Pastor’s BLOG

Lent 2020

As we embark on our 40 day Lenten Journey, many of us may practice the Lenten discipline of giving up something. One of my daughters has decided to give up social media for Lent. I think she will be a much less stressed and happier person because of it! Other people will give up desserts or sodas or some other food or beverage. Many of our Catholic and Episcopalian brothers and sisters will give up eating red meat on Fridays.
I have clergy friends who instead of giving something up decide to add something to their observance. One of them purchases a can of food for each day of Lent. At the end of the 40 days, these food items are given to the local food pantry. Another friend makes a weekly visit to a retirement home.
I have two suggestions for practices that you can add that would help Lent be a meaningful time of spiritual growth. The first is scripture reading. Pick one Gospel and read a half a chapter a day. Add to this one of the proverbs from the Old Testament that corresponds with the day of the month. Before you read, ask that God would open your heart to be taught something in your reading. This practice will take less than 10 minutes a day and will be encouraging to you.
The second suggestion is to choose a person who will be your Lenten prayer buddy. Ask that person to commit to praying for you for 40 days during Lent as you will commit to praying for that person. If you want, ask for specific prayer requests. Other wise, just use this simple prayer:

Lord, grant (name) and me the grace today to commit our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ without reservation; and furthermore grant (name) and me the grace to know your strength and your guidance this day.
If you do any or all of these intentional practices, you will find the next 40 days to be enriching to your faith and a great preparation for your Easter celebration on April 12th.
May each of you have a holy Lent!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

Three Tasks for 2020

For my first sermon of the year, I shared with the congregation Paul’s words to the Thessalonians about how their faith had been noticed by the world. He wrote. “For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming” (1 Thessalonians 1: 9-10). Paul commended them for turning from idols to serve the living God and to wait for Jesus.
I suggested that these three movements would be a good plan for each of us in the coming year!
First, let us each turn away from idols.
Now most of us don’t have a problem worshiping little statues that we attribute divine powers to; however, there are many things in our culture that clamor for our time and attention…things that can pull us away from a complete devotion to Jesus Christ. These could be behaviors, activities, or attitudes that are not good for us or pleasing to God. My suggestion is to choose one thing that diverts your attention or effort from growing in Christ and replace it with something that draws you closer to Christ.
Secondly let us serve the living God.
Ask yourself, “what am I currently doing to serve God and be a beacon for Jesus?” Then think about adding one new servant activity in the year to come. Or perhaps you might reflect on how you can take what you are already doing to a higher level. Whatever your decide, the idea is to be intentional about growing in service to God.
Finally, let us wait on the Lord Jesus.
For us in the 21st Century, I interpret this to mean adding a practice that enables you to spend more time in the presence of Jesus. Perhaps this could be a commitment to read through the Bible in a year or increasing the time you spend in quiet reflection and prayer before the Lord.
It is my belief that if each of us would take up this call to turn, serve, and wait in the coming year, we would see God more clearly working in our lives and in this world.
May each of you have a wonderful 2020!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

Christmas Comes

As I have reflected on the state of our world today, it is enough to get so discouraged. The division and hatred is so great that it makes one wonder the same thing as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who wrote,

And in despair I bowed my head;
There is no peace on earth, I said;
For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! (from Christmas Bells).
Yet, I am reminded that, even in the midst of the turmoil, Christmas still comes. Every time we see the work of God in another person; every time a kind word is said; every time a loving deed is done; Christmas light breaks into a darkened world! Christmas comes!
We have a part to play in making the story of Christmas come alive in our world. We each are one of the Christmas lights who shine to make this world a better place. So let us speak kind words, do loving deeds, and be the hands and feet of Christ in another person’s life.
Through our lives let us proclaim:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to [all]. (from Christmas Bells).
Merry Christmas to All!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

God Meets Us

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!
One of the lessons we learn from the Christmas story is that God will be revealed where God wants to be revealed, and many times that will be where we least expect it.
Ask Elijah. He had run away from those who were seeking his life and had taken refuge in a cave when God came to him in a “still quiet voice.”
Ask Moses. He was busy shepherding his sheep when God came to him in a burning bush.

Ask Paul. He was on the road to Damascus with plans to round up Christians when Jesus met him on that road with a blinding light.
We make a point to come to church during the Advent / Christmas season in order to be closer to God. We have choir cantatas, children’s pageants, and candlelight services to help create an atmosphere where we can experience God and the warmth of Christian fellowship. And this is all good! I surely love all of our traditions and Christmas events.
But let us remember that God is not limited to our humanly crafted experiences. God will come to us where God chooses to come to us; and sometimes, the places where God will meet us will be surprising to us. Who would have thought that the savior of the world would have been born in a stable and placed in a manger in a small town in Bethlehem? Yet, he was!
So while we may experience the presence of God in all of our church services and activities this year, let us not forget to open our eyes to the ways that God will be revealed in the unexpected places out on the roads of our lives. Perhaps God will come to you in a kind word of a stranger, or a phone call from an old friend, or the smile of a child. It may be subtle, so be looking!
I wish you all a blessed and happy Advent!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee