February Reflections from the Pastor

 

Heart and crossDear Friends in Christ,
Every four years we add an extra day to February and call it a Leap Year. This leap ahead helps properly align our 365 day calendar with the earth’s rotation. To leap is to jump or spring a long way, to a great height, or with great force. Sometimes we leap quickly, sometimes spontaneously, other times with lots of advance planning. No matter how you leap, when you leap, or where you leap, it requires you to put your whole self into the action. This month I hope that you will take the time to leap into one of the many spiritual and congregational activities at church.

Leap into leadership. RCC’s Annual Meeting on February 7 is our chance to affirm our church’s leadership for 2016, approve the budget, and discuss our church’s direction in the coming year. Lend your voice and your presence to this important meeting.

Leap into worship. On Ash Wednesday, February 10, Christians around the world are marked with ashes as a visceral symbol that reminds us of where we come from and where we return to at the end of life. When we are marked with ashes, we celebrate having a fresh start and a new way of living as we begin the forty days of Lent. This year I will again be offering Ashes To-Go from 4:00-6:00 pm in front of the Richmond Market. You will find me standing quietly outside the market with a sign saying “Ashes To Go.” Last year more than 30 people stopped and received ashes! If you prefer to receive your ashes inside, we will also have an Ash Wednesday Service at 7 pm in the Sanctuary.

Leap into study. Lent resources for the whole family including Heifer Lent activities and Still Speaking Lent Devotionals are available in the Parlor. In March, RCC will be part of a three week ecumenical Bible study series looking at gun violence through the lens of the Book of Micah. The Bible Study & Soup Supper will be hosted at Essex Center United Methodist Church.

Leap into love. Throughout the month, take time to notice God’s presence in your life and give thanks for your loving relationships. On February 14 (Valentine’s Day) we will have Intergenerational worship and celebrate God’s love through many creative avenues.
Leap into faith. As we ponder leaping in, here are some wise words from minister, writer and theologian William Sloane Coffin Jr., “It is terribly important to realize that the leap of faith is not so much a leap of thought as of action. For while in many matters it is first we must see then we will act; in matters of faith it is first we must do then we will know, first we will be and then we will see. One must, in short, dare to act wholeheartedly without absolute certainty,” (Credo, 2004).

Friends, may God be with us as we leap in.

~ Katelyn

December 2015 Reflections

Happy New Year!

“Wait, Katelyn, this isn’t accidentally your January newsletter column, is it?”

Friends, let me say it again, “Happy New Year!”

In the Christian calendar, Advent is the start of a new year. This can feel a little discombobulating as Christians, because we’re called to use Advent as a season of waiting and preparation but we are surrounded by a culture that leaps right from Thanksgiving to Christmas. So why should we celebrate Advent?

Advent is important for several reasons. It helps us teach our kids (and reminds adults) how to be patient and think of a different way to mark the days until Christmas. In Advent, we take four weeks to anticipate the coming of the Christ child. In worship we will mark each Sunday of Advent by lighting a new candle on the Advent wreath and celebrating the themes of the Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. Engaging in spiritual practices such as lighting Advent candles, opening Advent calendars, reading an Advent Devotional, and coming to church more regularly helps us draw closer to God during this season of preparation.

As we await Christ’s coming we are also reminded again of how the Advent story is not only the story of Christ’s birth, but the story of a great journey. In this story perhaps we can find truth which resonates with our own experiences. Like Mary and Joseph, sometimes we take physical journeys filled with less than ideal travel conditions. Mary traveled to Bethlehem on a donkey while pregnant! Sometimes like Elizabeth, who thought she was barren, we take emotional journeys. It may be that we have to wait a very long time for an angel to appear and tell us the good news. And sometimes, like the Magi waiting and searching the skies for a star to lead the way, we simply have to hope we will eventually receive directions to figure out where we are intended to go.

Friends, I invite you to embrace all of the richness and complexity of Advent as we start this new church year. Together may we wait, prepare, believe and proclaim that a light shines in the darkness of the bleak midwinter, and this light and love has the power to change the world!

May the God of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy infuse your hearts, your home, and our communities in this rich and full Advent season!

With Joy (and Happy New Year!),

Katelyn