Friday, February 27, 2015

Pastor's Letter - February 27, 2015

Dear Friends,

I remember during my teen years, and into college, listening to comedy albums. (Yes, I am dating myself.) One of my favorite comedy “bits” was George Carlin talking about “stuff” and how we had too much stuff and the extraordinary things we do to acquire more stuff and then to maintain, store, and keep our stuff safe. We are full of stuff. Yet, while we are full, does that mean we are satisfied? If we say that “yes” we are satisfied, then why do we keep obtaining more? Why do we still hunger for more?

Jesus realizes the hungers in our lives. We hunger for food,  for attention, for power, for money, for possessions, and yet, rather than sate our appetites, these often  do not bring us satisfaction. In the midst of our hungering, Jesus says something extraordinary:  I AM the bread of life.  But unlike ordinary bread, that we can eat until we are full, but in a few hours are hungry again; Jesus offers us something, that when we take into our lives, we need never be hungry again. We will reflect more on this in worship this Sunday.

I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. Please continue to pray for the mission of Buckhall UMC:  to make disciples of Jesus Christ, or as we learned in our recent planning session, we are “disciples making disciples.”

Yours in Christ,
Linda

PS – How are you observing this season of Lent?  How are you seeking to draw closer to Jesus Christ?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pastor's Letter - February 20, 2015

Dear Friends,

Think for a moment about someone who you consider to be a close friend. I imagine that your closeness in relationship didn't begin right away. That closeness developed as you spent time together, learned more about each other, and had some shared experiences together. Through that affection, and trust your relationship deepened to where you would call that person a close friend. A close friend is someone who cares about you, who "gets" you , supports you, and who loves you, even in those times when you are less than loveable.

We all yearn to be known, to be understood, and in that knowing – to be accepted, just the way we are. That is how God responds to us. God knows us, understands us, supports us, and loves us. But what do we know about God? What kind of time do we spend with God? What experiences have you had with God? How have you felt God's love toward you? How do you show your love for God?

The "knowing" of God is a life-long journey, but it is a made easier because this God wants us to know him. This Sunday we begin our Lenten journey toward "knowing" God more deeply.

I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. Please pray for how God is calling you to serve in Buckhall's mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Linda

Friday, February 13, 2015

Pastor's Letter - February 13, 2015

Dear Friends, 
When have you experienced a mountain-top moment?  A moment when you felt gloriously close to God?   Or was there a time when you witnessed the majesty of God and were overcome with awe?   Those moments ground us in realization of the awesomeness of God.  
Those moments that can deepen our faith.  With each encounter with God, we gain a glimpse of yet another facet of who God is and, also, gain a deeper understanding of who we really are.  
It is a mountain top moment that we read about in the Gospel according to Mark,  that leads us into the season of Lent.  Lent is a season of preparation; where we prepare our hearts to draw closer to God, and allow God’s grace to renew us.  
Mountaintop moments don’t happen all the time. But, the good news is that the God we encounter in those mountaintop moments, is the same God who walks with us every day, all day long.   As we move through the season of Lent, how will you allow God to walk closer to you?  
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday.  Please continue to pray for the mission of Buckhall United Methodist Church:  To make disciples of Jesus Christ.  
Yours in Christ,
Linda 
PS:  Join us for the  Ash Wednesday service at 7:00pm, February 18th .   

Your input is needed for the upcoming church planning session this Thursday, February 19th.  We will begin with dinner at 6:00pm and then move into the planning.   This session will be led by the Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert who serves in the Bi-District office in Leadership Development and Church Revitalization.  Please let us know you will attend by e-mailing.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pastor's Letter - February 6, 2015

Dear Friends,
For the past 3 weeks I have been wearing the same 7 pieces of clothing – not at the same time; and yes, they have been laundered frequently.   I am engaged in a clothing “fast,” where I have limited my clothing choices to 7 items – 2 pairs of pants, 2 sweaters, 1 dress, and  2 tops.  I am allowing myself a coat, a scarf, and two different pairs of shoes, as well as my wedding band, a watch, and 1 pair of earrings (oh, yes, and underwear) .    I am doing this because of an increasing uneasiness over how much excess I have and I was prompted to this examination after I read the book, “Seven, an experimental mutiny against excess, “  by Jen Hatmaker.  This is the book that we will use for a Lenten book discussion, as we will gather at Panera’s.    No, I am not doing this on my own, but with a clergy friend. 
What have I learned so far?  With fewer options, I spend less time deciding what I will wear. With 7 options, I have to be vigilant about doing laundry (no going 2 weeks).  I realize how many pieces of clothing I haven’t worn in years (some due to weight loss/gain);   and how much I impulse buy - that top on sale?  Sold!, and then it sits in the closet.   I also realize that though I have pared down, there is more I can give away and perhaps help someone else.    
The understanding behind a fast is that as we forego something, we create space to experience an increased awareness of God.  It allows us to shift our priorities from our preoccupation with our “stuff,” in order to focus more on our life with God.   As we let go of “things,” we are hopefully taking steps toward Christ-like simplicity.
So I ask for your prayers as I continue on this journey of “fasting.”   This clothing “fast” will continue for another week and then at the start of Lent, I will begin a fast where I will limit my food items to “seven.”  I am in discernment about what this will look like. 
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday.  Please continue to pray for the mission of Buckhall UMC:  to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ,

Linda

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pastor's Letter - January 30, 2015

Dear Friends,

One of my all-time favorite musicals is "A Chorus Line."  In that musical is a favorite ballad, "What I Did for Love."  While the musical chronicles the challenges and heart-aches of going through an audition on stage;   its plot includes each performer telling their story of how they got "here", auditioning on a Broadway stage.   Their stories are powerful, moving, and funny.  In a sense, their stories tell what they each "did for love"  -  of dance and performing;  the sacrifices they had to make along the way, the support, or lack-thereof, from their families. 

This Sunday, we will reflect on "what we do for love" as people of faith.  The apostle Paul teaches that what we do as followers of Jesus is to be done "out of love;" - love of God, and love for another.   Along the way, we will face challenges,   and have to make sacrifices, but Paul would tell us that it is all worth it.   "What we do for love" is what gives our life meaning and purpose. 

I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. Please continue to pray for the mission of Buckhall United Methodist Church:  To make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Yours in Christ,
Linda

PS – During the season of Lent (February 18th  April 4th), we will have a particular mission focus:  Imagine No Malaria.   It is an initiative of the United Methodist Church to reduce deaths due to malaria by providing specially treated nets for use during the night, when mosquitoes swarm.  90% of the deaths due to malaria are among children under 5 yrs. old and nets significantly reduce that number.   A net costs $10.00, and Buckhall’s Mission Commission is asking each person to prayerfully consider purchasing a net by donating $10.00.  Checks can be made out to the church, designating (Nets for Malaria).  Our goal is to provide 100 nets.   If you have any questions, please contact me (Pastor Linda).  Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pastor's Letter, January 23, 2015

Dear Friends,
There is a saying:  Perception defines reality.   What we perceive as true, shapes what we believe to be true.   But our perceptions can be influenced by more that “just the facts.”  Our personal experiences,  our beliefs, our (limited) knowledge can all help to shape our perception.  We see only one facet of a situation, but having a second set of eyes looking at a situation, may give us a fuller picture.    Someone else’s perception can help us to see, more clearly,   what truly “is.”   
This week we will “see” what happens when we look at things through God’s eyes and find that God sees things differently.  How can looking through the “God lenses”   in our own lives help us to see and understand more clearly, the reality in our lives.   
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday.  Please continue to pray for the mission of Buckhall UMC:  to make disciples of Jesus Christ. 
Yours in Christ,

Linda

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pastor's Letter - January 16, 2015

Dear Friends, 

We continue our journey:  Off to a Great Start!; as we  think about our relationship with God  in this new year.  We began by thinking about new beginnings  and drawing closer to God.  We signified that renewing of our relationship with God, by renewing our baptism.  Last week, we reflected on Samuel’s experience of God’s call and what God’s call might look like in our lives. 
This Sunday, we take the next step.  We are called, but for what?    While the overarching mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ is the same, what each of us is called to do so that this mission is fulfilled, will vary.   Jesus sent his followers out on a mission. We will look at Jesus’ instructions for carrying out this mission and see how Jesus’ instructions are relevant for our mission today, as individuals and as a church.  
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday.   Please continue to pray for the mission at Buckhall UMC:  to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ,

Linda