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,
Wow! We had over 1800 people participate in our Day of Service on Monday. The numbers are impressive across the board. Together we packaged 114,400 meals, sewed 177 pillowcases, braided 278 jump ropes, assembled over 500 fishing kits, decorated over 50 dozen cookies, constructed 22 bunk beds, provided about 35 blood donations, assembled 288 health kits, made 45 no-sew blankets, trained over 100 people in CPR, and collected over 1,000 articles of clothing.
But more than the numbers...we welcomed the community to this place (or an off-site place), and there were smiles and hugs and there was the love of Jesus, for people who may not have a church home. There was the feeling in the air of what Dr. King would call a glimpse of the "Beloved Community" - what Jesus called "the Kingdom of God." I think people are hungry for connection, for belonging, and for making a difference to make our communities better, safer, and more loving. I think people are hungry for love, and for meaning, and eager to transform the world. In Christ, we find the ultimate love, meaning, and purpose and the ultimate transformation of the world. Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, to love the poor, to welcome the stranger. Glen Mar, when we are doing that, we are being the Church, the body of Christ, in powerful ways. You live out "Blessed to be a Blessing" every day. For Glen Mar, every day is a "Day of Service."
I'm grateful for everyone who helped make that event a success. I'm attaching pictures of the "Living the Dream" certificate and trophy that Glen Mar received, and a citation from Congressman Sarbanes' office. When the church is being the church, the community notices.
I see you, I know your name, you matter.
See you in Church, where we will continue our series "The Making of a Methodist" talking about another "Core Value": Discipleship.
PS Here are some pictures of Glen Mar's "Living the Dream" award, and a Congressional Citation from Congressman Sarbanes' office.
Dear Glen Mar friends,
As you receive this, I will be delivering checks to local schools, making a difference for children and families, thanks to your generosity. As you receive this, we have just learned that Glen Mar has won the "Living the Dream Award" from the Howard County Dr. MLK Jr. Holiday Commission for our Day of Service. As you receive this, groups are meeting to study God's Word, Caring Ministers are visiting people who are sick or shut in, and we are all getting ready to welcome 1400 people on Monday to serve our community together. This is what Church is all about. (More details about all this to follow next week!)
Soon, we will have a Sunday morning opportunity to learn more about what is at the core of the Christian Faith, using a Bible study put together by our Bishop. Starting this Sunday, I'll be preaching on that core of the faith, inspired by the study. The series is called "The Making of a Methodist." You'll learn some of the bedrock principles of what it means to follow Jesus. We'll learn about and grow in the following areas: Grace, Discipleship, Scripture, and Service. In an era where the whole country it seems can't find much to agree on, come explore the things we do agree on, the "building blocks" of our past, and the "common ground" of our future as Jesus' followers.
See you in Church, as we honor Dr. King by being "drum majors for Christ" and see you on Monday as we put our faith to work, in Jesus' name.
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!