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Pastor Leigh Ann’s Monthly Blog

Food and Faith

“Food and Faith”
Pastor’s Ponderings – Sept. 1, 2018
 
“They said to him, ‘Sit, give us this bread always.” –John 6:34
 
The story of our family is told in food. The food that is put out on the dining room table in dishes and
bowls. The food that is brought home from the store or at a roadside stand. The food that perfumes the air in the morning and the evening inspires memories of the past and for the future.
 
The disciples said to Jesus, ‘give us this bread always.’ They were talking about nourishment that offers
eternal life. It could have been stale or fresh bread. We don’t know. Truthfully, the flavor and texture of the bread is only a curiosity. The most important thing is sitting with Jesus and sitting with each other and taking time as community and family to be with one another and remember. Remember who made our life and sustains us now.
 
Food literally gives us life, in addition to telling the story of our family. I was back in Texas for my Aunt’s
funeral and when in Texas, there is a lot of meat and not a lot of veggies. My Aunt was famous in our family for saying she didn’t want any salad on her hamburger. She made it to 94 and never ate what some consider healthy food. When my cousins cleaned out my Aunt’s room at the skilled nursing facility, there were 4 soda pops left in the mini-fridge. At the end of the day of celebrating and remembering her life, we shared a ‘coke’ toast in honor of Aunt Barbara. Food and family sitting around a table are signs of love and life and remembrance.
 
As August concludes and September begins, I wonder if you are ready to finish out the rest of the year. Do you have the energy to make it from now through Christmas? Do you have the patience to love your neighbor as you love yourself? It has been a very busy first half of the year and I confess I’m still pretty tired and my calendar for the rest of the year looks full already. I’m sure yours is also!
 
I read today that Starbucks is going to bring out their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes a week early this year. It
makes my heart happy that Fall is almost here. That means time for sitting with family for special meals is also almost here. But, why wait for the end of the year to reconnect for a special gathering. Why wait until there is a special moment to tell the story of how much your family belongs to each other. With everything crowded on the calendar, let’s not forget making time for a meal or just a cup of your favorite beverage with the people you call family. Make memorials and tell stories with each other. Let’s not lose what is most precious to us in this world.
 
Grace,
Pastor Leigh Ann

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Time, Talent, and Treasures

Time, Talents, and Treasures – Pastor’s Ponderings Aug. 14, 2018

Time, Talents and Treasures.  When you become a member of a congregation, a church family, you commit to support that congregation with your time, your talent and your treasures.  It is a commit you make with a group of people who are also committed to serving God and loving neighbor. In response, the church commits to continue leading you to God, and doing the work of God in the world.  Together, we invest in God’s love for the world, now and into the future.

Time represents the time you commit to being present in worship, offering prayer for people, situations and God’s creation.  Time is an allocation of hours to attend committees and teams that do God’s work. Time is the minutes you give to serve food to the hungry, teach a class or make a phone call.  Time is the tick-tock that you use to review grant requests and vote to give money to great organizations.

Talents represent the skills and experience you bring to the work we do for God.  Talents include your ability to create a website, count money on Monday mornings, call the phone company and straighten out the church phone bill, teach children the Gospel love of Jesus.  Talent is the particular training you have that others may not have. Your talent is creativity, imagination, artful, in front of others and behind the scenes.

Treasures represent your financial or monetary resources.  Treasures are what pays for class resources, staff hours for music, and counseling, the building upkeep and cleaning carpeting, the air conditioning, the lights, the paper we print the order of worship on.  Treasures pay for childcare on Sunday mornings. Treasures are green, plastic, and paper inscriptions from your bank account and stock accounts. Treasures are also the materials and snacks and supplies you bring to our work.

Time, Talents and Treasures are essential in a productive, faithful church doing the work of God with one another and in the world.  The church is alive to be God’s hands and feet in the world. Anyone asking what the church offers them and their life, doesn’t understand the purpose of the church of God.  If you are going to the church to get what you can get, you don’t understand the work of a church.

The purpose and mission of a church are about following in the steps of Jesus who fed the hungry, cared for the poor, reached out to the widows.  The work of Jesus was not centered on keeping the friends of Jesus safe and comfortable. Sometimes, some churches, become more focused on themselves, and keeping things going then reaching out into the world to be Jesus.  Our church’s mission is to build relationship of justice, faith and hospitality to bring God’s love to all people. It can only happen when you use your time, talents and treasures to support this work.

I attended a church membership class when I was a teenager.  The pastor told us, ‘you will get out of church life what you put into church life.’  In friendship and marriage, we bring our time, talents and treasures out of love for each other and experience the blessings for that commitment.  It is the same with your church family. Thank you for all you do to share our common vision of faithful living for making this world a better place.  And thank you for your generous commitment to this congregation with your time, talents and treasures!

Pastor Leigh Ann


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Work Redefined

“Work Redefined”
Pastor’s Ponderings – August 1, 2018
“For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard. Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest.” –Exodus 23:10-12
If you were to look ‘work’ up in a dictionary, you’d find a definition along the lines of ‘doing something for someone for pay.’ The word ‘work’ is often associated with drudgery and ‘the salt mines,’ and ‘the overlord boss,’ and ‘struggle.’ Work is transactional. Do something to get something. At least this is how it has been for our culture for the last 100 years or so. Work is not often associated as a life-giving, joyous experience.
 
What is your idea or concept of work? We have many folks who are retired in our congregation and you often say things like, ‘I’m busier now than when I worked.’ I often count the years I have until I retire and imagine the time I will have to teach Sunday school and hike and camp and travel. Sometimes we imagine work as something we have to get through in order to get on to the things we want to do. We treat our life as if it isn’t our own but controlled by someone else.
As I flip through the scriptures and think about how the Bible defines ‘work,’ I find Psalm 136 that talks about God’s work in creation and in history. “O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good, and God’s steadfast love endures forever.” The work of God is defined by love and creation. Over and over the Psalmist repeats, “God’s steadfast love endures forever.” The Bible presents God’s work as giving love to humanity and all of creation. The Bible reflects God’s work in creation and Jesus’ work of redemption, and God hasn’t retired yet. God’s still at work also.
The Holy Spirit is God’s continuing ‘worker-bee’ in our world today. The Holy Spirit is getting it done by planting passion and curiosity in our hearts. The Holy Spirit stirs in us a drive to do justice, love kindness and act with humility. As we look around and hear stories of immigrants and hurting families broken up and violated at the border, that stir in your heart to ‘do something’, is the Holy Spirit at work. As we yell at the television and pray for the boys who got trapped in the cave in Thailand, that’s the Holy Spirit at work. This work that the Holy Spirit calls us to isn’t drudgery but life giving and grace-filled. This work we are challenged to isn’t transactional, but generous. In giving ourselves to the service of God, we do God’s work in creation and build relationships that bring healing and hope.
The world defines work in shades of power and control, but God defines work as life-giving and life-sustaining and joyful. It is time to remember that God calls us to different work than the world does and in the midst of that work, God also challenges us to take Sabbath and rest. Just as God rested from Creation on the seventh day, we are also called to make time to be renewed in body and spirit. I hope you are taking time to rest this summer and play a little.
Whether you are in church or taking a vacation, the work of God continues here. But it can’t happen without your generous gifts and financial support. Thank you for all you do! Our Church has a vision of what God calls us to do as we feed people, care for one another and grow faith. Our Church has a MAP for the future, but it can’t be enacted without YOU! Please prayerfully continue the God-work you are called to in the Fall. We are blessed by the Life of Jesus and called to give life to others! May it be so today and always.
Pastor Leigh Ann

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“Make A Difference” Community Partner Faire
Join us before or after worship on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018 for an opportunity to visit with our COMMUNITY Partners.
Get to know organizations that are doing amazing work in our community and around the world! This is your opportunity to Connect with our Community Partners! 
See Beth Brainard Hallock for more information.
 
Women’s Retreat 2018
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Retreat includes special guest speaker, Rev. Faith Conklin, worship, prayer, lunch, talks on spiritual practices that bring us closer to God and fellowship with Christian women, such as yourself. Don’t miss out.
 
 
Trunk or Treat 2018
Friday, October 26, on the Upper Lawn from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. The event is free of charge to any who would like to come. Trunk or Treat presents us with a wonderful opportunity to provide a fun and safe place for holiday celebration for our community! While our event is free, donations of new adult socks are welcome. These items will be donated each week to individuals in need at our “and 2 Fishes” weekly meals.
 
Support the Student Ministry Food Drive,
On Sunday, Oct. 28, costumed students will collect your canned goods and non-perishable items for the Vista Teen Outreach. These items will help replenish the food cupboards that feed families in need across our community.