July 19 Pastor’s Corner

Greetings everyone!
Happy Midsummer! Though the days are still long, they are getting shorter. The summer symphony is now over but the County Fair is still to come. It is indeed ‘midsummer.’ There are still some wonderful summer days ahead and yet we all know they will be over all too quickly. Soon, we will find ourselves saying ‘where did the summer go?’ It happens every year – so this is your friendly reminder to do everything you can to enjoy the blessing of each day!
I am often asked for tips or advice on how to pray. Volumes have been written about that subject but the practice of prayer still seems elusive to many of us. I suggest that the ‘art of appreciating summer’ can be a helpful strategy in learning to pray. Prayer is fundamentally about attention, about focus, about learning to be present to the moment. Summer is a good time to practice such things. Rather than thinking about learning a method or doing a Bible study, let the ‘practice of appreciating summer’ be a spiritual practice for you these days. Breathe the early morning air; notice the lingering sunlight late in the day; enjoy the flowers; appreciate the blessing of rain – and when it falls, choose to get wet, really feel the water on your toes in the lake, marvel at the produce at the Farmer’s Market, take special delight in the first Flathead cherry you find. We live amidst great beauty. People travel from all over to visit our state and this place. So, don’t let the (to us) ordinariness of our surroundings blind you to the extraordinary beauty we call home. Be attentive. Give thanks. And as you do so, you will have learned to pray for, as the opening words of the poem God’s Grandeur by poet Gerard Manley Hopkins , assert . . .
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze
of oil
Crushed . . .
May your summer days be blessed with the luxury of lingering a bit and laughing with friends and feasting with family. May you become skilled in the art of appreciating the summer!

Grace and peace,
Marianne



July 12 pastor’s Corner

This past week I returned from Intergenerational 4th of July Camp at Flathead Lake. Camp always is a powerful reminder to me how time away and time in nature can bring a new awareness of God’s presence in my life. It is as if the playfulness of nature gives me a new sense of God’s hope in my own life, and new perspective to see where life is stirring around me. The camps of our church were founded for this very purpose and I would invite you to take advantage of these facilities for an organized camp, family getaway or personal retreat as a chance to connect with God and ourselves in our journey of faith.

Here is a short description of each of our Montana camps:

Camp on the Boulder is a pure and holy place set apart from life’s distractions, located on 79 acres set in the Absaroka Mountains of south-central Montana surrounded by wilderness. The recreational opportunities include a low ropes course, a PDGA registered Frisbee golf course, mini golf course, volleyball and basketball courts, great hiking and many other recreational activities including fishing on the Boulder River! The lodging facilities include cabins, lodges and dorms for youth that can sleep 250 comfortably. There is a wonderful prayer chapel, an outdoor chapel, and a Tabernacle that can seat 300. You will find meeting space and good food. You will also find a ministry team ready to help you have a wonderful time in the mountains with Jesus.
Flathead Lake UM Camp is a year-round campground retreat facility. The camp is bordered by 3,000 feet of pristine shoreline of Flathead Lake and is set amidst 30 acres of lush forest and grounds. Recreation opportunities include canoeing, swimming, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, baseball, hiking, fishing, table tennis, campfire circle. Facilities include 12 cabins with sleeping capacity of 180, dining hall and retreat center, restroom and shower facilities, large indoor chapel, fire pit area, outdoor chapel area, four classrooms, dock, swimming area, basketball and volleyball courts. Food services are available for groups of 40-180. The staff provides wholesome and tasty meals. Heated cabins support 50 overnight guests during the winter.

Luccock Park Camp offers individuals, families and groups of all sizes a mountain setting in paradise ~ literally located in Paradise Valley south of Livingston, Montana. Luccock Park can offer you the opportunity of many venues. Take an easy hike to Pine Creek Falls, play basketball on the open court, enjoy an old fashioned game of horse shoes or just pull up a lounge chair and enjoy the peace and quiet that can only be found at Luccock Park.

