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Archive for Pastor’s Message

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

CAROLYN’S CORNER

The following updates come from Week of Compassion following the earthquakes in Nepal:

 

“In the last two weeks there have been over 150 tornadoes throughout the United States, a 50% increase from the previous year.  The tornadoes have caused significant damage in many communities from Texas through South Dakota and Iowa, as well as in Colorado and Arkansas.  In addition to tornadoes, severe storms have also hit many of these areas, especially in Oklahoma.  Floods, hail, and heavy snow have impacted communities, and with heavy rain projected to stay, flooding will continue to be a threat in the next few weeks.

 

Week of Compassion has been in contact with local pastors and regional ministers and has responded to many of these communities with prayers and solidarity grants.

 

We have also been collaborating closely with Disciples Church Extension Fund’s Disaster Response Service to assist congregations and regions with their facilities after a disaster. The Disaster Response Service helps congregations assess damage to their facilities after a disaster- which includes helping to assess how and who to call to start the cleanup process, reviews the congregation’s insurance policies to ensure they are getting everything they are entitled to, and assembles a building committee that will oversee reconstruction

 

Halfway around the world, a second earthquake hit Nepal on Tuesday. This 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck northeast of Kathmandu and was the second strongest earthquake to hit the region since the first struck on April 25. Over 2,000 people were injured in the second quake, and 64 people are dead.  The areas most affected are Dolakhu, Rasuwa, and Sidhupalchowk districts, where the second earthquake caused devastating landslides and caused weakened and damaged buildings to collapse.  Our partner on the ground, ACT Alliance, has accounted for all of their staff, who are safe. They are providing immediate relief to many of the rural area

 

This second quake has created setbacks in the recovery efforts that will continue for weeks, if not months. Of particular concern however, is monsoon season in Nepal, which is to arrive in June and will create additional challenges in rebuilding efforts.  With monsoons come more threats of landslides, flooding, and the need to move people out of high-risk areas.  Week of Compassion will continue to work with our partners to provide relief in the coming weeks, and we will also be involved in planning the rebuilding of many rural communities.  We seek your prayers for the people of Nepal, as well as our partners on the ground.”

 

Please remember 100% of your donations to Week of Compassion will go for earthquake recovery. Please note Nepal Earthquake on your donation to ensure that 100% of your donations to Week of Compassion will go for earthquake recovery.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn

Holy Humor Sunday

We at Pine Valley Christian Church, with many other congregations nationwide, recognize the important, but often overlooked, sacred gifts of laughter and joy! Laughter is a gift that allows us to keep our hearts light, even at the most difficult of times. At a funeral, a funny story about a loved one can bring comfort to those grieving. During a worship service, the gospel can often be more effectively shared with humor and joy. And even in the midst of the observing the crucifixion of Jesus, we know that life will have the last laugh over death.

For centuries, in Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions, “Bright Sunday” (the Sunday after Easter) was observed by the faithful as a “day of joy and laughter” to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. This year we had church camp Sunday the week after Easter, but it was decided that we would celebrate “Bright Sunday” or Holy Humor Sunday, only a couple of weeks later. In the tradition of Holy Humor Sunday, parishioners and pastors played practical jokes on each other, drenched each other with water, sang, and danced. It was a time for clergy and people to tell jokes, funny stories and to have fun.

The custom of Holy Humor celebrations were rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the death by raising Jesus to new life. Easter was “God’s supreme joke played on death.”   “Risus paschalis ?~ the Easter laugh,” the early theologians called it.

In 1988, observing that the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection has been sorely neglected by 20th-century Christianity, the Fellowship of Merry Christians began encouraging churches and prayer groups to resurrect the old Christian custom of “Holy Humor” or “Bright Sunday” celebrations, as the early Greek Christians called it. This Sunday, May 3rd we will celebrate Easter life with Holy Humor so be prepared for a light-hearted service. Oh! And bring with you your favorite joke or funny story if you would like to share it!

Grace and Peace,

      

 NEW MEETING DATE : SUNDAY, MAY 3rd

5PM AT THE HOME OF BILL AND PAM DELANEY

14715 SIEFKES, WICHITA     67230

DISCUSSING:   Ordinary Grace by William Kent Bruegger

Please read ahead of time in order to discuss!

Snacks and beverages provided.

Pastor Carolyn

CAROLYN’S CORNER

National Weekend of Prayer

The Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments on marriage equality cases from the 6th district on April 28th. As we prepare for this historic hearing, the Religious Institute and Freedom to Marry is calling for a National Weekend of Prayer for the Freedom to Marry on April 24th – 26th.

They are organizing supportive congregations across the country to include in their regular services a prayer or moment of intention for the justices, the attorneys arguing the case, the plaintiffs, and all the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families currently denied the freedom to marry in their home state.  Nearly 2,000 faith leaders and communities have added their names to the faith amicus brief in support of marriage equality.  Our congregation has signed up as a participating congregation for the National Weekend of Prayer.  Prayers and responsive readings will be included in our worship this coming Sunday to reflect our participation.  Following the worship service we will go to the front yard to hang the new banner and to ribbon the tree as part of our prayer.  Hope to see you Sunday.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Carolyn