Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
November 5, 2019
Happy Autumn! This is my favorite time of year; yet it has been a weather/temps/sports emotional rollercoaster season! How about those Nats World Series Champions?! Our baseball team “Finished the Fight” after much effort; UBC had excellent representation watching and cheering the games and parade. We’ve seen camaraderie and high spirits over America’s pasttime, and that’s not all bad. It has been refreshing to focus on something other than our world’s violence, despair or politics.
I hope you voted in local elections today. For us, the Annual Membership Meeting and luncheon was another opportunity to voice our opinions and vote to approve United’s 2020 Budget. The process went smoothly, thanks to all the committees, staff and Linda Hasselkuss, our Financial Manager. Sally Norris again led our participation in the Annandale ACCA CWS/CROP walk this year, and received an award, Cream of the Crop and a beautiful scarf, for raising $54,040.58 since 2007. The church received its award, Cream of the Crop, as well for 2018; I led the prayer while the founders plus local representatives encouraged all participants in the fight against hunger on the 50th Anniversary (40th for Annandale)! Funds also relieve hurricane and flooding damages. I attended the Taste of Annandale festival for its 5th Anniversary, and the ACCA Pastors and Partners Luncheon, meeting other service-minded individuals from Annandale. As part of our Mission Center outreach to the community, we invited the Shepherd Center of Annandale-Springfield to have their Fall Lunch-n-Life here in October; it was very well attended by our folks and other Senior Adults in the area. Congregants will reconnect with many of our Mission Center partners for a Thanksgiving Lunch on November 24th after church at 12:30 pm. We hope you can be here to express your gratitude; please RSVP to the office.
Fall is a time for preventive maintenance; we turn our clocks back and get an extra hour to sleep. We change smoke alarm batteries, check fire extinguishers, clean filters, rake leaves, tune up equipment and turn on the heat. Our elevator and Fire Marshall inspections happen every Fall. October Sunday sermons tuned up our Spiritual selves, looking at the hope of mustard seed-sized faith (Lk 17:5-10), the gratitude of one leper (Lk 17:11-19), wrestling with God and Man (Gen 32:22-31) and having a humble vision through prayer (Lk 18:9-14). What’s next? The holidays are fast approaching, so we need to be ready, both spiritually and physically. Are you fasting before Thanksgiving and Christmas? It’s a good spiritual discipline after all the candy from last week! Will you make time to engage with us in some new way? Prayer, service, activities, worship, choir?
October 1, 2019
Is your closet as confused as mine? One day we need summer clothing and the next day a sweatshirt! It has been an unusual and dry September. We got a spot of rain here and there, but our region is parched. One of those sweltering days I ordered a mango smoothie before choir. The shop was filled with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Girls Cross Country Team members, laughing, eating and having cool drinks too. Their energy was infectious! I went over to Greenspring Gardens for a bit to walk and think.
What a fortunate location we have here at The United Baptist Church in Annandale! Even though the closest neighborhoods have changed over the years, we are right between Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church. We have several distinctive and delicious restaurants close by, a horticultural center and gallery, florists, a regional public library, coffee and tea shops, thrift stores, several grocery options, schools, assisted living centers, convenient services (dental, medical, personal grooming, banking), a golf course and more! There are little pockets of neighborhoods I am just now discovering.
These residents and consumers need God too in their lives. Yes, there is also religious diversity in Annandale and Fairfax County, so our church may not be a good fit for all as it was in the Sixties; however, our Mission Center could be a good fit for all now. We have a church and space to share with small businesses, entrepreneurs, non-profits and community groups. Who do you know that we need to know? Who might you refer to us?
On Sundays in September, Scripture readings took us on a stewardship journey of “intentionality” and “cleaning our spiritual mirrors.” Jesus challenged the disciples (and I, you) to invite the unlovable or the “poor and maimed” to our table with God’s grace. We went to the potter’s house, remembering that a marred and imperfect pot could be used anyway or remolded to a more beautiful vessel (our building, perhaps?). Although Israel made some bad choices, God gave them yet another chance. Even though Paul was the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus showed him grace and mercy by cleansing his soul, mind and heart. His mirror was cleaned so he shared his story with others. The lost sheep parable reminded us that Jesus’ love is so great that he sacrificed the many to find and save the one lost (you?). Although the obsessive love of money may create greed and complexity, earned wealth can be used for Kingdom work and service. Psalm 91 reminds us that God protects and provides for our basic needs, because he created and loves us. We need your help: what time, talents or resources might you share with us as we grow? We are still connected through relationships and this newsletter. Our legacy remains strong; what’s next? Let’s talk.
