Pastor's Notes

November 2018

posted Nov 2, 2018, 9:49 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

 

              Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.  Mark 9.37

 

This Scripture formed the basis for my remarks in worship on 9/23.  The image of Jesus gathering children into his lap, holding them close and naming them as worthy of the most extravagant of welcomes is powerful and thought provoking.  Children are such precious gifts, with their talent and potential yet to be revealed.  We are so very fortunate to have some wonderful programming in place that brings many youth and their families to our doorstep –the Youth Group and the Lee Church Kids’ Club are two exciting examples.  The invitation is to find ways in which to build on the potential that these programs hold.  The question is why do we hold back?  We have some great things to offer the community, but we hesitate to share our stories, and our stories are filled with words of hope and love, generosity and compassion, grace and mercy.  They are old stories and new stories of who we are and whose we are, and they tell of the many ways in which we care for one another and express our love for neighbor and for all of God’s glorious creation.

 

You might say that the sharing of these stories is evangelism – and you would be correct – but it is not trying to coerce.  Rather it is meant to be encouragement to take a new step, to walk a new walk, or to explore a path previously not taken.  It is sharing joy and hope, optimism and enthusiasm.  Why not take a small chance and share this good news?  Give us all an opportunity to welcome new friends and rejoice at the presence of long-acquainted neighbors.  Let us take a chance together.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Gail

 

October 2018

posted Nov 2, 2018, 9:48 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

 

              Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.  Mark 9.37

 

This Scripture formed the basis for my remarks in worship on 9/23.  The image of Jesus gathering children into his lap, holding them close and naming them as worthy of the most extravagant of welcomes is powerful and thought provoking.  Children are such precious gifts, with their talent and potential yet to be revealed.  We are so very fortunate to have some wonderful programming in place that brings many youth and their families to our doorstep –the Youth Group and the Lee Church Kids’ Club are two exciting examples.  The invitation is to find ways in which to build on the potential that these programs hold.  The question is why do we hold back?  We have some great things to offer the community, but we hesitate to share our stories, and our stories are filled with words of hope and love, generosity and compassion, grace and mercy.  They are old stories and new stories of who we are and whose we are, and they tell of the many ways in which we care for one another and express our love for neighbor and for all of God’s glorious creation.

 

You might say that the sharing of these stories is evangelism – and you would be correct – but it is not trying to coerce.  Rather it is meant to be encouragement to take a new step, to walk a new walk, or to explore a path previously not taken.  It is sharing joy and hope, optimism and enthusiasm.  Why not take a small chance and share this good news?  Give us all an opportunity to welcome new friends and rejoice at the presence of long-acquainted neighbors.  Let us take a chance together.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Gail

 

September 2018

posted Sep 7, 2018, 11:00 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

One of the great joys of this summer was the opportunity that I had to lead the music portion of Vacation Bible School.  Truth be told, this was considerably out of my comfort zone, and I would have preferred to have another more capable volunteer step into this role.  Alas, that was not to be and, as often happens, the experience was a great place of unexpected blessing.

One of the songs that we learned – “I Will Be With You” – was a particular favorite of both the youth and the adults, so much so, that I have decided to use that
music to guide worship services during the fall months leading us to Advent.  The words will remind us over and over of God’s great love for us, displayed in the ways that God cares for us, supports us, walks with us and never lets us go.  The Sunday school program will also build on these themes and should make for a great experience each and every week.

As I have shared during the summer, we are very blessed to have new folks
joining our staff in our music ministry.  They are bringing great talent and joy for worship and praise, and we are extraordinarily fortunate that they have chosen to be with us.  We will certainly miss the musical leadership skills of Roxanne and Andrew, but we certainly support their decisions to move in different directions.  It is all part of God’s plan.

Welcome back from summer fun and frolic.  I look forward to seeing you in
worship.

Blessings,

Pastor Gail

 

August 2018

posted Sep 7, 2018, 10:59 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

Once again, it is time to look ahead to the fall with anticipation and joy for each new blessing that God will bring our way. It continues to be my honor to share this journey with all of you.

As many of you are aware, we are welcoming two new and very talented musicians to our music ministry – Alex Favazza, Jr. and Adelyn Nelson.  Alex is joining us as the Praise Team Leader and Senior Choir Director.  He recently completed his PhD in Music Education and Choral Direction and will be the new Choral Director at UNH.  We are very excited to have Alex share his many gifts with us and look forward to discovering new ways that music can enhance our experience of worship.  Adelyn is our new Accompanist, and she will be working with the Senior Choir.  Adelyn will be a freshman at UNH this fall, studying piano performance.  She is a very accomplished musician, and we are pleased to welcome her to the music staff.

The sale of the parish house and property is going ahead as planned and should be completed within the next two months.  There has been a significant amount of prep work completed in anticipation of the sale, with some additional work to come.  This, of course, will mean some changes for the church, but also may be an additional opportunity to strengthen ties between the church and the town, which is always a blessing.

As we walk into the future that God has planned for us, I wish you every joy that August and summer can hold.

Pax et Bonum,
Pastor Gail

 

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

 

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