Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas Unfolds

Watching Christmas unfold through the eyes of children is truly a special sight.  When my oldest was three, we were traveling through New York City.  And there outside one of the train stations we came upon a giant Christmas Tree.  With wide wondrous eyes, she exclaimed “WOW this is a lot of Christmas here!”  She was overwhelmed by the display as it was bigger than anything else she had seen.  Every year since with bright awestruck eyes she points out every decorated Christmas tree she sees.  And that is just one beautiful example of Christmas decorations – there are plenty: from snowmen to Rudolph. From snow globes to stockings; from wreaths to poinsettias; this is the holiday for decorating.  Stores begin putting Christmas decorations up earlier and earlier each year – now as early as September.  But whenever they get taken out and put up the tradition of decorating during this season is contagious.  Some may decorate for Easter and fewer yet will decorate for lent, advent, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and no one ever decorates their home for occasions like Pentecost.  But Christmas is the one Christian holiday we all do.

And so we celebrate the birth of the baby with such color and excitement that it is easy to forget that Jesus’ beginning was anything but.  In fact one might consider his entrance into this world to very dull.  It is pretty specular that from such a humble birth God’s wonder was revealed to be bigger then we all imagined.  That through the simple baby God’s grace was brought into this world.  Mary delivered a baby whose life was bigger than she could imagine – trusting God she pondered all these prophesies in her heart.  And a simple little package, a humble baby wrapped in bands of cloth lying the manger became the greatest gift we come to know on Earth – our Savior Christ! WOW

No wonder we want to spread this message of love, hope, joy and peace through cheer and decoration; through vivid colors and bright presents; through bows and packages bright until our awestruck eyes glimmer with joy exclaiming “Merry Christmas One and All!” 

Today, we heard the Good News of Luke – the angels spoke to the awestruck Shepherd who in wonder and amazement thought “wow, that was an angel – could this be real?” And in that moment they searched in order to find, the greatest gift of all, the infant Savior.

But the greatest decorations and the brightest and biggest packages under the tree are triumphed when we remember what is offered to us through our faith and trust in Christ.  You see the Shepherds who were tending their sheep believed and followed the angels instructions and came upon the infant and with awestruck eyes the angels truth was told. 

It would have been pretty incredible to be one of those shepherds to have witness the angel speak and the heavenly host singing praises.  That would have been a sight for sure and surely enough to make one believe…but unfortunately none of us are old enough to have been witness that.  And yet we still believe! None of us saw the infant Jesus wrapped and lying in a manger and YET we have come to know Christ in our own ways and have come to feel his love and to believe.  One does not have see to believe one has to feel to know.  And we have all felt the love of Christ throughout our lives. 

Sometimes God’s love seems as big and bright and as full as our Christmas decorations.  There are many “big” events in our life in which we are sure that God grace is filling our hearts and we know that the presence of the Holy is here.  But much of our lives is pretty ordinary.  Much of our lives isn’t spent in anticipation of God’s grace, isn’t spent with decorations reminding us of his love.  Much of our lives isn’t spent believing without doubt. 

The shepherds left Mary and her infant knowing that the things the angel told them were true and they came to pass.  Mary was left pondering all that had happened in her heart.  This Christmas let us remember that through a humble beginning God brought us the greatest gift of all – through an ordinary women God’s son was born.  Without lights or presents Jesus was born into this world on a dark evening vulnerable and without shelter. 

Whatever we may be without this Christmas season let us be filled with the love that God had for us knowing that he sent his only son to come to know humanity not for the awestruck wonder of our lives sometimes but for the quiet and vulnerable moments that make up most of our lives.  And that the biggest present doesn’t fit under the tree and can’t be wrapped for it is God’s grace and mercy.  Let us accept the amazing grace that is the Christ Child and spread the love of God now and forever knowing and pondering that God has even more planned for us.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Move over pumpkin spice, it is still apple season!

I recently saw a post on FB that said something along the line of "apple, the original pumpkin spice."  It was suppose to be a knock on the latest trend of people searching out pumpkin spice, even the gas stations are now offering pumpkin spice coffee.

But let's face it we live in the heart of apple county.  My children teeth on apples and at this year's NY State Fair our youngest fell asleep in his stroller with an apple in his hand!  Nothing, not even pumpkin pie, beats a good apple pie and the smell of apples are what truly bring me into my fall season.  Others can have their pumpkin spice but I prefer to stop and smell the apples.

We often call summer our "busy" time but when fall begins and school starts and Sunday school starts and everything else starts I look back at what I thought was a "busy" summer and think - wow I had so much time to relax!  Life is truly busy.  No matter what time of year we are busy people living in a world that brings with it stress and worries. 

Some people choose to live into the world and forget about the fact that God doesn't sit on a pretty chair just relaxing but instead can and does do for us.  When we remember to not live of this world but live in this world a disciple of Christ our lives do get better.  When we remember to take a look at what God has done for us, we live lives that much more grateful.  When we have a relationship with the Divine, the busy doesn't seem so overwhelming. 

Yet the temptation to forget about God is all around us.  The temptation to give into this world sits in front of us.  I encourage you this season to stop and remember God.  To give God a nod or two and lift up your relationship - knowing and being assured that through this relationship you are able to find hope, love, courage, joy and most importantly grace.  Trusting in God gives us opportunities we didn't know existed.  Live into the Kingdom this fall and find the grace that abounds through our lives!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August Newletter message

Throughout the summer months the church is in Ordinary Time.  And it does seem pretty ordinary; summer with the hot long days that get filled to the brim with the comings and goings of all the ordinary things of life.  Sure there are some highs and lows in our summer with vacations and memories but most summers are ordinary.  In fact most of our life can seem pretty ordinary.  But Ordinary time in our church is anything but ordinary.  It is the time in our church calendar that we hear the Word both written and preached about how we respond to God in our life.  How do WE respond to God in our life?  The non-ordinary times of our calendar year we are either hearing about Jesus, anticipating Jesus, making room in our hearts for Jesus, accepting Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or celebrating the triune God.  But not now, now it is about how we go about in our ordinary lives incorporating our Christian identity.  And what better time than one of the busiest seasons? What better time for us to be focusing on responding to God in our life than when we are in the midst of full days?  I know that at the end of a busy summer day I think to myself I don't think I could have fit anything else in!  And yet God is calling us, reminding us and giving us this time to do just that - to make sure there is room for God in our lives. This Ordinary time runs 32-33 weeks a year (depending on the calendar dates for the Baptism of the Lord and Epiphany Sunday).

I am reminded of the passage in Joshua 24 that proclaims "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord".  During Advent we prepare ourselves for Christ to come into the world, at Lent we work on our personal relationship with God and on Easter we celebrate in Salvation. Now we are called to respond in the world as a Christian, as someone with a relationship to God, as someone who serves the Lord.  On Sunday we listen to sermons that show us how to live in response to God, we hear about Mary and Martha, we hear about the Good Samaritan, we hear about those Jesus healed, we learn how to pray and most importantly we learn that responding to God means more than just having a relationship to God during the Holy times but means that in all that we do, in all that we speak, we serve the Lord.  When life is busy, God is there; when days are full, God is here; when life gets messy, God is there; when life got scary; God is there.  I would say this is true “more than ever" but I think the better way to say this is: as always it is important to invite God into our lives.  For with God comes a message of hope, a feeling of love, moments of joy, a sense of peace, grace that abounds and love that remains.

This Summer has been more than just "ordinary" we will forever remember the loss that has come to our nation with the loss of lives at the hands of others, at the losses in the world around us (Paris and Turkey to name a few) and at the great sense of political divide.  We could easily let the cares of the world overwhelm us.  We could easily let the negative rhetoric engulf our hearts.  We could easily fall into the trap of shutting the door to God.  We could easily think God doesn't care.

But God does care!  God does not abandon.  God does not cease loving us.  God is good.  God offers grace and love.  God offers hope and peace.  God offers love and light.  God offers with open arms ready to engulf with a love that is strong and a light that can blind. But the ball is in our court.  We must respond to God.  We must be able to respond in the world, in our daily lives to our Christian identity.

        We are being asked by God to be more than just those who wait for the baby in a manger; more than those who celebrate a birth through the joy of gift giving; more than those who long for a relationship or who celebrate a rising.  We are called to be more than those who sit and receive the Holy Spirit but those who respond to that gift.  Now is the time, as it is always, to respond to the world showing that God is good and that God comes with a message of hope, a feeling of love, moments of joy, a sense of peace, grace that abounds and love that remains.  We are meant to be the light in the world of darkness shining the way to the house of God.  We are meant to proclaim that we will not let the weight of the world or the evil that seems to be consuming it break us from serving our Lord and trusting in our faith.  Let us go out and let the light of God shine!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Let us not lose hope

Romans 12:9-21

9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.



With the violence that we have experienced and felt recently we need to uphold this passage.  It is not time to fall into the trap of proclaiming fear is bigger than God.  It is not time to leave behind all we know in fear.  It is not time to be proclaiming that this is "the worst" it has ever been.  Throughout history we as humanity have stood in the doorway of bad times and seen some pretty evil things.  Throughout history we have at moments or two believed we were living in the "most" violent or "worst" of times and yet we have learned that there is more for the human story than we can imagine. 