Learn more at yacumc.org/camps

Prayers that we all find a glimmer of God’s peace in nature this summer,

Pastor Tyler



July 5 Pastor’s Corner

We have so much to celebrate as a people on this Independence Day weekend. But, this year what strikes me most powerfully is the witness of grace and forgiveness that we have experienced in the actions the people of our sister denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, as they have responded to the horrific killings at Mother Emanuel Church last month. (There is an AME congregation in Great Falls.) Rooted in faith and empowered by love, they have extended love in the face of fear, forgiveness in the face of evil and humanity in the face of unmitigated racism. They challenge us to remember that real freedom will always be found in following the way of Jesus. Their actions remind us that following Jesus really can change the world. Today I offer us excerpts of a litany, written by AME Bishop Adam J. Richardson.
Leader: “The doors of the Church are open” is an announcement regularly spoken at Emanuel Church of Charleston, known as the “Mother” of African Methodism in the Deep South.
People: O God, “The doors of the Church are still open.”
Leader: Hate and Evil – armed and dangerous – came Wednesday night to Mother Emanuel, accompanied by unfathomable horror, leaving a trail of blood and hurt across the African Methodist Connection, Charleston and the world.
People: O God, “the doors of the church are still open,” and still we believe that “We sorrow not as those who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Leader: The “Emanuel Nine” had names – and families, and lives, and careers, and places to go and things to do. They were colleagues, friends and kin: the Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney (41), the Rev. Daniel “Super” Simmons (74), the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45), Brother Tywanza Sanders (26), Sister DePayne Middleton Doctor (49), Sister Cynthia Hurd (54), Sister Myra Thompson (59), Sister Ethel Lance (70), and Sister Susie Jackson (87).
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and we affirm Your Word that “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
Leader: Our faith will not be stolen, even by violence as heinous as the assassination of nine innocent people, and the terror that left bodies wounded and souls injured among those who survived the attack.
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and “our faith looks up to Thee” and “will not shrink though pressed by every foe.”
Leader: He wanted a race war, instead there came an outpouring of love, sympathy and tears from white people;
fervent prayers offered for him by black people. With shock and anger still wafting in the air, family members amazingly spoke words of forgiveness, and the community sang together and spoke of hope. We have learned at least this much in our walk with God in Christ: “Unmerited suffering is still redemptive.”
People: O God, “The doors of the church are still open,” and we affirm the words of Christ, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27b)
To our AME brothers and sisters – thanks! Your witness to the transforming power of love and forgiveness blesses us all.

Grace and peace,
Marianne



June 28 Pastor’s Corner

 

As United Methodists from across our conference gathered in our sanctuary last week we heard the terrible news of the shooting deaths at Emmanuel American Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the striking pieces of our tradition is how we are connected to so many Christians worldwide, and in difficult moments we know we can gather in prayer and seek justice for our brothers and sisters. The Bishop has requested that we share the following prayer from Pastor Kelly Addy of Bigfork UMC, to embody our sorrow and our need for God’s love in this moment.

Dear Lord,
We come to you as your children, seeking your wisdom and patience in the midst of our bewilderment. You have made humankind so magnificently and so powerfully, but we lose our way before we can arrive at the kind of love with which you made us. We know it is there because we are the work of your hands and we ask your gentle hand to guide us to it and place it at the center of all things and nations, and races and peoples.

We gathered to learn of the riches of your abundant love, which overcomes all the violence the world can muster. And then shots rang out across this great land of hope and freedom, infecting people with fear and suspicion.

We turn to you and to you alone, as we cry out once again that we are love because you are love and we are from you. How can anyone hope to love anyone if they do not love everyone? How can anyone seek to overcome darkness with darkness? How can anyone hate anyone without hating everyone?
Turn our hearts to neither the left nor the right, but only to you. We read your Word and hear your love in it even when people in Egypt and Syria and South Carolina die for it.

We lift up:
Our brother, Honorable, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, pastor and state senator
Our sister, Cynthia Hurd, 54
Sister, Ethel Lance, 70
Our brother, Rev DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
Sister, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45
Our brother, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74
Sister, Myra Thompson, 59
Sister, Susie Jackson, 87
Brother Tywanza Sanders, 26
And our brother, the suspected shooter,
Dylann Roof, 21.

We pray for peace. We lift up those who suffer violence anywhere in the world and we do not look down on them, but up to you.

Give us your peace. Give us your love. Give us your will, abundantly as we trudge onward and upward and homeward together to you.

And when we go back into the world from this place may our light so shine that other would see the Christ in us and be led in the Way, by the Truth, to the Life Everlasting. Amen.

As we begin a new week, I invite us to hold this prayer in our hearts. May our life be a prayer that our world will see a day when racial violence and systemic hatred are no more.

Blessings,
Pastor Tyler