The United Baptist Church
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The United Baptist Church

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Kairos Moments . . . 

     Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer 

March 12, 2019

Last week’s sermon and article found Jesus, Peter, James and John having a “peak” experience in the Transfiguration. This week’s sermon found Jesus alone in a “valley” wilderness or desert (Luke 4:1-13), right after the “peak” experience of Baptism. So, even though Jesus entered this space “filled with the Spirit,” he must have been famished and weak. He was preparing for his ministry during the 40-day fast; he was vulnerable. The “devil” distracted and interrupted his time with God! Or, more likely, his valley was an internal struggle between the not-so-holy characteristics of standard religious practices and what he knew to be divine.

God was present in that wilderness, as he is in your own. Psalm 91:14-15 (NRSV) reminds us that “Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them . . .” As Jesus did in his responses, we must recall Scripture, pray and pause so that we can open up to the internal dialogue of the Holy Spirit. It is only there that we pause enough to notice our own temptations: poor habits, distractions, fear, arrogance, greed, apathy, etc. It is in the intentional silence and the solitude that we can face this struggle for ourselves; that is, the struggle between being compassionate, patient, generous, kind, merciful and loving versus being the opposite of that Holy Spirit fruit.

It is in the intentional relationship-building times with God in prayer, pondering Scripture and in humble service to others that we meet God and recognize the divine in the ordinary. Only then will we observe Kairos moments, the “Aha’s” or goose bumps that make us think, wow, that might be the Holy Spirit! Yes, that is a part of Lent’s spiritual practices I encourage you to add to your routine (silence, solitude, prayer); some traditions eliminate chocolate, sugar, alcohol or social media. While that may yield a positive result and make one feel “holy,” I encourage you to add something that brings you closer to God: reflection, prayer walking, lectio-divina (ask Pam or Twyla about this), and the daily devotional called Interruptions by Jacob Armstrong. Our books are available now in the office and on Sundays.

During Sunday community prayer times or through email, please share some of your own Kairos moments. During your daily interruptions, where do you see God at work? In your neighborhood, in your home, at the office, in your social groups? Tell us!

March 5, 2019

Sunday we discussed the Transfiguration found in the Gospel of Luke, 9:28-36, where Jesus is bathed in dazzling white raiment (clothing). The companion Hebrew Scripture passage Exodus 34:29-35 finds Moses, with a shining face so bright a veil is needed for the people. He had just come down from Mt. Sinai, where he met God. In previous weeks we have seen Jesus and his new apostles going up to the mountain to pray, then coming down the mountain to face the crowds and life’s demands. Reality hit them hard!

Sound familiar to your own reality? Life here recently at the United Baptist Church has been full of ups and downs: the excitement of Dr. Yawn’s retirement, the uncertainty of his replacement, several memorial services, the delight of welcoming a new church to utilize part of our building, the challenge of several congregant surgeries and health matters, and then joy over new staffing decisions! These peaks and valleys are normal for most people -- even for Jesus.

Our Lenten study this year, as noted on our cover, will re-define these peaks and valleys as “Interruptions”. What an appropriate yet perhaps new understanding! I discovered this book at McKay’s Used Book Store, where I browsed after a UBC Family Breakfast in February. It’s title jumped off the shelf, as I thought, whew, my life is full of interruptions, both good ones and difficult ones! What if I could turn these distractions into a more holy time to thank God for the pause, and share my faith with whomever or whatever has interrupted me? I might be transformed by a dinner interruption, rather than frustrated by one!

Even the Transfiguration experience was an interruption for Jesus and the Apostles. Jesus was praying when God interrupted Him with the presence of Himself, Moses and Elijah! The apostles were drowsy with sleep, so when they awoke, James and John were dumbfounded, and Peter wanted to build shrines. They nearly missed the point! A Kairos moment almost not observed.

Have you ever had such a divine experience where words could not adequately convey the emotion you experienced? Silence and solitude are often the only appropriate human response to such an event. We need the silence to process what occurred, and solitude to reflect on our next response. The word, Transfiguration, means an outward change that comes from within. This is one reason introspection is encouraged during the Lenten season. As we approach Easter, silence helps us pause to notice the world around us: creation, beauty, relationships, love, etc. We can observe God’s glory in the ordinary! Even in soon-to-be “holy” interruptions!

February 26, 2019

Thank you, Church, for the love you shared with the Turner family last week. It is heartwarming to see you stretch both your physical and time capacities to serve others as you would wish your families to be served with caring kindness and generosity!

In Sunday’s sermon, I shared a Kairos moment, where the in-breaking of the Holy Spirit was palpable. It was a joy to see Agape Love, like Jesus taught, being lived out in the Springfield Inova Emergency Room on Saturday. I’ll spare you the details, but a close friend had fallen and needed the peace of mind that an x-ray evaluation brings, if nothing is broken. You know from personal experience that such an ER trip is not a quick one. After a couple of long hours, one is bound to witness the servant’s heart of nurses, doctors and technicians.

Yes, I witnessed kindness, patience, mercy of the caregivers, and especially humor by a man who loves his job! The radiology transport announced my friend’s “limousine” was here with a big smile and a healthy pride in his role to help someone in pain, who only one minute before was moaning. As she got into the wheelchair limo, all of a sudden, she “woke up” and joked with him asking to see his driver’s license! Laughter dispelled the fear of what the x-ray might reveal. I saw Jesus’ healing touch in him as well as in the medical team, and although I was exhausted and frustrated, his agape love for the job and the people he was serving overflowed and refreshed us all, like a cool drink of water [living water, as it occurred to me]. A true example of Luke 6:38 (NIV): “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

The Golden Rule is also in Luke: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Do we love strangers because we should love, as God’s people? OR do we love because we ARE God’s children and His compassion becomes ours; it overflows into our spirits like the gentleman described above.

This experience reminded me to be more observant in noticing the Holy Spirit. That’s what discovering Kairos moments is all about – paying attention to the mundane in our daily lives. Can we do that if we’re moving too fast, are over-tired or are over-booked? No, we miss so much of God’s work going on around us! As we come into Lent (March 6th is Ash Wednesday), I encourage you to practice intentional Sabbath rest (more on that later). Review obligations and schedules. We are most effective in ministry if we serve (i.e. work, volunteer, preach) out of our abundance, rather than lack. Me, too!

February 19, 2019

Over the last few weeks, The United Baptist Church “family” has experienced losses, illness and surgeries. Our New Year of 2019 has been incongruous with conflicting emotions. We were celebratory for the milestone of retirement achieved by Dr. Yawn in January; then saddened by the death of Helen Gehr on January 8th. If we wanted to miss church one Sunday, we were ecstatic (not the Search Committee!) because of the snowstorm of January 12th-13th. Then immediately saddened by Ernie Watkins’ death January 14th. And depending on our desires for UBC, we were either thrilled or dismayed by the election of our new Senior Minister January 20th! Throughout, we experienced tears and laughter as memories and hopes flooded our hearts. The “Hymn Sing” of January 27th was both a joy and a soothing balm as we sang our hearts out and learned more about our favorite hymn selections.

February 1st brought more sad news of Betty Hicks’ passing, while February 3rd, Twyla notified us of her dad’s death. Yet on February 9th we celebrated Betty’s life with music, friends, family, food, laughter and those “Golden Slippers.” This week, we will celebrate COL Verle Turner’s Life, well lived through service, and there will be tears and rejoicing brought up by his faith example and our memories. Those of you who are going through physical testings and surgeries know who you are and how you are feeling.

Throughout this paradoxical year’s beginning, “not one bird stopped singing,” nor did God stop loving us. For most people this emotional roller coaster would be devastating, but for this faith community, it has been an opportunity to serve one another in compassion and kindness, through fellowship, love and consistent prayer, phone calls, notes, cards and meals. It is my observation that you understand the words “United” and the “unity” in the word “community.” 

Please take heart in that understanding; you do “love your neighbor . . .”!

Recently I spoke of capacity in terms of vision: what we can “contain” or “produce”. You are capable of containing much pain and faith, and producing much joy. That may not be comforting, but you are not as parched as you may think you are: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence (Jer. 17:7).” “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” The United Baptist Church is an apt name for us, not simply because of the two churches that came together in 2003, but because of the very fabric you’ve woven together as “family” these 16 years to become stronger, more resilient, loving and more beautiful than either church might have been alone.

