Archive for Pastor’s Report

From the Pastor

Some people see the Bible as the Good Book, but the Good Book filled with confusing stuff and best left unopened.   Others see the Bible as a guilt-inducing book focused on sin, particularly theirs, and, therefore, best left unopened.  Still others see the Bible as an archaic book, with no relevance to our lives today–and you guessed it–best left unopened.

What if there was just one passage in the Bible that made it worth opening?  A passage that clearly communicated the entire message of the Bible.  A passage that rendered the whole Bible reassuring and inspiring, rather than guilt-inducing.  A passage that rendered it relevant to all of the challenges we face in the world today.

There is such a passage according to Jesus.  It can make us bolder in reading the Bible and bolder in living our lives.  Find out more in this Sunday’s message.

From the Pastor

The last thing you might expect a social activist to encourage is prayer.  Why waste time praying, when there’s so much work to be done in the world for justice and peace?  Just roll up your sleeves and get to work speaking out, raising money, or participating in other concrete projects.

But according to the great social activist Walter Wink, prayer may be our most important work for justice and peace.  Work that every person can do.

Wink believes that prayer is one of the indispensable ways we engage the Powers that Be in our world.  The Powers are a spiritual force that has a hold over us.  Prayer is a kind of counter spiritual force.  So envision the world as God wants it and pray your heart out!

Learn more about the power of prayer in this Sunday’s message.  And in tonight’s workshop on prayer from 6 to 7:15 in the sanctuary.

From the Pastor

A spiritual teacher once asked, “What in your opinion is the most important of all religious questions?”

She got many answers: “Does God exist?”; “Who is God?”; “Is there life after death?”

“No,” said the teacher.  “The most important question is ‘Who am I?'”

Our identity is at the very heart of our quest for spiritual life.  We confuse our identity with the roles we play, with our achievements, even with our changing feelings or thoughts.  In my message this Sunday, “Preventing Identity Theft,” I’ll explore who we truly are in God’s eyes.

Come and seek the Light, as we move into the Season of Epiphany!

From the Pastor

Happy eighth day of Christmas!  Don’t worry, I won’t be bringing you eight maids a milking, along with all those other cumbersome gifts from the first seven days of Christmas.  (Or maybe you wouldn’t mind receiving at least the five gold rings!)

Instead, I’ll just share a spiritual  insight about the meaning of Christmas.  Christmas celebrates the Incarnation of God in human flesh.  Which means that God and humanity can co-exist in the very same place!  This was true not just in the human baby Jesus, filled with Divinity.  It’s true of every one of us.  Even with all of our imperfections as human beings, we are filled with Divinity.  We sing, “Joy to the World,” because at Christmas we remember that God is as close as our own breath.

How would your life change, if you believed that?  Imagine the possibilities over the next four days of Christmas.  And celebrate with us this Epiphany Sunday, as we complete the Christmas Season.

 

From the Pastor

Good News:  the stress of Christmas in the malls is over but the spirit-nourishing part of Christmas continues for twelve days in the traditional church calendar.  Our Christmas Season doesn’t end until January 6, when we remember the story of the magi from the East, following a star to the baby in Bethlehem.

Why not try a joyful spiritual practice for these twelve days?  For example, you could cultivate gratitude by saying thank-you to a different person every day for twelve days—and maybe even give each person a small gift.  (Include strangers in your acts of thanks in honor of the magi, who were strangers in Bethlehem.)

Or you could read part of the Christmas story every day and reflect on how it offers joy to your life or the world.

Or you could replace one hour of television every day with Christmas music and time with your family.

Or as the wise men travel to Bethlehem, you could say a prayer each day for wisdom and guidance for yourself or for someone you love.

Blessings in these twelve days of Christmas!

From the Pastor

    A Christmas of Faith

When tragedy strikes at Christmas time,

it’s a good thing that the Christmas of Faith

isn’t as fluffy and insubstantial as snow. 

And that it’s not as flimsy and superficial as tinsel. 

It’s good that the lights on the Christmas tree of Faith

Never Burn Out!

 The “Silent Night” of the Christmas of Faith

is filled with strength. 

The “Angels We Have Heard on High”

are messengers of courage. 

And when we ask, “What Child is This?”

on the Christmas of Faith, the answer is

One born to heal broken hearts.

Let’s pray for the people of Newton, Connecticut, as we celebrate a Christmas of Faith!   This Sunday, we’ll hear the story of God’s promise to Mary and us.  On Sunday evening, we’ll go caroling for the homebound.  On Monday, Christmas Eve, we’ll tell the Christmas story, sing carols, and share a Christmas Communion. Noel, Noel!

From the Pastor

Did you know that peace of mind begins in the heart?  When our heart is clenched like a fist—in anger, resentment, or grudge-holding—we can find no peace.

In this Season of Advent we are called to stop clenching our hearts and let them open like flowers.  That’s what it means to prepare the way of the Lord, the way of Jesus, who was born to be the Prince of Peace.

Open your heart so you can sing the song of the angels on Christmas:  “Peace on earth, goodwill to all!”

From the Pastor

Need some hope?  You’re in the right Season for it: Advent.   As we prepare for Christmas, we remember why Jesus was born, and one big reason was to bring hope.  As I said in Sunday’s message, Jesus always taught that God meets us exactly where we are.  With all our flaws, failings, and foibles.  God brings healing and growth for our lives here and now, not to make us perfect but to make us stronger, wiser, and more loving.

Remember, the first Advent candle of Hope is burning brightly this week!

 

Thanksgiving Thoughts from the Pastor

Giving thanks is chicken soup for the soul!  That’s why so many of the psalms say something like, “I thank you God with all my heart!”

But if you need some scientific confirmation of this form of spiriutal nourishment, consider the research project I mentioned in last Sunday’s message.  Researches divided their subjects into three groups and asked them to keep a daily journal for 10 weeks.  They asked the first group to write everyday about something they were grateful for.  They asked the second group to write about something that irritated them.  They asked the third group to write about something they observed.

After 10 weeks, the group that expressed gratitude felt more optimistic and content than the others.  They also exercised more and visited the doctor less.

So every day this week, thank God with all your heart for a specific blessing.   Thank someone you love, too.  And for extra nourishing chicken soup, go out of your way to thank a stranger.

 

From the Pastor

Do pastors still make house calls?  You bet!  I’ve come to realize how important it is to visit people in the congregation and hear how things are going in their lives.   I have a new goal of visiting everybody over the course of a year.  If you’d like me to stop by sooner rather than later, just let me know!