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.

LET THE ADVENT-URE BEGIN!

ADVENT: IT’S NOT JUST FOR SHOPPING ANYMORE
LET THE ADVENT-URE BEGIN!

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Advent is a season of 4 weeks, including 4 Sundays, that starts on December 1. Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus, which means "coming". This season calls us to prepare for all the ways Christ comes to us: We once again prepare to celebrate his BIRTH, an event that happened in the past; We celebrate the way Christ comes to us in the present in the WORD and the HOLY SPIRIT; and we anticipate Christ's future RETURN in final victory.

As we move from Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas toys, let us take some time to prepare our hearts for all the ways Christ comes to us. In need of some suggestions?

  1. You and your family may want to make an Advent wreath and take some time as a family to do a devotion, light a candle, say a prayer or sing a song together. Each person could share a joy or concern from the day or a way they experienced God's love.
  2. Silent Night, Holy Night....Try setting aside time for silent meditation, not focusing on "saying the right words" but on just being in God's presence with an open heart. It's the perfect prescription for the Hectic Holiday Blues.
  3. Give....There are lots of ways to give of your time and resources to those in need. We have lots of opportunities at church every year to bless others out of our abundance. And it can be something as simple as a check or some change, or it could be the beginning of a relationship, a visit to a nursing home. It's a way to proclaim that in a world that looks dark sometimes, Jesus is the Light of the World and the darkness has not overcome it! Walk to Bethlehem, Wish Upon a Star, the Day Resource Center...so many ways to serve the Birthday Boy this year!
  4. Love....Start new traditions that don't have to do with material things. Have a few more meals with friends and family, make a meal at the Day Resource Center or send a note or make a visit to folks you know are lonely, grieving or hurting. Maybe the family could make some extra Christmas cookies to share with a shut-in or a friend in need of some love.
  5. Reconcile....Send a letter or card to someone with whom you have a broken relationship or a person who's a long-lost friend as a first step to reconciliation.

We prepare to celebrate the Advent of the light of the world. As we clean our houses and buy our gifts, let us take time to make a place in our hearts for the God who wants to make every heart God's home and let us reflect the light of God's love this whole month of Advent.


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What are you grateful for?

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Psychologists these days are embracing "gratitude" as a secret ingredient for happiness. Many journals and planners have spots for entering "3 things you're grateful for" as part of what helps our minds be in a positive place for the day, or as a practice at the end of the day.

People of faith have always known the value of gratitude. The Psalms are filled with exhortations to give thanks to the Lord (for He is good, his steadfast love endures forever - Psalm 136:1). Paul exhorts followers of Christ to pray without ceasing and to rejoice in the Lord always (and again I say, rejoice!).

Thanksgiving is coming - and as we gather with family and friends and food (and football), what are YOU grateful to God for? Head over to our Facebook page and share YOUR blessings so that we can join you in prayers of thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for new members at Glen Mar, for the joys of worship with you, for a new Habitat build, for my Walk to Bethlehem opportunity for service (hint, I get to hug Lydia a lot on Friday). I'm thankful for our church community that holds one another in prayer. I'm thankful for Welcome Center Hosts and for Hospitality Hosts, for ushers and trustees, for folks who said "YES" to serving in the coming year.

I'm thankful for the gift of being your pastor. I hope you'll join us this weekend to give thanks, and to celebrate the reign of Christ. You won't want to miss it!

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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A Little Homesick?

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Our son is a freshman in college now, and we recently visited just to see how he is and take the boy out to dinner. (Olive Garden, pretty sure he ate everything they sell there). We went because it's been a while since we've seen him and also because it's cold and dark and in that in between time between midterms and finals, a time where he seems to have many projects and papers due. It's a time I recall from college as "Hang On, Thanksgiving is Coming." He seems a little homesick, so we sped to the rescue with pasta and a pair of gloves and some corny family jokes around the table. He said, "I love this school, but it sure is good to see you."

