharing God's welcome to each other and to others.
At our visioning day, this vision was summarized by, "I see you, I know your name, you matter." This pattern is one that we see in the gospels, as Jesus sees people other people tend to overlook, and reaches out to them, and then goes further by caring about them, and inviting them into life-giving relationship with him.
What would it be like if we prayerfully "saw" our neighbors as Jesus sees them? Who in your neighborhood needs a blessing, a healing, or a community of love and forgiveness? What if we "saw" the people around us in worship or in the Gathering Place as Jesus sees them? What if we reached out and engaged one another in conversation instead of simply remaining silent, in the neighborhood or the grocery line or even in the sanctuary? (Not just "I see you" but "I know your name"). And then what if we looked for ways to reach out to people to show them how much they matter---to Jesus, to Glen Mar, to us, in Jesus' name?
I want to invite you to begin to see, and connect, and reach out in deeper ways so that we can share the love of Jesus, make disciples of Jesus, and transform the world, one neighbor at a time.
Will you commit to being a prayer partner? Perhaps God is calling you to help with hospitality, to join our hospitality team, or be a friendly greeter to welcome folks God sends. If this resonates with YOUR spirit, please let me know.
Together, we can make a real difference for the neighbors, and share the love of Christ. "I see you, I know your name, you matter."
See you in Church,
Dear Glen Mar friends,
We tend to operate from a Have-Do-Be model. What does that mean? If I had motivation, I would go to the gym and then I would be healthy. If I had money, I would buy a new car and then I would be successful. It occurs to me that God is always telling us "who we are" and then out of that, what we do, or "who God is" and therefore "who we are" and therefore "what we do." Maybe it would be better to operate from a Be-Do-Have model.
What if we said to ourselves, "I am a child of God, claimed by Christ, as Christ's own forever." And then, if that is true, what would we do? We would look at the world differently, and we would see our neighbors, and the people in our lives, as people God loves. We would probably pray and engage with the Bible. We would give to the church from our financial resources in an intentional way. We would serve others intentionally and sacrificially. We would invite our neighbors to be a part of our church. And if we do these things, we will grow in Christ, and we will have things like the fruit of the spirit - Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control.
This week in worship, we will continue our Covenant series, Made for Relationship, by looking at the 10 Commandments, given by a God whose name is "I Am, that I Am." Because of who God is, God calls us to be God's people. And out of that, we do certain things and then we are made more like Christ, we have growth, and eventually, what John Wesley called "sanctification." That is, growth in love to the point that we could even be made "perfect in love."
Come explore the gift of scripture, and learn what the law of love has to do with "God's Top 10."
I am (BE) by the grace of God, one of your pastors. I am glad to serve each day beside you, in ministry with you (DO) and I have the best job there is (HAVE).
See you in Church,
Dear Glen Mar friends,
Last week I had the privilege of leading the first Chapel of the year in our Early Learning Center. As much as I enjoy Glen Mar's worship on Saturdays and Sundays, there's nothing quite like singing "This Little Light of Mine" with a group of 80+ kids, ages four and under, who can barely contain their "NOOOO!!!" when you ask them if they're going to hide their light under a bushel.
They're a great reminder to me that it's a joy to let your light shine--to share the gifts God has placed within you and to light up the world with love, compassion, and generous acts of service. Hide it under a bushel? Why, ask any four-year-old in our ELC, and they'll answer you as if that's the most absurd thing they've ever heard. Of course we're gonna let our light shine. A light that doesn't shine has forgotten who it is!
This weekend is Mission Weekend at Glen Mar, and in worship we'll be continuing our Covenant series by remembering together who we are. Jesus said we're the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). In Genesis, we're reminded that as God's covenant people, we're blessed so that we might bless others (Genesis 12:2).
Blessed to be a blessing. It's more than just an idea. It's an identity, and it's our identity as baptized Christians--one we take very seriously at Glen Mar! A church that doesn't exist to bless others? Why, that's as absurd as a light that won't shine!
This weekend we'll have the chance to hear some of the many ways our Glen Mar family is living into its identity to be a blessing. But in case you can't wait, here's just one example:
Back in August we collected donations so that we could bless neighbors at Veteran's Elementary School. Many of you decorated cards or wrote notes of encouragement, and through your generosity, we were able to assemble 50 baskets of classroom supplies and 80 notes stuffed with gift cards for the teachers and staff at Veteran's. Pastors Mandy, Anna and I had the privilege of delivering these on your behalf to a very surprised office staff on September 12! Here are just a few notes we've received in the last couple of days--just a glimpse of the ways that you, Glen Mar, are a blessing. (Click here for a higher resolution version of the letter from Principal Bruce.)
As you go about your day, know this: You are created in the image of the God who is Love, chosen and loved beyond all imagining, and blessed--so that you might be a blessing. And the next time you have a choice between letting your light shine or hiding it under a bushel, I hope you'll channel your inner preschooler (and the help of the Holy Spirit) and let it shine with abandon.