Sunday, October 4, 2015

World Wide Communion Sunday

Today is World-Wide Communion Sunday.  On this day people across the globe all took communion.  That might not seem like a pretty big deal, especially to churches and people who take communion every Sunday but today we are reminded that there is more then just us and more then just our church but we are apart of the greater - Church of Christ.

One member of this church once told me how important it was for them to take communion in a pew, with the small shot-glass style cup  and the individual square of bread, as oppose to dipping or drinking out of the communion cup.  She reminded me, an avid fan in which you come up to the front and drip your bread in ONE cup, that communion in the pews can be very powerful!  She stated that she sits in the pew and thinks about all the people who sat there before her and all the people who will sit there - ancestors and those she isn't related to - and it brings the communion to a deeper level. A level that goes beyond just communion with Christ but with in which brings her into community with all those past, present and future.  Powerful reminder of what communion is really about!

We are reminded today that God is bigger and greater than we can imagine. That the bride of Christ - the Church is also called to not just look within our 4 walls but to go beyond our church and into the world.  We are the body of Jesus in the world and to be such we have to look beyond ourselves and to each other.  As we hold the bread and consume the wine we are touched by Christ in our lives and in the lives of all those who call him Savior. 

Let us remember today the number of people around the world who we share in community with.  That we will always have a friend out there in them and more importantly that on this day we share in the vision of Christ as Prince of Peace offering to all the grace and love that only God can give. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What Church Should Be For Kids

"NO! Church people LIKE BATMAN!" comes booming out of our two year olds voice.  Every day he dresses as a different hero but on Sundays he prefers batman; at some point he came to believe that church people like batman best.  And so almost every Sunday he puts his batman shirt - or on some Sunday's his batman costume on - and heads to church.   Our four-year-old daughter believes that some of the church people are "her biggest fans!" Whatever that means to a four-year-old.  And so they head off to Huron.  They are happy to go to church on Sunday morning and see all the church people.  Sure it makes it more special when some of their friends, or people their age, come but in the end it doesn't matter if they are the only children they feel comfortable there.

Some might think that it is just because they are the "pastor's children" but that isn't the case.  I have seen and witnessed countless times when this congregation goes out of the way to make a children feel comfortable and welcomed in church.  Sure we have a smaller number of kids in our church but having large numbers of kids isn't what makes these children come to church when they are adults.  Statistically, the adults who felt the most welcome and safe in a church building when they were a child are the adults who come to church now.  What a powerful thought isn't it?  Some churches have giant children's programs and spend lots of time teaching children about God but they don't integrate the children into church and the children spend their childhood feeling uncomfortable with the adults.  But not here! 

A few years back we had several smaller children and in an attempt to make it easier on the parents we started offering nursery care for the whole worship service.  Imagine our (as the pastors) amazement when one of the oldest attending members with probably the worst hearing asked where the children were for the first half of church.  When we explained they were in nursery he made it a point to not only ask that they come up for church but talk to parents about how wonderful it is to see and hear children in worship service!  What a welcome.

Each year we hold a Sunday school Sunday in which the children teach the congregation a bit of what they have learned.  Each year the numbers keep getting smaller as some of our children grow up and some just grow out.  But I want to take some time to assure you that even without a large church school program, your efforts to love the children don't go unnoticed.  That the fact that you all care to know the kids by name and shake their hands during passing of the peace is witnessed.  That you all take the time to talk to the children or provide special child-friendly options at coffee hour.  And most importantly that when they come dressed as batman you accept them for who they are. 

And to all those looking for a church out there.  It isn't about picking a church with all the programs for your children to feel excluded from the body.  For studies have shown that those children don't grow up to go to church.  The most important factor to if your children will grow up and attend church is if they felt welcomed at church as a kid.  Huron makes children feel welcomed.  And they truly do make the kids feel like they have "fans" at church.  People who care about them and who care for them; people who pray for them and watch over them. 

So thanks for being our kids fans, thanks for calling our son batman, but most of all thanks for letting all the children be children.  For sitting in the walkways or floors when they are too wiggly to sit in the sits.  For screaming in the basement when they just want to be upstairs.  For sleeping under the table on the chancel when the day has been too long.  For helping them get food at a potluck so parents can have a break.  For knowing their names and showing you care. 

And finally encourage people to send their children our way.  Even if our Sunday school isn't full, it is full of people ready to love their child and show them what God's love is truly about.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love Remains and Sustains...

The Bible has a lot to say about love.  In Proverbs 17:17 we find the advice that A friend loves at all times! And in 1 Corinthians 13 we are remained of what love is. 

For the past year I have been working at a Nursing home.  As any ministry job you do learn a lot and truly see how God works in and through us.  Here is a reflection on love and a good reminder as we approach Valentines on what true love really is about.

 One of my favorite units to work in is the memory care - or the dementia unit. You never know what will happen there or what might be said.  But the reason why it is my favorite is because it is a true testimony to love and grace and how that works in the world and in our lives.

Recently I walked on the unit to find a member walking her wheel chair down the hall.  She looked like her hair hadn't been comb that morning and her face just screamed frazzled.  This was not her normal state.  This was not the loving personable resident I knew.  I stopped and addressed her (we shall call her Lilly).  I asked Lilly what was wrong.  It took her a minute to hear me but in one second her face transformed out of frazzled and into relief.  "oh good it is you!"  Does she know my name?  No.  Would Lilly even be able to state I am the Chaplain, probably not; but in that moment she recognized the safety of my face, because through love I have worked with her getting to know her.  "What is wrong Lilly?"  I repeated.  "Well you know...these people here.  Where the heck is he? Why isn't he here?  And these people!"  Soon I realized she was talking about the nurse.  The head nurse was out for the week on vacation and so there were unfamiliar faces.  She wouldn't accept their care or help.  She wanted to know where the one she knew loved her was.  Even though she didn't know his name or my name.  She knew the love that transcends the memories and works to bring peace and grace to all.

 I stand in awe of the emotion of love and how it works even when our minds have seemingly forgotten.  It is truly touching when someone with severe dementia response to a family member's presence even when they cannot verbalize or even grasp at the relationship they once had.  It is a testimony to love when familiar and loving faces can calm down even a person's worse frustrated moment because amongst the chaos of life, love can transcend that moment and send calmness into the chaos.

This is the testimony to God's love.  That even when we can't understand the world around us or what is happening - God's love can transcend the chaos and find us.  Even when we feel like all hope is lost or we feel like we are in a room of strangers - the love of God can and will lead us out into the joy of life. 

Life is not usually a picture book of fairy tales but life doesn't have to be a horror story of destruction and death.  Life can be instead a testimony to God and the work of Christ in our life.  Life can be a reflection of our relationship with Divine instead of chaos.   It is all about how we accept and allow or even more correctly how we acknowledge God working in our lives and allow this to transform us.

If love can transcend the disease of dementia and bring some sense of security and safety to people who live in a constant state of confusion and mucky memories - then imagine what God's love can do for you!  It can transcend your situation and bring you out of your tunnel vision and into the reality of Creation. 

I challenge you to watch and open yourself to the love that transcends us and paves for us the path of Divine life and Creation.  I ask you to be aware of when God is offering love above the grey of the day and shinning for you hope and light.  Even on the best of days, God's rays of love shine around us.  I challenge you each day to find that ray of love and allow it to - even if for only a moment - transcend that moment into one of thankfulness and realization.  For love is truly the best and most powerful of our emotions and it is love and not hate that remains with us.

Go and love! Go and be love!  Go and feel love! For love remains in our hearts and minds...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Anchor The Way

Once Again Anchor The Way, our alterative to Sunday morning worship will continue to meet throughout the winter.  Instead of meeting weekly on Mondays however we will meet once a month on a Sunday night.  In order to be able to reach out to all our faithful attendees and in hopes to encourage some new faces we have moved the time from 6:30 start to a 5:30 start for the winter months.