The United Baptist Church
Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
November 2, 2021
Happy Fall! Yes, we are in November, and I can barely recall October! Are you feeling the same way? When the weather cooled off a little, I began to walk around my neighborhood as a new healthy life rhythm. I was disappointed how long it took for the leaves this year to turn! According to a Washington Post article (10/17/20) and a horticulturalist friend, we will experience subdued hues in our future. This year our trees are unusally stressed by cicada damage, weather drought/flood extremes, high temperatures, western wildfires, and insect pests. That being said, I am noticing this week more brilliant maple leaf development of reds and oranges. My walks give me a chance to observe wildlife in God’s miraculous creation, to de-stress, and to boost energy and health. I hope you will make time to get out there and enjoy our world – no masks required outside!
We also began a new sermon series on Spiritual Gifts. We started with confession and cleansing to prepare us to perceive the Holy Spirit’s gracious gifts. We journeyed with Ezekiel, realizing that we, like the exiles, are a broken, sinful people. In chapters 33-36, we learned how God was disappointed in his people, Israel, yet would redeem and restore them to health and abundance for His sake, “if they had love for one another.” With New Testament eyes, Jesus knows we are imperfect, but demands our humility to come just as we are. Our guest musicians Pat Close and Rob Robertson along with David Evans sang “Jesus, Take All of Me.” With these lyrics, “I come to You, I run to You. There is nothing that You don’t see. You love me just as I am.”
So the roles and gifts we have studied since June are not job titles or arrogant entitlements. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 The Message Paul’s list of gifts is to be used to edify the church. A variety of gifts are given to a diverse group of people who believe, yet remember, these gifts come from the same Holy Spirit that was poured down on the apostles at Pentecost, from the same God through Christ. According to Paul, gifts are not revealed until the church needs them! Prayer, Bible Study, Worship, Fellowship, and project/event Volunteering are necessary to reveal the need for and to inspire the person who has that special gift. If you’d like a detailed study of this topic, let me know. The last one I found was from 1992 before the consolidation! We need your gifts today.
When God wants to influence the world through us, He can and will. We practice our gifts for the church, but also for the broader community. When the body of Christ, i.e., the Church, serves by giving food, money, building space, time, and talents, we are telling the world about God’s own generosity and LOVE! We are one in Spirit as we are one body in Christ – United Baptist.
October 5, 2021
The last few months were challenging, and I wrote and preached about international, national, and local events that drove many of us to our knees in prayer, grief, and frustration. As the cliché goes, “we are not out of the woods, yet!” Wildfires are still a serious hazard, botanical, and financial loss. The Afghan refugees who escaped takeover are trying to unite with family, find resources, and settle in. Earthquake, volcano, and flooded areas are still in desolation and recovery. COVID-19 variants surged as hospitals found themselves in crisis mode again. And we recognized the 20th “Anniversary” of 9/11: losses and long-term illnesses of first responders. We have been praying for others even with our own concerns. And that is what we Christians are called to do. We draw near to Christ for comfort, yes, and also for direction.
Some have asked how can we help with so big a need? Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians, to “ 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ . . . 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death . . . But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good . . . we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone . . .(6:2, 8-10 NLT).”
And so we should share burdens. Budgeted Missions accounts do support groups who are helping in these big issues: ACCA, BWA, BGAV, CBF, and even the CROP/CWS walk will distribute resources to those above. We shared Dolores Puckett’s life at an uplifting service with family, friends and neighbors, hearing stories of her generosity and “critters!” She donated many to us to foster until adoption. Amerikids preschool was a recipient; we saved a few for our Christmas Choir celebrations; and Pastor Ed Young’s son-in-law’s Motorcycle Club collects toys for children in need at Christmas. They are delighted to share them!
Resilience and flexibility are still needed as we slowly schedule activities. Young at Heart Gadabouts had two safe trips so far, and our Friends and Family Breakfasts are back on schedule. Advent and Christmas will be special music this year; concerts are cancelled until better immunity prevails. We are praying for our school teachers (David & Melissa) as they navigate strenuous schedules and COVID-19 exposure. Our church demonstrates healthy compliance, hope, and faith as we re-gather together. As we look to the future, we are committed to our relationships with Jesus Christ and to one another as our covenant states. Will you renew your commitment to pray together at noon, wherever you are?
