Pastor’s Letter Jan. 19, 2022

Good afternoon, Beloved,

         I pray the day finds you well and free from the pretzel-like troubles of this world. These troubles that we are enduring so often today, though, are only intensified because we cannot find a solution. At least not one which seems acceptable due to the lines being drawn in the sand and people flocking to one tribe or another. We have seen this time and time again. The conflicts created by doing anything in the old familiar way as compared to the new changes being innovated in an ever-changing world. 

Now, I believe we can see these conflicts happen in generational differences, political differences, and yes even in religious differences. We even see this reality creep out over small things like mask use: should they be required for the greater good or should they be avoided due to their inefficiency and propensity to cause health problems for people. The problem is that somewhere along the line people stopped listening with an open heart to the opposing perspectives. And decided the arguments were either / or. I am right and moral and you are wrong and immoral. Why would we do anything else as there is so little time in our world to hear the voices of our friends, let alone those others who do not believe as we do. 

Why? Because, Beloved, God calls to all people – all genders – all identities – all of Creation. And if we cannot find a solution amongst our perspective then maybe…just maybe, we need to learn from another source to discover the middle ground in a world of divisions. For our reopening team that place in the middle was and is the individual discernment and choice of mask use for each person. A decision, I believe, was the most faithful choice they could make. Well done.

Perhaps this gift we give ourselves to learn though will also allow us to follow the faithful call to teach one another – another tribe – another Beloved child; so, we call all be held by God together. With this thought in mind, I offer these words from another source about the teachings of Christ and how we deal with the changing church of today. 

Lest We Burst

By John Engleton

Jesus told them this parable: “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’” – Luke 5:37-39

Between 2008 and 2019 I led worship approximately twelve hundred times, give or take a hundred. Leading services three times a week for almost eight years really ran up the numbers. I went from wobbly and nervous to loose and confident. I’m not boasting, just pointing out that practicing something a thousand times really helps.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve led worship maybe a hundred times. And those one hundred times have been in at least four or five formats that were new to me: live on Zoom, pre-recorded on YouTube, livestreamed in the sanctuary, outdoors on the lawn, a hybrid of all the above. I’m back to wobbly and nervous, and I don’t like it. I miss the old wine of well-known ways of worship. I’ve tasted the new and I would say, “The old is better!”

It’s okay if the time of worship during Covid isn’t your favorite. It’s okay if it doesn’t measure up to what used to be. No one should expect it to. This is a time of new wine. This time has to be given room to breathe and expand, to become whatever it will become. Our job as the church is to learn new lessons and strengthen new muscles. Our job as the church is to stretch and flex.

Because we aren’t the wine. We are the wineskins.

Prayer

God, this time is hard for us. Help us to worship you in beauty and truth, in new ways.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John EdgertonJohn Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.

May all of these thoughts help guide you to find the place God is calling you too, not on one side or another; but in the loving place which encompasses all of Creation together. 

Your pastor and teacher, Brian

Please consider these thoughts during Epiphany. If you would like, you may text, call, or email me always. As I would enjoy hearing how you feel are stretching and growing in these times. My number is (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 9-4, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 9-4, Thurs. 10-2 to provide some time for visiting. Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Jan. 12, 2022

An image of seven hands, all different colors, making the shape of a heart.

Good afternoon, Beloved,

         I pray you all made it through the arctic cold of yesterday in the warmth of God’s love. Love that we see reflected in the lessons of Jesus time and time again. So much so that it almost seems that this act of love is well – important. And I believe it is. Furthermore, I believe we all know this idea is True as the act of loving one another is part of our call as Christians. 

         That said, the body of Christ is not made up of only one human culture. Creation itself does not consist of only one particular culture. Rather, there are a variety of cultures with an untold amount of different identity combinations amongst the billions of people in the world and each person experiences love in a slightly different way. Almost mind boggling to consider the possibilities. Yet, these are some of the things that I think about as I drift off to sleep at night. Hopefully not keeping myself awake wondering about the inevitable question: how do we show God’s love to all these possibilities of people, like Christ does for all of us? 

         This question becomes more important today as we approach our national holiday celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King JR. One of the great heroes of the Civil Rights movement who preached and taught about love, time and time again. Yet even King’s lessons about love were from a particular culture. One which some Americans today would not recognize as loving at all such as the “Dream” of MLK JR that one day we will all be color blind, i.e. that people will only be judged on their character – not their skin color. For him, I believe this idea was one of the greatest acts of love a person could show another person. Today, this idea is seen as an act of hate amongst some people; for, “color blindness (they say) does not recognize the individual and the varieties of identities said individual represents.” So, how do we show God’s love to both views – all views – all cultural understandings of how one feels love? Can we? 

         I believe we can, and I believe Jesus shows us the way. Not as we may understand love traditionally in our culture; but as, the individual person who we encounter needs to feel love in their culture. Is this not the way God reveals Her love to us every time He answers our prayers, grants us Grace, and holds us when we need a loving friend? Maybe this idea is the true message of MLK JR. day and one of the lessons of the Epiphany: that love is revealed when it is received as it is needed to be felt.

May your week be a blessing of discovering new ways we can love everyone no matter where they are on their journey through life.

Your pastor and teacher, Brian

Please feel free to consider these questions and thoughts during Epiphany. If you would like, you may text, call, or email me always. As I would enjoy hearing how you feel love. My number is (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 9-4, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 9-4, Thurs. 10-2 to provide some time for visiting. Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Jan. 5, 2022

Good afternoon, Beloved,

I pray you are all well on this wet and wonderful Wednesday – on this last day before the Epiphany. As I thought about what to write today, I wondered what does this Holy day mean to you? What is the Epiphany? Why is it important for us Christians, specifically for us in the United Church of Christ who are Trinitarian by nature? What blessing did and do we receive on this day which changes our very understanding of the world – our perception – our purpose? These are questions that may be answered by reflecting on the meaning of Epiphany. 

Then again, it may just be a Thursday for you tomorrow and that is ok as well. For, we are each at a different point on our journey. Yet, if it is just a Thursday then consider what is important for you about that day. The day we are living in right now. Every day of the year and what has and is occurring to make these blessings so wonderful. I believe you will see some of the same purposes as those who consider Epiphany a high Holy day. Yet is this not always the case with so many things. We each witness the world and perceive it in various ways; yet, the basic purpose – solution – and even causes can sometimes be the same. We formulate our world looking for a right answer so we can all be on the same page, if you will.

Yet, the truth is there are no right answers for everyone but there are right answers for you. And we learn by hearing the understanding of other people. This truth is part of what we mean when we say all people are ministers. We all have something to share with each other and the world. For, God does speak and share through each and every one of us. So, I pray you will consider the questions above and consider sharing your understanding with each other. So, we may all witness your voice even if it shakes – or is considered wrong by some -even if it speaks in ways we do not all understand. Your voice matters and I for one would be lost without hearing it as we walk through this journey of life together.

May today be a blessing as we discover the beauty of Thursday and the Epiphany – together.

Your pastor and fellow teacher, Brian

Please feel free to consider these questions and bring your thoughts to our Epiphany pageant this Sunday. There may even be a time for us to all share our voice. If you would like, you may also text, call, or email me and I will be happy to share your voice in the service. As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 8-4, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4, Thurs. 10-2 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in. Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Dec. 29, 2021

A picture of a hand with a paintbrush bringing color to a map of the world.

Merry Christmas, Beloved,

I pray you are staying warm and safe in this ever changing world. Yes, in this world which seems to have changed into a winter wonderland overnight and back again into a late cold fall almost as fast. A world with but one constant – God. Strangely enough, our ever-changing world is and has been our reality for so long that it does not even seem to have an impact on us anymore. We have gotten used to the changes happening and the struggle to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Spending so much energy on trying to do everything in a traditional way while existing in a very abnormal world. 

I am sure we have all seen this happen in our classrooms, places of work, while celebrating Christmas. I know that I have. I recognized the oddness at the mall only days before Christmas where the joy of the season was almost sucked out of the air as people quietly shopped for last minute stocking stuffers. And Beloved this reality is quite understandable. We are all tired of the pandemic and the struggle to enjoy a normal life amongst an ever-changing world. 

But perhaps, there is another answer. Perhaps this point in our history – in our world – in our life is a time to not expend energy in a struggle to maintain “normal.” But perhaps, now is the time to Live into something new. Create the world of love that Christ came to reveal to us and build a new creation which reveals that love to the world. Perhaps now is the time for us to be the change for everyone to witness. Spend our time by building a life together with ALL people through the love of God, instead of holding up the walls of some ancient traditions which are falling to the ground around us. 

This point is not to say that traditions are not important. They are. They guide and teach us in amazing ways. But we were not alive when these traditions were created and the scope of human knowledge is multiplying exponentially; so perhaps, we can try out something new – build a new tradition here or there – sing a new song and witness if the creations we build together reveal a hint of God’s Love like the Love that was revealed on that first Christmas so long ago. 

I know it sounds scary, Beloved, even overwhelming at times as all change can be. But all my fears and concerns over a changing world vanish the moment I remember we are not alone – we are together – walking in God’s Love which is the only constant in the world. So, let us take a moment to breathe deep and build something new in our life. Live into the change of today instead of wasting energy maintaining structures which do not reveal God’s Love for ALL.

I pray you enjoy some fruit you never tried before or that next Zoom call which seemed daunting over the last few months. I hope you move away from holding onto what is lost – change your heart – and build a better future, together. 

May You witness the many blessings of God’s Love being revealed this week and every day of the year to come.

Your Pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 8-4, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4, Thurs. 10-2 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in. Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Dec. 22, 2021

Image of a heart with the text, "THE LOVE CHALLENGE" underneath.

Good morning, Beloved,

I pray you are each having a Merry Christmas. What a “Merry” Christmas means to each of us though is very different as people celebrate this beautiful day in so many ways. However, one thing Christmas always seems to be is a time of giving and sharing of ourselves. Sharing of our time and joy as we celebrate the gift of love that God gave to us two thousand years ago when Jesus was born into our world. So, for my letter this week, I would like to offer a new way to share ourselves through a Love Challenge. This challenge though, comes with a surprise. 

Love Challenge Two: Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve this year, there will be twenty different Bible quotes about Love given randomly to everyone who comes to a Christmas Eve service. If you do not feel comfortable attending, do not worry, you can still participate. Simply, ask Pastor Brian for a card to get started. Over the next month or so, share your quote with other people in the community and ask to see theirs. Talk about the passages or simply find out which one each of you like best. Then sign the back of each other’s card along with your quote’s chapter and verse. This way everyone remembers which ones they have found amongst the 20 possibilities. Mind you, we can do this challenge by phone as well just write down the other person’s name and Bible quote after talking to them. The idea is to share some of the Bible quotes on love while finding new ways to share with one another. I know introverts may find this challenge more difficult; so, if this is you, I would offer the alternative: you may call, text, or email me (Pastor Brian) and I will be happy to share a quote with you each time you do. The first person to find all 20 quotes or the person with the most on February 13th will win the challenge. Yes, there is a surprise and it includes more than learning about the Bible and more than learning about one another, though these are the real prizes we will all receive throughout this Challenge. I hope you enjoy and participate in our Love Challenge number Two.

Beloved, I do hope you consider participating in this Challenge; but more so, I hope you enjoy Christmas. For, too often the worries of the world hold us back from the joy which Christmas reminds us of every year. We get stuck on the right gifts, the perfect traditions, the shopping, lights, and cooking, let alone all the added worries we have had recently with Covid. And the simple truth is that Christmas is a time for Joy where we are invited to celebrate the Love God has for all of us. The Love which came to earth in the form of a baby. The Love which saves us all no matter who we are. This joy is the gift of Christmas which I pray you all welcome into your lives as we celebrate this Christmas – together.

Merry Christmas Beloved

your Pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4, Thurs. 10-2 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in. Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Dec. 19, 2021

Good morning, Beloved,

I pray you are each having a wonderful Advent season. I pray for this with all my heart, knowing full well that not everyone is or will be enjoying Christmas this year. A truth we may wish to remember as we sing out in praises of hope, love, and joy. For, we can witness this truth in the devastation of the tornados which rocked our country or in the eyes of our brothers and sisters who silently cry out in grief. I share this truth not to bring shame as many tragedies are no one’s fault. Rather, I share this truth to remind us that the people we meet everyday are dealing with tragedies every day of the year. Yet, the feelings of despair are sometimes intensified when everyone else is joyfully celebrating. It is the reason why many faith communities have a “Blue Christmas” service at some point in the season. 

Picture of a Christmas Tree decorated in the season of Advent.

However, we have taken another path, another way to compassionately reach out to one another, another way to love one another. We offer opportunities. Opportunities of ways to share our compassion and love. Opportunities to be the “Peace” in someone else’s storm. For, this offering of Love is what God calls us to do – to be – to live into as we prepare ourselves for the coming Christ. It can be sharing our resources as we did with the Footlocker gift cards. We raised $400.00 for young women, saving the lives of possibly 20 different young women from a life of human trafficking. It can be sharing our talent by providing a beautiful Christmas Tree to be raffled off for North Salem High School. Above, we can witness the gift of God’s Mission revealed when it was completed. It can also be our call to support the families who have been tragically harmed by tornados in Kentucky. An offering we will be taking and receiving until Epiphany. And beloved, the Peace we bring can always be in the gift of our time. Reaching out to one another in compassion and love. Helping another person through the “Blue” of the season, the loneliness, by letting them know they are not alone. For you – none of you – are alone as we are one Beloved fellowship.

These are some of the various opportunities we bring as a community to one another and to the world at a time when the world needs the compassionate loving Peace of God. So, well done to all of you; but, do not feel you ever have to share with everyone – with every opportunity – with every need. Rather choose the one you feel called to help and help bring peace to one life this Christmas. If we all share this compassion – if all people did so – then perhaps Christ would be revealed; for, the world would finally be – at peace.

May the tragedies which come only be opportunities for us to love God as we love one another. In Christ, I pray you each have a blessed week of Peace.

your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 8-12, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4, Thurs. 10-2 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in . Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Dec. 8, 2021

Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.”

  • Romans 2:29
An image of white ball like Christmas lights set against a dark background.

Hello Beloved,

I pray you are warm and safe as we prepare for our first snowstorm of the year. Moreso, I pray all the decorations you wish to hang outside are hung and ready to warm your spirit in this time of Advent, for the snow is coming. I thought about this prayer today as I went into the sanctuary and witnessed all the beautiful decorations wonderfully hung this week. How beautiful our home is at this time of year, especially. Again I must say thank you to Sue, Mary, Simone and Gary for all of your joyful work and ministry. But still, as I looked at the beautiful decorations I wondered how each of you are doing in the busy season of Advent. Is it stressful or worrisome preparing your home for Christmas? Are the decorations you love one thing too many or were you able to put them up and enjoy all their beauty? I hope for the latter of course. 

I hope for the latter as it is one way – a traditional way – we celebrate the coming of Christ and Christmas. It is one of the ways I grew up enjoying the season. In fact, I believe many of my friends throughout my life have also enjoyed this tradition of Christmas lights, even those who are pagan, atheists, or Jewish. Yes, these beloved people who I know may not believe in Christ; but yet, I have seen their homes flooded with Christmas Lights, filled with goodness, and brimming with all the Joy that these lights bring. How grateful I am for each of these souls as they live spiritually, if not literally, in Christ throughout the season.

Mind you, I will never say telling of your faith is not important but as the Apostle points out the mark of your faith is one upon your heart – a spiritual observance – and not the literal declaration to everyone through an outward mark on the body. So perhaps, the worry many Christians have during this time of year is premature. The worries that we are living in a post – Christian world;  that people are not engaging in church; or that the morals, ethics, and the goodness of God is gone. Yes, perhaps these concerns are premature; for, we see the spiritual mark of Hope – Love – and Joy on so many people during this time. We tear up at old movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Story.”  Even our hearts ring out in Christian Joy as we sing Christmas Carols which are completely unrelated to Christ like “Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer.” Beloved, the point is this: Christ is amongst us. The Joy we witness and feel throughout life is the spiritual mark of being Christian – the very declaration of our faith to God. So, fear not for there are Christians in spirit all around us waiting to be welcomed home.

May your week be a blessing of the Spirit as we sing out in Joyful noise

Your Pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 8-12, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4, Thurs. 10-2 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in . Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Dec. 1, 2021

“you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

  • Mark 12:30-31(NRSV)

Good afternoon Beloved,

I pray that you are all well and experiencing ALL the Love God has to offer in this blessed season of Advent. Love though, as we all know, has so many different ways that it can be experienced. It is the feeling that we have for our significant others. The feeling that we have for our children and for our friends. It can even be the feeling that we have for things like ice cream or a Baconator. Yet in all these ways, we are only describing the feeling of love in our heart, or maybe that which lies in the mind and soul. But none of these various ways truly describe the depth of love we are called to exhibit in “all (of our) strength.” To Love God “with all your strength” includes our bodies. We can understand this idea as the love we reveal through our actions and service to God’s Mission. It is like when our friends gather to help the SonShine Soup kitchen or the Beloved who are learning about Open and Affirming. Basically, it is the idea of showing God’s Love in everything we do, think, and feel. 

This Beloved is actually easier said than done. Yet, sometimes an opportunity comes along to show our love for all humankind with all of our strength. An opportunity which we did not know existed. An opportunity to be the very light of love for another human being in the midst of darkness. Our own beloved Amy Chartrain has brought this opportunity to us this week which I feel exemplifies what it means to be a Christian who loves God with all our strength.

For come to find out, there is a foster home in Lawrence for young girls (ages 13-18). These girls come from troubled homes. Many of their parents are either incarcerated or are formerly incarcerated. Rather than risk going back and forth into many foster homes, the children have chosen to live here. This location alone is a gift of care and love to the least among us as the directors are working at making this place even better. Some improvements include a home gym space so the girls can incorporate activity into their daily routine. However, their upbringing and situations have also made them vulnerable to the worst kind of predators. Those who prey on the children.

As such, these young women have been lured to parties and the subsequent sex trafficking of their bodies through the offer of a new pair of sneakers. Yes, sneakers – predators in our neighboring Lawrence are using sneakers to force children into a life of human trafficking. These horrible crimes must stop and I pray the police find everyone who is guilty. Yet, beloved this darkness also reveals the very way we – you and I – can reveal the love of God with our strength. We can help in this Advent season by taking away the lure. By making one child’s life a little safer from these predators with one 20-dollar gift card to Foot Locker.

Therefore, I hope you will join me in procuring some gift cards and bringing them to worship on December 12th where these gifts of our love will be offered and received. If you have any questions, please ask either me or Amy.

This said, revealing our love can be that easy at times . It can be that easy to give a card but it requires beloved disciples like Amy to reveal the need, to love God and people with all her strength, to bring the darkness into the light of Christ. It requires a discerning mind and the strength to step forward and lead the way. The strength to say, “NO,” when injustices are happening. So, we may end the darkness together. This is part of the love we are all called to do and one way we fulfill the Mission of God.

I feel blessed to witness a beloved disciple loving with all of her strength, thank you Amy. For, you are an example of loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. I pray we all witness this example and seek with all of our strength to love God by loving one another throughout the season of Advent.

May your week be full of all the Love God has to offer

your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 8-12, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in . Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Nov. 24, 2021

An image of nine hands all coming together to make a heart shape in front of a white background.
Heart hands as a group of diverse people hands connected together shaped as a love symbol expressing the feeling of being happy and togetherness.

Good morning,

May today, this day, be your best day ever. May it be full of peace, joy, love, and especially hope. For, you are each a blessing and gift to everyone one of us. 

Beloved, too often, our world focuses on the negative. We see disparities in the world; injustices on the streets; and health concerns which leave us afraid or worried. These concerns are normal and ones we do have to address. However, if we let them fill our hearts too much or deal with them alone, we will forget that there are also blessings. Blessings like each and everyone of you. So today, I would like to say thank you for all the beauty and joy you bring to not only me, but to everyone in this fellowship. Thank you for your ministry and friendship. Thank you, believe it or not, for even your frustrations and worries. For all of these aspects of you are a gift, because that is how God made you. Perhaps to learn or perhaps to teach, but for whatever the reason for each of your individual  parts, I feel each of your whole and complete personages are a beautiful gift to me and all of us throughout this fellowship. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if we could approach all people – all situations with the same love we feel for one another. 

Sadly, that is not usually the case. The worries and concerns build up and eventually we become overwhelmed, enter survival mode, take flight or start to fight. This reality is the sad truth of our world today. And we see it with people shifting careers, homes, even friendships all for something better. The frustrations of a world gone weird are simply taking their toll on so many of us. Driving people away from one another – instead of bringing them together. But, wouldn’t it be nice?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just stop… breathe….and choose love – first? Thank God and thank one another – first. You know, live as Jesus teaches us to live: with all the Love God has to offer. Wouldn’t it be nice? Yes, beloved, I believe It is nice and the blessing I hope you are able to give to one another this Advent season and Thanksgiving. Simply and deeply – love – for all the other concerns we can deal with together. But to be ready for Christ, we have to love God, love one another, and love ourselves – first; so, we can be one fellowship of God dealing with the concerns of this world – together. I pray these words guide you and offer some peace in these trying times. I hope you remember that you – each and everyone of you – are loved and beloved by God. 

Happy Thanksgiving Beloved and Thank you for being you

Blessings, peace, and especially love,

your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 8-12, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in . Many blessings and Love to you all.

Pastor’s Letter Nov. 17, 2021

Text "Thankful Grateful Blessed" in wood relief on a table with acorns and pinecones.

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”

-Meister Eckhart 

Good morning, Beloved,

I pray everyone is well and safe in God’s loving care, a gift which I hope you never overlook and are continually thankful to receive. These thoughts came to me this week as we discussed the beautiful writings of the Apostle in Paul’s Letter to the Romans in our Bible study. Words which speak of the logical result following the day Jesus was crucified and risen into the kingdom of God. Words that free us from the “Law” of our fore parents and invite us into a deep relationship based on love, discernment, and covenant. A relationship which we are all thankful for as it invites us into beloved kinship with Christ. I was pondering these thoughts and realized how grateful I am to be free of those laws and the works of our past. Grateful that our Creator and Christ trusts each of us to be faithful. Grateful to be one amongst many of God’s Beloved.

In these moments before Thanksgiving, I wondered if there is a connection between our faith and our holiday of Thanksgiving? And then it came, of course there is Beloved for the pilgrims alone are our religious fore parents; celebrations of Thanksgiving go back into the annals of the Old Testament; and, President Abraham Lincoln was a Christian. This truth became obvious when he declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday by saying, 

“As a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”

Interestingly though, and a point we so often overlook in our modern day observance of the holiday, it is also a call to “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” A call for us to repent those past offences while being thankful for the blessings which God has granted each of us, every day. What a beautiful reminder that our faith is both a joy which we are so thankful to receive and it is also one which comes with a cost. A cost to repent, do better, and continually be in fellowship as one community, regardless of our cultural beginnings. I offer this truth, beloved, as we prepare for our Thanksgiving celebrations for it becomes another way for each of us to show our gratitude to God when we seek justice, peace, and reconciliation with God’s beloved, no matter who they are or where they are on the journey of life.

May we each continue to pray with thanksgiving – reconciliation – and love; for, that is enough.

Your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything or simply want to talk. Next week, My pastoral care hours are Mon. 8-12, Tues. 12-5, Wed. 8-4 to provide some time for visiting. However, if I am at the church please come in . Many blessings and Love to you all.