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Archive for Pastor’s Message

CAROLYN’S CORNER

The newly formed group, “Wichita Clergy for Equality” met last Thursday at Pine Valley Christian Church. Our guest was Kerry Wilks from the organization – Equality Kansas: The mission of Equality Kansas is “to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and to fight for full equality and civil rights for all LGBT Kansans.” Kerry seemed very thankful for the interest of our new clergy group.

 

Amongst the needs of Equality Kansas is to know which clergy and which churches support their mission. This is very important as it can be expected that legalized discrimination bills (“religious freedom” bills) will be introduced again in this year’s legislative session. In the needs discussed at the meeting is the willingness of church members who are willing to make phone calls and write letters concerning legalized discrimination. Kerry will give notice to the churches as the need arises. If you are willing to make a phone call or write a letter please contact me or the church office so we can make a database and be in touch the most expeditious way as possible.

 

Remember to pray for justice in Kansas.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

A Prayer for 2015

Here we go again, God.

Another year begins with its new resolutions

replacing last year’s broken, unfulfilled ones.

Give me strength and resolve to set realistic goals

and follow through on them.

 

More importantly,

please do something about this broken, suffering world,

where politicians work for corporate sponsors rather than public good,

where the wounds of institutional racism continue to fester and bleed,

where people justify killing their neighbors in your holy name,

where the world heats and threatens to incinerate as leaders cower.

 

Ignite in others and me a fiery compassion.

Renew our hope in your revolutionary call to world transformation.

Pull us away from mindless, distracting devices,

and guide us on your road of justice.

Make 2015 a year of the real peace you showed us in Jesus. Amen.

Found in “The Thoughtful Christian”

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

SUNDAY, JANUARY 11 ~

Carolyn will share the Message “Baptism and New Beginnings”. Reading from our Tradition “Mark 1:4-11″. PVCC Men’s Trio will be singing the Special Music “We Three Kings”.

CAROLYN’S CORNER

The following devotion was found in “Still Speaking.” It is an appropriate reflection as we celebrate New Year’s Eve today. It is written by Maren Tirabassi. Blessings for a happy 2015.

New Year’s Eve

“May God send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion.” – Psalm 20 Where are you on New Year’s Eve? I’m in an AA meeting, one of God’s strong sanctuaries, even though they are often located in church basements. Some of you will be there, too, later today – it’s the kind of holiday that is hard to take “one day at a time.” Others of you will be in Watch Night services, Weight Watcher meetings, airplanes headed back to college, Alzheimer’s Care units, dialysis chairs, homeless shelters, online with others leaving situations of domestic violence. Some of you will go to a party and others will watch the ball drop in Times Square with a single good friend.  Psalm 20 is a prayer that asks, “God grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans, that we may shout in joy over your victories.” Most personal victories come less from tomorrow’s resolutions than today’s good sanctuaries of physical, emotional, financial and spiritual support. Sanctuaries are found where one or more are gathered to care, to help, and then to just shout in joy for another’s success. Sanctuaries are found where God is present in community.

Recognize the sanctuaries in all their diversity. Plan to be in one when you need help; plan to be in one when someone needs you.

Prayer  God, grant us the humility to seek sanctuary, the compassion to offer it to others—no matter how different they may be from us, and the faith to know that you are always the source of serenity, courage and wisdom. Amen.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

      The Special Christmas Offering is designated for the Regions of the Christian Church.  When we watched the video on Sunday it lifted up ways that the offering is used.  Church camp – of course.  Tiffany is now famous because she was included in the video.  We fully appreciate how the offering helps with church camp from the many years of sending children and youth to camp.  The offering also helps with the Search and Call process.  Again, we fully appreciate this as Pine Valley has just gone through the process in calling me as your new pastor.  So we fully understand what this means.  But then the video mentions that the region is there to help provide pastoral care to churches and ministers.  What does this look like exactly?

      I have had firsthand experience with this one in recent months.  My brother was diagnosed with 2 brain aneurysms in June of 2013.  The aneurysms were very dangerous, and the hospital who gave him the news didn’t give a positive prognosis. They surgically wouldn’t touch him, because it was beyond their capacity.  They suggested that my brother get another opinion.  Terry worked in the legal department for Sprint in Overland Park and had a working relationship with the attorneys in Reston Virginia.  One of these attorneys happened to be dating a doctor in neurology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.  She told her now fiancé about Terry.  They were able to help.   Terry never married and did not have children, so I became his power of attorney.  Through providence I had Sabbatical time lined up while Terry was to have surgery, so Ken and I ended up spending a lot of time with him in Baltimore.  But the first surgery was scheduled before Sabbatical began.  I had to use vacation, but had every intention of preaching that Sunday.  I was preparing my sermon from Terry’s hospital room, when his condition worsened and he spiked a fever of over 106.  This was on a Friday.  I called my Regional Minister, Rev. Lee Parker.  He stepped in immediately as pastor for me and for my church.  He preached for me with very short notice.

      Terry successfully went through his surgeries.  He was on the road to recovery, but at the end of January last year he had a cerebral hemorrhage and was medi-flown from Richmond where he was staying with Ken and I to Johns Hopkins.  We rushed to be with him in ICU.  Again I was writing my sermon from a hospital room when his condition worsened.  Once more I called Lee, and once more he was pastor to me and the church.  He stepped in with short notice to preach for me again.  Sorrowfully, my brother did not survive that last incident and passed away 10 days later.  His funeral was at First Christian in Newton.  The Regional Minister for the Christian Church in Kansas, Rev. Paxton Jones, came to Terry’s funeral.  When I returned to Virginia, Lee co-officiated  the memorial service at Seventh Street Christian Church for my brother.

      This is what it means for me when the region serves as pastor to the pastors and the churches, and I am very grateful to the regions of both Kansas and Virginia for the care given to me and to my family and my former church in a time of acute crisis.  And I am grateful for this offering that supports the ministry of the Regions.  It truly matters.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

 

FOURTH ADVENT SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21 ~ LOVE

Carolyn will share the Message Love:  The Things We Do for Love“. Reading from our Tradition is “Isaiah 7:10-16. The PVCC Choir will be singing the Anthem Fum, Fum, Fum –Trad/Parker/Shaw. One Piano Duet by Greg Yarnell & Judy Harrison: “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”  Solo by Liz Dary: “ My Grown-up Christmas List.”

 

CAROLYN’S CORNER

Each year in December we hear “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  With statues of Santa kneeling at the manger or holding a baby wrapped in a blanket, “Keep Christ in Christmas” has become a big retail market!

There’s a better way to imagine what it really means to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  Speaker, author, consultant, and Coach Steve Maraboli puts it this way:

 “Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

      That takes more preparation, planning, and purpose than it takes to buy a Santa statue. My prayer during the season of Advent is that we find ways to keep Christ in our Christmas celebrations: behaving Christ-like as we shop, party, and celebrate. My hope is that we would be truly generous givers, as you find ways to give those gifts that Steve Maraboli lists, and also that we be generous with our time to actually do the things Steve Maraboli lists. But be careful about this. You could end up keeping Christ in Christmas all year long!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

THE THIRD ADVENT SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14

As we light the Third Advent candle we pray for Joy. Rev. Carolyn Schwarz will share the Message

Joy: For All People “. Reading from our Tradition is “Luke 2:8-20 “. The PVCC Choir will be singing the Anthem “The Babe of Bethlehem -Trad/Coates.                      

CAROLYN’S CORNER

The second Sunday of Advent we light the candle of peace to express our yearning and prayer for peace – true shalom. The reading for this Sunday is Isaiah 11:1-10, which gives us a most beautiful description of peace:

The wolf shall live with the lamb,

the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

and a little child shall lead them.

I read a devotion recently, which reflects this vision of God’s peace.

POWER AND VULNERABILITY

In God’s peace, power and vulnerability lie together. This peace does not ignore conflict or difference; rather in this peace the vulnerability in power and the power of vulnerability become companions. Neither threatens the other; instead the friendship of power and vulnerability transforms expected hostilities into deep, deep peace. When we read these ancient words, we can feel it: This peace is what God means for our lives.

Prayer:

Spirit of the Lord, disciple us in the ways that lead to your holy mountain. We pray now for our enemies, whom we name in our hearts. We pray for ourselves, that we may transform our hostilities and fears into an openness to your possibilities. Where there seems to be no way, help us find the way. Amen

Pamela D. Couture

Found in Alive Now

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

There is a deep spiritual hunger within all of us. It is a hunger of having known once, long before, a very precious truth that has somehow slipped from our grasp. It is our human condition and so we spend a lot of time groping on our hands and knees in the dark, hoping to find a light that will reveal the meaning of life. Other times we chase after whatever earthly treasure that might fill the void. Whether chasing or groping, we yearn for a lantern to illuminate our path. What we need is Emmanuel, the Light of the World, to come to us and reveal truth and meaning. And that perhaps is what Advent is about. Advent is the season that reminds us that the earthly trinkets we mistake for treasure we’ve been seeking isn’t the true treasure after all.   The treasure we seek is found in Christ who is our Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

This season I will have a sermon series based on the traditional Advent Candles.

Advent 1, November 30: Hope Advent 2, December 7:  Peace Advent 3, December 14: Joy Advent 4: December 21: Love

Please worship with your family at Pine Valley this Advent as we re-discover the treasures of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn