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Archive for Pastor’s Message


Friends, this week Sally and I head for Oregon to spend a week with our daughter Elizabeth and her family and to celebrate my birthday. While we are away we will keep PVCC in my prayers. Faithful members have guided this congregation for the last 48 years, and I know this tradition will continue well past our 50th anniversary in two years and on into the future. PVCC is a precious community with a unique and wonderful ministry. We keep you in our prayers and ask for yours.

Last Sunday, we noted in our prayer time that there are 40 wars raging in the world right now. We prayed for peace and we prayed for God’s presence and guidance. There is a story in the Hebrew Bible that tells of a time when the people faced odds so overwhelming that they said they felt like grasshoppers in the land of giants. It was not the first time or the last time they felt this way. In a real sense we are here because they persevered. I do not interpret this story as justification of militarism. Grasshoppers don’t have to become giants. In this day, we need less violence, not more. I encourage you to be thinking of ways that you can be a peace witness through your prayers and actions in the days to come.



I remember reading about a person who visited a small church in Georgia or one of the other southern states. He arrived in time to attend the adult education class before worship. There were four or five men in the group. He was surprised to see that they conducted their meeting according to a rather close reading of Robert’s Rules of Order. So it was a rather formal session for such a small group of people who obviously knew each other well. When he thought it was an appropriate time in the session he asked about this unusual behavior. The members of the group told him that it was extremely important to them that they follow Robert’s Rules of Order because the church is one of the birth places of democracy, and one of the few places we have in our society to practice democratic processes and decision-making. Following Robert’s Rules of Order was a way of reminding themselves of this tradition, and of preparing each other to participate in the democratic process in society. Because they actively participated in the democratic process in their church, they were prepared to actively participate in an open society that valued everyone’s input—including theirs.


Pine Valley Christian Church follows Robert’s Rules of Order loosely interpreted and applied. We don’t have people calling for a point of order or asking for a ruling from the Parliamentarian. We are all glad for that. But we do value the democratic process. And we value the participation of all our members in worship and in all the affairs of our congregation.


This is a long-winded way of saying your participation in the events at church on the week-end of July 25-27 when the ministerial candidate visits is important. The process is not a mere formality. You are being asked to help make a decision that will have real implications for the future of Pine Valley Christian Church. So my word for this week is plan to prayerfully participate in this important democratic process. Thank you.



David Hansen’s messageA Speech Heard Around the World”. Reading from our tradition will be Matthew 13: 1-9”.


We are all thinking ahead to July 27th, not because that it is my birthday, which it is, but because this is the weekend that the ministerial candidate will be in town. There is a growing spirit of anticipation in the air. Naturally we are all curious and want to know about the candidate. I thought it might be helpful if I could share with you ways to prepare to welcome the candidate—my short list of do’s and don’ts.

It will be helpful to be able to talk about the things that you really like about Pine Valley and what makes this church special to you. If you are not able to be here the weekend the candidate is here make a few brief notes for the Ministerial Search Committee that they could share on your behalf. In addition to thinking about what makes PVCC special, think about what role PVCC plays in the life of the community. And, think about some questions you might like to ask the candidate. Open ended questions are best. So, for example, instead of asking “What theologians do you like to read?” you might ask, “What theologians have had the greatest impact on your ministry, and how would you describe it?” Asking good questions is an art. Think about your reason for asking the question. What do you want to know? Are you looking for suggestions about books to read, or do you want to know something else? The goal is to get to know the candidate and to help the candidate get to know you and PVCC.

There are also some things that we may want to do that I think are understandable but not constructive in the long run. We want as much information about the candidate as possible, and we would like it as soon as possible. But the Search Committee has to weigh this understandable desire on the part of the congregation with the candidate’s need for confidentiality. As someone who has moved many times I know that accepting a call to a new church impacts your relationship with others in your present position and the employment of other members of your family and the welfare of your children. I do not know anything about this particular candidate, but I do know that the candidate is the person who must be the one who decides what information is most appropriate to share and when it is appropriate to share it. For now our work as members of PVCC is to be in a spirit of prayer for the church, the Search Committee, and the candidate and to do what we can to prepare ourselves for the weekend of July 27th.



FROM OUR INTERIM PASTOR ~ A Prayer for the 4th of July

I wish everyone a blessed 4th of July weekend. It is a time to enjoy good company, be with family and friends, get outside, and give thanks for the heritage of freedom that we enjoy. I invite you to wear RED, WHITE and BLUE to Church on Sunday.

Carry with you this weekend the following prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr. I have changed the language to make it inclusive.

Look with mercy upon the peoples of the Lord, so full of pride and confusion, so sure of their righteousness and so deeply involved in unrighteousness, so confident of their power and so imprisoned by their fears of each other. Have mercy upon our own nation, called to such high responsibilities in the affairs of humankind. Purge us of the vainglory which confuses our counsels, and give our leaders and our people wisdom of humility and charity. Help us to recognize our own affinity with whatever truculence or malice confronting us that we may not add to the world’s woes by the fury of our own resentments. Give your Church the grace in this time to be as a saving remnant among the nations, reminding all peoples of the divine majesty under whose judgment they stand, and of the divine mercy of which they and we have a common need.




David Hansen’s message Acts of Scarcity; Acts of Abundance”. Reading from our tradition will be “Mark 6:30-44”.Liz & Jeff Darywill share withspecial musicAmerica, The Beautiful.                                                                                                                                        



A few weeks ago I asked the congregation to give me some themes, texts, music or ideas that we could explore during the summer months when things get more informal. For me it’s a chance to leave the lectionary and explore other sources of faith and find new insights. My thanks to those who have offered ideas. If you would like to, it’s not too late. If you would like to meet and help design a worship service around a theme that could be an interesting experience for all of us and fun.

So far I have been given the names of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk; Henry Nouwen, whose writings we have often used during Lent and at other times; Robin Meyer, an author and the pastor of a church in Oklahoma City; and Chief Seattle and Native American spirituality. That’s a pretty interesting mix. I’ll do my best to honor your suggestions. If you want to discuss the works of any of these people, or help plan a service let me know. Once I had these names before me, I decided to add one of my own. Parker Palmer is a Quaker who has written nine books. His work has been helpful to me over the years.

This Sunday, June 29, the worship service draws from the work of Thich Nhat Hanh. He is from Vietnam. He has survived three wars in his country, and political and religious persecution. He has been in exile for more than thirty years, and now lives in Plum Village, a monastic community in France. He was nominated in 1967 for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. One of his best known books is Living Buddha, Living Christ.

Next Sunday, July 6, our worship will incorporate the work and ideas of Parker Palmer. In 1998 a survey of 10,000 American educators named him as one of the thirty most influential senior leaders in higher education. His most recent book is Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.

See you Sunday.




David Hansen’s message  is “Kindness: Our Common Bond.   Reading from our tradition will be “Matthew 10:40-42”. Kirk Miller will share withspecial music “These Hands.                                                                                                                                           




Sally and I had a great time celebrating the wedding of her sister Celeste and Scott, wishing them well as they begin their new life together, visiting friends in Annapolis and trekking around Washington, D.C. Since we and the people we were with were all from out of the area, we got lost a lot, and made so many U-turns that we eventually decided to call our trip “The Great U-Turn.” Time and again we would say, “I remember seeing that . . .  before,” or “I know we are not far from where we are supposed to be.” Even the GPS was of only limited help—not because it was not working. The fault was not in the GPS. Reflecting on the trip, it seems a bit like a modern parable. Life is full of U-turns. The biblical word for this is “forgiveness.” We live in a world of second and third chances. Happy travels.

Peace, David


As we prepare ourselves for this Father’s Day weekend I am mindful that an increasing number of children come from or grow up in single parent homes, too many children are in abusive situations, and domestic violence is all too prevalent. So this weekend we give thanks to all the people in our lives who remind us of the Christian truth that love is an embodiment, not an idea; and an incarnation, not a value judgment. Love is a way of being lived out in the bone and mind, heart and soul of humankind. With this thought in mind, I share with you the following prayer by Arnold Kenesth (Sabbaths, Sacraments and Seasons, Philadelphia, United Church Press, 1969, p. 58).

Our five and urgent senses praise thee, O God, for large summer sights, sweet airs, sounds within sounds, gifts within gifts. Our hearts praise thee for suffering transformed, for sorrow comforted, for joy extravagantly given. Our minds praise thee for the disciplines of learning, the conversations of wisdom, the parables of truth. Our souls praise thee for thy Love endlessly persuading us out of our darkness into thy marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.