Pastor's Notes

March 2019

posted Mar 1, 2019, 6:50 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

            Shortly we will enter the season of Lent, as Ash Wednesday is March 6th this year. The themes for our services of worship will focus on the busyness of our lives and the invitation will be to seek to reconnect with an unhurried God.  This worship series is the latest creation from the Worship Design Studio, which has provided us with some wonderfully meaningful spiritual experiences over the past two years.  I have no doubt that this Lenten time will be the same.

            The weeks of Lent have long been associated with the spiritual practice of abstaining from some activity – a holdover from the penitential nature of the medieval church.  However, Lent does not have to be a time to refrain from chocolates or dessert, but can rather be a positive time in which we take some moments each day to reconnect to the God who loves us and cares for us like no other.  In place of the usual Lenten devotionals, each week you will receive a note containing a brief passage from Scripture and a short prayer.  This can be used daily as a prayer routine designed to create some sacred space in the midst of daily chaos, in order to be still and listen for what God will make known.  The weeks leading up to Easter are the perfect time to search for that place of reconnection and blessing.

            As always, I wish you peace as we enter this most holy season,

                        Pastor Gail

February 2019

posted Mar 1, 2019, 6:49 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ, 

            In worship for the weeks of February, we will be thinking about the dreams that we have for our community, our nation and our world, with a focus on the creativity that brings our dreams to life and gives them momentum.  What is God’s dream for God’s creation that we can make a reality?  This may seem like a huge topic and something that we cannot hope to make a reality, but God invites us to try – to dream, to have a vision, and to strive to make that vision happen.

            Too often, we operate from the model of scarcity – we are too small, too poor, too afraid to even begin to dream.  Truthfully, not all dreams become a reality, and some dreams change as the process of envisioning and achieving unfold.  That should not stop us from dreaming, from seeking the image of God in the world that surrounds us, or from working diligently together to bring our dreams to life.  God’s invitation is that we are called to try and to put fear aside and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us if we can surrender to that guidance.

            The time to dream, create and trust is now.  What will we choose to build together? 

                        Blessings and peace,

                        Pastor Gail

            

January 2019

posted Jan 4, 2019, 10:16 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

Once again, we cross the threshold into a new year and wonder what the months to come will bring into our lives. Of course, each day holds the possibility for fresh beginnings, but we think of this in particular as the calendar year comes to a close and we are curious about what new thing that God will reveal in and through the ministry that we share in Jesus’ name.

Naturally, I do not have a crystal ball with regard to the future, but I do expect that the Lee Church will take a vote on whether to become an Open and Affirming Church in 2019.  To widen the discussion, I will be facilitating a Bible Study, beginning in February, that is intended to stimulate conversation about how God, through scripture, calls us to be in relationship with one another.  The dates have not been determined; however, I believe there will be 10 sessions, as we explore various Old Testament and New Testament books, and what they have to say about the extravagant welcome that God requires of us.  Everyone is welcome to participate in this study and it will be the most helpful to folks who are unsure about what Open and Affirming means and how it applies to the life of the church. These classes are not intended to change anyone’s mind about how the Bible speaks to them and no one will be told that their understanding of Scripture is wrong or right.  The purpose is to look at a variety of passages from Scripture and wrestle with what those passages might mean to us in the 21st Century so that we can discern what God is calling us to do in the life of the Lee Church.

Wishing you blessings and peace as we journey together in faith,

Pastor Gail

 

December 2018

posted Jan 4, 2019, 10:15 AM by Lee Church

Dearest Friends in Christ,

The season of Advent is upon us, carols are being played in every public space that you visit, and the frenzy of Christmas preparations is pulling us in.  The activities of the season are in full swing, with the delicious aromas of gingerbread baking in preparation for the construction of edible crèches, the placing of the characters and the stable for the Living Nativity, and the beautiful decorations in the sanctuary.  We are getting ready – practicing, polishing and preparing to celebrate the birth of the Christ child.

Advent and Christmas worship will revolve around the 200th anniversary of the debut of “Silent Night.”  This poignant carol represents the totality of the Christmas experience for many of us.  I have no memory of the first time that I heard this sung, for I am certain that I was an infant.  But I have vivid memories of standing with my family during Catholic mass on Christmas mornings singing with the rest of the congregation during the years of my youth, and of standing with my own family in later years with tears that prevented me from singing, but which sprang from my deep well of longing for those who were missing from my side.

As with most music, “Silent Night” tells a story – a story of wonder and awe, of hope and promise, of joy and peace.  It represents Christmas and the miracle of Christmas with melody and verses that touch hearts and turn them toward the source of all goodness and grace, the source of all that is holy, the source of all that is.  We will celebrate that during the weeks of Advent, and throughout all the weeks that follow.

May God continue to bless us all in this season of hope and peace,
Pastor Gail

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

 

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