Archived Items
Use the links below to access archived copies of Sermons, Bulletins, and The Flame       (our monthly newsletter)
Prior Blogs by Pastor Leigh Ann

Getting Ready for Easter

Getting Ready for Easter
Pastor’s Ponderings – Feb 2019
The season of the Christian calendar which falls prior to our Easter Celebration is called “Lent.” Not “lint” like you find in your drier. This is different.
Every season of the year has a different quality or experience. Just like summer is usually warm and winter is usually cooler, our Christian seasons have a particular quality too.
Lent during 2019 formally begins with Ash Wednesday, which is March 6. The traditional Christian ritual associated with Ash Wednesday is receiving an ash smudge on your forehead. The ashes traditionally are the burnt palm branches used on Palm Sunday from the prior year.
Lent invites you to review your life. It’s a time to assess the ways you are feeling connected to God and your neighbors and discern what you like and what you’d like to change. Traditionally Christians have given something up for Lent, and “fasted” from something which distracted them from their spiritual life.
Contemporary Christians have new opportunities to experience the rituals leading us to Easter. Some Christians fast from one meal a day and give the money they save to a food bank or shelter or their church. Some Christians take on a new spiritual discipline for this season. A friend of mine prayed her way through the Psalms one year. Another friend began a yoga class to get more physically fit and honor the needs of her body.
This year I will be preaching a sermon series on spiritual activities that help us connect with God. These spiritual rituals will include: cleaning out and decluttering, listening to silence, giving gifts to others, creative activities like writing and travel. Done with focus and intent, we can find a new and restored relationship with God during Lent. No need to auto-pilot giving something up, maybe think of new ways to connect this year.
Lent concludes on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Holy Week is the week just prior to Easter. During that week Christians worldwide remember Jesus’ final days on earth. We remember his gift of love and life that he offered humanity. We remember the pain of his life which ended violently and with great hatred. And we remember that God does not allow pain and hate to be the final word of any story.
Easter morning is a celebration of Jesus resurrection. This is the most sacred and holy of all Christian holidays. The meaning of being Christian is bound in the joy that God overcomes tragedy with healing life. The resurrection of Jesus is a mystery which we can never fully understand. What we can trust is that God accompanies humanity through every dark place we go.
Looking forward to Lent 2019…
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw


New Year resolution? Jan. 2019

New Year resolution? 
Pastor’s Ponderings – Jan 2019
Mary Oliver asks the question, “Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This question comes at the end of a poem entitled The Summer Day. The poem feels more spiritual than religious and honors the beauty of the world. These words break open the beginning of the year and call us all into the next 12 months.
Have you thought about a New Year resolution? Have you thought about goals or wishes for 2019? Have you prayed that you would have more health, more time with family and friends, eat better or get your finances in order? If you have, you are not alone. But usually, these kinds of “resolutions” are what Mary Poppins would call a “pie crust promise, easily made and easily broken.” I wonder what the opposite of a “pie crust promise” is?
We get one body to walk around in and when that body wears out, it is our time to rest. We’ve said “good-bye” to some beloved friends and family over 2018. We’ve prayed and held hands and asked God for peace in the midst of illness. We’ve asked God’s help to get through grief and the flood of memories. We’ve told God what we think about it all and through it all you’ve supported and loved one another. The community of this church is powerful, generous and changing the world.
Our days wearing our flesh suit do not go on forever, but for the days we have, what is it that we and you are called to do? A few years back there was another fun poem getting shared around about getting old and wearing purple and a red hat. It was a buoyant, hilarious poem! I knew women who took the poem as a challenge and got together every month for lunch and wore red hats and generally had a fabulous time. They truly embraced their “one wild and precious life.”
The Psalmist proclaims, “Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth (Psalm 66:1).” This proclamation is generally taken to be for the singer, and that’s fine, but maybe it shouldn’t just be a faith statement for the musically gifted. Listen to the laughter of children. Remember the sound of a wave folding over on the beach. These are certainly joyful noises and there are so many more! Birds singing and train noises and the kitchen timer going off when a batch of cookies are finished! All joyful noises and definitely part of our precious days.
Let the world hear from you and be bold with joy! Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” The life that Jesus came to give us and the wild life Mary Oliver reflect on demand a joyful noise. It’s time to meet a new year! I pray yours is overflowing with love!
Let us have Joy and have it boldly in 2019!
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw