The United Baptist Church
Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
December 6, 2022
Merry Christmas! As I write today, it feels like spring again~rainy and warm-ish! It was nice to have a mild November and Thanksgiving too. We had better prepare for a cold winter!
Speaking of preparation, the church calendar puts us in Advent, a time of waiting and preparation ~ Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Again we have a fresh wreath with candles to remind us of God’s timelessness, a circle with no beginning and no end. This tradition orginated with 16th Century German Lutherans, lighting one candle each Sunday of Advent. This year we have evergreens of spruce, weeping cypress, and yew symbolizing immortality and boxwood symbolizing eternal life, nature’s abundance, healing, and grounded-ness.The center white candle, called the Christ Candle will be lit on Christmas Eve as we wait and acknowledge Christ the Savior, “the light of the world”, is born. We will have a Christmas Eve service at 3 pm with a Woodwind Quintet, Carols, Scriptures, Guest Vocalists, Communion, and Candlelight, so we hope you can attend! We will follow our normal schedule for Christmas Day which falls on Sunday this year. More carols to sing then too! We had a wonderful “Deck the Halls” team this year, so thank you to those who helped!
Although our year’s theme has been “Listening for the Work”, and we are hearing God’s direction for us personally and for the church, this quarter we were striving to see the extraordinary in the ordinary through Scripture, everyday living, and missional opportunities.
My year’s sermons and Scriptures are available on our website: https://www.theunitedbaptchurch.org/services if you’d like more “education” or to discuss with me.
And now for Advent, we ask you to join us as we refresh our spiritual lives like we do at Lent, by “emptying” ourselves of sin, selfishness, regret, stress, misplaced priorities, unfruitful habits, and unrealistic, unhealthy expectations. With all those things clogging up our hearts and brains, how can we possibly take in the innocence, holiness, beauty, humility, salvation, awe, glory, and power of the Lord Jesus Christ?! Please use the prayer tools we learned this year, like silence, contemplation, confession, prayer walking, Scripture prayers, and more to clear your mind and open your heart. These exercises and topics will lead us into next year’s theme of “Divine Experiments!” I too am emptying myself to prepare for a pilgrimmage to Israel in January. How could I take in all the images and sensations we read of in the Bible if my mind and heart are already full? Please begin to pray for me and peace in the Middle East so that our NorthStar Pastors’ Trip can occur. Thank you. Have a beautiful holiday!
November 1, 2022
Welcome to November and 70 degree temperatures! If you’re like me, I am thrilled for “St. Martin’s summer”, a period of warm weather in early November. It got cold way too fast this year, but our heat is working well now. October was filled with hurricanes, destruction, contrasted with the beauty of bright colored leaves, the Annandale CROP Walk for hunger, smells of fireplaces burning (at least in my neighborhood), a rainy Halloween, Bible studies of Ruth and Nehemiah, and recovery from COVID for your pastor -- the irony of Pastor Appreciation Month, huh!?!
November is a month of gratitude, and I am ready for that! Being isolated for 10 days is what some of you went through the last couple years, and it was no fun; I feel like I’m part of a club now—a COVID survivor! I am so grateful for my current health, and the cards, texts, and calls to check in on me. I am also grateful for our competent staff and church leaders who stepped right into place October 23rd to lead a wonderful worship and council meeting. I am grateful for physical things we take for granted: the ADL’s (activities of daily living), like mobility, hygiene, nutrition, being able to get healthy groceries delivered safely, being able to afford fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy foods, sleep, medicine, time to rest, snuggly cats (my ace medical team!), a strong immune system, and life itself! This Thanksgiving has new purpose to appreciate caregivers, nurses, PT/OT folks, doctors, and staff members at Rehabs, Hospitals, other medical facilities. Thank you all for your training, your calling, and your work!
The relational bonds between Ruth and Naomi reveal the extraordinary lineage of grace and sacrificial love in the ordinariness of “gleaning,” gathering grain with which to make bread. Their survival story is more than that; it reflects lives that will flourish through their kinsman-redeemer, Boaz. Nehemiah’s goal of re-building the wall around Jerusalem is another extraordinary task brought to life in 52 days despite local bullies and detractors. The “people had a mind to work” and were willing to defend their efforts as well. The collaboration with God to achieve their goal came through prayer, effort, faith, and divine intervention. “20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us! (Neh. 4:20).” We must be careful not to take these words out of context, as some zealots do for selfish motives. God created us with minds, intelligence, open hearts, and free will. Please make thoughtful, informed, and prayerful decisions as you vote November 8th in local elections. Honesty, character, excellence, and accurate information are ways to protect our rights to Religious Liberty, another extraordinary Baptist Freedom for which we must be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!
October 4, 2022
Happy Autumn! While this is usually my favorite time of year, the hurricanes, clouds, rains, and cold temperatures have ‘dampened’ peoples’ spirits! Ok, too much time with the Potters and their wonderful puns. In any case, we do raise our prayers and love to those folks in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Florida, and North and South Carolina who lost lives and property from Hurricane Ian. Be cautious about how you choose to donate to assist with recovery efforts. Our denomination committed Disaster Teams IRL (in real life) and has created online donation portals that will directly serve needs – CBF, and BGAV and CWS/CROP walk. Dishonest Scam fundraisers are popping up already. Check with the office or a church leader if you’re not sure.
We have been praying hard this fall for the condition of our world, its leaders, and its people. We remembered 9/11 which fell on Sunday this year at the same time Great Britain was grieving the loss of her queen. Then hurricane Fiona ravaged the Caribbean and Canada, before Ian hit a week later. And yes, the violence on our streets continues, while the stock market remains volatile. People who do not know God personally wring their hands in fear and frustration; we who know and live for Christ may wring our hands too, but we first get on our knees in humility for all the good In our world and lives. We also have a sense of community to help weather these storms, literal or figurative. Bobby Joe and Patsy Small are Godly examples of faith, trusting him, humility, and gratitude. We sent a little food and prayers their way, and received 15 or so thank you notes on napkins or whatever paper he had available at the hospital. This family recovered well, and send their love to the congregation and friends.
Our last parable from the summer was from Luke 5:36: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.” Have you ever loved a piece of clothing so much (either the style or broken-in feel of it, or the soft touch of an old college sweatshirt), and just couldn’t give it up? Or have you ever tried to patch over a hole, a stain, or a tear in those favorite jeans? I admit to owning a few “loved-to-death” garments, and made my mistakes using a brand new patch. After the first washing, it destroyed the garment I loved. The Kingdom Jesus shares is brand new cloth and cannot be attached to cover a flaw in old systems; rather, he brings to us a whole new existence! John the Baptist had his purpose to patch up the old system and to prepare folks to meet Jesus; but now the Messiah is here, and his purpose is not to mend the old systems or humans with new patches (or new wine), but he offers us spiritual healing through total metamorphosis! Let us live this new life in a new way with the new cloth that Christ has given us! This last 2022 quarter, please listen for the work, but also watch for the extraordinary in the ordinary messes of life. You will be encouraged and amazed at Christ’s presence and beauty.
September 6, 2022
Happy September! School is back in session, so please be careful out there driving. The highlight of my August was our Adult Vacation Bible School! We had 3 days, 3 hours, Bible Study (old/new wineskins, sand/rocky soil for building, and sorting good/bad fish in the net), Lunch Fellowship, Music and Arts! Thank you to all 9 who attended uncertain of the format or activities! Martha Lowe gets a shout out for bringing her friend, Carol, whose presence we enjoyed immensely (she has another wonderful church home, but we all made a new friend in Annandale!) As you read in the promotion materials, this was a (now successful) experiment and template for cool summer fun that we will promote to the neighborhood and other churches’ Senior Adults next year! We have more photos on the church Facebook page. I welcome feedback.
We are commanded to share our faith, through actions and hospitality. Did you know that the word hospitality means “love of a stranger”? This is a UBC strength, but are we following Christ’s teachings? We must not jockey for the best seat, as the disciples did in Luke 14:7-14. Instead, take the lowest seat at the table. Our host, God, decides who sits where; the proud will be humbled, and the humble will be honored in His Kingdom. Jesus calls us to invite all to His table: the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. Do we, or do we only invite those of status or importance, or those who are already friends? We had some tough sermon lessons this past month, finishing up the parables and finding some in the Old Testament: Abraham’s Three Visitors (Gen 18:1-7), the Midnight Caller (Lk 11:5-13), the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:28-37), The Rich Fool (Lk 12:13-21, Cain’s jealousy (Gen 4:1-6), Solomon’s warning (2 Chronicles 7:11-22), and the Pharisee/Tax Collector praying (Lk 18:9-14). You can read my sermons on the webpage under “Services” or at this link or just look up the passages, and I’d love to hear from you to discuss.
We held a bittersweet goodbye to Agnes Lewis in a Celebration of Life service with lunch, so we met some of her family, who were of course a delight! Our music team and congregants honored her well. The Lord’s Prayer, her favorite, was spoken and played. I thank our new ABBE Men’s team for making the grounds more beautiful to visitors (ask me). We miss you all here.
Kairos (καιρός) is Greek for “opportune time,” where God may break in to our circumstances, and we then can reflect on the purpose of His in-breaking. I think of it as the Holy Spirit nudging me toward an “AHA!” moment. “Kairos Moments” will be the title of this regular article, so that observations, reflections, questions and theology can be examined for action.
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