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.

Pastor’s Letter August 1, 2021

An image of a man standing on a pile of gold coins in a vault.

Good morning Beloved,

Warmest greetings of Love on this Sunday morning. I pray you are all whole and well. Yet, as I offer this simple prayer I know that many people in our world today are not well. They are not well mentally, physically, and especially spiritually. People are not whole as they struggle with some part of their life. Yet, this reality, beloved, is the point: we are not partial beings. We are whole individuals which require us to care and maintain every part of our complete being, to be healthy. We need to care for our bodies and minds – our emotions and our finances – and yes we must care for our spiritual connection to God. Sadly, many people today do not care for every part of their whole selves. This unhealthy truth is apparent amongst many of our brothers and sisters in the world.

Now perhaps, this thought came to me as I witnessed the healthy choice of Simone Biles to step down in the Olympics last week due to stress. And I must say blessings and peaceful wishes to her for discerning what she needed to do in order to be healthy. Sadly though, Biles is rare. For most people cannot even see the breadcrumbs of their struggle let alone the illness which is growing in them and throughout society. Although there are a variety of examples, one bread trail is particularly relevant to today and it grows into the illness of greed.

Now, the illness and sin of greed can be for power and superiority, to force our will on others, or for the simple accumulation of wealth. It is an illness which places the “I” as the most important aspect in every situation. “I want it; so, I should have it;” “What’s in it for me;” or “you have it; so I should (even though I refuse to work)” are some of the various breadcrumbs which I have heard over the years. Breadcrumbs which reveal there is an illness of greed within our society. But, the strange thing is that this illness is in our society – not, as far as I have seen within our fellowship, Thank God. 

These thoughts, beloved, are leading me to one conclusion: perhaps there is a cure for the illness of greed which we know here, in this community of faith. Perhaps the cure to society’s illness is in something we do or rather believe in differently. I wonder if that cure lies not in us but in who we believe to be the “I” of our lives. Who is your “I,” your Hero(ine), your “I AM”? Perhaps, this truth and cure given freely to other people within our society will help heal their spiritual side; so, they too may be whole and well in the loving hands of our great “I AM,” God.

With thoughts of Love,

Your pastor, Brian

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

Pastor’s Letter July 25, 2021

A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and have some left.'” He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.

  • 2 Kings 4:42-44

Good morning Beloved,

An image of a food banquet with many empty chairs. The food is primarily colorful fruits and vegetables with red napkins in the shape of birds on each plate.

I pray you are all well and in the loving faith of God. And I would like to begin today by saying thank you to the soul  who shared their faith with our community. The blessed person who quietly came and delivered  our offerings to the food pantry this month. Thank you, for this gift is a blessing of faith. Not only the gift of food, but the sharing of that gift with other people who are hungry in our world.

And there are hungry people throughout the world and in our very community of Salem. I witnessed two people this week alone with signs saying very simply, “Will work for Food.” Now of course, there are quite a few theories and questions people consider when seeing an individual without a home asking for food. Are they mentally ill; is it safe; is this a scam; are they veterans, are they just lazy? We have heard the questions by various talking heads, friends, and maybe even out of our own lips. Questions which invariably shift us from helping that person asking for food. Yet, I wonder if  we are not understanding their request: “Will work for Food.”

It seems simple enough right. These beloved souls are hungry or maybe even scamming and want food – a hand out – or whatever. But what if the food they need is not just the physical food to fill the body but also the spiritual food of a kind hand. Maybe they need a loving person to offer them a gift of fellowship? Maybe, these souls do not even know that is the hunger they feel inside, just someone to share a moment of life with – in a smile and a kind word. 

I thought of this today as there are many passages in the Bible which speak of the giving of food to the masses; and, afterwards there is always enough. The man – the disciples – Jesus always has some food which is left over. Our passage from Second Kings is one of those texts, as is the story when Jesus feeds the five thousand (Matt.14:13-21). Now, if the food here is only the physical food we consume, it says very plainly that “twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain” would not feed a hundred people. But, if the food – the giving of food or anything really – is also a giving of faith – then we would all have some left over – every time we give. And maybe – just maybe it is also the food we need, as well.

I pray you let these thoughts guide you with scripture as we boldly seek to find ways to share our faith with the hungry souls of our world.

In the Grace of God,

Your Pastor, Brian

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

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 pastor@fcc-salem.org. 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 pastor@fcc-salem.org. May God guide us in Love, always and amen.