September 3, 2019
Labor Day was originally a much needed holiday for working people during the early industrial revolution and as a response to protests and unrest driven by inhumane working conditions, poor wages and child labor. The national holiday, signed into law June 28, 1894 by President Grover Cleveland, has lost some of that meaning. It has become the unofficial last day of Summer. Families have one last weekend to travel before schools begin and local outdoor swimming pools close. We celebrate with cookouts, barbeques and huge retail sales events. This was the first time I noticed the red, white and blue American Flags used in those sales. Surely they’d been there before, but it made me ponder the purpose of this holiday.
I enjoyed the rest and sabbath-tone of it for myself, but realized it was not a day of rest for some, especially those responding to the recent Odessa-Midland, Texas shooting or to those preparing for Hurricane Dorian. Our own Debbie Caffrey was on call and had to use a special weather “app” to handle numerous phone inquiries about the approaching tropical storm. Southern Baptist Men have deployed Disaster Relief Teams; BGAV/DR is poised for deployment too. As you’ve no doubt seen on weather channels, the National Guard, power companies (as far as from Illinois!) and Red Cross supplies are all staged and ready to go. This preparation does not mitigate our need to pray for all involved. The Aubrey Jones’ grandson, Travis is a policeman in Myrtle Beach. We have friends all up and down the coast and probably in Texas, so there are worried yet serving families within our own congregation! Pray.
Sunday’s lesson had us clean our Spiritual Mirrors; are we people who jostle for the head table or the prestigious place of honor? Perhaps. If we help others during this hurricane, do we expect something in return? I hope not! Yet today, an invitation for lunch or dinner creates an unspoken reciprocal understanding that you are to return the favor. That unfortunate interpretation misses the point of Jesus’ story in Luke 14:13. Ignoring reciprocity, he challenges them (and I, you) to invite the hard-to-love, the poor, disabled or blind to our table with God’s grace. Jesus changes the rules to love and compassion, not what society expects in return.
The spiritual lesson is that
ALL are invited to God’s table—rich or poor, upright or sinner, the unwashed
and the clean. When one has a banquet, a party, a church service or event, do
we only invite our family, friends or colleagues? That is the natural tendency.
Jesus does not guilt us into submission, but might question our
cloudy Spiritual Mirrors. Did you know that “hospitality” means “love of a
stranger?” Hebrews 13:2 tells us: “Do not forget to show hospitality to
strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without
knowing it.” Read the book or see the movie, “The Same Kind of Different as
Me,” to meet Denver Moore, a wise Godly homeless man.
August 27, 2019
I hope you are enjoying the temporary cooler temperatures this week that coincide with the start of school! Thank you for being vigilant while driving to protect the children and teens, while providing peace of mind for yourself, family and friends. We are praying diligently for our teachers, staff, bus drivers and students. Having Vacation Bible School last week reminded me of the high energy, intelligence, compassion and creativity of young people. Thank you to Reverend Turner and Pastor Ed Young for their leadership, and to Belinda and Barbara for their delicious meals beforehand! And, to the adult leaders of the age specific classes, we are grateful! More gratitude, details and photos will be coming from Reverend Turner in our next Vision.
I also hope that you’ve had some time to relax a bit this summer; we will be gearing up soon with church activities, so this is your last easy week! The Choir’s “Christmas in August” party, where we reconvene socially and reveal the Christmas Cantata, is this Saturday, August 31st at 1 pm. Please let Dot Jones or Debbie Caffrey know if you are coming. Fall Calendars are available in the church office, M-F, 9 am-1 pm with Student events, Women’s Bible Study, Choir Rehearsals and all Mission Center activities. Please keep all involved in prayer as well.
On Sunday, we read both Isaiah 58:9b-14 and Luke 13:10-17, which dealt again with transformation of people, places and things. My focus today, though, is on Sabbath. Isn’t it more Kingdom focused if we do the work of the Lord from a place of rest, renewed energy and power, rather than from the usual and widely accepted place of already-burned-out exhaustion? The prophet Isaiah specifically was speaking to the returning exiles who found Jerusalem devastated, as after an earthquake or hurricane. He was encouraging them to “repair the breach” (broken places) and “restore streets to live in”; they were still in shock and depressed. They had lost faith in God’s power to strengthen them to accomplish all things. He reminded them of the true purpose of a holy day of Sabbath to serve others, not themselves. As we face hurricane season, our Red Cross and BGAV Disaster Teams are mobilizing and preparing to serve. Another prayer item.
In Luke, the Pharisees tried to shame Jesus for healing a woman who had been ill for 18 years on the Sabbath (referring to the Levitical laws). “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Jesus released her, on the Sabbath, from being socially outcast as well as ill. As an honor/shame society, Jesus’ response to them humiliated the Pharisees for their lack of compassion. The Sabbath is also a time of serving. The painting is "Road Menders" by Vincent van Gogh, 1889. housed at the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.