Pastor’s Corner 8/25/19

               One of my favorite bands is Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (a mouthful, I know, but I promise, they’re great). I love them so much that I even used one of their songs in my wedding ceremony. My current favorite track from them is called “I Don’t Wanna Pray.”
 
                It doesn’t sound like the most appropriate song for a pastor to be singing, does it? Yet, despite its provocative title and upbeat, quirky melody, the lyrics are much more spiritual than the name suggests. Here are a few that I find particularly relevant:
 
“Pardon God and mom, what I’m sayin’ isn’t fair
See, I’m lookin’ to become
Not the pray-er but the PRAYER.”
 
                At St. Paul’s this Sunday, we’re talking about prayer as part of our Living the Questions: Wisdom from Progressive Christianity sermon series. We’ll critically examine conventional beliefs about prayer and talk about finding new ways to connect with God in our world today.
 
              That being said, I find this song fitting. When I listen to “I Don’t Wanna Pray,” I don’t hear the speaker saying that they want nothing to do with God…in fact, they profess love for their Creator multiple times throughout. For them, the best way to connect with God is not to kneel, bow our heads and say flowery words, but to “walk the walk.” To not pray in order to bring our wants and needs to God, but to live in such a way that we are a living and breathing prayer and an answer to the prayers of others.
 
                This week, I invite you to think about what it looks like to be a prayer rather than just someone who prays. How can we, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel put it, “pray with our feet?” And as we go forward, let’s remember another piece of wisdom from “I Don’t Wanna Pray”: “Not much good to talk, better to walk it, Not much good to take, better to give!”   
 
In Christ,
Anna  


Pastor’s Corner 8/18/19

The Day the Border Disappears
 
                There is an anonymously-written article featured in this month’s Sojourners magazine titled, “The Day the Border Disappears”. Prior to 2001, the border between Pasos Lajitas, Mexico and Lajitas, Texas, USA was open. Many people worked in the United States and lived in Mexico.
                But, in May of 2002, all of a sudden, the border was closed, and people were separated. But since then, the community decided that they should have a family reunion every year on that date.
                 Some cannot cross the border, so those who can cross join those who cannot. At the beginning, the priest stands in the river and blesses everyone on each side. Then, they begin their reunion. They share a meal, talk and hug, and they have fun together. When 6 PM rolls around, the group disperses to their appointed countries, and they wait until the next year to go it all again. 
                  A few weeks ago, an artist installed the “Teeter-Totter Wall”, which is a large teeter-totter with seats on either side of the slatted border wall. Sunland Park, New Mexico, USA and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico have seen militia-detained migrants at its meeting, and even a private group raising millions of dollars to build its own border wall. 
                 However, the current slatted border wall now has a connectional tool, the seesaw, to connect the countries.
                 There will be a day when the border disappears physically. Until then, let’s lean on one another, teeter-totter with one another, and reunite! We must continue to show that another world is possible and bring God’s kin’dom to every place we encounter!
 
Peace,
Pastor Sami
Kids from Mexico and the U.S. in the Rio Grande. Photo by Jessica Lutz/Reuters
Photo is from the Anonymous article found Here.


Pastor’s Corner 8/11/19

Dear Friends,
                   It has been delightful getting to know some of you at Pastor Meet & Greets these past few weeks. These are informative times for your clergy team, and according to at least one participant, “surprisingly fun!” I invite you to sign-up to come to one if you have not already done so, that we might begin to build relationships together.
                 One of the things I am listening for in these sessions is glimpses of the core identity of both churches.
                  Thus far, “community” has emerged as something both Covenant and St. Paul’s folks have experienced in congregational life and is a high value in being connected to the church. How that sense of community starts, and where it gets cultivated, is proving to be more particular to each individual. However, there are some commonalities there as well:
                   The hospitable welcome of folks like Jerry Charlton has helped many feel connected at Covenant. Several St. Paul’s folks have spoken of Emmaus and Flathead Lake Camp as places that have grown bonds over the years. I look forward to learning from you about other ways HUMM folks begin and continue the journey of community.
                    In the meantime, I have a question, and I hope you will be willing to take on this inquiry with me. What exactly do we mean when we say “community?” How do we know it when we see it or feel it? What are its hallmarks? What is NOT community? I ask, because the more we understand the in’s and out’s of this important shared value, the better we can create it. I look forward to hearing from you!  
     
Shalom,  
Pastor Margaret


Pastor’s Corner 8/4/19

Dear Friends,
                 This week over at Covenant UMC, I’m talking about Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The message is another in our Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity sermon series. In chapter 12, “Practicing Resurrection” authors David M. Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy unpack–and challenge–popular beliefs around the resurrection. Throughout the book as a whole, Felten and Procter-Murphy urge the reader to consider the power of the scriptures as stories rather than stake their meaning on absolute factual accuracy.
                There is certainly a diversity of opinions among the family of Christ, but regardless of what one believes about the details, we can agree upon this: the resurrection is not merely a story. The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was meaningful and life changing enough for the disciples and early Christians to risk their lives over. It is the story of triumph. Of good overcoming evil. Of sin and death no longer having the last word. A story that tells us that there is a God who radically loves us and that because of God’s love, there is light in the darkness that cannot be overcome. The late author Rachel Held Evans wrote “I am a Christian…because the story of Jesus is something I’m willing to be wrong about.”
                In my short time here, I’ve had the honor of hearing some of your stories. I’ve learned about your lives, your journeys, and how you have encountered God’s grace. I invite you to ask yourselves this question: what difference does the story of Christ and his resurrection make for you in your own story?  And ultimately, how can we tell our stories to the world, and show God’s love and light in a world seemingly overcome by darkness? 
 
In Christ,
Pastor Anna