February 12, 2019

It is my honor and joy to have been selected to serve as your new Senior Minister with The United Baptist Church! While Dr. Yawn’s 27 years here are a hard act to follow, I am confident that God called me to this place and this people. I realize too that, although I’ve been preparing for this role my entire life, I still have much to learn from God, the Scriptures, my new responsibilities, and especially from each of you. Please be patient with this transition, as we all adjust to a “new normal”. I appreciate your prayers over the last weeks, and ask for continued prayer support.

I wish to thank Debbie Caffrey, Chair, UBC Senior Minister Search Committee who led the intense three and a half months’ work of this Search Committee that also included Aubrey Jones, Evelyn Evans, Mae Smith, Phyllis Thompson, Ruby Kingsbury, and John Upton. After they had completed training with NorthStar, read current literature on the subject, and met many times to review the job description, resumes, prayed together and individually, discussed options and interviewed this Candidate at length; after a trial sermon, the committee presented me to the church for a membership vote. All this was above and beyond their normal laity volunteer work and commitments! Thank you too to the Personnel Committee. I am grateful for the process as well as the people and to you, our church, for your votes of confidence. I will do my utmost to fulfill God’s direction. Thank you!

So far, UBC has had an ‘almost’ unprecedented number of losses, illnesses and surgeries in just a few weeks. I have been moved and impressed by your strength, prayer support, your candor, patience, history from these pillars of faith, plus your collaboration and cooperation to support the bereaved and recovering. You represent well the kindness and faith of Christ’s body of believers, even in your sadness. Take heart; we have the hope of Christ demonstrated through one another to draw upon.

Kairos (καιρός) is Greek for “opportune time,” where God may break in to our circumstances, and we then can reflect on the purpose of His in-breaking. I think of it as the Holy Spirit nudging me toward an “AHA!” moment. “Kairos Moments” will be the title of a regular article, so that observations, reflections, questions and theology can be examined for action.

UnRavelings… J. Wayne Yawn

January 8, 2019 - Dr. Yawn's final article, after retirement!

As I write this last “UnRavelings” article the day after you as individual temples of God honored me with a retirement reception, I am filled with gratitude and humility. My gratitude is first for your permission to serve as your Senior Ministering pastor in your pasture for over 27 years! God’s good earth is our source of life and is ours to live for and from as a gift. As of today I am “out to pasture” with regard to the UBC pasture, but I consider myself now in the more inclusive pasture of all humans to serve. That is humbling and gratifying.

I was humbled and grateful for Sunday’s retirement reception. The work, words and presence of persons from sacred communities where I have served as pastor was most gratifying, like a refreshing drink of cool water at the end of labor. Labor is exhausting with its unique form of perspiration, even when done out of love. Thus, for the work of Personnel Committee chairman Aubrey Jones and members Phyllis Thompson and Ruby Kingsbury who created the reception led by Dot Jones with generous assistance by Mae Smith, Debbie Caffrey, along with Ben and Bonnie Hester; supported by Pam Moyer and florist Gere Caputo (all done because of something I concluded it time to do, retire!) cannot make me other than humble and sincerely grateful!

This leads me back to share about my new larger world pasture through which I will be nurtured and express nurture. As I have taught you and therefore tried to teach myself, the life worth living is as simple as “scratching the God-given itch” of serving other persons or seeing someone so serve, and publically acknowledging to them God’s spiritual presence is in them so serving and being served. We are “wired” to feel the rewards of joy and peace of fulfillment most often identified as so serving “just feels good!” The reward of this “evangelistic” consciousness-raising of Holiness residing within and through persons from serving or just being with a person in need, “just feels so ‘good’!” This “spiritual work” is what I intend to consciously and deliberately do while relating with others after retirement from “church work”!

The occasional public gratitude from others is such an added “louder” stimulus to God’s own affirmation from being fed by self-conscious inner harvesting. The pastures of vocations and avocations is where we nurture and are nurtured by trying to meet needs; and is as well where we are nurtured by and are humbled by attempting to observe others meeting human needs. That is Divine agape loving nature’s existence of truest Reality. That is why your retirement reception was gloriously humbling and gratifying: I experienced God in you! You have been and are a good Holy pasture for any pastor, but especially for me! I will always be grateful! Ah, so very grateful! Well? Let me answer! “Amen and Amen!” 

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