Pastor's Notes

June / July 2018

posted Jun 6, 2018, 10:45 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

              Recently I read an article from the Wall Street Journal (May 5-6, 2018 issue) entitled “Politics Revives Protestants – At a Cost.”  It is an interesting read and you are welcome to a copy if you wish.  The article speaks about the increasing trend for progressive mainstream churches to become openly political, both in sermons and in ministry practice.  The rationale is that Jesus was not politically neutral, and neither should his followers be.  So, according to the article, pastors are taking political sides in the pulpit and in encouraging political activism around several current controversial issues –immigration and sanctuary being particularly popular topics.

I am interested in your feelings on this.  As many of you are aware, my sermons are Biblically based and I go to great lengths not to be political in the pulpit.  This is not because I am unconcerned with these important issues, but rather that I am trying to be sensitive to the diversity of the congregation.  I prefer to lift up Scripture, allowing each of you to receive the call of the Gospel as it speaks to you.  If I were to share my personal feelings on these issues of the day from the pulpit, I would likely risk putting my pastoral relationship in jeopardy with folks who view things differently.  Further, I have a lot of respect for the power of the pulpit, and seek never to abuse it by trying to influence others by claiming a particular authority.  Interestingly, the WSJ article claims that churches who take strong political stands are bringing in many new members, although they are also losing long-time members.  One comment that caught my attention was that sermons had ceased to ever mention Christ.

It is doubtful that I will change my mind on this matter, but one never knows how the Spirit will work.  So I invite your thoughts and opinions on what matters the most to you, and how you would like to see this play out in the life of the Lee Church.

Wishing you blessings and peace,

Pastor Gail

 

April 2018

posted Apr 2, 2018, 9:19 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

              Spring seems to be a bit elusive this year.  For the first time in several years, the likelihood of the remnants of winter snow waiting to great Easter sunrise would appear to be high.  And yet….and yet, I have tulips bravely pushing their leaves up from the not-quite-yet-thawed ground, and I am reminded of hope that never dies, but which emerges from the dimness of cold and heartbreak to fill our lives with light and joy once again.  Such is the eternal promise of the Resurrection – that from even the most difficult and painful circumstances, the glory of God’s love and hope shine forth and birth new life among us.

The eternal opportunity that awaits us is to open our eyes, ears and hearts to that promise and to believe in it; to truly trust and know that, both in the present and in the future time to come, the joy and love of the Creator are poured out upon us in abundant measure.  To live in the knowledge and acceptance of that joy and love is to be truly blessed.  With that assurance of faith, everything is possible; nothing is impossible.  With that assurance of faith, each day begins as a moment of wonder and possibility; each day ends with gratitude and praise for the blessings that have been received.  With that assurance of faith, relationships are mended, new friendships are embraced, generosity is abundant, and hope colors the world with beauty.  Such is the
eternal promise of the Resurrection.  Praise be to God.

Wishing you warm spring blessings

Pastor Gail

 

March 2018

posted Mar 9, 2018, 10:58 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

During the season of Epiphany, we are dwelling with the concept of “Invitation” and thinking of about the many ways that God, through Christ’s ministry, invites us to experience the wonder and mystery of being disciples and followers of Jesus.  From the visit of the Magi to the glory of the Transfiguration, we are witnesses to the revelation of God’s majesty and power in the person of the Son.  All of this reflection will lead us to Ash Wednesday, February 14th, and into the season of Lent, when we will be invited to still the clamor of the outside world that we might hear that still, small voice that continues to call our name.

We are so blessed in this journey that we share and the relationships of love and community that we have built and continue to build.  These relationships are strengthened by the work that we share and through the ministry that we embrace.  As we care for others and show forth the compassion that was one of the cornerstones of Jesus’ earthly ministry, blessings abound, hearts are healed, loneliness is eased and God’s kingdom comes near.  All of this takes place because the invitation to participate was extended and accepted.  Praise be to God.

As we move closer to warmer weather, we are reminded of the joy of God’s plans for us, of the challenges of bringing our witness to the community, and of the hope that moves us forward in the sharing of the holy work.

Wishing you peace and joy,

Pastor Gail

 

February 2018

posted Mar 9, 2018, 10:57 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

During the season of Epiphany, we are dwelling with the concept of “Invitation” and thinking of about the many ways that God, through Christ’s ministry, invites us to experience the wonder and mystery of being disciples and followers of Jesus.  From the visit of the Magi to the glory of the Transfiguration, we are witnesses to the revelation of God’s majesty and power in the person of the Son.  All of this reflection will lead us to Ash Wednesday, February 14th, and into the season of Lent, when we will be invited to still the clamor of the outside world that we might hear that still, small voice that continues to call our name.

