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Archive for Pastor’s Message



There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Take time in your “living Lent” this week to read all of Ecclesiastes 3. Try reading it first as someone who does not have Easter new life in Christ. Note especially verse 19: “Everything is meaningless.” Then read Ecclesiastes 3:19 again as a person of the resurrection. What a difference a day makes, especially if that day is Easter!

The purpose of these days of living Lent is intended to engage us in changing our focus from what we cannot do or do not do or should not do to clinging to the promise of the forgiveness and unconditional love of a living Jesus who we now follow. We can now see all of life symbolically through the lens of an empty tomb. That is the purpose of Lent. May it be so with all of us.

Prayer: God of both Lent and Easter, there is a time for everything. Help us to see you in everything every day and everywhere. Amen.

Living Lent This Week: Ask people around you what they think is the purpose of Lent. Share your thoughts with one another.




Gray Mountain

By John Grisham




Dena Marten

Please read ahead of time in order to discuss!   Snacks and beverages

Pastor Carolyn


It is my pleasure to introduce to you Kerry Wilkes who will be with us Sunday, January 31, 2016. She will bring the message in worship and conduct a workshop following worship on letter writing to our legislators. There are some important bills before the State Representatives and Senate. Kerry will bring us key information impacting the LGBTQ Community and how we can have a voice.


Dr. Kerry Wilkes joined the faculty of Wichita State in 2004. She is associate professor of Spanish and Associate Dean of Graduate School. Dr. Wilkes received her BA in International Studies from Rhodes College; MA in Spanish from Auburn University and PhD in Spanish from the University of Chicago.


Her research/teaching interests include Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Spanish Literature (specifically, the theater of the Spanish Golden Age); Twentieth-Century Spanish Literature; Twentieth-Century Latin American Theater; Ekphrasis; and Performance Studies.  She is currently working on a manuscript from the little-known late seventeenth-century writer Baltasar Funes y Villalpando and participating in a pedagogy/translation/interpretation project with scholars across the country on playwright and musician Juan del Encina.


In her spare time she is Chairperson of the South Central chapter of Equality Kansas. Equality Kansas serves to end discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.


Please attend worship and stay after for this important workshop.

Pastor Carolyn


Why the Cross?

“If any want to become my disciples, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” – Mark 8:34

One Sunday after worship I was talking with a busy young mother holding her squirmy toddler. As we were speaking, Thomas pointed to the wooden cross I wear with my vestments and asked what it was.

“It’s a cross,” I answered.

“Why?” he asked.

After a brief pause in which I actually considered how to explain the cross to a two-year-old, I said, “Because Jesus had a cross.”

“Why?” Thomas asked, his big brown eyes leaving me no exit.

“Um, well, to teach us how to live,” I stammered.

“Why?” he asked again.

It occurred to me that Thomas had reached toddlerhood’s “why” stage, and that just engaging in conversation with him probably meant far more than what I said. Still, I was more than a little unnerved by his question, the same one that tortures many of us, whether we’re two or 42 or 92:

“Why the cross?”

So I was more than a little relieved when, after several more rounds of whys and becauses, Thomas took my cross in his little hand, turned it sideways and, declaring it “a plane,” sent it flying. Whew!

But dispatching with Jesus is not so simple. As much as he wants us to know life abundant and the fullness of God’s grace, he also wants us to realize that following him will bring trials, trouble, and tears.

Jesus knows this is hard for us to hear. Jesus knows it is hard for us to bear. Jesus knows that, just like little Thomas, we will keep asking why. And that’s okay. The answer is less important than staying engaged in the conversation.

By Vicki Kemper, found in Still Speaking

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn                            


Spiritual Choices

Choices. Choices make the difference. Two people are in the same accident and severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident. It happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives and the lives of their families and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and remember what happens. It is precisely these spiritual choices that determine whether we live our lives with dignity.

From the Henri Nouwen Society

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn                            


This week I share with you an Advent acrostic:


A stands for Adoration. We pause to praise God who fulfilled the promise of the gift of the Son to the bring God’s kingdom.

D stands for Devotion. We reflect this Advent on Jesus’ coming to Bethlehem, through Word and Communion and the culmination of all time.

V stands for Value. We take time to reflect on our human condition as we await the gift of Christ’s presence and come to value his place in our lives.

E stands for Emmanuel. We remember that the angel called the baby Jesus “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” What a wonderful promise as we journey through life!

N stands for News. We joyfully celebrate the good news that Jesus’ coming is God’s great gift to us and want to share that news.

T stands for Thanksgiving. We choose to not only listen to Jesus’ message to actually follow in his footsteps in service to our community and world.

This week: Take time and create your own Advent acrostic.

(Adaptation of an acrostic by Walt Schoedel of Webster Groves. Found in the devotional Hope-Full Living)

Sermon Series

Week One: The Song of Zechariah

We join with Zechariah in singing a melody of peace as we prepare the way of the Lord.. Let the words, Scripture, hymns, litanies and prayers of this worship experience serve as music to your soul as you hearken to the glad sound of Jesus’ birth.


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn


Trust the Vision


“And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” – Revelation 22:1-6      Navajos begin each morning with prayers of thanksgiving for the rising sun, air, water, and all the gifts of the Creator. The Psalms we share with our Jewish brothers and sisters sing of all creatures, from rock badgers to the great whales that God made “just for the sport of it.” (Psalm 104).

The Psalms also acknowledge our dependency upon God’s care for creation. “You visit the earth and water it,” affirms Psalm 65, “you water its furrows abundantly.” They affirm creation’s thanks in return: “The valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.”

But sometimes our prayers for the earth are laments. Isaiah despaired over the king who “made the world like a desert” and cut down all the trees. We’ve seen such visions. In New Mexico and Navajo land this summer, toxic waste from an abandoned mine turned the Animas River a sickly orange. In California, drought-ravaged trees went up in flames. Like the prophets, we have reason for lament.

But like them, our prayers for the earth can also be visions of a renewed creation. Abandoned on Patmos, knowing well the devastation brought by the Roman Empire, John of Revelation saw “a new heaven and a new earth.” Trees with leaves for the healing of the nations, a crystal clear river.

And the Creator said, “These words are trustworthy and true.” John could trust his vision of a renewed earth. So can we. God never leaves us only with lament. God gives us the vision we need to renew our love for this earth, so we can help renew it.

                                                                                    Found in Still Speaking by Talitha Arnold

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn


Why we need gun control and more

Excerpts from article by Adam Erickson in Sojourners


The scariest thing about those who commit mass murders is just how normal they are. In the wake of Umpqua Community College shooting last week, the New York Times published an article titled, “Mass Murderers Fit Profile, as Do Many Others Who Don’t Kill.”

We’d really like to have an explanation that makes these killers “other” than the rest of us. So we say they are mentally ill and demand our society do a better job caring for them. While it’s true that we need to do a better job caring for the mentally ill, the vast majority of people with mental illness will never harm anyone. Mass murderers don’t tend to be mentally ill.

So what are the signs that someone may turn into a shooter? The Times makes another disturbing claim, “With many of the killers, the signs are of anger and disappointment and solitude.” Those emotions are universal. How do we make sense of that? There’s a darkness that creeps up within all of us, and if we are being honest we might admit the horrifying truth that there’s not a lot that separates us from them.

Typically, no one ever teaches us how to manage our feelings of resentment in nonviolent and healthy ways. In fact, we are taught the opposite. 9/11 taught us that if someone hits you, you hit them back. Only, you don’t just hit them back, you up the ante. You hit them with “Shock and Awe” to destroy the enemy’s will to fight back. But Shock and Awe has only “worked” to embed violence deeper within our culture. Violence isn’t just “their” problem; it’s our problem. It infects all of us. Almost every day we hear about another violent attack.

We need stricter gun control laws, no doubt. But we need so much more than gun control. We need models who will lead us toward a massive shift in our culture. Resentment and violence infects us all and we need to learn better ways to take responsibility to manage our anger, disappointment, and hatred. That’s why the spiritual practice of confession is so important. It’s much healthier to talk out our emotions than it is to bottle them up. Without the ability to talk about our frustrations, we externalize our emotions by blaming others.

Much more than gun control, we must shift our culture of violence to a culture of peace. We need models who will lead us to move beyond resentment and towards an ethic of love, a love that embraces even our enemies. The answer is to work through our resentment and come out the other side into love. More than anything, we need to be challenged with a daring and challenging mission. In the face of a culture that responds to violence with more violence, we need more people who will step up and model how to return love for hatred, forgiveness for anger, kindness for hostility, peace for violence.


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn


This past Sunday Pastor Carolyn shared a sermon on being Good Enough in the eyes of God. She reminded us that we are all good enough.

With October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, it wasn’t until I perused Facebook and the internet this week, that the sermon truly hit home. Not only have many of us been taught through our spiritual journey that we are not good enough to partake in a relationship with God, but we are barraged with societal images that we are not good enough for society; thus believing that we are not good enough for anything or ourselves.

The fall can be a time of many memories for me. While it’s been 13 years since my life was truly held in the hands of another, it does not seem like it has been that long. They are no longer flashbacks or make me feel like I am reliving the situation; no longer am I left separated from the world around me. Deep inside, though, a here the lost child yearning to hear she is good enough. Good enough to be loved. Good enough to be cared for. Good enough to deserve a relationship that doesn’t hurt or leave her fearing for her life. Good enough to be able to walk away from the harm and start anew. Good enough to love herself.

This past Sunday, I didn’t know it, but hearing I am good enough was what I needed to hear for this week, this month, and my life. When things aren’t going quite my way, a gentle reminder that I am good enough is what can push me on my way and get me back on track.

As Carolyn shared on Sunday, we are all good enough. We are good enough to be loved, to love ourselves, and to show others love. Whether it is in the eyes of the church, society, or ourselves, we are good enough.

Peace and blessings as you go through the week reminding yourself that you are good enough!

President Natalie


A couple of years ago and it was beginning at a slow, lazy pace Saturday. My brother was staying with us and we were idly eating breakfast thinking about the day, when we decided on a day trip in the Shenandoah mountains. That was not hard to do since we lived only an hours drive away. My brother had the first of his brain surgeries and was recovering. I was on Sabbatical. There was nothing urgent. Soon we were up on the cool, leafy drive looking at the valley below or at the mountains across from us. Then the speculation began, what if we see a bear! So the search was on. Would we see a bear?


My brother mentioned, you know we could just stay the night here. It didn’t matter that we had nothing with us in the way of clean clothes, toothbrushes and such. Sure…of course… why not! So at one of the ranger stations we were able to call ahead to a lodge and hurray – there was a vacancy! We got the stuff we needed at the camp store. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and a bit of food.


We hit the road and enjoyed the beautiful foliage when sure enough – right in front of us was a juvenile, black bear. We stopped to admire and of course for Ken to get photos. But that wasn’t the end of the experience. By the time we got to the lodge we spotted 3 black bears! We were beside ourselves with excitement. My brother’s mantra for the rest of the day was, “I love bears!” We even got matching bear T-Shirts at the lodge gifts shop to celebrate the bears. “I love bears.”


Sometimes we have bears inside us. They are dormant, and then all of a sudden they are running around, creating emotional havoc, making their presence known. Elisha the prophet was an important man. He was God’s mouthpiece. But try mocking him and “Arghh!” Elisha roars and his internal bears come running.

I bet Elisha felt so much regret. He was a good man. He cured people of leprosy, raised the dead, and multiplied bread to feed the hungry. Except he had bears.   Here’s the thing: we all have a pair of bears lurking in the underbrush. Carl Jung taught that each one of us has a “shadow aspect.” Your shadow in an unconscious aspect of your personality, the least desirable part of who you are, the part you don’t want to acknowledge. Elisha was a wonder-worker, and he was petty, angry, and proud. He wouldn’t accept those parts of himself. So they lurked in the woods, waiting to surprise him. The man didn’t know his bears. When they leapt into his life they raged out of his control.

For sure we learn in life that it is better if you better know your bears. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. For only when we see ourselves for who we truly are can we hope to calm our bears, soothe them, and even use them. If we don’t, they’ll use us. If you get to know your bears you know, the better they are to love.


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn


Darn That Jesus!

“Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” – Matthew 21:28-32 Darn that Jesus! Isn’t it just like him to mess up my Sunday. Here I was planning to go to church where I could pledge my support for truth, justice, kindness, generosity and all right causes and feel pretty good about myself, before coming home to take a long nap, watch a violent football game, have a few stiff drinks with dinner and go to bed.   And then this. This story of two brothers. One a yes-man. “Yup, Daddy, that’s right, I’m off to the vineyard. No, don’t thank me, it’s the right thing to do!” He then snuck out the back to go joy-riding and catch a movie. The other son, never very cooperative, told the old man, “forget it.” But then, surprise, he couldn’t quite forget it himself and went down to the fields to help out, working a long, hot day.   How does this happen? How does it happen that we say “yes” but do “no”? How does it happen that we say things, and really believe them at the time, but they don’t translate into the way we live and the actions we take?   And how does it happen that at least sometimes the people that don’t seem to give a hoot about all the right values and pretty much thumb their noses at them, go out of their way to help out and give all they’ve got?


Well, here I am stuck in church, messed up by Jesus . . . Here I am wondering if it’s me he’s talking about. Here I am thinking the amazing thing is that despite all the times I have said “yes” and done “no,” he’s come to sit now at my side. And this is what he says, “Let’s give it another shot. Don’t just believe in me, follow me. Here we go. That’s right. Just follow me, you’ll get it.”

Found in Still Speaking, written by Tony Robinson

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn