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July 17, 2019, 12:34 PM

Burial


For the past year or so, Bobbi and I have given some thought (and action) to our eventual death, burial, and funeral. This topic is often viewed with anxiety and the reluctance to talk about it. However, everyone dies, whether we talk about it or not.

             So many questions, not the least of which, “How and where should we be  buried?” We have moved so often that committing to a geographical location has been prohibitive. However, last summer we traveled to Goldendale to visit the White Eagle Memorial Preserve, a natural burial cemetery in a beautiful forest. It’s a three and half hour trip but worth the experience. The plots are larger than a city cemetery. The families are much more hands-on involved with the whole process, claiming the death rituals that used to be the norm before the twentieth century. The preserve provides a wooden cart to carry the body from a vehicle through the forest to the plot. Bodies are usually wrapped in a shroud and not embalmed. Only biodegradable materials are allowed as the body will eventually return, dust-to-dust, ashes-to-ashes. The families are encouraged to help fill the grave after the service. (For more information about the White Eagle Memorial Preserve and natural      burials, see: naturalburialground.org)

I must admit that when we first heard about natural or green burials, it seemed strange. But then we began reading and thinking about how communities over history participated in the final destination of our bodies. It seems that for most of history the living were much more hands-on with accompanying the dead to their final resting place. This allowed people to not only remember, but also to bare the person up in their last journey.

Natural burials are not the only way to do this. One of my minister friends has designed and created ceramic urns for himself and his wife. Other friends have released cremated ashes into the wind in beautiful and memorable settings. Many people will choose traditional burials in beautiful local cemeteries where family members can be placed to rest in the ground, mausoleum vaults, or cremains niches.

As a Christian, I am learning that there are ways of being more hands-on for the person who has died. We may not be comfortable with this discussion but I think it is worth some serious thought, prayer, study, and talk

 




June 13, 2019, 1:00 PM

Safe Harbor!



Safe Harbor!

Annual Conference addressed the matters posed by the General Conference directions to adopt the Traditionalist Plan for the Denomination. The Pacific North West United Methodist Church is rejecting the punitive measures of the Traditional Plan and has resolved to become a Safe Harbor for persons having to flee regions where they are likely to be punished severely for who they are.

The Traditionalist Plan was chosen primarily by members from African Countries where in some cases same sex relationships are subject to imprisonment, or worse, by law. The U.S. constituency was two thirds opposed to the Traditionalist Plan. The opposition was supported by conservatives and progressives in favor of the One Church Plan, which would permit churches to choose for themselves whether or not to allow same sex persons the privilege of belonging and or serving without punishment.

The sessions were long, the business was conducted with compassion and a gracious spirit. The God centered worship, so inclusive of all who were there, bore testimony to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. A powerful sermon on Luke 10:25-28 by Rev. Carlo Rapanut addressed how we are in this “liminal moment” and how God is moving us from here to a new future. This was very effective sermon. I found it to be a most appropriate Word from the Lord to the church in our time of grieving and looking through our pain to the Hope God is bringing to the Church.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege and time to witness the Annual Conference. Because I am ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I do not have the voting privilege at the Annual Conference. Nevertheless I do find kinship with my friends and colleagues in ministry at these gatherings.

I am especially grateful that Camille and Christy Price were attending as well, they are a source of wonderful conversation, storytelling, and laughter, especially as we had meals together. We learned much and found Annual Conference to be very rewarding.

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May 15, 2019, 2:00 PM

Dialogue



               In the Bible we see a dialogue, between God and people and between one group and the other groups. Dialogue occurs when two parties talk about their disagreements and perspectives that differ. Dialogue recognizes that the other has a voice, or viewpoint that deserves to be shared. Dialogue is a God way of living our faith.

                It seems at first that God was more in dialogue in Genesis and some other portions in the O.T., but that it trails off later. The Law from the 10 Commandments undergoes expansion and revision, indicating that the people had to work out their Salvation. Depending on the situation under various empires, the Jewish people had at times to listen to prophets calling them back to their roots. What matter to discuss? How to honor God? What kind of healthy relationships of love for God and Neighbor, Immigrants and even enemies were to be lived? “Come let us reason together!” Isaiah 1:18.

                According to Brueggemann, “God tolerates no rivals.” In our current era the rivals are racism and sexism. These are privileges which are culturally held and exist in silence, preferring not to be questioned nor discussed. Some groups have opted for a monologic way of faith and do not permit discussion. From a Bible perspective I find that disturbing and alienating. Perhaps we have all done the monologic fearing the other person in group, fearing change, fearing loss of privilege. People, all of us, can feel threatened by opening discussion.

                What hurts most are monological pronouncements. This is the “one way only” of looking at an issue. This can become an idolatrous rival to God. The extremes of conservatism and progressivism can both hold on so desperately to “one-way” of thinking and miss out on the importance of dialogue. Conservative do it by grasping for Certitude and fear Progressives by failing to be specific about correction. Both sides can end up in a monologue of silence, instead of a dialogue.

                Columnist David Brook was interviewed on NPR about this book The Second Mountain. This book focuses on the importance of relationships and vulnerability. These are important virtues of what a dialogic way of life can make possible. This is Biblical, this is Christian, This is a necessary counter to racism and sexism that prevent openness, relationship, and vulnerability.

                Someone has said that “sin is the absence of God consciousness.” I wonder at what point does love for a nation, or a way of life, race, and sexual preference become sin? When does one group’s grasp become so tight, so closed to discussion become idolatry? This is why ongoing interpretation of scripture is so important. Yet many Christians fearing the other focus on exclusion and give themselves to a domination over the other showing no room for openness, dialogue, or love.

                Galatians 5:16-26 contrast the works of the flesh with the fruit of the spirit. What will it take for Christian people to avoid the works of the flesh and to imagine the life possible in the fruit of the spirit? This is what matters!

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April 22, 2019, 1:00 PM

In The Wrong Temple



In The Wrong Temple

by Walter Brueggemann

 

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. - John 2:19-21

The Gospel of John likes to play tricks. For temple, think Jesus. For destroyed temple, think Friday crucifixion. For rebuilt temple, think Easter resurrection. So think of temple as the symbolic center of your life, as the place where you are met by the goodness an holiness of God, where you draw fresh on the core purpose of your life, where you get some clarity about who you are and what your life amounts to and how you will be remembered. And then think of duties and disciplines that belong to becoming fully whom you are called by God to be. And then imagine, what if we are in the wrong temple, imagining our life in misguided ways and committed in the wrong directions? What if we are thinking temple mall, theater, market, indulgence, when we should be thinking about Jesus and death and obedience and suffering and new life and joy? In the wrong temple! The one where he came to clean things out and upset tables with a passion that seemed like violence: there is business and busyness and selling and trading and hoping to get ahead and buying access to God in the way you can buy it at the White House or in Congress, going there to be seen and valued and reassured. And then there is a sign, a deep gesture, a disturbance, an invitation that says, “You have got the wrong holy place, for the presence of God is not there.” The news is that this temple called Jesus is our true habitat. That is where we are bound in faith to live our life and put our buckets down and dream our dreams and claim our identities. Most of us, most of the time, find ourselves in the wrong temple, places that make promises of safety that leaves us more anxious, offers of joy that leaves us disconsolate. Partly we are in the wrong place by will, partly by habit, partly be accident, partly seduced. Our work in Lent is to move from these fake temples to the true temple who is Jesus. And then to receive a different life, the life he lives, the one to which we are invited. (A Way other than Our Own by Walter Brueggemann, 2017, Published by Westminster John Knox Press)

 


I offer the above Palm Sunday meditation read one day before the Notre Dame fire and destruction caused to the Cathedral, we cannot but grieve for the Church and for France. A week or so earlier there were also three historically black churches destroyed by fire in Louisiana. There has been an outpouring of donations to these as well. The meditation above is a reminder of the bodily aspect of Christ resurrection and hope that is for all who suffer in our world today.

Pastor Don Dunn

 

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March 19, 2019, 1:00 PM

Friday Gives Way to Sunday


                                            Friday Gives Way to Sunday

          

Lenten journeys over the years have been times of slowing down to observe what is going on in life, in church, in communities, nation, and world. I have often wondered why so much struggle either for myself or for others. Will things ever change?

One friend was a minister-social worker who graduated from Seminary with a double degree, a Mastery Divinity and Masters in Social Work. This woman was in a lifelong relationship with a woman. One Good Friday many years ago she was in a march with a group of other Christians. As the march proceeded it became for her a sort of protest. A protest against how the social workers were being cut back, with the case load being increased considerably on the remaining workers. As they marched down the street, someone was carrying a cross and various marchers passed it around. It was a telling moment when she bore the cross as they marched past the Social Service building.

Good Friday reminds us of Christ suffering in many areas in our current world. Over worked people, lower pay, higher cost and unaffordable housing, unaffordable insurance, racial discrimination, and disagreement over human sexuality. Good Friday is dark with despair. Holy Saturday comes hopeless as the waiting weighs heavy on the heart. Then comes Sunday – Easter, as despair gives way to hope, darkness to light, the stone of security to the freedom from deathly confinement.

Change is what we probably fear most! No one expected Jesus to rise from the dead, but He did! Do we? The early followers didn’t know what to make of a world that could be transformed. It is still so even among us – But Sunday is coming!

Happy Easter - Pastor Don

 




February 19, 2019, 2:27 PM

Ashes


One of my early recollection of ashes comes from the fireplace in our home. A chore assigned to me every once in a while was to clean out the ashes from the fireplace. Our family had enjoyed the warmth of the fire on several occasions, and by Spring, cleaning the ashes was on the list. The fascination for me as a child was to watch the fire from its beginning to its robust warmth and then to a warm glow. Sometimes it was fun to poke at the graying and orange cylinder and watch as it collapsed. Other times we let the gray shell remain till nothing was left inside to burn. At those times a mere touch would case the     cylinder of gray to collapse. It was after a month or two that our infrequently used fireplace would need to be cleaned and wait its use until the next fall/winter came.

Ash Wednesday would come later in life for me. It was always associated with church  traditions different from ours. As my journey of faith brought me into the mainline churches, I discovered liturgical traditions that were more attuned to the Church Year. It was a humbling  reminder of my time on earth. Hauntingly, the ash and words left me feeling as if my life that seemed to be as robust as a log in a fireplace, would eventually burn out, leaving behind the fire and returning to its earthly source.

“Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” connects one with the earth and with God who breathed life into us. It helps us to think of our purpose on earth and how we live. It can move us away from selfism to live with others before us.

Christian faith lived today is in the margins. We all benefit from a culture that is not    hospitable to aliens, not generous to the poor, reckless with the ecosystem, greedy, mean, and violent in politics that hurt - not help - people. In face of this reality, ashes may well remind us that we are not our own; that in life and in death we belong first and last to our faithful Creator.

Jesus’ life, teachings, and death were an affront to the powers of domination. His sacrificial death calls us to remember, remember, remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return. May we use what fire God has given us to bear witness to God working and intervening for the common good in the world. The ashes surely speak to the truth of our   mortality.

An old saying reads, “Only one life, will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” Even if we find some argument with it, it still speaks a truth that we experience on Ash Wednesday.

Hope to see you on March 6th! 

 




January 17, 2019, 10:44 AM

Thank You!


We begin the New Year with many of you involved in areas of leadership in the Church. The amount of work it takes to attend with care to the many details of the congregation’s life can be daunting. One person cannot do it all! Even two or three cannot attend to everything. The gifts of ministry are spread over the many who serve week in and week out over a period of months and years.

When I sit with a committee, or other persons involved in leadership and responsibility, I discover just how much thinking and care is given to ministry of this Church. I am very much aware that others know much more than me with regard to finances, property, building matters, music, relationships, community, and more.

It is with deep appreciation for what God is doing in and through you that I am deeply thankful! Your gifts of ministry are truly a blessing on which we all rely. Thank you!

 




December 13, 2018, 10:00 AM

January 2019 Pastor's Corner



         Bobbi and I wish you a Merry Christmas. How wonderful to observe our Church each Sunday as you faithfully gather for worship and fellowship. The Church is beautiful and you’ve worked hard to prepare for the coming of Jesus.  A week or so ago Bobbi and I traveled to visit a friend and go with her to a Christmas program (Ellensburg Presbyterian Church, YouTube 12-9-18) It was scripture and carols and children in a Nativity setting. Most of the show was going well until a 4 year old angel decided to pick up the baby Jesus and carry him around. She wandered the stage front, then side to side, and then behind all the stage props and cast. Disappearing with Jesus! We waited and wondered when he would return in her little arms. The Incarnation is God coming to us in the person of Jesus. Mystery, wonder, awe, love, joy, hope, all wrapped up and waiting for our response. An invitation that makes for the miracle of change in our world. As I thought about it I wondered too, who is taking who? Is it Jesus taking us behind the scene, the walls, to see the world we avoid? Or are we the ones taking him? I see Jesus taking us to unfamiliar places when we are caught by his love. We may resist but he moves us anyway. Eventually the amber alert was over and Jesus was returned, but for a moment we knew we could not harness him - he is on the loose and found in places we didn’t think to look. Jesus would seek for those who are missing; people of all faiths, races, colors, genders, sexual preference, immigration status, rich, and poor. The list could go on, but God is present not just with us but with all, sometimes they may be in great distress, sometimes in joy, and sometimes in daily routines like all of us. Well, the little girl and the baby Jesus will cause us to smile, perhaps laugh, but hopefully it may cause us to give thought to who isn’t there and maybe, just maybe, open us up to look behind the scenes, the walls we have erected. My prayer is that because of the Incarnation, God’s coming along side us in his son Jesus, he will take down the walls of exclusion or at least make them low fences with gates for neighbors. Then he will make it possible for us to be hospitable, generous, and forgiving towards all. I think that captures the Incarnation/Christmas, a miracle to be sure as we sing Joy to the World.  - Merry Christmas, Pastor Don and Bobbi




November 20, 2018, 12:17 PM

December 2018 Pastor's Corner


Thanksgiving is just a few days ahead and we have celebrated in worship, Tuesday at Memorial Christian Church. A Blessed time to be together and to receive an offering for Project Lazarus. Thank you for your donations which help to provide some relief for homeless people and transient guest in need of assistance.

As a minister serving two congregations I am grateful for the cards and expressions of your love for me and Bobbi. I feel affirmed in sharing ministry that touches the lives of so many. Truly God is kind and generous everyday. It is honoring him and loving the neighbor we find our common bond. We have so much to be grateful for.

Advent-Christmas is ahead and now is the time to consider Miracles. May we slow down enough to enter the realm of miracle. God acting in our lives and in history. The first Sunday of Advent begins the Church year. We come in faith and listen week by week with a longing for miracles. Those times when we are surprised, if not startled by the miracle. Miracles that counter the voices of the negative normality of culture. Miracles that free our spirits to receive love and hope in the face of all the bad news. Miracles that God brings in the face of loss, of crisis, and fear.

As children, we easily find the imagination miracle realm easy to enter. The tree, lights, decorations, so much care was put into “getting ready” for Christmas. As children Christmas was the EVENT which captures our minds. Of course we lived with the story both of Jesus in the manger and the tree of lights and gifts. At one of our family gatherings, I have the memory of my grandparents who made their way to our home about 11pm on Christmas Eve. It was unforgettable to see the joy in their faces. I don’t remember the gifts of that particular Christmas but their faces were radiant with joy.

As we walk together to Bethlehem may we once again find our hearts burning with the desire for God’s intervening love in our lives and in the world-for all His people and all of creation. Day by Day this Advent/Christmas season may we live with the expectation of the God who performs miracles. Isn’t that what Mary’s birthing Jesus was all about? “It came upon a midnight clear” - let us not forget it was night and Israel hoped for light. So in the face of so much bad news, expect a miracle - Jesus comes to us and the world is changed-forever. 

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Don

 

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October 23, 2018, 3:02 PM

November 2018 Pastor's Corner


Pressed for Time

Usually when we hear those words, our mind runs quickly to someone in a hurry to get somewhere. We see it in ourselves and in others, but not always in a favorable way. Accidents are more likely and anxiety causes more frustration than we need. There are other times when “pressed for time” may be a good thing. Someone seeking medical care may truly be living a limited number of days and want to accomplish various projects or, if possible, seek medical procedures that might bring health.

“Pressed for time” has a very positive application, as when colorful fall leaves are left in the pages of a book and somehow retain their color for years. Occasionally, I open a deceased person’s Bible and discover a few beautiful leaves “pressed for time”. It always reminds me of a connection between creation and scripture.

The farming seasons are also “pressed for time” determining the cycles of planting, harvest of land, and rest for the soil. I also note that the seasons of the Christian year bring about a fresh look at the annual calendar. November 1st is All Saints Day. November 4th in worship, we remember our friends and loved ones who have died this past year, whose memories are “pressed for time” in our hearts. We linger over their memory as they, too, are now joined with the communion of saints.

The seven seasons of the Christian year, begin with Advent’s sense of urgent “pressed for time” in preparation for the Savior’s arrival. We worship being mindful of our life’s purpose as we start a new Christian year with Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. These seasons strengthen our faith journey of anticipation, waiting, longing, hoping, praying, and living.

Sometimes we are “pressed for time” with urgency. Yet there is also that sense of “pressed for time” in which we ponder that which has been pressed into our hearts and memories for which we are grateful. May we follow Jesus through the Christian year, an alternative to the hurried rat race of accumulation that begets us all. Instead, we are able to consider living in a relationship with God and others, taking time to be present to each other. Slow Down!

We may press some leaves in a Bible. We may also press scriptures into our memories as God has pressed for all time his love for the world into which He sent his Son.

 

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October 17, 2018, 12:00 AM

October 2018 Pastor's Corner


It has been a month of changes for our church community. Sheryl Downey ended her tenure with the Church and we now have Tresa Poe for our new Administrative Assistant. She is adapting quickly to the many ins and outs of the responsibilities of the position. She is proving to be a real help for me as well so we welcome her to our ministry.

We had a situation with a faucet that sprung an unexpected leak. Carpets were wet and had to be dried and then re-laid. Additionally a number of plumbing issues were addressed and toilets replaced. Hopefully we can avoid a similar accident in the future.

Changes are occurring as well as we are combining two committees, Memorial and Endowment. The two are responsible for the recording of gifts to the church, but have different purposes. The issues will still be separated, but we now have one committee to work on these matters. Speaking of which there are areas of ministry for person who want to work monetary bequeath gifts for distribution and allocation. If this is something you might have interest in the Nominating Committee would welcome a visit with you. It is something to prayerfully consider.

Changes are also felt deeply as events are occurring in families. Mary Morin is at Hearthstone in Moses Lake and had a recent surgery. Don visits her daily at meal times to help her eat. We certainly miss her at church. Randy Senn has now been at Hearthstone for five months. He knows everyone and makes his way in a wheel chair. He sure is a good conversation person. His foot is showing improvement, but he still needs to wear the boot. He misses the church community and we miss his singing in the choir.

Lastly, we mourn the death of Herb Reynolds. He blessed us with his warm spirit and singing in the choir. At this writing we are in the process of planning his Memorial Service on Saturday,  September 22nd at 11 AM. Many of you have provided food and visits with Maggie. Fortunately her sister Darlene was able to come from Minnesota to be with her and the family during this time. We all will miss Herb, I always looked forward to see him wheeling into church on Sunday morning. Truly, he takes a portion of each heart in our church community.

The seasons change, summer is winding down, and cooler days are ahead. Before long, leaves will display a dance of color, the wind and some rain, with shorter days will call creation into rest. Maybe we too will find rest in the One who is sovereign and in love with this world, the One we trust in, through thick and thin, knowing we are not making the journey alone. God is with us!  So many changes, but we come back again, and again, lost in wonder, love, and praise.

 

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