Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
May 21, 2019
We may be small, but we are mighty! I shared with the congregation a typical busy week in the life of The United Baptist Church Mission Center. If you look at the Vision Calendar, you’ll see some of the activities and groups utilizing our building, in addition to our Sunday activities. I hope you can see what I see: God is at work every single day, both here and beyond our walls through our people, prayers and efforts. Revelation 21:3b declares “the home of God is among mortals! He will dwell with them as their God, they will be his peoples and God himself will be with them.”
Where the believers’ movable tent served as the tabernacle where God’s presence resided, now because of the Incarnate Jesus, God is present wherever we are, within us. As we share his love and provision with others, his presence is multiplied and expanded on earth! The activities of our Mission Center Community Partners and Church are part of the “movable tabernacle.” Relationships are strengthening due to shared purpose, intentionality, faith, loyalty, generosity, kindness and much love! If you are not yet connected to one of our ministries or partner groups, let’s arrange to talk soon about your gifts, talents and hopes. Being part of it all is quite exciting!
We feel great joy and satisfaction as we interact with the kindred spirits of our Mission Center Partners. Not only are we affirming our vision when things go well, but we share mutual burdens when they occur, like illness, discomfort or death. This is also what Jesus meant as quoted in John 13:35: “For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers (The Passion Translation).” This is Relational Evangelism.
The United Baptist Church arrived at this vision through the prayers, resources and hard work of many Congregants who came before us, some of whom we lost this year. This Sunday, we honor each church member’s death, deceased Christian Missionaries and Military Service Men and Women experienced since last year’s Memorial Sunday. Let us recall our memories of them, their spiritual gifts and legacies. In the New Earth John writes about in Revelation, “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more for the first things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).” And their Shepherd, “will guide them to springs of living water and wipe away every tear (Rev. 7:17).” In this New Earth of Rev 21:6c: “to the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life!” Both are speaking not of physical thirst but of spiritual thirst that only belief in the sacrificial love of Christ can fulfill. What will be your legacy? How will you serve others?
May 14, 2019
Happy Mother’s Day! For some, Sunday was a joyous and fulfilling day, being recognized for your role as life-giver, nurturer, provider, teacher, nurse, caregiver, wife, mom, stepmom, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, niece, daughter, granddaughter, etc. Or if you are one of the several men who are better “moms” than some females, I wish you a Happy Mother’s/Caregiver’s Day too!
For others Sunday was a day of grief with reminders that your mom is no longer with us or hurt you in some way; or that a child you birthed is no longer in your arms; or that you were never able to give birth at all. We prayed for all moms, but specifically for your situations. I hope that God’s comfort and grace abounds for you this week.
We also learned that Jesus Christ, as the Good Shepherd, was a maternal figure in many Scriptures. John 20:1-19: “Feed my lambs, tend my little sheep and Feed my mature sheep? Doesn’t that sound a bit maternal?” and “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34)” And of course, one of our favorite Psalms is The Shepherd Psalm 23.
I have been thinking of all the women who filled motherly roles in my life: one grandmother, a widow, forced to work, found a Librarian position since she loved to read. Another grandmother, who cared for my brother and me when my mom’s chronic illness put her in the hospital at least twice a year, and then I drew strength from hers when later she survived five years after having a massive stroke. I think of two stepmothers who weathered my teenage and young adult rebellions, took me clothes shopping willingly! And I recall several aunts who mailed loving notes and consistent birthday cards to encourage me.
And finally a thank you to all the new “Mothers” here at The United Baptist Church who have helped me make a smooth transition: they have prayed for me, taken me for lunches, saved Sunday snacks for Monday’s lunch, asked about my life and cats, laughed at my jokes, and sent me encouraging cards and notes with loving sentiments. You are Jesus’ example in the flesh. Thank you!
May 7, 2019
Where are we now in Eastertide? For many Sundays, we sing and rejoice in Creator God’s power here on earth and we read the Psalmists expressions of Victory over the Cross and grave. And in the context of Sunday’s passage, John 20:1-19, the disciples’ grieving has progressed; in their minds, it was time to get on with living, and here I mean fishing! They had been all night fishing on the Sea of Galilee, but had caught nothing.
Peter and six disciples fell back on what they knew—picking up where they left off before Jesus came into their lives. There was a strong need and desire to get “back to normal.” Peter was seeking normalcy on his own terms, by going back to his old fisherman’s life (not his transformed life), as if nothing had happened in Jerusalem! It appears here that he was trying to provide for his family and manage life in his own strength and not God’s. Does that sound familiar to anyone?
With Jesus on the beach directing them, the catch of fish improved (153 large fish) and the net did not break. Church historians analyzed this number with complex numeric formulas with symbolism; but my favorite is Jerome who speculated, upon research and prophecy from Ezekiel 47:10 (the waters of the Temple), that 153 was the number of varieties of fish that existed in the Sea of Galilee. William Barclay comments that it represented many nations which would be welcomed into one unbroken net, one Kingdom, one church. That is relevant still today, especially in our geographic area. Are we “United” Baptist for this evangelical reason as well as for the original purpose of bringing two churches together? The breakfast Jesus made for them was another unifying event, much like our Easter breakfast with New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church, our own monthly communion observance, or the annual reading of the covenant.
Another example of unified purpose is church governance. Before we meet quarterly to discuss church business, we pray and enjoy a unifying Finger Food Luncheon of sandwiches, chips, veggies, brownies, and this month, Birthday Cake to celebrate May birthdays. Thank you to the team that hosts, provides, decorates and cleans up this meal! Following the spiritual nourishment of Worship, this physical nourishment gives us the proper temperament to report on church activities and responsibilities, as well as to discuss challenging issues. Thank you to our Moderator, Kyle Jones, our Clerk, Debbie Caffrey and all who shared reports. We appreciate your Calling, your transparency and due diligence to help us fulfill our mission to serve others. Will you join me this season to enter a time of Active Discernment—welcoming Holy Opportunities of Calling, Service and Compassion? Share them with me!
April 30, 2019
This week’s message of “Jesus Sightings” was a bit overshadowed by news of more violence and hatred in our society, specifically at the Chabad Synagogue in Poway, California on the last day of Passover, and on this coast, at our own Washington D.C./Chevy Chase, MD Independent Book Store, Politics and Prose. A shooter targeted the Rabbi and others, allegedly in retaliation for a perceived wrong. At the bookstore, according to a Washington Post article, members of a “white nationalist group interrupted an author talk” with loud belligerent chanting. Both situations demonstrated hatred yet opportunities for heroism.
In Sunday’s Scripture readings, Luke 24:13-29 TLB and John 20:19-31GNT about the walk to Emmaus and the skepticism of Thomas, Christians lived in a world of persecution. They were in hiding in fear; no wonder they were so distracted and worried about their own fate that they failed to recognize Jesus! Luke tells us, however, that God prevented them from recognizing him.
I wonder, how would I react to the kind of violence that challenges my faith or my freedom to worship, think critically and speak my opinions? How would you react to such hatred? Would we cower or be heroic and forgiving? I imagine that we each would try to protect the other, particularly the vulnerable. A synagogue member, Lori Gilbert Kaye, tried to block the Rabbi from injury, and sacrificed her own life. He survived. The protesters at the bookstore were booed out of the location; no violence occurred. In another case, a conspirator was intercepted before he bombed targeted public areas in California. But my questions remain.
There is an obvious need in our world for reconciliation and peace. If the Prince of Peace appeared, how would we as a church and mission center respond to a visible Jesus walking beside us on the road or utilizing one of our classrooms or public spaces? Do we need proof of his existence to share this peace with others? Or do we demonstrate God’s amazing love, sacrificially shared with us through his Son, Jesus—love that is so alive and powerful that it can be lived out and experienced?
We observed our 16th Anniversary this week. On Sunday,
April 27, 2003, the people who had been First Baptist Church of Annandale and
Boulevard Baptist Church came together in worship for the first time as The
United Baptist Church. On the last Sunday of April, we renew our vows to one
another and to God as reflected in our church covenant and display the book in
which we have each signed our names in commitment. During this period of
Eastertide (April 21-June 9), will you join me in prayer for our church, other
diverse Houses of Worship, our country and the world’s peace?