Category Archives: Pastor’s Page
January 2016 Sharing One Hope for the Future
Affirmation of Faith adapted from the Confession of Belhar
We believe that the unity of the people of God must be manifested and be active in a variety of ways: that we share one faith, have one calling, are of one soul and one mind; have one God and Father, are filled with one Spirit, are baptized with one baptism, eat of one bread and drink of one cup, confess one name, are obedient to one Lord, work for one cause, and share one hope.
“HARVEST, ABUNDANCE AND GRATITUDE
Late this summer, I was invited to go berry picking at a local berry farm. Turning the corner I held my breath seeing millions of blueberries hanging on rows and rows of bushes. No photo could capture the beauty and abundance. The memory of this sweet harvest comes to mind every time I grab a few frozen blueberries from my freezer. I thank God for the sweetness of life.
SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE
For two thousand years, the Christian religion has scheduled periodic and seasonal celebrations of our faith, for instance All Saints Day, Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. But, we have other things to celebrate, our commitment to Christ, transformation through belief and acceptance of God’s grace.
The sacraments of communion and baptism are most recognizable celebrations marking a commitment to Christ. On World Communion Sunday, congregations celebrate our unity in Christ. It is amazing and awe-inspiring to consider churches around the world, gathering to worship using many languages, in diverse cultures and with varied traditions. On October 4, we will have the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist that unites us in the One Body of Christ.
Isn’t every Sunday an opportunity to celebrate God’s work in the world and in our lives? Festivals in the ancient church often lifted up a person as a saint. Yet, our reformed faith teaches that we are “undeserving saints” saved by God’s Grace given through Jesus Christ. So, I suggest we celebrate the fundamentals of our reformed and Protestant doctrine. Undeserved Grace, Servant Christ, Transforming Trust.
Come let us thank God for some of the reasons we worship as a congregation. In Sunday School, classes study other reasons to cheer. For all ages, we have something to celebrate!
Peace and Joy,
This fall I will continue to preach from the Biblical wisdom literature. Many appreciated my choice to leave the common lectionary and organize a Summer Sermon Series on the Psalms and Proverbs. So, I will continue preaching a Sermon Series in September on the Epistle of James, also considered to be wisdom literature in the New Testament. One of the common themes of James is “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:17). Jesus often liberated people from their sins with the simple command, “Go, your faith has made you whole/well”. There seems to be no responsibility to the community. But, James and the leaders of the early Jerusalem church observed an apathy in the saved 1st century Christian. “Saved by grace” is the beginning of life as a Christian, not the end. James asks boldly, “What are you doing with your faith?”
There is a wonderful freedom that we Northerners experience when summer arrives. You can walk outside without scarves or hoods or wool coats. There is a sense of freedom to pursue outside projects of gardening, house maintenance and delayed creative efforts. When the sun is shining and the streets are dry, there are roads to explore and waters to sail.
“Discover, Dream, Design, and Deliver” were the four segments of our Presbytery retreat on Saturday, April 25. About sixty Presbyterians, ministers, elders and members from the Finger Lakes area churches gathered to discuss the past, present and future of the Presbytery Geneva. Dr. David Olson, a talented and trusted consultant who guided us through the turmoil of June 2014, noted the change from then to now. As we openly discussed our reasons for staying in the Presbytery our core values emerged; relationship, purpose, mission and transformation. These are the reasons we didn’t run away, or hold onto our grudges. Hope and faith gave us the persistence to work together. God-with-us gave us the endurance to sort through the problems and find solutions. And, the results have been worth the work. The spirit in the Presbytery is no longer tense and cynical. Rather there is a freedom and spirit of goodwill. There is a commitment to the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Fools For Christ
April Fools’ Day was a day for harmless jokes around our house. The salt shaker had sugar in it and visa versa. The clocks were turned upside down or changed. Someone always wore two different colored socks to school. One joke in the morning was usually enough, followed by laughter and “gotcha”.
Sorting, discarding, saving and packing boxes has been my daily task for the last two weeks in February. On March 1, hopefully, I will be resettled into my new house in Geneva. It’s exciting and exhausting especially during this crazy cold winter and the busy season of Lent.
However, isn’t Lent a time to sort and discard and pack spiritual essentials for the journey to the Cross? Lent is a season to focus on God and re-prioritize our lives accordingly. During March, the scriptures help us focus on four essential tenets of our faith; Sin and Forgiveness, the Commandments, Grace by Faith, Eternal Life and God’s Steadfast Love. There are more doctrines but only five Sundays.