I don't know if it's the time change or the weather change, or something about Holiday Dread (The Vague Sense that It's Just around the Corner But Too Soon to Start Celebrating), but I think many people have a hard time with the sudden cold darkness that is mid-November. I think maybe Nathan is not the only one who could use a little pick-me-up.

And...we have some great opportunities to share the light and love of Jesus, and the fellowship of the church coming up. There are folks going through all sorts of "finals" and "projects" and feeling a little "homesick." Glen Mar is here for those people - Glen Mar is here for YOU.

From our singles ministry (great events coming up!), to our Hope and Healing service (Dec. 14) and our cantata (Dec. 15), to our Advent worship services, and of course Walk to Bethlehem, we have so many ways to combat the "It's Dark, and I Am Cold" that is this part of the season.

One of the best gifts you can give your neighbors (or yourself) would be to invite them to any of our Glen Mar ministries or worship services. In the cold and dark of winter, the light of Christ shines a little brighter....for anyone who's a little "'homesick" this season, we will "leave the light on for you."

And...if you are looking for a group to do an Advent study with, let Pastor Anna know, and we'll give you some options. : )

This weekend, we'll renew our baptismal vows and talk about fountains of living water, and maybe a few leaky buckets too...you won't want to miss it.

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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GOD’S Welcome – YOUR Smile

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Last weekend, I preached on the so-called "Foolishness of the Cross," and one of the things I talked about was that the Church isn't just a random group of folks that are "friendly" or "hospitable." It's not about "doing hospitable things." The Church IS hospitality, the Church IS Welcome (to all), the Church IS friendship, because the Church IS the body of Christ, who is welcome itself! As Advent and Christmas approach, seasons that are all about the grand hospitality God shows in sending the baby Jesus, God calls EACH of us to show welcome to guests and to each other in this place. It starts by committing to SEE one another. Would you be willing to say YES to that invitation by

  1. Pray for the people God will send to worship as you drive to church on the weekend, so that when you arrive, your heart is in a place of welcome? (I see you...)
  2. Smiling at people, looking them in the eye, and offering a warm welcome during worship? (I see you...).
  3. Joining our hospitality team as a greeter, welcome center host, or connector (which just means person who looks for people who look lost or unconnected after worship and goes to talk to them) (I see you...)
  4. When we interact with each other in love, each one in the room is beloved by God, and here as God's beloved guest. Show curiosity about them, learn their name if you do not know it. Think about ways they can connect into our church.
  5. Look for ways to show radical hospitality. What can YOU do that would make guests (or even people who are here all the time) want to give Glen Mar a great "review?" Share an umbrella. Open a door. Hook a person up with a pastor or a caring minister if they seem to need care or a listening ear.

Thank you for "being God's welcome" in this place. It's not just one person's "job." It's "Who We Are."

See you in Church,
Mandy


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All Saints’ Eve

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Halloween is coming, and All Saints' Weekend is here too! I love this time of year, and I love both of those celebrations, because I think of Halloween as "All Saints' Eve."

The period between Halloween and the winter solstice in late December coincides, at least in our part of the world, with the darkest time of the year, with shorter days and longer nights. In the medieval period, dark was pretty dark, apparently, and it was a dangerous time. In our "Edison-ized" society, where light is taken for granted, we tend to forget that. But long cold nights meant for dangerous travel back then. People were eating the food they had stored since the crops were all harvested and the land covered with ice. It was a risky and vulnerable time of year.

At this darkest time, the Church gathered its "little lights" together, its saints, for help through this "long dark night of the soul." Halloween, then, was a time to get out the scary things, the skeletons and beasties, and to say, in effect, "Bring 'em on! We are ready for your worst. There is nothing in this darkness that will prevent Christmas, and the coming of the Light of the World." Is it any wonder that Dec. 25 comes on the heels of the winter solstice, as the days begin imperceptibly to get longer?

I know there are many of us who choose not to celebrate Halloween for other reasons than these, but there is something powerful about a Church that can endure the scariest and darkest of times. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:5 (NRSV).

See you in Church, Saints!
Pastor Mandy


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