Let us also remember that throughout our Bible there are people/ places that must overcome in order to be.  I am reminded of Jacob who wrestled with God at the river banks.  There the two wrestled until Jacob's hip was hurt.  This was on the eve of Jacob returning home to a land that he stole from his brother and to a brother he betrayed.  He didn't know what he was going to face the next day, he didn't know what he was walking into and yet he did not let fear stop him.  The injury he sustained from his wrestling with God he lived with forever.  A clear reminder, but God blessed him on that river bank and offered him new life, new hope.   Whatever or wherever our journey has lead us or leads us, the scars we pick up along the way stay with us; we can let them define us or we can move forward to new life and new happiness.  We as humanity can and do reflect on the moments in our history where evil seemed to out weight good; and yet goodness has prevailed.  We have come out with a scar or two, but we through strength and courage prevailed.


These moments when it feels that evil is taking over and we are wrestling with God over the big question "why?" Let us not fail to remember that for those who give into God's will; turn over the power to God and listen, great hope comes.  That for those who listen to the wise words in Romans and do not let evil overcome their hearts but instead find ways to love faith prevails.  Jacob after being wounded was blessed and when he encountered his brother later that day was embraced by love.  A powerful example of good overcoming wrong doings and yet the physical limitation that plagued Jacob was a reminder to him of his flight.  We might always remember 2016 as a time of loss and racial divide in this country; and France will certainty remember these horrible moments, as we remember 9/11; but that doesn't mean that all hope is lost.  It doesn't mean that evil has taken over this world, nor should we let it.


Take the time today to do good.  To allow God to move in your heart and soul.  To overcome the hatred in your heart with love and most importantly to remove yourself from this moment in time to trust in the grandeur of creation, knowing and believing in good, in God.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

In response to Sunday

When the unthinkable happens we are left with many questions. Most will never get answers, some answers will open themselves to more and much will be left to speculation.   This never sets well with us, as humans we have a drive for everything to make sense – for our world to make sense.  Probably this goes back to our days of survival – we needed to know what to expect so that we could always be prepared.  One thing about the world we live in, we can never know for sure what is going to happen.  We can however, be sustained by the assurance of God.  For all the earthly things that leave us broken, God’s grace and our faith can make us whole.

I am reminded of the psalms 42 and 43 in which the psalmist is longing for God.  We hear that the psalmist once had a strong relationship and in these moments in which they feel God has abandoned them they hold strong to the memories of their faith.  These psalms have the beautiful language of the soul longing for God and the reminder that: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.”  It might feel that God has abandoned us during times of chaos, fear or anger.  It might feel the terror is rising above or hate is breaking through the love of God but our soul knows the truths.  Our souls knows that the Divine Presence does not abandoned us at our moments of need but instead walks this path with us: lifting us up, giving us courage and most importantly allowing for moments of grace to befall upon the moments of darkness.  As the psalmist points out, the Holy is our rock and where we take our refuge.  God was not in the evil act that was committed; the Divine however was in present in this disaster and in the works of people following this crime.

No one deserved to die on Sunday mornings mass shooting.  No one human has ever or will ever have the write to judge another human for their actions; or worse to reign down punishment.  No matter what your stance on the Bible and the GLBT community, this was not an action God would tolerate. 

In Matthew 5 beginning at verse 38 Jesus speaks about his commandment to “love.”  Jesus pushes the boundaries of his teachings but proclaiming to his disciples that they need to even love their enemies.  He reminds them that pagans love their neighbors, tax collects even love their own for loving your own is easy; what the Sustainer is asking is that you love everyone, even your enemy.  Powerful words.  In a sea of religious misconceptions and a nation that politics are trying to divide us, trying to create an “other” (an enemy or an escape goat), it is pretty easy to love and to be nice to those who are in our “in” group but we are called to love in those “outside” ourselves.  We are called to love all.  We are called to prove ourselves better than the world and worthy of the other worldly Kingdom. 

And here is our test.  In moments like this, moments when our world becomes uncertain and terror strikes our heart; in moments when we fear the loss of those we love and we mourn for the grief of lives taken, we are called to response not out of hate but love.  We are called to not respond with words that create enemies but actions that show evil can’t break the love of God.  We are called not to rationalize what happen but to grieve, rebuild and emerge out of the ashes.  We are called not to create a new enemy but to show love to those in pain.  We are called to change our lives so that perhaps we can be the change that ensures this never happens again. 

