Our Annual Review

It is that time of year again when every company is sending out their year-end annual reports and shareholder information. Some of these present strong results and optimistic futures. Some of them use coded language for anxiety and uncertain futures. All of them try to project how things will go in the year ahead and offer a vision for the work they are undertaking. It feels strangely familiar as we send out our annual report and call the church together for its 239th annual meeting this Sunday.

This gathering is an opportunity to review our work and a chance to look ahead but more importantly it is a chance to give thanks to God. The Psalmist writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” We firmly believe that any growth or fruitful ministry we have done in the last year has come because of God’s blessing. We labor for the sake of the kingdom and give praise to God when those labors appear to not be in vain. Our annual report reflects much labor and good works done in the name of God’s Son. We have had a remarkable year of growth, vision, and faithful ministry. Praise be to God!

It is a true honor and privilege to serve this congregation – to join together with you to build God’s house. Thank you for being a part of the body of Christ here in this place.

Peace, 

CCM 

Hope for Us All

This Sunday, we’ll read 1 Corinthians 13:11, the most famous of wedding versus, which reads:
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Far be it from me to disagree with the Holy Book, but I must have missed the road sign along my life’s journey that directed me to the bin where I put away my “childish things”—and I don’t think I’m the only one who did.

On Sunday, during our journey through musical history, we’ll experience the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the 1984 Oscar winning film Amadeus, Mozart is portrayed as a troubled, immature, sometimes even obscene genius. While the movie takes liberties, as movies do, his personal letters, full at times with cringe-worthy language and bathroom humor, show some truth in this portrayal. There is a kind of divine perfection in his compositions that leaves no doubt about his extraordinary gifts, and at the same time, he was very human.

All of us have our goodness and our badness woven into the whole that is us; our impurities mixed freely with our purity. Thankfully, miraculously even, God is more than capable of distilling something beautiful from the mess that is us. It happened for Mozart so there is hope for me, there is hope for you.

Peace,
Mark

A Pastoral Note During the Federal Government Shutdown

Grace and Peace,

We know that many of you in our congregation are faithful public servants, contract workers, and others who have dedicated your lives in service to your country. We understand that the extended partial shutdown has put undue stress on people who are forced to stay at home, or who continue to serve our country without pay.

We want to thank our federal employees for their commitment to serve the people of this country with enthusiasm, creativity, and hard work. We also want to be of service to you during this moment of uncertainty, particularly for those who are furloughed.

Beginning Wednesday, January 23 at 10 a.m., and Wednesdays for the duration of the shutdown, all are welcome to join the pastors for a weekly Bible study with coffee, pastries, and prayer at the church. This will be a way to put your time to good use, and to hold one another and our country in prayer.

We also know that many are facing stress, anxiety, and financial difficulties.Your pastors always have an open door for counseling. We also ask that you reach out if you are facing acute financial difficulty. As with all pastoral concerns, your needs will be kept confidential.

Finally, if you are just looking to make good use of your time off, we have plenty of volunteer and service work for you! Just give us a call.

Together, we are committed to serving our region, and we pray for an end to this shutdown through compassion, compromise, and unity. Join us as we unite in prayer to God.

Lord, you are sovereign over all nations and people, guiding our steps and deliberations for your glory, and for the service of your people. We pray that a spirit of wisdom would come upon those in power, and that your hand would guide them for a just and quick end to this shutdown. We pray especially for those who work with the federal government who are directly affected – help us to join together to aid those in need. We also lift up all those whose futures seem uncertain because of this impasse, and we pray that the end of this shutdown might be a beginning for reconciliation. We pray these things not by our own power, but by the power of your Spirit that dwells with and within us. Amen.

Peace,

Pastors Camille, Rachel, and Chris

Today’s Lord’s Supper

A classic ordination question for ministers involves some scenario where a youth pastor wants to serve “potato chips and Mountain Dew” for the Lord’s Supper at a church retreat. Sitting at my computer, it is easy to laugh at such a scenario, but the question stays relevant because God truly works in the cracks and margins between what is acceptable or not.
These past few Pizza Wednesdays have brought out a higher number of families because of the government shutdown. Dads compared “furlough beards” and grandmas chased little ones as we supported one another over Cokes and pizza. We even had a non-Christian family come who were friends with some GPC members, and they’ll be back!
These may not be sacramental meals in the sanctuary, but they are faithful reminders that we are together members of one body, living as connected parts of a sacred whole. There are so many opportunities to share a meal at church right now, and I hope that when you do, you remember that “they will come from east and west, and north and south to sit at table in the Kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)
Peace,
Pastor Rachel

New Year, New Things

Every January, I lull myself into a false sense that, well, it’s January. It’s time for a moment to relax after the mad dash to the end of the year that is December. And every January, my illusions of course prove to be false. Something tells me I’m not alone in this feeling!

Instead, what I do find is a buzz of energy. Yes, some of that is from tasks pushed off into the new year, but much of it is in anticipation of following God, who is indeed “doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:19), into a new year. Already my schedule is packed with meetings and planning sessions on how to continue to serve our neighbors near and far, in this year and beyond. From shoes for our unhoused neighbors to reading poetry with incarcerated people. And although we’re still in the planning stages, you’ll soon be invited into the new things that are happening—I hope you feel the energy too!

Peace,
Chris

Happy New Year

On New Years Eve, I sent a Tennyson poem out to a few friends.  It was poem I had been reading throughout December as I anticipated the new year: 

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Here’s the whole text as I encourage you to read and reread.  I’m ready to ring in the new year, say goodbye to the past year, and anticipate what lies ahead.  In the church we have celebrated the birth of Christ and now we turn our minds to the lifelong commitment of serving Christ.  Jesus has come to bring us the light, our calling is to allow that light to shine.  

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Blessings to you and those you love for 2019.

Peace,

CCM