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.

Dust

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Yesterday's Ash Wednesday services were so meaningful - I'm grateful for all who helped, planned, served, sang and attended! We had the pleasure of offering ashes to our ELC parents for part of "pickup" time too, and I got to pray with 5 parents and 1 grandma, and answer the question "What is Ash Wednesday?" for an elementary schooler. I got to put a cross on the back of a little boy's hand, who looked so proud of his new "stamp."

As we start the Lenten journey together, let us engage in those Lenten practices designed for the Divine Heart Surgeon to work on our hearts: prayer, fasting (giving up something so as to be reminded of our dependence on God), searching the scriptures, and giving to the poor. And let us turn again to God, through confession, repentance, and forgiveness and make a new beginning with God.

Sometimes Lent can seem depressing to the outsider, but for me, Lent is my favorite season of the church year. I am in need of the reminder that God is in control, that all I have is a gift from God, to be used to bless somebody - and all the "stuff" I think my life depends on, isn't as crucial as I think, because my life, too, is a gift from God's hand. What I need most is Jesus.

It's not depressing to be reminded that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. Have you not seen what my God does with dust? God breathes animating breath into dust. God makes the wonder that is you and me out of dust.

Here's the poem I used as the benediction at last night's service, by Jan Richardson. It's called Blessing the Dust - A Poem for Ash Wednesday.


All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial -
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

See you in Church - It's Lent, and we'll start a Lenten series called "First Things First."
Pastor Mandy


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Marie Kondo has NOTHING on Lent

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Next Wednesday, the 26th, is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the Lenten season. It's a great time to work on our "Give me 5" disciplines as ways to draw closer to God. (Scripture (5 verses a day), Prayer (5 times a day), Worship (5 weekends a month - grin), Giving ($5 a week or more) and Service (5 service projects a year)).

Lent is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, as a time of preparation for Easter. The death and resurrection of Christ are true whether or not we prepare for Easter. However, if we prepare our hearts by spiritual disciplines, acts of worship, and service to others, Easter will be even more meaningful and real in our lives.

Here are some ideas for Lenten commitments that you might feel led to make this year - to help in your "Give me 5!"

Inward and Personal Disciplines
___ Spend time in solitude each day.
___ Read a book for inner growth.
___ Read twice through the Gospel of the lectionary cycle you are in. (Matthew in 2020)
___ Begin to keep a journal of prayer concerns, questions, reading.
___ Focus on thanksgiving, rather than on asking, in prayer.
___ Give yourself a gift of three hours to do something you always say you don't have time to do.
___ Make a list of people with whom we need to be reconciled. Pray for them and let Jesus guide us in our thinking and feeling toward them.
___ Go to all of the Holy Week services as an act of love and waiting with Jesus.
___ Take one hour to inventory priorities and plan how we will reorder them because we follow Christ.
___ Give up a grudge or a rehearsal of a past event.
___ Forgive someone who has hurt me.
___ Dance my prayers to some favorite music.
___ Attend worship each week without fail this Lent.

Outward and Social Disciplines
___ Take on some loving task.
___ Plan to visit a "shut-in" neighbor or church member weekly.
___ Write a letter of affirmation once a week to a person who has touched my life.
___ Listen and respond to Christ's call to a ministry of service.
___ Go to coffee or dinner with someone I want to know better.
___ Share how God has changed my life with someone who does not go to my
church.
___ Invite someone to come with me to church.
___ Clean a trail or roadway in my neighborhood.
___ Volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. (Day Resource Center is last Wednesday of the month)
___ Say "NO" to something that is a waste of money and time.
___ Pray to God to help me resist prejudice, evil, injustice and oppression and to give me courage in opposing it.
___ Decide to become a member of the church and speak to a pastor or lay leader.
___ Rebuke the spirit of criticism and my own tongue out of control.
___ Find a way to live out the baptismal promise to "resist evil, injustice, and
oppression" in the power and liberty God gives us by ___________________.
___ Other outward and social promptings:
As a way of being accountable, I will either:
___ Share my intentions for Lent with a group I'm a part of at church, or
___ Share my plan with at least one other person and share with that person my
experience of Lent during Holy Week.

Lent is a holy and wonderful time to clean out the closets of our souls, and get in touch with God who always "sparks joy" and brings new life. (Marie Kondo has NOTHING on Lent.) Won't you join us this Lent as we walk with Jesus, from the temptations of the wilderness to the cross and the empty tomb?

Thank you for your faithfulness and commitment to Jesus, to Glen Mar and to each other.

See you in Church,
Mandy


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Growing disciples, including pastors!

Dear Glen Mar friends,

This week, several of our high schoolers went to ROCK, a Christian festival and gathering for BWC youth. I heard they loved the speaker and the music, and also the mini-golf too! I don't know if a Polar Bear Plunge was involved. : ). It's got me thinking about how grateful I am for the ways Glen Mar makes disciples of Jesus Christ around here.

Did you know that people who grew up at Glen Mar have gone on to do great work in the church and have discerned their calls here, in Youth Group or Bible Study? I'm one of those people! I wouldn't be a pastor at all without the love and patience of the Glen Mar family, and many, many meetings with Rev. Andy Lunt!

Rev. Alicia Vanisko, Rev. John Nupp, and Pastor Sandi Phillips are others that come immediately to mind, in terms of folks who "grew up here" and went on to serve in this way. Our own Pastor Anna is a commissioned elder in the UMC and is in a 3-year "provisional" time that all commissioned pastors go through, as she prepares for ordination as a "full elder." There are probably many others too, so I apologize for the ones I am forgetting at the moment.

Many of you may know Alex Thomas, who was active at Glen Mar and in our youth group. She is currently at seminary at Duke, and her mom, the amazing Amanda Thomas, is a worship leader at our 5 pm service, a Stephen Minister and on our Leadership Board too. There are many others, I am sure, who have discerned their call here, and we have a couple youth who are currently discerning such a call. I'm grateful for the way that Sean and Jen nurture these gifts in our youth, and help them engage their faith so deeply.

Did you know that everyone is given gifts for some work of ministry, to be used in the church to be a blessing to others? Not all are called to be professional clergy, but all are called to grow and follow and serve. My prayer is that each person will be offering "prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness" at Glen Mar (Give me 5!). My prayer is also that those who might be feeling a tug to pastoral ministry are supported in that sense of call, too. If you need help in discernment around this, please talk to any pastor, or any member of our Staff Parish Relations Committee.

Will you join me in praying for those folks who are discerning a call or who are in the process of ordination? And...I thank God every day for each of you, who make me a better pastor each day. Thanks for your patience back in the day with a Legal Aid lawyer who was weirdly passionate about designing worship services and preaching. I'm grateful to be able to return to you as one of your pastors - maybe I can give you some "return" on your investment.

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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Service, Salt and Scouts

Dear Glen Mar friends,

This week, we will talk about Jesus' call to be "salt and light" and we will lift up "service/mission/justice" as an essential value for the "Making of a Methodist." It's also Scout Sunday, and being a Scout, like being a Christian, is about serving others.

Because we are talking about "salt and light" and service, I thought I'd share some "thank you's" that have crossed my desk recently:

A great letter from our own Jennifer Broderick, Executive Director for Bridges to Housing Stability, sharing that through our partnership, they were able to provide housing and housing support to 200+ families-safe, permanent, affordable housing. #saltandlight

A letter from the United Methodist Committee on Relief thanking us for our generosity - UMCOR provides disaster relief in the US and more than 60 countries, engaging in direct ministry to the needy. (Our own Woody Eddins did a trip recently to Saipan for 2 weeks with UMCOR, helping with tsunami recovery!).

Letters from school principals thanking us for our Christmas Eve donations and marveling that a church would care about their community enough to give so generously. "Your donations and support are truly amazing..." and "This is a true blessing that will support many student programs..." and "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

Mission trips are being planned this year to places like Hurley, VA, Tarboro, NC, Baltimore, MD, and the Bahamas...

What are some ways God is calling us to shine, and be "salt," in this season? Come to worship to discover this call to serve - it's a core Methodist value, but we learned it from Jesus.

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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Give Me 5!

Dear Glen Mar friends,

In my sermon last week, I talked about how when we want to get better at something, we practice (using sports as an analogy), and that to get better as a Christian, there were standard practices of the faith, designed to help us love God more, love our neighbor more, and to grow in Christ. I challenged folks, as their "spiritual coach" to "Give me 5" - that is, in 2020,

Pray 5x a day (on waking, at mealtimes, and when going to sleep) (and if you don't know what to pray, try, "Dear God, thank you.")

Read 5 verses of Scripture per day (alone or in a group) and if you don't know where to start, start with Luke's Gospel. Because Luke is the Gospel of the Downtrodden, and it has always been the one dearest to my heart.

Invite 5 people to church this year.

Do 5 mission/service projects this year. Most Glen Mar folks do 5 of these a month, it seems like.

Give 5 dollars a week to the church if not giving anything now - I bet you will find you are blessed in the giving.

Attend worship each week (we have several options!) unless sick, working or out of town.

If you need help or resources to do these things, or would like a group to do them in, call or email the church and we'll hook you up!

This week, we'll be looking at the role of Scripture in a life of faith. What is the Bible? What is it for? What tools do we have to make these "Wonderful Words of Life" pathways to find Jesus, instead of barriers and roadblocks? Is there a way to take the Bible seriously and still say we need not avoid shellfish? (Lev. 11:10?). Come as we rejoice in the gift of Scripture, and hear what God has to say through it.

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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