Pastor’s Message

January 29th, 2014

“Words are like an earthquake.” That was the conclusion of Pastor Lillian Daniel in describing her church’s practice of testimony. She saw firsthand how people were changed both by those who shared their faith stories, and those who heard them in worship. It strengthened the whole community.

In this new year we have begun incorporating testimonials into the sermon time as a vehicle for strengthening our life together in community. Typically people have been invited to speak during Lenten midweek services and during our fall stewardship emphasis. But there’s no reason to limit when people may talk about their experience of God in worship. And for those who don’t like public speaking, these 3-5 minute testimonies can be taped ahead of time, in the comfort of your own home.

Of course the “desire for testimony” is nothing new. The entire New Testament is a testimony, a record of experiences that the first followers of Jesus had with the transformative power of God. From Mary Magdalene’s witness of the resurrection, to the disciples in the early church. As the book of Acts recounts (4:31), when they prayed for courage and power to preach the good news, the place in which they were gathered was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking the word of God with boldness.

The Holy Spirit is still at work as we find our voices to speak of what God is doing in our lives, and share it with others. I loved how the desire for testimony has changed one man’s life. He confessed to “having a horror of talking about my faith” after having grown up as a fundamentalist. “But,” he said, “now I can’t help myself. I go to work and colleagues ask, What did you do this weekend? And I start telling them about some fantastic sermon or liturgy at church on Sunday I can’t hold it in. I’ve just got to share.” (from the book Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith)

There is power in stories. As we tell our stories we come to know ourselves, each other and God better.  Will you prayerfully consider letting the Holy Spirit shake us up by sharing your story of faith?

Message from Pastor

January 6th, 2014

Epiphany: The Season of Light

 

One of the most handy gadgets I’ve come to depend upon is the talking GPS in my car. It has saved me many times when I have no idea where I am or how to reach my destination. I would literally be lost without it. On January 6 we celebrate Epiphany, the oldest festival of the church year, remembering the visit of the magi who came to honor the newborn Christ child. While they didn’t use a GPS they did have a bright star in the sky to guide them. And just as the cheerful voice in my car often has to steer me another way, saying “recalculating,” so did the star no doubt lead the magi on a few detours before leading them to Bethlehem.

This next eight weeks in the season after Epiphany is a good time for all of us to ask ourselves: How may we need to change directions on our journey through the twists and turns of life? What will be the star that leads to Christ? Epiphany dovetails well with the beginning of a new year. It’s an opportunity for us to take stock of where we are and where we’re going. How might our eyes be opened to see the light of Christ revealed among us in ways or through people we may have never noticed before? What new paths may God be inviting us to take as we look towards the future?

Next Sunday, Jan. 12, we will join as a community of faith to break bread together after worship with a potluck followed by our annual meeting. As we look back and celebrate where God has led us as a congregation in 2013, now it is time to follow the star of God’s leading in 2014. Certainly there will be detours and recalculations along the way as we discern our mission. Yet we move forward with confidence, trusting the star of Epiphany to help us let our light shine as a “light on the way.”