Pastor’s Corner April 22, 2018

Today is Earth Day on our secular calendar and it is Festival of God’s Creation on our United Methodist Church calendar. It is a day to pause and appreciate Creation. It is a day to commit to actions which will care for Creation.

While there are political implications, at the heart of it, caring for our environment is a faith issue. One thing I take away from the creation accounts in Genesis is that God masterfully created this planet in such a way that it can create and sustain life, our life. Slight nuances and changes in the rhythms and patterns of this world have significant impact. God has given us this planet as a gift that we are responsible to take care of. And our actions have a positive or negative impact on creation. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have the opportunity to hike on mountain trails, sit on the shore of a lake, walk along the beach searching for sea shells, or hear the birds sing and enjoy the flowers blooms.

So our faith and these holidays compel us to grow in our care of creation. The focus of Earth Day this year is to reduce plastic pollution. Plastic is an amazing invention. Plastic is so useful and has made our lives much easier! However, plastic is difficult to break down and so once it is created, it sticks around in our environment for a lifetime. Studies say only about 20% of plastic is recycled or incinerated. That leaves 80% of our plastic items in our landfills and our environment. I read an article earlier this year that said the plastic microbeads we most commonly find in our skin care products don’t disintegrate, they remain in our water system and ultimately end up in the bellies of fish. That has caused me to re-think what skin-care products I use. We each make choices every day that impact our environment. Our actions do make a difference. I encourage you to find one way you can reduce plastic pollution.

  • How can we reduce our use of single-use plastic such as straws, water bottles, plastic silverware, and cotton swabs with plastic sticks?
  • How can we use our consumer dollar to protect the environment and reduce use of plastic?
  • How can we package our food in ways that use less plastic?
  • How can we recycle the plastic products we do use?
  • How can you participate in political activism around issues of plastic pollution?

If you want to learn more about plastic pollution and what we can do about it, visit earthday.org.

 

Walking on the path of grace,

Pastor Patti



Pastor’s Corner April 15, 2018

The Power for Living

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Acts 1:8

When the Holy Spirit showed up with power in Acts 2, it’s unlikely many of those present in Jerusalem had any idea the magnitude of what was in store. They were recovering from the trauma of Jesus’ death and resurrection. They were trying to follow in his way. They had the Law to guide them. And they were doing their best to remember what Jesus had taught them. And Jesus promised them they would not be alone, in fact he promised that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. That same Holy Spirit who enlivened them on the day of Pentecost is still active in the world today!

Following in the way of Jesus is difficult. We can’t do it in our own strength. We need help. We are not alone. We have one another. And that is a great support. But in addition, we have divine help available to us in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us power to live the life of faith.

Way back in the beginning, the Bible teaches us the Creator took mud and breathed into it the breath of life. And human beings were formed. That Holy Spirit is life. The Holy Spirit is movement. The Holy Spirit is power.

Max Lucado shares about the time he wanted to learn how to dance. He went to the library and checked out a book on dancing. He read it. He memorized the diagrams. He learned the rules. He laid out a pattern on the floor and taught himself to dance. When he felt confident, he invited his wife to dance with him. As you can imagine, when he asked her what she thought, she said, “Dancing with you is like dancing with a robot!” She told him to relax, to listen to the music and let the music lead him. When he let the music enliven him, then they danced, they really danced.

When we attempt to live on our own power, we are living like a robot. When we listen to the music and let the music lead us, we can dance through life. The music is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enlivens us. The Holy Spirit guides us. The Holy Spirit disrupts us.

For the next six weeks, we will be exploring how the Holy Spirit empowers, shapes, transforms, and disrupts us.

I encourage you to begin each day by opening your spirit to the Holy Spirit. Seek to listen to the music of God and see how it enlivens your steps each day. The Holy Spirit is active in our world, often beyond our awareness. Let’s seek to connect with the Holy Spirit together and see how God empowers, guides, transforms, and disrupts us.

Walking on the path of grace,

Pastor Patti



Pastor’s Corner April 8, 2018

HOLDING HISTORY
Seven years ago, I was a leader for two youth mission trips in southeast Tennessee and southern North Carolina. While cleaning out a garage, we discovered almost 20 years’ worth of LIFE Magazine issues in mint condition. We carefully spread out all the magazines and arranged them chronologically, beginning in the late 50s all through the mid 70s. The issues covered our workspace with history. One of the other adult leaders was a history teacher, and the youth gathered around her as we flipped through history in a way none of us had experienced. Getting to hold issues sharing pictures of walking on the moon and the Vietnam War and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination brought a new understanding and respect to my life. I also became intrigued by the fact that we were in the backyard of this history: smack dab in the middle of the Jim Crow South. That was something I had not spent much time thinking about before. What were the thoughts of the owners while reading these issues? How did this town react?
As we remember Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination fifty years ago in Memphis, Tennessee, I can’t help but remember this trip I had. What effects did King’s presence and voice have on the black population in Tennessee? What effect did it have on Montana in 1968? All these questions are important to ponder. King was in Memphis to protest and march for sanitation workers’ conditions and low wages. After his death, riots broke out all across the country. It is still the story of our country today. Many have fought, but our work is not done. Both of these mission trips I experienced that summer were helping families living without plumbing in their homes. Generational poverty, inhumane working conditions, and discrimination plague our country still today, and much of King’s fight is still being fought. What will our future generations find in our garages? What stories of hope, fighting for justice, and equality will we share? How will we hold history in fifty years? Will it be still be our story? Or will it be an injustice eradicated?

Peace,
Pastor Sami



Pastor’s Corner March 25, 2018

At the beginning of the week, I was asked to write a bit about my thoughts on Holy Week. As we reflect on the Passion during this week, Jesus challenged us with his example of love and sacrifice. We remember that Jesus was our savior and paid the ultimate price to forgive our sins. What we often overlook is that Jesus also was a progressive advocate for social justice. Here is a brief article from the United Methodist Church website regarding the mission of social justice.

“Advocating for Justice
The United Methodist Church has a long history of concern for social justice. Wesley and the early Methodists expressed their opposition to societal ills such as slavery, smuggling, inhumane prison conditions, alcohol abuse, and child labor.

We believe that salvation entails renewal of both individuals and the world. Our faithful response to God’s saving grace has both a personal and social dimension as we grow in “holiness of heart and life.” By practicing spiritual disciplines — “works of piety” such as prayer, Bible study, participation in corporate worship and communion — we grow and mature in our love for God. By engaging in acts of compassion and justice — “works of mercy” such as visiting the sick and those in prison, feeding the hungry, advocating for the poor and marginalized — we live out our love for God through service to our neighbor. “Our love of God is always linked with love of our neighbor, a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world” (Book of Discipline 2012, p. 51).

Just as our own discipleship occurs both at a personal and communal level, our work in the world extends beyond helping individuals to transforming the conditions that create injustice and inequality: “it is our conviction that the good news of the Kingdom must judge, redeem, and reform the sinful social structures of our time” (Book of Discipline 2012, p. 53).

Our Social Principles are the church’s prayerful and thoughtful attempt to speak to contemporary issues through a biblical and theological lens, seeking “to apply the Christian vision of righteousness to social, economic, and political issues” (Book of Discipline 2012, p. 53).

As the agency tasked specifically to assist The United Methodist Church’s work of advocacy, The United Methodist Board of Church and Society works to provide “witness and action on issues of human well-being, justice, peace” through research, education and training.”

The Passion of Jesus Christ reminds us that we are not only called to ministry to spread the Good Word but also to challenge social injustice and inequality. I hope this week finds you well.
-Matt Hankins