Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
April 6, 2021
Hallelujah! He is Risen! Last year’s Easter celebration was done through mailers and watching online or TV services. This year we were fortunate enough to gather in the large sanctuary, masked and distanced to acknowledge our risen Lord and Savior as a congregation. Amen to that! It was good to see you! Thank you to our custodial staff, volunteer cleaners and greeters, and you for your compliance. Also I thank the members who placed flowers in memory or in honor of loved ones; they bloomed just in time for Sunday morning!
During the worship service, our staff instrumentalists, David Evans, Charles Potter, and Melissa Snavely plus Clarinetist, Jeff Snavely, treated us to several duets, a trio and ensemble (piano, organ, french horn and clarinet) of familiar Easter music and hymns! The feedback from those who were there was tremendous gratitude and appreciation of your diverse talents! Thank you all for adding a reverence and rejoicing to the day! We are truly blessed every Sunday by your commitment to share the Word through music. [We will put portions on our Facebook page at a later date.]
In preparation for Resurrection Sunday, I challenged our members to study Christ’s journey to the cross, reflecting on our pandemic year of lament and polarization. As a world, we have a lot to grieve and must receive healing for the pandemic losses; personal friends and family who died this year; ethnic, racial and other senseless shootings; more suicides than ever before; and yes, even the loss of activities and social embraces. So, if we cannot face the reality of grief, then we cannot fully experience the joy and hallelujahs of Resurrection! Faith must be personal, just as your relationship with God is personal.
Once we have done the interior and spiritual work, then we can dream big, bold dreams! Our general mission to share the Gospel and to serve the community has not changed. We do need your prayers and creativity to find new ways to be church beyond our walls. Resilience is God’s victory over the virus; Christ’s resurrection is our victory over death! Let us not forget these difficult times as we slowly regather, re-imagine and rejoice! May God Bless You! Amen!
March 2, 2021
Happy almost Spring! March 20th is only 18 days away! Hard to believe after missing 3 Sundays in a row! I am grateful we were all safe and toasty, unlike our Texas friends and those from other states. We are praying for their resilience and restoration.
Last month I asked us to imagine how God wants us to live out our mission and vision. You might be wondering what it is! It hasn’t changed recently, so it’s printed on the front cover. I would like us to review the words, thinking about its relevance in today’s world. We will have more conversations about that in the near future.
For Lent, I ask us to re-examine our motives for developing healthier spiritual practices. Can we as a church practice 2 or 3 habits of self-denial to better focus on a renewed sense of mission for the church? Loving and serving our neighbors during a pandemic means something different than before. Our Souper Bowl of Caring (until March 14) and October’s Crop Walk help to combat food insecurity; generous contributions of food, money, time, and prayer are more urgent this year, and we are grateful to the Endowment Fund Committee for approving this year’s ACCA Covid Challenge Campaign contribution of a much needed $15,000! Local news reports that Asians are being attacked in Annandale shopping areas as pandemic punishment; how can we allow that violence and do nothing? By supporting targeted small businesses with prayer and support, might we be showing them because of Jesus, we care? Repentance, fasting and benevolent practices can transform us out of sinful habits and complacency, while service and compassion done in God’s name can transform a whole community!
The Mission of the church must feed and define every decision, every program, and every committee. The institution cannot be the driving force; Christ must be! Have you let a local restaurant owner, server, hair stylist, waste collector, or postal carrier know you are praying for their financial stability, health, and success during this rough time? Write a note, give a larger tip, or say it to them out loud! If you are doing this already, that’s great! There is much to do to share the love of Christ.
Your leadership and I have been exploring ways to deepen our discipleship, recalling past successful experiences and dreaming of new opportunities to serve the community, so we’ll be ready for post-pandemic operations and outreach. Not knowing when, we are still looking forward to fellowships and Bible Study, but are also seeking community events and chances to meet others in the community. We need your help, feedback, participation, and ideas! Who do you know in your neighborhood? Who can you serve in the next quarter?
February 3, 2021
Happy Valentine’s Day! And it’s Black History Month. And we celebrate President’s Day, February 15th. It seems like there is a holiday or reason to celebrate every month, not to mention the many birthdays of our congregants! And don’t we need them?! We are grateful for these opportunities to refocus on the good and the positive, rather than what we’ve experienced over last year and last month. It may sound naïve to think we can turn on the “positive” juice any time, when we are frustrated, disappointed, angry, and maybe even depressed from the isolation, sickness, and violence.
As Christ-followers, though, we are called to love God with our whole selves and to love neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). After the shocking Capitol Hill violence, I asked in my sermon, “under the leadership of Christ, how can we as believing Christians influence the culture in a more positive, civil way?” Civility is not just good manners; it is a way of living in the world. Jesus answered the skeptics thus: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12).” Conflicts will come and go, even in the church! The reality is that we often grow when we face and reconcile conflict or friction. It is said in therapeutic circles and business, that when conflict is observed, it is a pivotal growth opportunity. We are getting to the hard stuff, the deeper core hurts and wounds that scar over as we try to self-protect. Conflict reveals our inner fear and sin. We must repent of our part in the conflict, even if we are not explicitly part of the unrest or prejudice.
Watching and listening to Amanda Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” written for the Inauguration Ceremony by the 22-year old Poet Laureate, not only moved me and gave me hope for our world, but it sounded like a church sermon! She named the pain (no matter your politics) and used words creatively to call for harmony and bravery. For those who saw her or read the poem later, I believe it was a Kairos moment, where God’s presence was felt by millions through this young woman’s connection to the Holy Spirit’s voice. Because of Jesus, we are familiar with this concept, and realize that repentance comes first, then forgiveness, then change. Kairos calls for action and transformation.
We have been witnesses to
Paul’s Kairos moments in the book of Acts over recent weeks; our new
theme is “Dream Dreams.” This phrase comes from Joel 2. We are tempted to dream
up what we want the church or nation to be, but I ask you to consider “Dreaming
God’s Dreams”; listen to His prophetic and apostolic voice. We have been good shepherds
to one another this year; but it is time to stretch our teaching, evangelistic
and apostolic skills. It is time to imagine how God wants to use us here at The
United Baptist Church. We have much collective wisdom, and many different
spiritual gifts, some of which are not being used now. Can you imagine God’s mission
for us now?
January 5, 2021
Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe holiday filled with hope, peace, joy and love. For some, it was not a good Christmas or a happy New Year. For those of you feeling the post-holiday blues or true grief, remember that we are praying for your comfort and assurance; we have new directories and are only a phone call away! During 2020, many felt despair, overwhelmed, or lonely. We cannot minimize the effects that COVID-19 has had on our church family, the country, and the world.
Yet, we also observed silver linings. We learned the humility of not being in control (Isaiah 55:8). We have learned to heal from the loss of loved ones; to become creative with the loss of income and opportunities (Matthew 6:25-34). We lost fellowship and 5 months of no community worship together (Psalm 137:1-9). The loss of congregational singing is crucial for our safety, but it has since become more meaningful than we realized (1 Corinthians 14:15). There were gains too: creative musical opportunities; virtual concerts (like Sopranessence and Voce Chamber Singers that David Evans performed in), and virtual committee Zoom meetings to accomplish church business (see front page, both a gift and a curse!)
Families have come together to educate and entertain their children, finding innovative ways to help them grow and develop without classmates close by. Some of us have had deeper phone conversations; I have learned more of our church history and found new ways to serve one another at a distance. We’ve gained time to rest, contemplate, pray, study the Scriptures without interruption, do puzzles and home or church projects. Reflectively, name your own examples of where you saw God at work in your life in new ways.
As I shared on Christmas Eve, we have a choice to live in darkness, resentment of losses and chaos or to live in the light of Christ, reconciliation, acceptance, and peace. What wisdom have you gained these last months of isolation? The next many months will still be uncertain and unprecedented, but we are a resilient people! Let’s move forward the best we can, as Mary did. She answered God’s call; she obeyed with no hesitation. She overcame obstacles of shame and poverty to bear the Christ child for us!
As we welcome the New Year, what lessons will you take into 2021? What personal transformation has occurred, perhaps in your relationships, life rhythms, or a reevaluation of pursuits? What church insights have you had you could share? Has your relationship with God withered or intensified? What new things does our community need? How will this wisdom impact our decisions on Missions and Evangelism? Let us recall and live out the hope of the exiles in Babylon who would return to a destroyed Jerusalem, but later thrive in obedience to God: “He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd (Jeremiah 31:10b).”