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Archive for Pastor’s Message

CAROLYN’S CORNER

Hard Headed Hope

“Put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

~ I Thessalonians 5:1-11

“Hope is the thing with feathers,” wrote Emily Dickinson, “that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”

“Hope is a muscle” wrote the author of a book about a girls basketball team. Hope is a helmet, said the Apostle Paul.   Paul, the eternal realist, encouraged the early Christians of Thessalonica to put on “a helmet of hope of salvation.” It’s a great metaphor. Hope is often under siege, whether in Paul’s time or ours. One glance at the daily news makes hope seem naive and those who hold hope appear foolish. We often need the protection a helmet affords to keep hope alive. A good friend who is dean of a state college needs a helmet of hope when her programs are cut to the bone. The young parishioner putting his college plans on hold due to economics could use a helmet of hope. The father hugging his Marine daughter as she heads overseas needs such a helmet. In this new journey of illness, hope is my helmet. There were some complications with my insurance coverage that would prohibit me from going to M.D. Anderson. I am grateful. That hurdle has been jumped and the insurance problem resolved. From my perspective it’s a sundog moment! I will begin traveling to M.D. Anderson in Houston on September 4th for testing that will begin on September 8th and is anticipated to go through September 10th. From there they will come up with a treatment plan of either traditional chemo or a clinical trial. I am putting on my helmet of hope!

We all need God’s helmet of hope. Paul calls it the “hope of salvation.” Yes, it’s the saving grace of Jesus Christ, but it’s also hope that saves us from despair and discouragement, be it about our world or ourselves.

So put on the helmet of hope today. We need God’s hard hat for the hard knocks of life.

Adaptation of a devotion found in Still Speaking Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

It was good to be back more fully in worship this Sunday, bringing the message even though I did use a bar stool. When I mentioned this on Facebook, one friend said that some of the best sermons are from a bar stool. I’m reminded of a church in Nashville which holds Christmas Eve service at the Wild Horse Saloon. Perhaps I should send a picture from the Wild Horse Saloon to be included in the slides this week in case I need the bar stool again.

I am back in the church office this week on a modified schedule to see how well I can manage, so I am available at the church from 10 until noon. Hopefully, I can expand my hours next week. It largely depends on my stamina. As I mentioned in my sermon, there are traces of cancer that were not able to be removed surgically, so further treatment will be needed. It is an unusual cancer cell for an Ovarian mass, so treatment may likely entail going to a larger cancer treatment center such as M.D. Anderson in Houston. My intention is to be as fully available to Pine Valley Christian Church as possible with minimal interruption to our ministry together, but with the full realization that there will be some days that are better than others and times I may be away for treatment. Thank you for supporting me and journeying with me.   Together we will make it!

If you would like to talk with me about this, please feel free to call. As I said on Sunday, your prayers are precious. Thank you, I am deeply grateful.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

SUMMER SERMON SERIES

“WEARING GOD”

How we image God really does matter. In journeying with people, I’ve discovered that an individual’s reaction to life events often reflects what they think about God. Is God a kind shepherd or a warrior? Through the years I have come to love the many images or faces there are for God.   Some are the ones that have been with us a long time: God as Father, God as Shepherd, God as Rock and even God as Baker Woman. But how about clothing, grandmother, fragrance, vineyard dresser?   Based on the book Wearing God by Lauren Winner, let’s take a look at some of the more lyrical, often overlooked metaphors for God. This series will run through the remainder of August through Labor Day.

CAROLYN’S CORNER

In a momentous decision last Friday, the Supreme Court determined that all couples have the right to be married. From now on all Americans can marry who they love. For members at Pine Valley Christian Church, it’s a time to celebrate.

It also is a day that brings complications, especially for a denomination that emphasizes Alexander Campbell’s slogan “Unity is our Polar Star.”   One of the core values held highest by Disciples of Christ is Christian unity. In conversations and in prayers during worship this weekend, I have heard that yearning among our members. We celebrate and yet pray for Christian unity among all Christians. It matters as we navigate the road before us for Christian unity.

Benjamin Moberg, in a recent article on Sojourners, shares from conversations he has had with what he calls brave, honest Christians who want to love, but they can’t cross the bridge of their theology. A wide gulf of scripture and theology stand between them. He says many say something like this, “I want to be where you are. I’m trying to get there. But this is what I’ve got. This is what I believe right now.”

 

The article suggests looking for common ground by finding places where we can all meet together:

  • Start with LGBTQ youth homelessness. Nearly 40 percent of the youth homeless population is LGBTQ. That is an epidemic. Teach parents to be better. Instill children with the knowledge that they are worthy of love. Donate to a shelter.
  • Talk about employment discrimination, and the fact that in over half of the country, some of LGBTQ friends and neighbors are at risk of being fired simply on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Talk about school bullying and workplace hostility.
  • Talk about broadly written discriminatory religious freedom laws.
  • Talk about violence against trans-folks, particularly trans women of color, and how 45 percent of hate murders in 2011 were against these women.
  • Talk about the high rate of poverty that is a result of much of the above listed oppression.

 

In the journey of Christian unity, I hope the response is love. I pray it looks like love. I pray it exemplifies love.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

Small Steps of Love

How can we choose love when we have experienced so little of it?  We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity.  A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit …  all these are little steps toward love.

Each step is like a candle burning in the night.  It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness.  When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey.

from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

Small Steps of Love

How can we choose love when we have experienced so little of it?  We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity.  A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit …  all these are little steps toward love.

Each step is like a candle burning in the night.  It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness.  When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey.

from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

We Do Not Lose Heart “We do not lose heart, though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Losing heart is easy.  There is plenty of trouble everywhere.  The renewal of our inner strength is not as hard as we imagine.  We can continue to care even when we can’t cure. Often when we can’t cure, we stop caring. Instead, we can learn to love what we cannot fix. Sarah Grimke understood.  She was a famous abolitionist.  She was born to a prominent family in Charleston, SC.  Her father was an attorney and judge.   She and her younger sister Angelina moved North, and became Quakers.  Both sisters became public speakers against slavery.  At some point they began to also speak for women’s rights, which caused them to be shunned by other abolitionists.

 

Lucy Stone, the famous suffragette, understood.   She had the chance for a small objective – women’s rights – but decided on a larger objective, supporting the 15th Amendment’s intention to give black men the right to vote.  She suffered for this political expansiveness by being shunned by the other women leaders.  They thought she was diluting their cause.  She had the inner courage for external caring, not curing. Listen as well to Federico Garcia Lorca:  “I will always be on the side of those who have nothing and who are not even allowed to enjoy the nothing they have in peace.”  Either we are part of the problem or part of the solution.  Doing nothing serves only to maintain the status quo.  And thus we care, expansively, even when we cannot fix.

Adaptation of devotional by Donna Schaper, Still Speaking

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

It’s been a good week at camp. We had 28 campers for Primary Camp. The theme was the Holy Spirit-Power Up. How do you explain something abstract to tangible thinkers i.e., 2nd and 3rd graders? We talked about how the Holy Spirit is like air. You can’t see it but you know it is there. We see air when the wind blows – leaves flutter on the trees, light objects on the ground will blow around. We can hear the wind – the sound of rustling while the leaves blow, the powerful sound of wind when it is strong – shaking the windows of our homes. We can feel air when a gentle breeze cools our skin on a hot summer day.

 

I gave each child a pinwheel so they could see it spin when the wind blows, and then we created a pinwheel garden in the fountain in front of the dining hall so that they could look at the pinwheels. Not all of them would spin at the same time, but some were spinning nearly all the time depending on the direction of the wind. It got me to thinking about the surprising Holy Spirit, how it is in our lives even though we may not see it. But it is there.   Perhaps we see God’s spirit in the way Jesus is mirrored in someone’s actions. Maybe we see the spirit at work in making us one as a church family. Maybe we see the spirit at work in bringing peace in our lives and in our world. As the scripture says, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

IS THIS YOU?  Then send your extra plastic bags to the General Assembly!  Disciple’s women and the youth at the Assembly are joining forces to crochet plastic shopping bags into sleeping mats for the homeless.  It takes 500 to 700 bags to make one mat.  They are being collected at the Disciple Women Ministry booth at the Convention center.  Volunteers will cut the bags into strips and roll balls of “plarn” (plastic yarn) to crochet.  On Monday of the Assembly they will begin crocheting the mats in one of the convention hotel’s ballroom.

 

Those pesky plastic bags have a way of multiplying, so now’s your chance to get rid of them.  We will begin to collect them in a box located in the Main Entrance gathering place.  We will continue to collect them until the end of June.  Crochet hooks and scissors are also needed.  So if you wish we’ll take those donations too.  The Schwarz’s and the Roy’s will be travelling to Assembly in July.  We will transport them with us as we travel to Columbus Ohio where the Assembly will take place.  Thanks for your help!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

Sing a New Song

“Sing unto the Lord a new song, for the Lord has done marvelous things.” – Psalm 98:1 (NIV)

Last month, a jury found pop musicians Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke guilty of copyright infringement because their song, “Blurred Lines,” bears too much of a resemblance to the classic Marvin Gaye hit, “Got To Give It Up.” Williams and Thicke have been ordered to pay $7.3 million to the estate of Marvin Gaye. Though the ruling will likely be appealed, it does lift up the significance of what it really means to be authentically creative in the music industry.

As people of faith, we often look to the classic hymns and anthems of the Church to inform and enhance our worship celebrations.  There is a certain “blessed assurance” that embraces us when we sing the songs bequeathed to us by our fore-parents and fore-runners of the faith.

But according to the Psalmist, every generation is afforded a fresh look at the wondrous acts and amazing grace of Almighty God.  Thus, every generation is called to not only echo the praises of the past, but to creatively contribute their own expressions of gratitude for God’s new and ever unfolding mercies.

Pundits are predicting that in the next 50 years, how we do church will be much different from how we’ve done church in the past 50 years.  Some call it post-modernity.  Some call it the ascendency of the Millennials and the Gen X’s.

Whatever we choose to call it, we can expect to hear some new songs.  Praise God!

(Found in Still Speaking)

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn