Pastor’s Letter July 18, 2021

A picture of "red" (actually blue) grapes on a green vine.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

  • John 15: 1-4

Good morning Beloved,

            I hope each of you can see how truly wonderful you are in my eyes; and please allow me to offer a simple gratitude for each of you. As, I truly believe each of you are wonderful and a welcomed part of our loving, caring, beloved community of faith. Now, I will admit that I had a bit of concern sharing this truth with you today. Not because of you – who I have met, but because, I have not met you all. Therefore, I wondered if the words that called to me were honest. I was concerned as to whether this statement that burns in my heart was true. Or am I leading myself astray. I entertained this conflict for a moment, then I realized the words are true: you are all wonderful; so, thank you.

Thank you because I can witness the fruits of your love all around me. I can see the compassion in your care for our lawn and for our children. I can see the fruits of love in the lay readers and the three-hour meetings on Wednesday night. I witness the fruits of your love as you gather in joy on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings. I feel the fruits of your love for God, for our neighbors, and for ourselves which you reveal all around me – every day. So, thank you; because this fruit of love is all we need to witness that you, beloved, are one with God.

I wonder though, can people in our community of Salem see these fruits? Can they tell if we are on the vine of Jesus simply by wandering by our beautiful blue doors? Do we share our love at the grocery stores, bowling alleys, workplaces? For that is the question, right? Are we revealing the fruit of Love in everything we do and with everyone we meet? I hope you do for that is what God calls us to do – love one another and reveal this love, not for praise; but so, we can be an example of love for the world, bring greater praise to God, and be one in the Body of Christ.

I pray this week brings you one – just one – more way to reveal God’s love with our neighbors in Salem and that our whole community can witness the fruit of your love which I witness every day.

Your Pastor, Brian

Pastor’s Letter July 11, 2021

An image of the community joining together in fellowship before Wednesday night worship.

Good morning Beloved,

Many blessings on this Sunday morning. As we begin our summer season, I pray you are well and able to refresh your Spirit; to reflect on what is important in your life; and discover what makes you happy, at peace, and joyful. I make this prayer as many people in our world seem to be hyper-focused on accomplishing and fixing. They seem to feel a need to do everything – today, like there is no tomorrow. And, I am sure we have all witnessed this reality in ourselves or other people throughout our life. In people who need to work a hundred hours a week for a third home; they will never see. In people who challenge every word, action, or inaction as a slight or offence. In people who are defining success in their life by the things they acquire; instead of in the way they live.  

This thought came to my mind a few years ago when I was in a creative writing class. It was right after the professor made an off-hand comment that writers are “only as good as their last piece.” I thought, ‘how sad, as the journey of writing (as well as the journey of life) is the enjoyable part.’ It was then I realized that success, for me, cannot be measured by my accomplishments alone. But then, how do we gauge our success? Perhaps, we cannot.

Or rather, perhaps we should not measure OUR success in this world. For, if we focus only on our goals – our accomplishments – our success then maybe we are missing the point. I mention this idea as it seems not only egocentric and self-serving to focus on my success, it does not match our Christian teachings. Therefore maybe, humans need a new perspective, especially in “_?__” beloved community, a new “our” to focus on, a new Center. 

While pondering these thoughts, I recalled a Bible verse:

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3: 1-3 NRSV)

And, I wondered if the phrase, “in God,” is where we should shift our focus too. Perhaps, perhaps, God as our center is the answer. I mean, what would happen if human beings measured success not on our individual accomplishments but on what God does through us for everyone? Would the world be a better place if we considered God as our Center? Would divisions end and peace reign if we are all “in God”? I believe it would. Mind you, I did not consider this way as a form of blaming God for any issues in our world; rather, it became a shift in perception from what was best for me to what is best for ALL through God at the Center of my world. 

I wonder if this Way would alleviate anxiety and bring joy – peace – and happiness to your life. I know it has done so for me while refreshing my Spirit with new hope for our future. 

May these thoughts be a blessing in your life as we walk through this journey of life together

Your pastor, Brian

Pastor’s Letter June 30, 2021

Hello Beloved, 

I pray you are all staying cool and enjoying life as we head into the summer months. May every day be a blessing of peace for each of you. Peace though is not something we just have. It is a state-of-being granted from God. One that I hope, you will always work towards, strive for, seek in all that you do. For, this state-of-being is also a gift which revitalizes our spirits. A gift like sleep which restores the mind or food which rejuvenates our body. Yet as I write this letter I wonder: how often do people seek or experience the peace of Christ? Could it be compared to retirement when all the work of life is done or perhaps more like our summer vacations when the work of the year is over. Maybe, we need more peace than that – maybe we need daily peace to revitalize our spirit? I pray this latter time was your answer; for, we do. We need to seek and experience peace- daily – to revitalize our spirits and recharge. 

Now beloved, I bring this truth to us today as caring for ourselves is an important step to being beloved disciples who care for all people, even those we may not like. For, how can we care for others unless we feel care – how can we offer peace unless we feel at peace – how can we give love unless we feel loved. I am not sure we can. Therefore, I pray as we start to plan our summer vacations to recharge, we do not forget the many ways to revitalize our spirits and care for ourselves.

Ways of care and revitalization of the spirit, though, are as varied as there are people in the world. They can be the simple prayer to God to the extended conversation we have with Jesus during an early morning cup of coffee. It could be a walk on the beach each night or a hike up the mountain. It could even be the gathering of people at a concert to our Wednesday night fellowship and worship. Personally, I hope it is our Wednesday night worship. However, wherever and however you are revitalized is important and welcomed as this presentation is part of who you are. And, I love who you are. 

May you always remember, beloved disciples, to revitalize your spirit by seeking the peace of Christ so we may all care for the world together.

In God’s love for all

Your pastor, Brian 

My pastoral letters will be posted on Sundays throughout the summer. More news to come on this offering.

Next week, my pastoral care times in the church will be Wednesday and Thursday. I will generally be in the office from 8-4 (or 5), unless visiting. Even though I will be on vacation this week, please know I will be reachable by phone if you need anything. If you would like to meet at a particular time when I return please call. My cell phone is available anytime at (207) 350-9561(texts and voice messages). I am also available by email at May God guide us in Love, always and amen.

Pastor’s Letter June 23, 2021

Hello Beloved, 

I hope that today finds you peacefully in the palm of God’s open hands. Especially in our world that seems to always be in conflict – always changing – always wanting, the idea of simply being at peace sounds wonderful to me. I pray it does for you as well. I pray that you strive for that peace – the peace which God offers all people and not the insatiable hunger to want more. I pray you each receive this gift of peace; for, the insatiable hunger  of our society is the first step on the path to envy.

And, we know this truth. We know that coveting, or wanting, another’s wife, husband, house, ox, or anything is against the ten commandments. It is against the Ten Commandment because it causes the sin of envy. For, when we want what another person has to the point of coveting, humans feel envious of their neighbors. Yet, the want and envy cannot be sated and this creates both internal and external turmoil. Therefore, we can witness this sin as one of the major causes of divides and separations between neighbors.

That said, I was wondering this week if envy and coveting could be seen more broadly. What if the hunger, the want, the covet is not just in relation to people, livestock, or things. What if the want is also thought? As in, can we covet another person’s thoughts – want them to have the same thoughts – feelings – goals as us – hunger for this reality to the point of envy or divisiveness? I believe we can. Not only do I believe this problem is possible, I believe it is happening and creating horrible turmoil in our society today. For people are wanting everyone to believe the same way. 

Yet, we are the beloved all with different thoughts, history, and beliefs coming together not to demand we have all the same thoughts; but, to learn, grow, and be at peace in the beautiful diversity of a beloved community. What a blessing it will be when all people will feel at peace enough to share their thoughts with each other – comfortably. May your week be a blessing of peace amongst a world of controversies. 

In God’s love for all,

Your pastor, Brian 

Next week, my pastoral care times in the church will be Monday and Tuesday. I will generally be in the office from 8-4 (or 5), unless visiting. After that, I will be on vacation until July 6th. If you would like to meet at a particular time in person, by phone or video please call. My cell phone is available anytime at (207) 350-9561(texts and voice messages). I am also available by email at May God guide us in Love, always and amen.