September 7, 2021
Thank you, church and friends, for the August birthday wishes, cards, notes, lunches, gifts, and calls! Re-reading your kind sentiments after the last few weeks is hopeful and heart-warming to see how God is at work in each of you. Our hearts are broken over the events in Afghanistan over the last several weeks. It has been hard to move forward in any vision-casting or budget preparation arena (on the calendar) when people are under such threats. We are praying, of course, and there are a number of organizations we already support who are mobilizing for Afghan refugees.
It is important for us also to pray and feel compassion for those in Haiti, Louisiana, Maryland, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York City, and the western United States, not to mention concerns over increasing COVID-19 variant infections and deaths. Personal losses during this year seem heavier than ever in light of global news and our long list of prayer requests. And, hearing church news that Margarita will be leaving September 17th could produce more anxiety. True that we must express our grief, but “worry” is not helpful. Proverbs 12:25 NLT tells us that worry weighs a person down, and God, who often works through people and their encouraging words, is the one who comforts and reassures us in difficult times like these. I fondly recall Dolores Puckett’s positive Facebook posts; even in her pain, she was sure of her faith and shared it with others daily! We have hope in our hearts because of our salvation and relationship with Jesus! That hope may feel fleeting when so much is happening, so that is why we worship together, call on each other for encouraging words, and willingly work for the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT).
As I shared in a recent sermon, the world right now does not need “anxious” believers! As a church, we must be that calm and non-anxious presence to others in the fray of anxiety right now. We do that through the strength of the Holy Spirit, our personal connection with God, diligence in our studies, and of course prayer. Non-anxious presence matters—in your homes, local shops, neighborhoods, workplaces, organizations, etc. As any apostle or pioneer can understand, pioneering in today’s world will take the courage and adaptive leadership examples of Moses, Joshua, Jesus, and Paul to spread the Gospel in a hurting, unbelieving world. Paul’s unique call was to those unfamiliar with Christ or to those who reject Him. This is our call too, to gently lead by example and share our faith stories, especially now.
During a recent safe, masked “Hymn Sing”, we were fortified by instruments, lyrics, Scripture, and inspiring origin stories. Thank you to the Worship Team for co-laboring with God to reassure, uplift, and heal our burdened souls. Take care of your own emotional health.
August 3, 2021
Summer is coming to a close! ☹ I both dread and celebrate the month of August. I no longer go to school, but it’s a habit long engrained in my “student-at-heart’s” brain. The back-to-school sales, smell of pencils and new notebooks . . . no matter how old you are, it feels like Fall is a fresh start! We felt that way July 15th as the church and Missions Center re-opened officially to optional masks and distancing. Two weeks later, we are hanging on every news story again, checking COVID-19 variant cases and hospitalizations. Both celebration and dread. Isn’t that how life seems to flow all the time, anyway?
It’s a bit like gardening, which I have been learning to do, under my horticultural housemate’s patient direction. We till the soil, fertilize, water, and prepare for planting; then we wait. We keep watering in expectation. Once the plants grow, we trim, fertilize again, pull out the weeds, and wait. At church, we’ve enjoyed the blossoms throughout the season as plants have been timed well. We were a little late putting our tomatoes in this year, so every day, I water, weed, and watch for color! The process reminded me of sin; we are watering and feeding the weeds as well as the plants! So, we must tend the plants (our souls) every day, or the weeds (sin) can take over. We must also be careful because the good plants can be mistaken for weeds as they sprout and pulled out by mistake.
These thoughts took me to the pandemic and our country’s divisive views on vaccinations right now. 95% of our members and groups are vaccinated and took all precautions in 2020-21. Fairfax County is well vaccinated, but not everyone. I agree with our principles of freedom, but, as a Christian, I feel strongly about loving “neighbor” and doing what is best for the common good. If the vaccination options are “water and fertilizer” for us (the plants) in order to thrive and survive, then why wouldn’t a majority of individuals want to see a healthy population (a garden)? In my role as a human being, not your pastor, I encourage you to get vaccinated for the good of the whole. I do realize there are some extenuating circumstances for health and auto-immune situations and children under 12, where it is not recommended. You have my prayers and respect. However, we need each other to stay well and thrive, so that we may fulfill the mission God has given us.
June 11th, our Scriptures were Proverbs 17:17 and 27:17 NLT: “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” And “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” And Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
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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