A huge welcome for our friends from NCCU to join with us in worship Sunday. I am excited to see where God will take this relationship as we grow as ministry partners. Sunday is but a first step in true relationship.
A wonderful part of relationships is sharing in Table fellowship together. Thank you everyone who is filling our table with their love through food:) I think we will have a spread and hungry students will be fed.
Another important part of this Sunday will be the beginning of your reflection of Pilgrim’s ministry in 2018 and our collective discernment of how God is calling us forward in 2019.
On Marty’s desk are documents for you to take home to read through and pray over. The first is Pilgrim’s 2018 Annual Report, replete with Moderator, Pastor, Boards, Auxiliary and Treasurer reflections of the year we have just concluded. The second is our proposed 2019 budget with an accompanying narrative from Pilgrim’s moderator. Let me invite and encourage you to take these documents with you as you leave for the day.
I am grateful for the way in which we have journeyed together in 2018 and hope-filled for God’s possibility for our future.
I hope you have had a week with the Spirit of God upon you! For those of us who gathered last night for the Service of Christian Unity, God’s Breath was certainly flowing through our preacher, Rev. Mark-Anthony Middleton, Abundant Hope Christian Church, for he truly brought us the Word Enfleshed.
Thank you all who gave of their time and talent last night to offer welcome and hospitality to our guests who came to join us in this spirit of unity. From our clergy colleagues, to those who came just to hear….all appreciated the sacred space we created. A special word of gratitude to Julie and Roman who brought the house to its feet with their special musical offering!
It has been a short full week, capped by our ecumenical service, and jump started by our Council discernment and deliberation for our 2019 budget which was unanimously approved for your consideration and adoption. My prayer for our 2019 budget is that it will allow us to lean into God’s Spirit upon us for the coming year. Wonderful, joy-filled opportunities are before us so that we, too, can proclaim and live into God’s good news for our community. Please mark your calendars for our Congregational Meeting on Sunday, February 10.
Finally, it has been brought to my attention that somehow the sign-up sheet for our annual Pilgrim Women’s Retreat has disappeared from signup genius.com. As I did not have space in my schedule to address this hiccup, let’s use this interim period to go old school. We still have a number of spaces for Pilgrim women to join in this spiritual journey. We have one single room and a number of shared spaces for you to gather with your fellow Pilgrims for the weekend of March 29-31. If you are interested, we need to lock in our numbers immediately, so please email me if you have not previously signed up and would like to.
Total cost for the retreat (room and board) if you share a room with another Pilgrim is $132/person. This cost includes two nights accommodation plus lunch and dinner for Saturday.Total cost for private accommodations—$232/person.
Good Saturday morning to you from sunny Orlando where the temperature is forecasted to reach a lovely 78 degrees this afternoon. Lanny and I reminisced about this being one of the draws of living in Florida. If only it could stay this way all year.
I hope your week has gone well. Lanny and I have been in project mode– replacing water heaters, toilets, fences, blinds….just to name a few items on our “honey do” check list. I guess all part of our role as parents of newlyweds.
Our coming week brings your role as part of the Pilgrim community to the forefront as our budget process moves closer to a congregational decision. Pilgrim’s 2019 budget will be presented to Council Tuesday evening for their recommendation to submit it to you for review and study.
Please mark your calendars for February 10 for our congregational meeting. There will be a number of items for your consideration beyond the budget, so I hope you will attend and add your voice to imagining our future forward.
As I tie up loose ends this week before Lanny and I travel to Florida for a late Christmas celebration with our newly wed daughter and husband, one gesture I have not yet made, and want to do so on behalf of all of Pilgrim staff, is to thank each of you for your generosity at Christmas. From the Auxiliary goodies, to treats and sweets left on our desks, to the Christmas bonuses generously given–thank you. It is truly a joy to serve with and alongside such an incredible community.
Upon our return, we will hit the ground running–as if we ever stopped, it seems. Let me draw your attention to the Christian Unity service on January 24, of which Pilgrim is the host. We will have ministers, and hopefully members, from an expansive list of Durham congregations, who will join us in prayer, worship and solidarity. Our justice focus for the evening draws our attention to the ongoing Sanctuary movement in Durham, which will be the night’s offertory recipient. I ask Pilgrims to turn out to support and participate. We need greeters, voices for singing, and hosts for fellowship for this special evening.
A week following this special service, we will enter Black History month with our new campus ministry partner from NCCU. The directors of NCCU’s campus ministry and LGBTQ Center will bring us God’s word and worship. Students will join us in song and dance. My hope is we will conclude with table fellowship so we might begin to build relationship. Pilgrim’s Board of Christian Service is coordinating our effort, so please reach out to Nancy Ruth to learn of ways in which you might help.
Saturday, February 23, Pilgrim leaders mark your calendars for an all board/council morning retreat. Following the example of the Deacons and Christian Education, we will set aside that day to imagine, plan and coordinate Pilgrim efforts and activities for the Spring and Summer seasons.
Finally, I encourage you to read a thoughtful invitation from Suzanne Tyler Stock about letting God’s Word be heard in a new way. I welcome her reflection and suggest that her invitation is a both/and for me. I truly want us to fully participate in worship, engaged by listening for God’s word. I also want us to be a biblically literate community that knows our sacred texts well. The spoken and written word are amazing liturgical partners. With the words of our text written into the liturgy (and here in the NL) for prayer and study, we can then lift our eyes to the heavens (or to the lectern and pulpit) to receive them anew, allowing the living-ness of God’s word to enter us in ways only God can imagine.
Have you had as discombobulated a start to your week, with it beginning on Wednesday, January 2? Confessionally, I just couldn’t get it together and was out of step all day–my desk–a mess of papers that seemed to stymie me at every turn. I was unprepared for the conversations and tasks before me. I longed for an internal voice, the beacon of a star, to speak into or to light my steps forward.
And that got me thinking. Sunday, we celebrate Epiphany with the Eastern Wise Ones drawing us back one more time to the home of the Christ infant. One more time, we will bend and pay him homage, bringing our gifts to bear. From here, Christmas decorations make their way back into storage for another year. I look out on the landscape and yearn for that beckoning, that guiding, as we make our way forward.
One way to attune ourselves to God’s whispers and nudges is to lean into a decade old practice of star words. If you have not yet participated in this worship exercise, let me invite you. In your bulletin will be 2 cut-out stars, along with an insert (front and back) filled with words. As we move through our liturgical companions of word, prayer and song, I invite you to open yourself to one of those words commanding your attention. Or perhaps one will be a springboard for another word. Who knows how God’s breath might stir within? By the benediction, though, I want us to have our word/s written on our stars–one to take home, one to affix to a tri-fold board that will be in the narthex.
My prayer is that these words will shape our journey, much as God’s word did the Eastern travelers, for another way home. Maybe three of these words will become Pilgrim’s words to guide our work through the year. My hope always is that your word will accompany you throughout the year and you will take note of the ways its meaning manifests in your life throughout 2019. I would love to imagine all the ways in which we will share these word-experiences in community through the year.
I, for one, can’t wait to hear how our still speaking God will bring your word alive in you!
See you Sunday,
From your church staff, we are so grateful for (and bellies filled with) the scrumptious treats Pilgrim’s Auxiliary elves left for us before their annual Christmas luncheon. We can only imagine the many hands that prepared all of those cookies! Not saying they are all already gone, but they were so tasty. We so appreciate the many ways you care for us.
Continuing in a spirit of gratitude, from the depths of our souls, thank you Roman, Danny, choir and guest musicians for sharing your gifts with us for our annual Cantata. From the music selection to performance, we were nurtured and nourished by you and are so very grateful that you choose to offer the gifts of your time and talent through Pilgrim.
On tiptoes with anticipation, we await our yearly Nativity Pageant, led by the creatively energetic force of Annie Galvez. I, for one, cannot begin to comprehend how she brings forth such amazing performances time and again. Thank you Annie!
Well, perhaps I do, because she finds such a spectacular cast within the community of Pilgrims! As these many gifts come together in this season, it is impossible not to be brimming over with gratitude for the ways in which we shine God’s light and offer God’s love.
Can’t wait for Sunday!
Good afternoon Pilgrims!
I have to confess how weird it felt to cancel worship last Sunday due to inclement weather–but I certainly did not want anyone driving on our roadways. Had I had my technological act together, I could have stolen a page from some of my clergy colleagues who held services via Facebook Live or posted interactive advent family liturgies for their members. Well, live and learn in making this call, as we rightfully did–a first in my ministry. But truthfully, we have had many “firsts” together in 2018, and I am grateful to be holding them with you.
Marty asked if we were just going to use our 2nd Sunday of Advent for this coming Sunday, but unfortunately the Season of Advent waits and watches but for one thing, so we cannot stop the clock. I am truly saddened that we were unable to host our Alternative Giving Fellowship this year, but do not see an opportunity to recreate it in the few short weeks we have left.
This coming Sunday is Pilgrim’s Cantata, as you will see below. Having been at church last evening as choir practice began, I can assure you this year will offer us true gifts of the season, as they always do. So please make room in your schedules to join together for this wonderful musical feast–you will not be disappointed.
As we then move into next week, I pray you will join with me at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Tuesday, December 18 at 6:30 for our annual Blue Christmas service. Surrounded in sacred space and deep with meaning, we gather with our ecumenical friends to pause and pray for hope and peace.
I would love to see you there.