We are so blessed in this journey that we share and the relationships of love and community that we have built and continue to build.  These relationships are strengthened by the work that we share and through the ministry that we embrace.  As we care for others and show forth the compassion that was one of the cornerstones of Jesus’ earthly ministry, blessings abound, hearts are healed, loneliness is eased and God’s kingdom comes near.  All of this takes place because the invitation to participate was extended and accepted.  Praise be to God.

As we move closer to warmer weather, we are reminded of the joy of God’s plans for us, of the challenges of bringing our witness to the community, and of the hope that moves us forward in the sharing of the holy work.

Wishing you peace and joy,

Pastor Gail

 

January 2018

posted Mar 9, 2018, 10:56 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

              Once again we are on the threshold of a new year, which is always a great opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months, and to look ahead to what the next year will have in store.  2017 has certainly been a full year, with the moments of both celebration and sadness that mark most years.

Several high points of the year included the celebration of the Lee Church Congregational’s 150th anniversary.  We were blessed with a wonderful Jubilee concert, featuring the musical talents of several church members and friends, along with selections from the Praise Team, the Senior Bell choir and the Senior choir.  That was followed by a delicious pot luck dinner which was widely attended and a lovely afternoon of fellowship and friendship.

We also began offering an alternative worship experience on the last Sunday of each month – Café Church.  This began in the summer months and, due to its popularity, has continued during the remainder of the year.  Attendees meet in Fellowship Hall and enjoy coffee and breakfast treats prior to worship and during the service.  It is a worship experience in a relaxed setting, with an interactive component each month.  Folks have been excited about the opportunity to enjoy a greater time of fellowship, and hopefully this excitement will be contagious.

2017 was also a year in which we said several good-byes to church members and friends who were very beloved in the community.  We continue to grieve their absence from our midst – they are not forgotten.

Now we look forward to what 2018 will bring to our community of faith.  There is interest in pursuing a commitment to becoming an ONA community.  This could be an important statement about who we understand ourselves to be, as we seek to welcome everyone into the fellowship of the church.  We will also be seeking God’s guidance as we face the challenges of being a religious organization in the 21st Century, and discerning what God is calling us to be as a community of faith.  We will explore this together.  In these ways, and others, we will walk the journey that lies before us as faithful followers of the way of Jesus Christ.  We pray for the wisdom to be the church that God calls and equips us to be.

Wishing you blessings and peace,

Pastor Gail

December 2017

posted Mar 9, 2018, 10:55 AM by Lee Church

Dear Friends in Christ,

            December is upon us and so is the pressure and stress of the events that mark this holy season – special Advent services, the Living Nativity, gingerbread houses, and the Christmas Eve services.  The musicians are anxious; the pastor is anxious.  The congregation is expectant…..It must be December.

In the midst of anxiety and worry over what we will or will not accomplish, the blessings of Christmas will come upon us.  Ready or not, the celebration of the birth of the infant Jesus will happen quietly, with reverence and sweet joy, with gratitude and with peace in our hearts.  This is a glorious observance and the perfect time to focus on what really matters – and that is not the gifts and the cards, or the need to have everything just so.  Christmas is the joy and wonder of God-with-us in the person of a newborn child.  It is the desire to cherish family and friends and a moment to think about the peace and blessing of the life that has been given to us.  It is a feeling that we would like to hold onto each and every day, although it seems to diminish as the 12 days of Christmas pass.

For now, we dwell with the days and weeks of anticipation.  We set up our homes with beautiful decorations and we shop frantically for just the right gifts.  Our hearts are filled with the joy of Christmas as carols are delighting our ears.  It is the most wonderful time of the year for the Savior is coming – may we rejoice and be glad in it.

Wishing you the blessings of this Christmas season,

Pastor Gail

 

November 2017

posted Mar 9, 2018, 10:54 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

We have so much to be thankful for, and I know that you do not need to be reminded of that. The congregation of the Lee Church is strong and resilient, kind and compassionate.  And we have much to celebrate as we arrive at our 150th anniversary as a settled church in Lee.  The church continues to bring a strong witness to the residents of the town – a strong voice that speaks of our commitment to serving the God who sent Jesus to be a servant to all, and who shows us the way.  As we move through the coming months, we will be exploring just what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ.  The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on October 31st, reminds us that, as independent churches united in our love of Christ and our desire to follow where he leads, our voices are important and our actions are our witness.

