Our journey through this season invites us to sit with deep questions about our life and faith. Last week’s gospel text focused on the Lenten question “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?”
Tomorrow’s text asks us “What does it mean to be the church of Jesus?” A challenging question, to be sure. Our midweek series is arguably on a parallel path as we explore the history of Pilgrim’s “becoming” which will invariably lead us to a conversation about what we are becoming here and now.
So let us let God’s good news move in us to begin forming our answer as we gather for worship tomorrow. See you then!
Join us this Sunday, Feb 25, as we reflect on Jesus’ words, the black liberation theology of James Cone, and the poetry of Mary Oliver — as we consider the cross that hangs in our sanctuary and how we carry crosses of many kinds…
Your entire Pilgrim staff thanks you for your generosity with our Christmas gifts. Time and again, you show us how deeply valued we are in our shared ministry. With you and for you, we each do our small part to help Pilgrim radiate God’s light and love through our shared mission and ministry–we are church together.
We are grateful for the many ways you care for us–stopping by; phone calls, notes, emails, texts; delicious cookies…and now this wonderful act of love. Thank you. We will always be the first to sing your praises of what an amazing congregation you are–and we are glad to be a part of it!
Seems like the question for this moment. What is this? We Christians proclaim a Gospel that stands up to supposed authorities. A Gospel that challenges assumed power. A Gospel that rips apart barriers and borders that separate us from God or separate others from God. A Gospel that tears down walls. A Gospel where the dead don’t stay dead. No wonder the world crucified the Gospel.
I’m not sure where Mandy is going Sunday with this text but I wonder when we hear a new teaching, what is our response? When we hear of someone’s testimony of God, which might be different than ours, what is our response? When we hear a challenge to our theology, our denominational loyalty, what is our response?
Are our ears open, eager to experience something new? Do we hope for a different revelation? Do we stand behind our commitment to innovation, to change? Or, do we retreat into the way its always been done?
Pilgrim, we have our own “what is this?” moment before us. Sunday, February 4, immediately after worship, we will gather to learn of Pilgrim’s new way forward for 2018 through the presentation of our 2018 budget. As we discern how God hopes to use us this year in ministry, we are being asked if the budget concretely interprets our mission priorities as church.
We are church together and I pray you offer your voice to these important deliberations.
Well, what a different week we have had!
Its amazing what a few snowflakes (or 10+ inches) will do to one’s schedule. What is that delightful Jewish proverb? “Whenever someone says, “I have a plan,” God laughs.
What a wonderfully simple invitation Phillip offers a skeptical Nathanael who wonders if anything good can come out of Nazareth.
I wonder how often we are oriented by such skepticism when we are invited to consider the possibility of something new and our participation therein? We would do well to follow Nathanael’s lead, that despite his hesitancy, he did come, he did see…and became the first to proclaim Jesus as Rabbi, Son of God!
The Board of Christian Service and Church Council invite you to come and see an opportunity that has been presented to Pilgrim. As we move toward our congregational meeting on February 4 to approve our budget for the coming year, we have been gifted with an opportunity to help birth a new UCC church, Common Life Church and Mission, into being.
Our very own Sarah Horton Campbell has felt God’s call to birth together a church and a social enterprise ministry of a working, sustainable agricultural farm (please see highlights below). Because of UCC polity and structure, for this new church to begin seeking grants and donations to build its witness, it will need to be housed under an existing church’s structure. For Sarah to be ordained, she will also need a specific call to ministry.
Here is where Pilgrim comes in! Sarah is seeking Pilgrim to receive and hold Common Life Church and Farm as a missional church under its auspices and call her to serve as its lead pastor. With these two actions, Pilgrim will expand its witness into Alamance County by birthing this new church into being.
On Sunday, January 21, Sarah will offer Pilgrim a brief presentation of Common Life during our fellowship hour and answer any questions you might have. My prayer is that in so doing, when the question comes before us at the congregational meeting to take this step, we will have had the appropriate time and information to discern how God might be using Pilgrim in a new way.
Please plan to join in fellowship and conversation with Sarah, The Board of Christian Service and the Church Council on Sunday, January 21.
We hope these are but reminders, as they are already on your calendar for the coming weeks.
I wanted to get outside and walk this morning as I ruminate with these texts, for they invite movement. But alas, as the cold droplets of rain turned to sleet, I am relegated inside. So I sedentarily ponder this ministerial road on which we find ourselves, 90+ days in, preparing a way for Christ.
As I think about our journey together, Pilgrim, we taken off with great gusto. I pause at this particular juncture, though, realizing we have not had a map to guide our way. Ministry can be funny, it’s unfolding leads us to unexpected moments of wonder and challenge, as God moves in and through our midst, offering us glimpses of God’s hope, if we are alert. The season of Advent teaches us that God calls us to live in a state of alertness—alertness clothed in expectation and preparedness. Maps can help us do just that.
Standing with John at the Jordan this second Sunday of Advent, how interesting that we also close Pilgrim’s stewardship campaign to make way to birth Pilgrim’s budget for the coming year. I await with anticipation this process, for within the crunching of numbers, we are creating the map that will guide our journey together for 2018. So much more than numbers, our budget gives voice to our collective belief of how God is calling Pilgrim to be God’s beloved community in our place and time.
Advent. Coming. Jesus’ coming. We begin this season by looking ahead to the promise of Jesus’ “second” coming. Our guide, the gospel according to Mark, helps us recognize that Jesus comes into our lives in many and varied ways – “about that day and hour no one knows” – each “coming” corresponds to the first, in the manger and the cross.
Mark offers an apocalyptic view of not only Jesus, but our Christian life. Apocalyptic in the sense of pulling back our curtains of false hopes and projections, in order to reveal God’s commitment to enter into our lives and world just as they, we, are.
So perhaps our Advent invitation is, rather than directing our attention ahead, to the end of time or just to December 25 – to live a “present-tense Advent”—a season that focuses our gaze to this very moment, imperfect yet beloved, fragile yet essential, flawed yet beautiful, this very time and place in which God chooses to meet and love us. Here. Now.