Summer is such a sweet time of the year. The cherry tree behind our house has bright red, tart cherries. The orchards around Hagerstown will be advertising fresh peaches and watermelons. These fresh fruits hit the spot with delight and satisfaction on a hot summer day.
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.
Christ is Alive! After weeks of joining Jesus on the long plod to the cross and Easter morning, the time has come to celebrate. As people of faith, we join with Christians around the world celebrating the greatest event in the Christian narrative. Christ conquers death and with it, human sin. What a morning, when bleakness turns to hope for God’s good earth.
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.
We Brethren like to think we take Jesus very seriously. We say we have no creed but the New Testament; and if we had a creed within the New Testament, it would be the words of Jesus; and if we had to choose a creed out of Jesus’ words, we would probably choose the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus is incredibly important to us.
“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
Advent is upon us. This is a time of preparation and a season of waiting for our Messiah to come. We await the Christ child in the familiar Christmas story. Why do we wait so expectantly? Every year we know what happens in the story, but do we ever allow the story and our lives to converge. This is a season of hope, expectancy, waiting, and advent in our Church.
In the month of November we are going to focus on fearlessness in worship. This topic is so timely as we hear about the increase of violence not only around the world but in our own neighborhood and the increase of widespread illness. There are certainly enough voices around us telling us that it is time for us to be afraid. The uncertainty of the future can make us feel like we are out of control.
For the last month, this church has been studying together what it means to be the church. It can be far too easy to get lost in the mess of expectations for what the church should be and what it should be doing. Some might say the church should exist to help others, both near and far. Some might say the church should exist to build people up in faith and send them out to witness. Some might say the church should exist to teach the way of Jesus to children and youth. Some might say the church should be about reconciliation, standing against injustice, or restoring broken communities.
“We indeed have neither a new church nor any new laws. We only want to remain in simplicity and true faith in the original church which Jesus founded… If we remain in the teaching of the New Testament, we expect this outcome, namely, that the fulfillment of our faith will be eternal life… We cannot testify for our descendants—as their faith is, so shall be their outcome.”
~ Alexander Mack (founder of the Church of the Brethren) from “Basic Questions”