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.

Great Three Days

Dear Glen Mar friends,

As we enter into these "Great Three Days" from Maundy Thursday to Easter Day, I've been shocked and saddened by recent destruction of houses of worship. The Cathedral of Notre Dame burned, and centuries of sacred art and history with it. I grieve the damage done to such a sacred place, where Christians have gathered across time to worship. I also grieve for our brothers and sisters whose churches burned in Louisiana. As I write this the suspect for those Louisiana fires has been charged with a hate crime. Tragedy compounded by acts of terror and hatred, during this most sacred of weeks. I grieve for the people who worshipped in the mosque that burned in Jerusalem this week as well. These losses are real, and both personal and a loss that affects the whole world too. It feels like Good Friday to see God's house in flames.

However, I have been encouraged by the pictures of a cross above rubble in Paris, and the reminder that our God cannot be confined to a building. God is bigger than the structures we build to contain God. The Church is not a building, not really. The Church is a people, the body of Christ, who share Christ's love so that Easter hope always has a way to rise out of Good Friday's ashes.

I hope you will join us tonight for our Good Friday service of Tenebrae ("Light and Darkness") as we hear again the story of Jesus' passion and death. We can sit in the darkness and wait for the light that is coming, because we know our Lord has been to all the dark places first. And I hope to see you on Sunday too - I'll meet you at the tomb - another "building" that our God could not be contained in.

See you in Church,
Mandy


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Holy Week

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Holy Week is here! Choirs and bands and preachers are hard at work preparing for a sacred, powerful, glorious Easter.

I hope you will join us this weekend for Palm (Saturday and) Sunday, and I hope you'll come out for Maundy Thursday service, 7:30 pm on 4/18, as we remember Jesus' last supper with his disciples and the commandment to "love one another as I have loved you." We will collect a special offering for cyclone relief for Zimbabwe/Mozambique, so please come on out. Good Friday will be a powerful journey to the cross in an ancient Tenebrae service of light and darkness at 7:30 pm on 4/19. On Easter weekend, we'll have services at all our "regular" times plus a sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. by the pond. The 8 and 9:30 services will be the same.

Easter is our biggest service of the year because folks who don't go to church on other days will come on Easter to check out the resurrection story or because they've been meaning to get back to church or because their family is in town....and that means, this is a chance to radically welcome people God will send to us. This is the time to be at our most patient and welcoming of visitors. I'm grateful that this church is a place where if someone is sitting in "our" seat, we count it a blessing because they are right where they need to be. They are guests in God's house and we are their hosts.

So...how can we get ready for the visitors we will have this Sunday (Palm Sunday) AND next (Easter)?

  1. Pray for the people God will send to us. Pray that we might be vessels for God's love and welcome. (Sign up for our prayer vigil on the board in the Gathering Place).
  2. On Easter weekend, if you normally come to the 9:30 service, please come to the 8 a.m. service. 9:30 is our largest service. Our guests tend to come later, which will put them in "overflow" seating. As a gesture of hospitality, if it is not a hardship, the 8 a.m. service will be the same as 9:30 and your 9:30 regular seat can go to a guest.
  3. If you normally come to Glen Mar, consider yourself a "host." Even if you are not part of our ushering or greeting team, a smiling face and a helpful word to a guest would be a blessing and a reflection of how much God welcomes them here.

I am so excited to be with you on my first Holy Week as your Lead Pastor. I hope you and your family will join us. It is the Greatest Story Ever Told and it wouldn't be the same without YOU.

See you in Church,
Pastor Mandy


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A Prayer for Late in Lent

Dear Glen Mar friends,

How is it with your soul this Lent? How have your disciplines and Lenten practices been going? I'm enjoying my daily N.T. Wright devotional very much. I wanted to share with you this poem/prayer from Daniel Benedict for your journey.

A Prayer for Late in Lent
God of the desert,
God of the forty years of wandering,
God of the forty days in the wilderness,
   bring us to the waters of the Jordan
   and into Easter's promise.
Sustain us in the remaining days of this Lenten desert
   so that at last we rejoice in the contrasts
      of fasting and feasting,
      of stones one side of the waters
         and of milk and honey on the other.
Steady us so that we are present
   to the rigors of each day's trek.
Let unsought silences and deprivations
   be occasions to "be overruled and swallowed up"
   in your vast action.
Turn hungers for the things that we left behind in Egypt
   into spiritual leanness glad for the Bread of Heaven.
Increase in us hospitality to the stranger.
Convert us as we journey
   with candidates for baptism and confirmation.
Subdue the enemy within us
   as you make peace in all the world.
Work repentance in your church
   until our unity in Christ overpowers
   our cherished divisions.
Go before us as the desert gives way to Easter's Alleluia.
Amen.
Quotation from Evelyn Underhill's "Abba" based on her retreat address on the Lord's Prayer. Copyright © 2004 The General Board of Discipleship. www.umcworship.org.

This week, we will look at the anointing of Jesus at Bethany, from John's Gospel, as Mary anoints Jesus with expensive perfume as an act of love, preparation, and worship. I hope you'll join us as we walk with Jesus to the cross.

See you in Church,
Mandy

Chili Cook-off Please come and support the Glen Mar chili team at the 9th annual "Hotter Than Thou" Chili Cookoff this Sunday, April 7, from noon - 2:30pm in the Great Room at Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry St., Savage, MD. Free admission, silent auction, raffle. All proceeds support Bridges to Housing Stability.

Prayer Vigil begins at 2:00 p.m. on Good Friday Will you pray with Jesus for an hour as part of our Holy Week journey? People are invited to pray as part of our Prayer Vigil at any time from noon on Good Friday through the Easter sunrise service. There is a regular signup sheet in the Gathering Place (and more than one person can sign up for a time slot). You can pray at home, or, if it's at a time when the building is open, you can come to church and pray in the chapel and walk the labyrinth. If you sign up, you will find it a blessing! Questions? Contact Marti Windram, marti.windram@glenmarumc.org.


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Mother Hen

Dear Glen Mar friends,

Last week, Glen Mar hosted the Cold Weather Shelter, getting to know and to host and to share with our unhoused neighbors. There were games and crafts and meals and haircuts, and much laughter and fellowship too. We also raised over $15,000 for Grassroots Shelter at the Soup'r Sundae Silent Auction. Our UMW is planning a baby shower for the Columbia Pregnancy Center, our BASE Bible study looked at the Book of Revelation, and 60+ kids signed up to volunteer as helpers for our Vacation Bible School this summer. Folks from Glen Mar joined in an interfaith solidarity event with our Muslim neighbors... And how was YOUR week?

Last weekend, we talked about Jesus being pursued by Herod, and Jesus says, "Go and tell that fox for me...." that he'll be about his Father's business - healing the sick and casting out demons - and that he will do things in his own time. Jesus compares himself to a mother hen that longs to gather all the baby chicks under her wings. That image has been in my spirit of late. It's like everyone I meet is a baby chick, beloved and precious, and it's been a little easier to spot the "foxes" in my life. You know... those voices that tell me I'm something other than what Jesus says I am? Those nudgings that cause me to sin or "miss the mark" by believing what the foxes have to say?

Have you been claiming your identity as a baby chick in the brood of Jesus, our Mother Hen? Have you been spotting foxes and leaving them alone? It occurs to me that our church building sort of looks like a big old barn/henhouse... but maybe that's just me... And if you want to know more, check out my sermon from last weekend....

Looking ahead to this weekend, we are commissioning Stephen Ministers and supporting our kids' 30 Hour Famine - where our youth will fast for 30 hours to benefit those who don't have enough food. We are moving from foxes and hens to fig trees as we walk with Jesus to the cross. I'm really excited to be worshipping with you!

See you in Church,
Mandy


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Love Lives Here

Dear Glen Mar friends,

A couple weeks ago, I shared a Welcome to the Lord's Table that I think encompasses the scope of the welcome we embrace at Glen Mar. Here is a link to what I said. This welcome is very Wesleyan (read, Methodist) because we have always believed that God's grace is available to all, that we are all made in God's image and loved and embraced just as we are. All are welcome in our church and all are welcome at the Lord's Table. My welcome was not radical, but merely the most basic and simple Christian (and Methodist) thing to say. The reaction to my welcome was not just positive; people shared that they wept because they weren't sure whether they were really welcome and loved, and my welcome helped them be reassured. Mercy.