So how will we use our voices and what actions will we choose as we move into our 151st year as church?  The answers will come from each of us and will revolve around your areas of passion and your commitment to the Lee Church.  Together, we can accomplish much more than as individuals; together, our voices and our witness are strong and of lasting value to the wider community.  Saying who we are is not as important as how we live that out in our actions and the missions that we adopt as our own.  This is the Word in action and it is what we are called to be in our time and place.

This is an important threshold time; it is an exciting time to be in ministry and mission; it is the present and the future to which God has called us.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

 

Peace and grace,

Pastor Gail

 

October 2017

posted Mar 9, 2018, 10:53 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

At the September Governing Board meeting, it was decided to continue Café Church through the end of 2017, with an ongoing eye on the effectiveness of this service and the opportunity for individuals and families to worship in new and fresh ways.  The continuation of this service was prompted by the enthusiasm of the attendees during the summer months and the thoughtful and affirming responses to a survey conducted of participants.  Café Church will continue on the last Sunday of the month and there will be one service only, at 9:30.

A large part of the appeal of Café Church has been the relaxed format and the increased fellowship and conversation among attendees.  The joy of coming together as one worshiping community has renewed and strengthened existing friendships, and encouraged new relationships to be born.  While the experience of worshiping God is one that is taken seriously, it is also true that there are many ways to worship that can deepen our sense of unity, as well as draw us closer to God.

Personally, Café Church challenges me to also look at worship in new ways, as I invite others to work collaboratively with me, and my excitement and creativity are expanded.  As the youth will be remaining in the space with us – so that we can all share and learn from one another – logistics may become a bit of a challenge. However, I am confident that we can address any issues with humor and mutual respect, and that we can all learn new things about ourselves and the sacred together.

I welcome your feedback as we continue to travel this journey of discipleship together, as we grow and deepen our faith, and as we embrace the work of ministry that God, through Christ, calls us to bring forth.

Pax et bonum,

Pastor Gail

 

September 2017

posted Mar 9, 2018, 10:53 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

Life is always changing around us – it is true in our daily secular lives and in the life of the church.  To be alive with joy and optimism and to feel that sense of purpose and fulfillment is a precious gift, both personally and as a community.  Churches often struggle with change, as tradition and predictability are comfortable and often times it feels like changing the status quo involves risk and the unknown.  But how will we experience undiscovered places of joy in ministry if we do not take some small risks, or even some moderate ones?  We want our worship and mission lives to be meaningful, to be places of challenge and opportunity, and most importantly, to be places where we grow as disciples and followers of Jesus.

The fall, we will be exploring this as we walk with the Hebrew people through the wilderness, as the story unfolds in the book of Exodus.  We will journey into the future that God has planned for us and think about what it means to yearn for freedom from oppression, how we rely on God to lead us when the way seems too long, too dark, too frightening.  We will experience the longing for nourishment – food and water –and for God’s guidance and protection.  There will be an occasion to think about our tendency to default to false idols and the ways in which that damages our relationship with God.  And when we hear about the death of Moses, we will consider what it means when we have to turn the accomplishment of some of our dreams over to others.  The journey promises to be a rich one, as we think about who we are as people of faith and how we live that out in the witness that we bring to the world.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you,

Pax et bonum,

Pastor Gail

 

August 2017

posted Mar 9, 2018, 10:52 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

Nothing in life stays stagnant for long, and so it is in the life of the church, as well.  I am reminded often, in meetings with colleagues, in ecclesiastical publications, on the internet, and in other ways, that the presence and the influence of the church within communities and within cultures, as a whole, is diminishing.  It is disturbing, to say the least, to think that the ways of approaching and embracing life that we teach and model within our faith community is obsolete or irrelevant to our friends and neighbors outside our doors. And the question arises for me as to whether the values that we hold as critical to a good and wholesome life are really obsolete or is it rather that we are totally misunderstood and our motives are suspect with those to whom we are unfamiliar.

This is not an issue that is unique to Lee, but it is felt here, as well.  So the challenge before us – all of us – is about how we dismantle the misconceptions, and discover new ways to serve the wider community.  Knowledge will break down the barriers of suspicion – knowledge that we are not judgmental, bigoted, fear-infused people, but knowledge instead, that we are loving, accepting, supportive, fair and open people, struggling to serve God and community.  Fresh ways of worshiping that are innovative, but true to our faith tradition, are a great start.  So are the ways in which our youth are involved in local service projects.  But there must be some other places where we can make a difference.

In an effort to further strengthen our relationship with Mast Way School, I invite you to take advantage of current and upcoming sales of school supplies – note books, markers, crayons, pencils, etc.  Please bring these items to church on Sunday, or drop in the church office and they will be delivered to the school prior to opening day.  And if you have other ideas for community outreach, please let me know and we can work on it together.

Blessings,

Pastor Gail

 

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