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.


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


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.