Hagerstown Church Brethren's blog
With the arrival of warmer sunny days, I find myself thinking about fun things that I enjoy doing outside. I enjoy gardening, walking, swimming (when I have the chance), going to the beach and the occasional motorcycle ride. These activities are relaxing forms of play for me. This brings to my mind once again, a theme from an earlier time in my ministry at HCOB. It was a time of transition in pastors at the church and I was serving as your interim pastor. Transitions can be difficult; and can create some anxiety about the unknown of the future.
At the front of the sanctuary in the church that was my mother’s home church, the East Fairview Church of the Brethren, there is a large mural of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. I always loved going back to that church to worship because I got to see that powerful mural again. Seeing the mural gave me feelings of comfort and hope because it reminded me that Jesus had dark moments as he walked this earth.
It’s that time of year when many of us think about taking vacations. I know, Don and I have made some plans for vacations that we are looking forward to taking. It is a time to get away from the day-to-day routines of life; to relax and rejuvenate our bodies and spirits. Even those who are retired can benefit from a change in scenery, or at the very least, a change in routine.
“Unbelievable,” they thought… “unbelievable and impossible. How could a man that died such a painful and gruesome death possibly live again? They knew he was dead when they placed him in a dark, damp, sealed tomb. There’s no way he could be alive.”
Tis the season of Thanksgiving. Although we should express our gratitude to God year-round; we place more emphasis on it at this time of year because we have a special day on the calendar called Thanksgiving. Many of us will gather with family and friends for a delicious meal…maybe play some games or watch football…or maybe nap after gorging ourselves with turkey, known to be full of tryptophan. Ah…what a delightful day!
“What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15)
This powerful Bible verse follows the parable of “The Shrewd Manager,” which Jesus was telling his disciples. If we study the parable, we find that it asks us to consider the questions, what, or who, do we highly value? What are our passions? What motivates us to do what we do? Jesus concludes the parable by saying, “No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
I have been thinking about fear a lot lately. I thought about it often when the COVID pandemic began a year and a half ago. Then as things loosened up, and people seemed less afraid, it wasn’t on my mind so much. But, now that the virus variants have emerged and the virus rates have gone up a bit and people we know are testing positive with COVID again; fear is on the rise too.
At the time that I am writing this, we have a few weeks to go until we reach Holy Week. Our Lenten journey has us pondering what Jesus may have been feeling as he made his way to Jerusalem, knowing that it would be there that he would endure the devastating blows of suffering and the harshest punishment of the day resulting in death. We wonder why. Why did God find it necessary to let this happen? Why didn’t Jesus turn and run away?
The glow of the Christmas season continues to warm my heart; so, with gratitude beyond words, I once again thank you, God, for Jesus...the Light of the World...who brings the promise of joy and hope for all who seek Him. God of new beginnings, as this year comes to a close and a new one begins, remind me of the joys and blessings you brought to my life in the past year even though there were also times of deep pain and difficult challenges. May those good things that happened inspire me to reach for an even better and more intimate connection with you and with others. Teach me to learn from the mistakes I made so that I don't make them again. Help me to trust you more even as I continue to do battle and walk through dark valleys of hard and relentless circumstances that I cannot control. Show me how I can be helpful in serving others, and thereby, helping to build your kingdom here on earth. I choose, Most Gracious and Loving God, to enter into this new year, focused on the Light of the World and committed to your will so as to be the person you created me to be. To you, may my life, bring you honor and glory. Amen.
The Leadership team has decided to continue virtual worship for the foreseeable future. Watch your email and announcements for updated information.