Pastor’s Letter Oct. 13, 2021

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

  • Romans 12:9 ESV
An image of a heart shaped cloud against a blue sky.
Cloud heart in the sky in the clouds and sunshine

Good afternoon Beloved,

I bring this prayer from the Apostle Paul to us as authenticity seems lost, hidden, replaced behind a veil of hypocrisy or good intentions in our world today. None of which is helpful in loving one another. For the genuine Love of God can only be achieved by witnessing people, authentically, as who they are and remaining in fellowship with them, afterwards. 

To explain, this week is the UCC NH Conference annual meeting. As with many of these meetings, I have seen very few people speak up about their feelings and thoughts. They may have concerns about a decision or a Witness being presented, but that concern lays dormant in their heart. “No reason to tip the boat,” “what will other people think of me,” and “is it worth the energy to fight this decision” are just some of the reasons I have heard or thought about not confronting a decision. Yes, my heart has also questioned how much of my authentic self I wish to share with the conference and with other people. I have gauged whether it was worth the risk or whether it was that important. And, Beloved, I will say that there is no perfect answer. Each of us must discern for ourselves how much we will share. 

Yet, the truth that I can express with you right now is that without authenticity, God’s true love does not exist. Personally, I never experienced love – true love – before becoming vulnerable to another person. Oh yes, I have been in love before but it was not the same. It was not until I revealed my deep authentic self to Angel that I felt the love which poets hint at and the birds sing about. I finally witnessed the glimmer of God’s Love given to all humankind when we debated quite passionately about different issues and found each other’s loving arms holding us afterwards. It is a love built on trust and caring for one another. A love built on each person seeing the authentic self of the other and remaining in fellowship through the conflicts and debates. 

That said, this type of authentic genuine love can be scary at times as there are people who will use our vulnerabilities against us; but, here in this Beloved fellowship where love and forgiveness is what we seek, I believe that we will always be safe to share and discover God’s genuine love in all functions of our faith. Therefore, I pray you will be your authentic self and share your truth in your relationships. Reveal yourself to our Conference. And accept the differing views of others in our everyday lives as we seek the Love of God – together. May we find the Genuine Love we all seek in God, The Church, and in the Other. 

Many beautiful blessings in your journey

Your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:00– 4:00; Tuesday 10:30 – 6:30. I will be writing from home on Friday. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter Oct. 6, 2021

Baby looking critical at its own image in the mirror.

Hello Beloved,

May God guide and care for you today and all the days of your life. In the joys and the burdens – the anxiety and the peace – the strengths and especially in our weaknesses. God, hold us in our imperfect beauty which you witness in love. Amen. 

This prayer came to me today as I was thinking about my youth. For, I grew up in a world which said, ‘focus on your strengths.’ ‘Focus only on the things you are good at and then you can excel to be the best.’ Now, I have been 6’4” since the age of thirteen. Can you imagine what everyone in my high school considered to be my strength, in the late eighties? Yes, you guessed it – football. But even though that could have been my strength as everyone else on the team was 5’8” or less, it was not the goal of my life. I knew, even then, that winning football games would not help people. It would not help the greater good. 

In fact, it was not until I became aware of my weakness – reading, that I began to see the possibilities open up. The possibilities of how to help the greater good, and God. The possibilities which came through thoughts, philosophers and yes even a good science fiction novel, or two.

But, this awareness, beloved, is sometimes very difficult as we do not always want to admit where we are weak, even to ourselves. Sometimes, we can be so blind to our weaknesses that we simply do not see them or the solution He has prepared for all of us. And sometimes, we also get so lost in our strengths that we forget that the goal of all humans is the greater good of God. For, life is not about winning the football game, making money, or even promoting a particular identity. It is about God and the Love we feel when come together through the Divine – regardless of our weaknesses or strengths in this world. I pray you will always remember this Truth as Christ does see your weakness and still loves you. I imagine She is sitting there in the bleachers of life, cheering you on in hopes that you will witness and love who you are as well; so, we may all come together in the kin-dom to come. 

May your week be a blessing of self-discovery and love

Your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:00– 4:00; Tuesday 10:30 – 6:30. I may be writing from home on Friday but may be at church. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter Sep. 29, 2021

Picture of Lego like wooden blocks used to build homes.

Hello Beloved,

In God’s Loving care and support I pray you are each well. Recently, I was considering this idea of support while watching a fascinating video on new building materials. The walls were being built from these two-foot-wide light weight blocks which almost looked like Legos. The amazing thing is that it only took two people to build a 10’ high wall. One on one side – one on the other. However, this same size wall would have required four people to build and lift into place using standard stick framed construction, back in the day.

Now, this innovation was easily more efficient in the best of circumstances; however, it lacked something very important in those times of difficulty. It lacked teamwork, partnership, and comradery. For each person went about building their part of the wall without any help from the other person. There was no need to rely on the other person because one person could do it alone. Yet, we know that no matter how strong or independent we are individually, people cannot always do things alone. We need partners in life to help us through the burdens and struggles. Partners who we have already come to trust and rely on in the good times, in order to have faith that they will be a partner for us in the difficult times of life. Partners who share in our life – work – and play.

Therefore, I wonder if the innovations of today, like these building blocks, are always helpful. I wonder if they sometimes do more long-term damage to us socially and our ability to create long lasting meaningful relationships. Do they? I am not sure, nor would I wish us to stop looking for the innovative ways to make life more efficient. I definitely prefer the computer over the old typewriters.

Rather, I believe what needs to said is that no matter what ways we innovate, we still need one another to be present and help build our fellowship together. We need to pass each other the bricks and see the structure we build together; so we know how to support one another when or if times become difficult. For, God created the majority of us as a people who need a partner, a team, a fellowship. Let us always consider this truth and never let go of one another in the difficult or the good times, regardless of the innovations which come our way.

May God’s love be with each of you as we live – work – and play together as partners throughout our lives and our faith.

your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:00– 4:00; Tuesday 10:30 – 6:30. I may be writing from home on Friday but may be at church. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter Sep. 22, 2021

An image of the silhouette of two people sitting and talking calmly in front of an orange hued sunset. There is a tree in the foreground.

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”  

-Proverbs 3:6 (MSG)

Good afternoon Beloved,

Recently, I saw this cartoon of two people facing each other. In between them was a number on the ground and in speech bubbles they were both expressing their truth. One of them saw a “six” and the other saw a “nine.” Now, the caption underneath was something along the lines of “just because you are right does not mean I am wrong” and I received a little laugh from this common sense truth. But then the reality of the moment set in. The reality of the cartoon faces which were grimacing in anger. The reality of our world which seems to be yelling their truths without listening to other perspectives. And it all became very real for me.

It became a reflection of so many of our conflicts throughout history. A reflection of all the times that people have been arguing over the same point, yet unable to witness the perception of the other.

“In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.”

– Proverbs 3:6 (NRSV)

And this cartoon argument was only about a number, what if it was about something important. Or more to the point, something important to you or me, like the Bible. What if the words in the text were either the inerrant word of God or a group of stories written by some ancient authors? Would the argument become more real, visceral, dangerous? Would the two cartoons start fighting to prove their perspective was right?

Sadly, we do not have to imagine the answer as this reality has happened many times. It is what has caused division after division in the church. People witness the truth of God as they see it and are so sure they are right that proving this truth seems worthy of fighting and sometimes killing over.

“Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
and he will lead you wherever you go.”

– Proverbs 3:6 (TPT)

This passion over our truth being right though does not mean another must be wrong. To explain, I have enclosed three different translations of the same Bible verse. Three different ways to interpret God’s word with a bit of time in-between so you could read them freely. Are any of these interpretations wrong? I do not believe so for they each reveal a glimmer of God’s voice – a smidge of truth – a bit of the whole just like each of us individually only reflect a bit – a smidge – a glimmer of God. To fully hear the voice of God we have to both speak and listen to one another. Just like if we were going to fully understand this proverb, we would need to hear all the ways it is translated to understand the fullness of what God is saying through our scripture.

Therefore, I pray you will take the time every day to both speak your truth for without it, we cannot hear that part of God in you; and, listen to the truth of others for without it, we cannot hear that part of God in them. Beloved, these are the tools of healing created when we love one another. Tools which begin with our lips and ears.

May your week be blessed by all the love God has to offer to everyone.

Your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:00– 4:00; Tuesday 10:30 – 6:30. I may be writing from home on Friday but may be at church. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter Sep. 15, 2021

Picture of two hearts in front of a sunrise over the water.

Good afternoon Beloved,

I pray you are well and feel all the Love God has to offer. Love though is not simply a solo activity. Yes, we can love people or things without that thing or person loving us back. It happens all the time. In effect, our Love Challenge is an example of this personal reality. You love someone and have placed their picture on a heart – done. On a side note, I would like to share my deepest appreciation for everyone who has begun placing up your hearts throughout the church; for, it truly is a blessing to witness who and what you each love. I hope everyone will continue to do so throughout the year. Still, this wonderful gift is really only for each other here in our beloved fellowship.

Beyond the doors of our sanctuary, the town of Salem may not know how much we love and care for people. The person walking down the street may have no idea that they are loved and welcomed – here – no matter who they are or where they are on life’s journey. The poor or hungry may not know they have a refuge within our walls; for, we have not always revealed our love of one another beyond us. 

Yet, Divine Love – the love we are called to give and receive requires mutual participation to achieve even a glimmer of the depth and breadth of God’s Love for us. Anyone who has ever been in love – loved a child – or had a pet knows a fraction of this truth. I believe God is calling us to this type of Love. Calling us to be Her hands and feet in the world. Calling us to reveal how much we love all people; so, all people may feel welcomed here in His Beloved Fellowship. Therefore, as we continue to consider what and who we love, let us also consider how we can reveal that love to another person and live into the Beloved Fellowship we are called to become.

May your week be full of God’s Divine Love, always

Your Pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:00– 4:00; Tuesday 10:30 – 6:30. I may be writing from home on Friday but may be at church. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter Sept. 8, 2021

image of a heart made out of many individual hearts all different shades of red.

Good afternoon Beloved,

I pray all are well and in the loving hands of God. Love though, much like any other muscle is one which needs exercise. So, this year as we live into our theme of “Love One Another,” Merri and I would like to introduce a new challenge, the Love Challenge.

Much like the El Paso Challenge we did a few years back, our Love Challenge will be a series of wonderful challenges we invite all people in our fellowship to engage in throughout the year. The only difference is this challenge is for everyone – all ages. These challenges are, and will be, ways that we can all live into our faith of loving God, loving yourself, and loving one another. In other words, they are ways to exercise the muscle of love in our community. We pray you will join us on this wonderful challenge of love.

Our first challenge, begins this Rally Sunday on September 12 when we come back to worship within our sanctuary. When you arrive and receive you bulletin, there will be a heart inside. We invite you to write the name – draw a picture – add a photo of something or someone you love on the heart, however you wish. Remind us of who you are, by sharing what or who you love; but only one love per heart, please. Do not worry. If you cannot decide on which love you want to share, there will be more hearts present. You can also make your own hearts and bring them in to the church. After preparing these declarations, please hang them in the church; so, we may all see the things and people we, as a fellowship, love.

One last hint, the hearts we prepared in the church each have two holes so we can hang them from each other with ribbon. Many blessings to you all and I pray you will take up this challenge to exercise one of the most important muscles we have – our Love for one another.

Many prayers as you consider the people and things you love, (You know the reflections of God working in this world)

your pastor, Brain

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:00– 4:00; Tuesday 10:30 – 6:30. I may be writing from home on Friday but may be at church. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. This Wednesday is our last service for the summer and we are, God willing, reopening fully on September 12 for Rally Sunday. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter Aug. 29, 2021

An image by Nathan Greene called "The Blessed Hope." The picture depicts the second coming of Jesus and the angels descending to Earth amongst the human beings in the foreground.
Nathan Greene “THE BLESSED HOPE

Good morning Beloved,

I pray you are all well and feeling equally loved by God. For you have been, are now, and will always be – loved equally by God. Equal to everyone else and all of Creation. This Truth is the core of Jesus’ ministry of the kin-dom of God, or Heaven, a place or time when we will not just be, but also feel – equally loved. It is a time when our pride, ego, sense of entitlement is over. It will be the place where no one is worse or better than anyone else; for, we are all created equally.

I have long since seen this message of equal love in the kin-dom as the core of God’s mission and ministry through us in the UCC. It is what we strive for as did our Congregational predecessors. In fact, this truth of our faith even made it into the Declaration of Independence when our forefathers wrote, “All men are created equal.” Today, we can look back and say: Thomas Jefferson meant only the landowners were equal. And although our forefathers actions showed this truth, his words were a dramatic change from the English monarchy. In other words, the words were a step towards the kin-dom of God, a revelation, if you will, of how we, as a faith, are called to become: a people who both are and feel we are created equal.

Of course, we were not there yet in Jefferson’s time nor are we there, today. The world in which we live is not living into the kin-dom, yet. There are still injustices being done to each other every day in all manner of ways. Therefore, many people still feel the unequal, unwelcome, and oppressive tendrils of this earthly world. So, how do we help the world – our community – our fellowship feel that we are all equally loved? Through the loving steps of action, Beloved, through action in everything we do. Through the action and example of God’s equal Love to all people. For, we cannot change society over night, just like Jefferson could not shift the entire world through those few words; but, we can be an example of God’s equal Love in everything we do from our conversations to our conflicts. We can live into the vision of the kin-dom and one day, I pray that we will all feel that equal Love from God and one another which Jesus shares with us throughout his ministry.

May you feel the blessing of God’s equal Love poured out for ALL – always.

your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 10:30 – 6:30; Thursday and Friday 8- 4. I may be writing from home on Mondays but may be at church. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. This Wednesday is our last service for the summer and we are, God willing, reopening fully on September 12 for Rally Sunday. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter Aug. 22, 2021

Image of a woman trying to decide which road to go down. One side is bright and sunlit. The other is dark and shadowy.

Good morning Beloved,

My prayers and love go out to all of you on this blessed day. And it is a blessed day for it is a brand-new day before each and every one of us. It is a day where we each will discern, choose, and live as we are called to live. What a blessing this gift truly is for all of humanity. Therefore, let me say thank you, thank you God, for this gift that all people have been granted.

As I was considering this gift, I remembered that there are times when it does not feel like a gift. Times when free will is also a burden. Times when the people we love use their free will to make what we consider “bad” choices. And, I am sure we have all seen these instances, while raising our children, guiding our parents, or even living in the world today. “Everything seems so obvious,” we think, “why can’t these people I love just do what I know is right.” Truth be told, this reaction, beloved, is normal. We love people, love our fellowship, love our families and because of that love we do not want our loved ones harmed. So, many blessings on all of you each who love one another, especially those of you willing to go one step further and carry the burden of another person’s free will.

I thought of this idea today as my heart goes out to the unknown number of people who are abused in the world, every day. Abused physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually by people and all the harm which could be done if we took away the victims’ free will. For you see, one of the biggest commonalities amongst abuse is that the abuser does take away the victims / survivors free will – their gift – their choice. And sometimes when we go to help a victim / survivor (that person we care about) we have to watch them make the choice to return to an abusive relationship. We have to watch them because we cannot use the weapons of abuse and control to force our will on these souls already hurting. We cannot use these weapons as it will just cause more harm than good. Therefore, free will becomes a heavy burden that we must carry – the burden of supporting someone we care about even though their choice seems dangerous or deadly to us.

So, I offer each of you who have carried this burden – or carry it today when you disagree with the choices of our loved ones – yet still love them and support their choices – many blessings and gratitude. Many blessings for your support of the one you love as they use their gift from God to return to an abuser, become vaccinated, remain unvaccinated, go mask-less, wear masks, or the thousands of other discernments and choices we must each do, daily. Many blessings as you carry this burden of love.

May today be a blessing to you as you feel supported by the ones you love

Your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 10:30 – 6:30; Thursday and Friday 8- 4. I may be writing from home on Mondays but may be at church. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter Aug. 15, 2021

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you.I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”

Isaiah 46:3-4

Little girl being carried on the beach by an adult male apparent figure. She has her head on his shoulder.

Good morning Beloved,

I pray you are all well and listening to God who is speaking – every day. 

I would like to begin by sharing an encounter I had recently. I met a friend of a friend and as usual when you meet new people, we began talking and listening to each other’s stories. It was quite enjoyable as we connected on so many levels. We had both worked at the same place, went to similar schools, and found calls later in life. Then I heard something wonderful as she reflected on her schooling. She said, “ I have no idea how I did it.” Those words struck me deeply because it is the same feeling I have had many times. I do not know how I worked 40 plus hours, went to school full time, and still managed to write a full-length play in two weeks. I have no idea. If I add up all the hours along with sleeping and eating, it does not seem possible. But, it happened.

Have we all not had similar experiences in life? How did you manage to work, take care of children, build a home together or alone? How do any of us manage to make it through those times of sadness when illness is affecting our loved one? When depression builds up after a loss of a loved one or not being accepted by your family? When we are putting together a wedding, and working, and watching out for the feelings of the ones we love? Good and bad times – seem to reveal something people just push away as ingenuity or drive in the individual. Something powerful within the person. However, I know that when these times came along in my life – both the bad and the good times, I did not feel powerful. I felt like I was being carried. 

“I will carry and I will save” as God promises us. She will do so from birth to when we are gray. He will carry us, help us, stand for us when the worst is before us or the best is needed to be done. This truth, Beloved, is the promise of God and one I pray you listen too as we struggle in the world today. For, we are not alone – God is here to carry us when all the world is against us – here to carry us when there is more good to do than humanly possible – here to carry us when we cannot stand by ourselves. Therefore, I pray you are listening to God speaking as we carried throughout this life.

In God’s Love

Your pastor, Brian

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. Next week, my pastoral care hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 10:30 – 6:30; Thursday 8- 4. I may be writing from home on Mondays and Fridays but may be at church. If I am in the office, please feel free to stop in to talk. Many blessings and Love to you all, always.

Pastor’s Letter August 8, 2021

The image is of two twin bridges over a rather large canyon. The bridge in the background does not look to be completed.

Hello Beloved friends, 

I pray you are each well and may the peace of Christ be with you all, especially today. For even though we share this blessing  each week during our passing of the peace, I believe we all need to feel God’s Divine peace – right now. We need to feel this peace because many people in the world today are angry – frustrated – and afraid. And why wouldn’t we be? We thought the pandemic was over and now, people are getting sick and dying, once again. All “because of them,” those people who are endangering my family – “because of them” who are forcing me to endanger my life by taking an unapproved vaccine. “Because of them who…” Wait!

Who, beloved, who are “them”? Are the “them” that we are angry at not us – Humanity – and the one beloved people of God? It is true we are afraid – afraid of Covid -19 or afraid of the vaccine – fear is fear and we are afraid. Frustrated by government mandates or frustrated by vaccine hesitancy, frustration is frustration and we are frustrated. Angry that people are dying or angry that we are about to die financially, anger is anger and we – yes, WE are angry. And, these emotions. beloved, are what all people are dealing with throughout society, our community, and in our fellowship. 

The problem is this type of anger, frustration and fear (if we are true and honest) has little to do with “them” and more to do with an unseen threat. Oh, “they” – “those” people are a great target as “they” are physically in front of me – endangering my life or the life of my loved one. Yes, “they” are a great target that I can vent all my frustrations and anger on. Yet, “those” people – all of us – I believe are doing the same thing as you: we are making the best discernment we each can for our life with the information we both have and believe to be true. This type of faithful discernment is not wrong, especially amongst a pandemic which no one was fully prepared to deal with over the last year. So perhaps, OUR fears, frustrations, and angers are misplaced and should really be focused on this unseen virus. The virus which we cannot convince – shame – or threaten into leaving us alone. The virus which has taken our lives – our friendships – our livelihood – our safety – our freedom in some way, shape, or form. The virus which has come back to threaten us once again. Maybe, if we let our anger be towards that virus, we can finally let go of our anger towards “them” and find peace; so, we may work together once more to find solutions for all.

May the Peace of Christ be with you all,

Your pastor, Brian

P.S. 

One more thought, beloved, for I am not sure if anyone who hears these words is a virologist, politician, or reporter; but, you are a beloved child of Christ who has a voice. A voice that can bridge the gap in grocery stores and on Facebook. You can hear the fears, frustrations, and angers of people in our world. Share compassion for the concerns which our beloved people are feeling. Help these souls feel heard, accepted, and validated as another human being. So, we may all let go of judgement and focus on the solutions to not just the virus but all the problems in our world. Yes, we may not be a reporter, politician, or virologist; but, those souls who are determining vaccine safety, making laws on vaccine passports, or reporting only one viewpoint may witness your example of peace and set aside their tribal views to also find the peace of Christ. In the end, my beloved friends, love and peace must start somewhere; so let it begin with us as we have no need for the anger, frustration, and fear which blocks us from God and one another.

As always please call (207-350-9561) if you need anything. For the next two weeks, I am shifting my pastoral care hours to Tuesday and Wednesday 10:30 – 6:30; Thursday 8- 4. I may be writing from home on Mondays and Fridays but feel free to stop in to the church if the outside light is on, for I am here. Many blessings and Love, always.