As you know by now, Pastor Tim and I have named this, our third year of ministry with the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren, a year to focus on hospitality. Hospitality stems from Christ’s greatest commandments to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. At the end of October, we will have a worship series on hospitality as we explore how we as a church can be more hospitable to not only the stranger who walks through our doors or through our parking lot, but to each other.
Pastor Audrey's blog
I love gardening. Pastor Tim and I are very excited that we were able to get our own personal plot at the community garden this year and spend a lot of our downtime in this space. We have already enjoyed harvesting a variety of greens and peppers, yellow zucchini, and green beans and we are looking forward to the tomatoes, carrots, squash, and eggplant to come. The growth of spring and the harvest of summer and fall feel to me like Gospel because they speak to new life and slow growth and God’s grace.
On June 1, Pastor Tim and I will have been serving with you in ministry for two years! What a journey these past two years have been. You’ll remember that in our first year of ministry together, Pastor Tim and I spent a lot of time just getting to know you. We held cottage meetings, attended many meetings, and focused on getting to know the culture of this congregation.
The Church of the Brethren ministers manual, called “For All who Minister,” defines Lent with these words: “The forty days of Lent are most frequently identified with Jesus’ fortyday fast in the desert, the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai, and Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The season of Lent focuses on discipline and penitence and is a time for increased reflection on the life, teaching, and sacrificial death of Christ.”
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go!” It was amazing to me how quickly the Christmas season came upon us this year. I was still marveling at the colors of fall and the beautiful leaves of orange, red and yellow all around me — summer was still a not-so-distant memory — and then one day I drove to church and the garland and lights were around the light posts and the Christmas tree was set-up downtown. Christmas decorations seem to be hung up in people’s homes and in stores earlier and earlier each year, which means the time of anticipation for Christmas gets longer and longer. I honestly hope this trend doesn’t make the time of anticipation and excitement less meaningful.
Starting in October, we will have a special worship series using the Living Peace Curriculum put together by On Earth Peace, an agency of the Church of the Brethren. This is a six week study that would encourage us to consider what it would look like if our congregation lived like a peace church led by God, following in Christ’s footsteps, and inspired by the Spirit. Along with these topics in worship, we invite you to join us in a daily Bible study and weekly reflection questions. The Living Peace Gathering group will also be hosting four lunch conversation opportunities in the Fellowship Hall after the 11:00 AM worship (October 11, 18, 25, and November 15) for us to continue the conversation together.
At the end of August you will have an opportunity during worship to participate in a service of anointing. Anointing is one of those things we do in the Church of the Brethren that is unique. I have profound memories of anointing at National Youth Conference held every four years. I was anointed when I was a youth at this conference and that moment initiated my first steps along my path toward ministry.
The first Sunday of May was All Music Sunday. Our two services came together into one service so that we could raise our voices and instruments in common song to our God. Praising God through music is a common topic in the Bible, especially in the Book of Psalms, which is no surprise, given that the psalms are written as an invitation to praise God in all aspects of life. The psalms are rich with heart-felt words of both sorrow and joy and speak to how we can praise God in the midst of both of these.
During the season of Lent, as many of you know by now, Pastor Tim and I have been encouraging everyone to join us on a journey through the Gospel of Mark, reading a little each day until the whole Gospel is read by Easter. Daily readings are accompanied by a few questions related to the days selection of scripture. Some of these questions may encourage personal reflection while others may invite you to enter the scripture as you relate to people’s actions or thoughts.
“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it” -- Isaiah 43:18-19a