Blog
February 20, 2020, 10:53 AM

Lent



Lent is a Season of the Christian year that is a journey from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week and to the Resurrection of Christ. In some ways, it reminds me of hiking or biking trips that required a minimal amount of gear for an uneventful trek. I tend to take too much stuff so the load gets heavier, and I will lose energy to travel the hoped for distance.

For the Lenten Journey, I suggest we travel light but expand our view. Thus I find the emphasis for Lent is one of soul searching. I suggest using Hospitality, Generosity, and Forgiveness as Walter Brueggemann has written. Lent calls us to repentance in our tendency of alienation and exclusion of others. The OTHER is often a person or peoples different from us and excluded. Differences exist in ethnicity, race, and religion.  Add to that other the LGBTQ persons and many more, then we sense that “different” raises our anxiety and fear.

Consider the practice this Lenten Season, that we might consider ways we have excluded the “other” from Church, from association, and from our awareness. Too much of Christianity in the U.S. is built consciously or unconsciously on excluding others. We fail in Hospitality, Generosity, and Forgiveness towards those who are different. Jesus would have none of it! Perhaps this Lent we could read, talk, and learn more. Perhaps we might see the image of God, see Jesus in those “others” whom we fear if we choose inclusivity over exclusivity.

So I invite you to consider in your prayer and devotion, to set aside resistance of the “other”. God is often found in the “other” whom we have feared because they are different, or have something about themselves that has not been examined in Prayer and learning.

We live in a dark time when fear of the “other” is generated in the media almost daily. Maybe during Lent, we could practice the “do not fear” of scripture. Maybe we can engage, embrace, and include the “other”, remembering too that God is “other”.

Forty days call us to a path of humility as we journey through Lent. May we find ourselves together as we embrace the “other” on the way. For too long we have excluded! Now is a time to repent and become inclusive. Also, remember how you have been included, and remember too your efforts of crossing those imaginary borders that are culturally around us.

May you travel light and expand your view!

 




January 23, 2020, 1:32 PM

Pastor's Corner



(The following Pastor’s Note is my perception and is not an official statement by the United Methodist Church.)

             The United Methodist Church was in the news a few days after Christmas. Much is reported about the upcoming agenda in 2020 regarding decision making about human sexuality. I am still reading what the United Methodists have actually put on their website, which certainly provides more information than is available from other news sources. The General Conference will be meeting in May to vote on proposed changes. The Book of Discipline particularly has wording that prohibits and punishes people who are in non-heterosexual relationships, or who do same-sex weddings. A lot of fear and anxiety has been generated after years of inability to see a way forward.

Biblically in Acts 10:34, Peter said: “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another…” The passage continues of course, but we need to stop at this sentence to consider our relationship with any and all who are different from us. The passage continues in Acts 10:35 “Rather in every nation (i.e. race, ethnicity) whoever (that includes women, men regardless one’s sexual orientation) worships Him and does what is right (a possible application putting God first as in the 10 commandments and not idolizing a form of human sexuality to the exclusion of others) is acceptable to Him.”

Human sexuality is a conversation that makes us uncomfortable. True, we have disputable texts on this subject – not very many - and each with questions of application and implications that we could discuss. These are often treated with an absolutism that does not cohere with scripture, nor with human experience. Again, fear of the other is a larger issue for us and if we are honest, we can admit that. True, we can still read and interpret the text differently and ask different questions. All of us should struggle with scripture. Your interpretation may be different from mine and you may be right! Maybe you had experiences that I did not have. People growing up in a multicultural area and one that sees more differences in people’s sexual orientation may well have a different outlook on the Bible, God, and others who are also God-loving, church-going people.

Sexual immorality of course, in any form, must be taken seriously and dealt with. But one’s sexual orientation is not a moral issue. How they behave and are treated however, is a moral issue. Deviancy, unfortunately, exists across persons of every sexual orientation. But just to look at same-sex persons only because that is who they are and punish them for that is wrong! Recalling what happened to Matthew Shepherd in Wyoming should horrify EVERY Christian. For United Methodists, it may help to rethink our Book of Discipline. Shepherd is only one among many brutally killed.

We should note that the Cabinet of the Pacific Northwest Conference has no desire to impose a minister on a church that is uncomfortable with a differently gendered preferred person. It is a “live and let live” type of change that is being sought. “God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another” (Acts 10:34). It should also be noted that the United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Episcopal Church, Christian Church Disciples of Christ, American Baptist Churches USA, and Presbyterian Church of USA, have all moved away from prohibitive measures based only on the differences of one’s sexual orientation. Also, many Evangelicals, not all, have become more open and affirming as well.

A change in the Book of Discipline does not mean you must change your conviction, only that we stop punishing people for whom they are. A change in the Book of Discipline does not mean imposing a person in ministry on a church that will not accept them. Churches may remain United Methodist and be neutral, allowing a freedom in Christ that can give breathing space to all.

Over my years of ministry, I have observed many people change their views as we (1) learned more about human sexuality, (2) befriended persons who were same-sex, and (3) discovered the image of God in people of different sexual orientation. With this newsletter, I include the Bishop’s recent response. She is gracious and forthright. Please find this insert within this newsletter.

Together with you on the Way. - Pastor Don Dunn

 




December 18, 2019, 1:14 PM

Merry Christmas & Happy Epiphany!



Sometimes it helps to consider how one has changed over the years. Christmas – Epiphany for me are time to reflect on how my life and views have changed. This morning I was flipping through a book written for smaller churches by David Ray which I purchased in January 1993, A Big Book on Small Churches. I noted some of the remarks I penciled in the margins. I was more into individualism coming from the previous church life of 25 years. In hindsight, I see that I was more into the cultural mindset of individualism. At the time, I was uncomfortable and resisted the idea of community – which is what the church is. I confess my thinking lacked wisdom. I do value both time alone, to think, read, and pray, but also know we are created and called to belong and be a part of a community of faith. I have so many times and faces and memories of community. It is in community that our prayers over many decades are stored in the walls of our sanctuary. Memories give way to Hope as we experience the nearness of God with us.

Epiphany, follows Christmas, beginning with the Baptism of Jesus. It is also a day when each of us is reminded of our baptism, which identifies us as persons who are part of the family of God. That awareness gives us time to consider what God is doing, how God is revealing himself to us amid the certainty of change all around. Have we considered the enormity of God’s revelation in Jesus of Nazareth? How can we see Christ in the “other”? How might we give more importance to the environment? Would it make possible a wider inclusion of “others” in our thinking, living, and church? What is God up to next? “Aha” moments await – How might we respond?

Merry Christmas and Happy Epiphany!

 




November 19, 2019, 2:12 PM

Hope



Hope

December looms in darkness before us,

memories of so many years, gather around

trees with lights. Church and carols,

tugging at the heart.

Waiting, longing, hoping, in slow moving

change for a troubled world Oh, how we

long for more! Desperate for the ONE

whose birth long foretold, intruded-invaded

the darkness the deadness of political-

social winter. It was called Advent,

and the world waited for the birth,

of Love and Faith and Hope.

Each year, we make our way,

in the darkness of realities, with painful

sadness. We try to find Hope.

Festivities, shopping, gatherings

fill the season, while restless we,

wait for Christmas. Each year surprised

by God’s love, startled, amazed, and lost in

wonder of the ONE who lightens our darkness.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Don and Bobbi

 




October 23, 2019, 1:04 PM

Gratitude!



Gratitude!

             The word comes to mind and to our lips, sometimes in deeper ways than at other moments. Walking the neighborhood, the canal, or Beezley Hill, provides an opportunity to breath-in beauty and wonder of the changing seasons. Life, living, color-filled, and the good along with the disappointing realities in which we face discouragement. God working in the world, in the messiness of life, our lives, and situations.

I wish sometimes that the messes could be more readily addressed. Perhaps we all look for fixes, as we are concerned, worried, and angry. I recall times when I did not care for what God was doing, those situations with setbacks, loss, change, and difficult co-workers. It was humbling and I cannot say that I expressed gratitude. When the crisis passed I could then pray, “Thank God that’s over with!”

It was in the moments when no answer could be found, when my prayers went unanswered, that I would be freed to stop and look around. Missing a meeting, or an appointment, or a class, because of scheduling, intrusions, a flat tire, or a car or bike problem. Rendered helpless asking, “Why God?”

About 10 years ago, I was riding my bicycle to a meeting in town, about 3 ½ miles from our home. The forums speaker was an African American man (though white people also had the same kind of problem) who had been in prison for some time. Released from prison, he found getting back on his feet to be impossible. Little by little, with patience, prayer, and perseverance, God slowly opened doors. Where he would live, what work he could find-unbelievable social realities he faced. He did overcome those barriers, not easily, and not without employer, landlords and city codes changing.

I almost did not make it to the lecture/story. Riding the bicycle on a Missouri highway and rounding a curve, the front tire made friends with an old, bent, rusty nail. My heart sunk with disbelief. Just as I began to remove the front wheel I heard the voice of an African American woman as she pulled up in her car, got out and said “Sir, can I help you – the Lord just told me to stop and offer you help.” Startled and amazed, I felt like I was dreaming. She went on “I am Sister Sandy Thompson. I was just driving down the highway and praising the Lord when he told me to stop for you.” In a few moments after some gracious exchange, I loaded my folding bike into a large car trunk. A “trunk or treat” one might say! Within minutes we were on our way, the Samaritan chatting, praising the Lord, and dropping me and the bike at the white Baptist Church to hear the former prisoner’s story. It was a moment of divine intervention, “my anxious fears subsided” – I too could not help but praise God for Sister Sandy Thompson.

Experiences can be dramatic, but there are so many moments when ordinary days also catch our awareness, causing gratitude for life, leaves, sunlight, beauty, and “others” whom God has graced us with.

I thank God for your being the Church that you are. Every day, your names, faces, and the projects, work, continue to amaze me. 

 

 




September 18, 2019, 1:00 PM

What Is It To Be A Christian?



We find various ways to answer that question. Some say simply it is a confession of faith in Jesus, and that certainly helps to narrow it down. Some say it is marked by Baptism, and that clearly helps for one’s belonging to church. Some say it is more private and personal, and that helps to see an individual’s dependent relationship upon God revealed in Jesus. Some say it a lived life that speaks to the Way of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit with the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-24 “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, there is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires.” The picture of being Christian fits well with the BE-Attitudes and the Sermon on the Mount.

Life in Church allows the believer a way of conversation, dialogue, learning, worship, and service. I was reminded of this reading an author who has been Right, then Left, and now Center in politics. He cites Adam Hamilton who is described as “Radical Center.” I found the following paragraphs from Hamilton worth pondering as he shows his own faith shaped by a wider view of Christian faith. I also feel he demonstrates the Fruit of the Spirit in this time of polarization.

In his book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, Adam Hamilton says:

“When people ask me, “Are you liberal or conservative?” my answer is usually, “Yes!” My answer is yes for several reasons. First, I see both liberals and conservatives as two parts of a whole. When we say that someone is liberal with their giving, we mean that he or she is generous. I want to be liberal in that sense of the word. If liberal is defined as “favoring reform,” that, too, captures my heart as Protestant, because it recalls one of the important Reformation slogans “ecclesia reformata, semper reformada:” “the church reformed, always reforming.” If liberal is a synonym for “broad minded’ or “open minded” then yes, I wish to be a liberal! Yet if “conservative” means holding on to what is good from the past, and being cautious in embracing change simply for the sake of change, then mark me conservative! If being conservative within the Christian community means retaining the historic doctrines of the Christian faith as articulated in the creeds, then I am conservative. If conservative means as the Latin, conservare does, guarding, keeping, or observing (presumably the treasures of the past), then at least with regards to many things, I must be conservative. On the other hand, if liberal means holding to the absolute right individuals to do whatever they choose, or if conservative means simply seeking to maintain the status quo, I could not be defined as either liberal or conservative.”

What answer would you give to describe your own relationship to Jesus, to Church, and to the World? Has it changed over time? Jesus prayed in John 17 “that all may be one.” Obviously we are different from each other, but we do have a belonging to one another in Christ.

May it be so, 

Pastor Don

 

 




August 20, 2019, 1:38 PM

Vacation/Kindness



Vacation

Time to go on vacation! Bobbi and I traveled to Neah Bay, our first trip that direction. It was cooler and Bobbi located various sites to visit. We were away from August 9th to August 15th.

Vacations are healthy “time outs” for people. We once traveled to England in 2003. I was in a running shoe ware shop and one of the shoe consultants in conversation said as we left “Happy Holiday.” It seemed strange to use that word as it was not Christmas. I learned that in England if people are on a vacation, they are on a holiday.

The interesting thing is that Holiday has a close association with Holy-day, a term used for festivals, ceremonies, events, National and global time off. Sabbath in the Ten Commandments was for work stoppage. Sabbath was observed to remind people that they were no longer slaves to  Pharaoh – a day to rest, and a day of resistance to earning and spending. We can learn much about Sabbath – for me the big thing is the rest since God rested from His work on Sabbath.

I hope many of you have taken time for vacation and returned rested with pictures and memories.

Galatians 5:22-26 - Two different ways of living

 

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit. 26 Let’s not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other.

 

This passage may be a timely prayer guide to consider. We pray “thy Kingdom come’” to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in our lives and our World and the hope that is ours for the common good of all people.

This beautiful hope filled text from Galatians is in such stark contrast to the changing times in which we live. We more often see the earlier portion of Galatians 5:16-21 where the negative behaviors known as “works of flesh” or “selfish-desires” are listed and sadly obscure the good things mentioned above in Galatians 5:22-26.

It is a strange vision in our “modern” world where as Christians we live amid a great deal of choices, news, and information that lack “the fruit of the spirit.” For many of us, we may recall times, places, and people, where goodness seemed more intentional. I think church still occupies that Hope filled, Jesus’ way, of life.

With the recent news of mass shootings in Gilroy California, El Paso Texas, and Dayton Ohio, and also the immigrant workers in Mississippi, my heart is saddened. It seems like a  daring proposal to consider God’s Kingdom way of living with an internal peace of mind that also reaches outward with love for the neighbor.

I found the following article to share for this column…

 

Kindness

Kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We change places with them. For the time self is another, and others are self. Our self-love takes the shape of complacence in unselfishness. We cannot speak of the virtues without thinking of God. What would the overflow of self upon others be in Him the ever-blessed and Eternal? I was the act of creation. Creation was divine kindness. From it as from a fountain, flow the possibilities, the powers, the blessings of all created kindness. This is an honorable genealogy for kindness. Then, again, kindness is the coming to the rescue of others, when they need it and it is in our power to supply what they need; and this is the work of the Attributes of God towards His creatures…

Moreover kindness is also like divine grace; for it gives us something which neither self nor nature can give us. What it gives us is something of which we are in want, or something which only another person can give such as consolation; and besides this, the manner in which this is given is a true gift itself, better far than the thing given: and what is all this but an allegory of grace? Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It is kindness which makes life’s capabilities blossom, and paints them with their cheering hues, and endows them with their invigorating fragrance…

Last of all, the secret impulse out of which kindness acts is an instinct which is the noblest part of ourselves, the most undoubted remnant of the image of God, which was given us at the first.

F.W. Faber, Spiritual Conferences (Thomas Richardson & Son, 1859), p.2.

 




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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