If only we lived in a world were truly everyone was accepted.  Where religion, sexual orientation or life choices didn’t define us but instead all saw the light of God in each other.  All saw the possibility of the other instead of being fearful of the other.  Yes this sounds like a place we can’t imagine.  Yes this sounds not possible or worse a pipe dream, but if we start with ourselves and our corners of the world perhaps one day love can shine through the darkness.  Until then, at the moments of tragedy, we look towards God, who is our rock, who is where we find refuge and we long for the moments in which we feel the love warm us.  We watch for the moments in which strangers helped strangers and God was there.  We seek the face of Christ in the lines of people offering blood to help the injured.  We hear God’s voice in the companies who offer support for families to reunite with loved ones or to say their good-byes.  We feel the Holy moving as miracles happen and people survived.  We know the courage it took for some to leave messages to love ones and the Arms of God that help hold them up. 

Let us come together not to lift up the man who took the lives nor the reasons of hate and terror that seeded the event; instead let us lift up the people who lost their life to this act.  Let us remember what true evil causes.  Let us take a step back from our own life and see where we spread seeds of hate, anger, fear and oppression and let us stand together to stop this.  To love all knowing that our commandment from Jesus is to do just that.  Following Jesus is not an easy task, it never was; it shouldn’t be mainstream!  Following Jesus means taking up all this teachings and truly changing not only ourselves but the world in which we live.  Let us as our soul longs for a relationship with God, long for a world in which love instead of evil prevails.  Today – let us take the charge to change ourselves and be better; show one more person we love them; take that extra mile for one more co-worker; honk less at that slow person in front of us; give that person a smile in the grocery store; say hello to that child on your way; and most importantly continue to live into the faith your Rock has called you too.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

and just like that....

And just like that... all changes!

I can't imagine the emotional roller coaster Jesus' disciples have been on. Jesus death, the fear of their own lives and then Jesus' resurrection and commission to go out and spread the news.  Wow!

This truly proves that in an instant life can change and it is in this instants of change that we need to turn to God for strength.

No matter how much we prepare, we are never prepared for those moments.  Jesus prepared  his disciples for his death.  He spoke about how he must die and yet when it happened they didn't know what to do.  No matter how plainly he said it, when it happened they acted just as anyone of us would have - not sure what to do next.  We see this in all the Gospels - weather they don't believe the woman, the woman are afraid to tell people about the empty tomb, Jesus finds his disciples in a locked room or it takes weeks for them to begin spreading the Word.  The disciples just didn't know how to respond to the death and resurrection of Christ.

In an instant their life changed.  They went from following Christ, to fearing their life, to watching him die, to learning he rose.   Our life can often change.  We spend much of our life living ordinary lives and living into routines and when that is challenged or changed we often find ourselves in the same state of lost.  But we are called to look upon our faith. We are called to look to our God for strength and we are reminded of the grace of Christ.

Look to God this day for strength.  Look to God in prayer and allow the grace of God to give you hope and light in all situations.

Life might be full of uncertainty but if you keep your faith and place God as your center then you don't need a life full of certainty for you have a God that anchors you, encourages you and most of all fills you with hope!  Let that shine in your hearts today!

Sunday, January 31, 2016


“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing
 a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making
 a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” 
                                                                                            (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Huron has had a great year! We experienced some growth this year with the welcoming of Pat Goodsell; while sadly losing two valued members, Dick Palmer and Don Eygnor. We have continued to move forward. Borrowing from the success of our outdoor services, we will be hosting a Presbytery Meeting this May.  This will be the farthest north a Presbytery Meeting will have been held in more than five years that I have been serving. It will, of course, be held outside.  It is hoped this will inspire other small churches to host Presbytery meetings, breaking these meetings out of their mold. 

We were pivotal in starting Jesus Spoke, a bicycle clinic in downtown Wolcott, providing a number of the volunteers, equipment and financing. We will be moving forward with it again this year and hopefully reaching out to the community for youth volunteers.  The past year I have served as Vice-Chair of General Council.  Starting this month, I am now serving as the chair. All pastors are called to service for the work of the Presbytery and this is a great honor to be asked to fill.  However, I am always on the lookout for ways of furthering my outreach here at the church, reaching out to members or non-members. With your help, I am hopeful that we can draw our circle wider and reach out to draw people into a new relationship with God.  Huron is a wonderful light in this community with its mission and outreach. The question for us this year is not how we can expand that but how can we expand our ministry to those that need a welcoming community.  How can we invite more people in and be a new thing for new people?  We’ve been making streams. Let us now bring people in to rest and hope.