My welcome was not just a "throwaway" moment. At Glen Mar, we love and welcome everyone, and that explicitly includes our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. We welcome them without reserve and embrace them in Christian love. We will baptize their children and love them and help all to grow into the followers of Christ we are all called to be. We need, and welcome, the gifts that God has given them to be a part of the body of Christ, and they are welcome to "praise God, grow disciples and serve the world" fully, as members of God's family, and as our brothers and sisters on the journey. Love all and welcome all is something that we are all committed to, no matter how we interpret any part of Scripture.

Regardless of where you stand on issues of human sexuality, you would likely agree that the recent special session of General Conference was probably one of the low points of our history as Methodists, especially if you watched any part of the "debate." The vitriol and hate that characterized the rhetoric made me embarrassed to be a Methodist. That Conference, including the press coverage of its outcome, has communicated to the world that we are unloving, unwelcoming, and frankly, even hateful. People have come to our Bishop saying that they have wanted to take their own lives because of this word from their church. They hear the church proclaiming to them that God says, "I do not love you." The outcome itself, with its tightening of restrictions around human sexuality, is going to further keep people from experiencing God's grace and entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ. It's going to reinforce these untrue messages for people who are searching for Jesus and afraid to come to church to find him.

In response, I want to share with you some important things:

  1. There is cause for real hope. I have been in conversation with leaders in Methodism in our conference and beyond, and I am certain that there will be a response to this Special General Conference that will help us be more authentic in our witness and ministry together. Hundreds of Methodist churches have been deeply hurt by this Conference, and I am hopeful that the eventual response can help us heal the pain that has been caused and will help us have space to be exactly who God is calling us to be, as followers of Jesus, and members of the Methodist Movement. I am part of those conversations and I want Glen Mar to be a part of those conversations too. I want to be clear that I am not saying Glen Mar is leaving the UMC. Rather, I'm saying that the Holy Spirit is moving, and there will be a response, and I want us to be a part of that response and whatever the future holds for the Church.
  2. In saying these things, I will not make how you interpret scripture or where you stand on gay marriage into a litmus test for whether you are welcome here. Everyone is welcome here! "Love all and welcome all" is not the property of only "progressive" interpretations of Scripture. And Glen Mar will be loving and welcoming without reserve. We will also have more conversations, and engage scripture, for those who want to be a part of that.
  3. I know I haven't been your lead pastor very long, but I have loved you since before I met you (which will preach #Methodist#Love), and I am excited for what God has in store for our future. I am asking you to go on this journey with me. Specifically:
    1. I'm asking you to stay, no matter where you place yourself on any kind of spectrum, and most especially I'm asking you to stay if you are in pain following General Conference or feeling unsure about whether our church really loves and welcomes you. Our pastors would be eager to talk with you, to share where we are, and to help process your hurt, confusion, anger and pain. I'm asking you to stay invested in the mission and ministries of our church.
    2. I'm asking you to help. Will you help me by listening to the stories of people on their journey with God and their need for God's grace and mercy? Will you help me by making sure that our hospitality and welcome is deep and wide, knowing that everyone who comes here is fighting a battle, and in need of healing and love? There is so much more at stake here.

"Love lives here." That's what I want our surrounding community to say about Glen Mar. I'm grateful for your loving heart, the way that you model healthy ways to disagree, and the way you keep Jesus and His mission as our focus. We are a family and I love you, and we need you. I'm so very proud to be your pastor, today and every day.

See you in Church,
Mandy

Soup'r Sundae & Silent Auction this Sunday, March 17, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at Wilde Lake High School. Glen Mar and Bethany UMC will jointly sponsor this fundraiser for Grassroots Crisis Intervention of HoCo. It is a family-friendly event featuring all-you-can-eat soup and ice cream sundaes plus a silent auction with bids for gift cards and over 100 themed baskets. Invite friends and neighbors for a fun time today! Event tickets are available at the door.


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