May Pastor’s Reflection (2016)

The Weaving Grows …

In my January newsletter article, I shared the following:

I have been thinking of how worship represents the heartbeat of our congregation. How we worship reflects who we are, our vision of faith and our passions for ministry.  As our worship identifies us, it is also the time our community comes together in gratitude to God, to be inspired and to grow deeper in our faith.   We use music, prayers, scripture and a message as our vehicle.  From time to time, it is important to take a step back and reflect on how we are worshipping and does t communicate who we are and allow us to grow as a community of faith.

We gathered in the latter part of January to reflect on our worship at Morningside with both surveys and times of discussion. The worship committee listened carefully and has been discussing the best way for us to move forward as a worshipping community. Both the worship committee and myself believe it will be best to have one worship service on Sunday morning. We realize that this change will be difficult for some and not of their choosing, we also know that many feel it is the right time to make this change. On May 15, we will begin our one service of worship at 10:00.

There were a variety of factors that went into the decision that were expressed through the surveys and discussion time. Here are some primary reasons for making this change.

*The desire for a larger attended service to provide the needed critical mass for a more energizing service of worship

*More voices for congregational singing and a general feeling of a congregation that is diverse and has a passion for ministry.

*The need to address the problem of being spread too thin on Sunday mornings. It has become increasingly difficult to find enough volunteers for the various responsibilities that need tended to for two services of worship including ushers, liturgists, technical staff, and fellowship time hosts. One service will allow more people to simply worship on Sunday morning and not have a “job” every Sunday.

*Address the desire to re-energize Adult Education on Sunday morning. There will be a better opportunity to have adult classes and forums on Sunday morning.

*The opportunity for our music staff and volunteers to work together and provide a diverse experience of music for worship. Our music will include traditional hymn singing and praise music with Joyful Noise along with Taize music, folk music with guitars, instrumental duets and ensembles. From week to week there will be variety so that each person experiences the music of their heart of faith along the way.

We believe that through this change, we will be better able to express who we are as a community of faith, our passions for ministry and we will enhance and deepen our worship experience at Morningside UMC.    Blessings, Pastor Wendy

March Pastor’s Reflection (2016)

The Weaving Grows …

Somehow in the course of the month of March we will go from the middle of Lent, through Holy Week and then to our Easter Celebration.  Throughout this journey, we will also witness the spring bulbs and flowering trees become alive with buds and blossoms.  The crocuses have already been blooming for weeks and the early daffodils are greeting us with their cheery yellow flowers.  It all is happening so fast, the challenge is to slow down a bit and settle into this season of Lent and spring flowers to let them speak to us.

One of the ways I try to slow down in this season is to spend a bit more time in devotional reading.  This morning I picked up a book that has been lying around the house for well over a year called Yosemite Mediations for Women.  It is a beautiful book with stunning photography of Yosemite and quotes by women — which can also be read by men.  The quote that has stayed with me is the following.

If we make our goal to live a life of compassion and unconditional love, 

then the world will indeed become a garden 

where all kinds of flowers can bloom and grow.

                           Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

I am struck by the reminder that I can often make life too complicated and have too many goals when the one that really matters is living a life sharing God’s compassion and love.  I am not saying that other personal goals do not have their benefit, but we can allow ourselves to get consumed by the goals of things like a perfectly clean house and our to do list getting completed every day.  If our main goal is to live out of love and compassion, then the other goals in our life will find their fulfillment as we focus on sharing God’s love.

I also take with me the visual reminder that has I see each new flower or tree blossom throughout the months ahead ~ from the crocuses to the fall mums to poinsettias and Christmas cactuses ~ to ask myself, “Am I continuing to remember and live out the goal of compassion and unconditional love.  Am I sharing God’s grace in such a way that others are able to bloom, grow and thrive.”   

It is interesting how this quote fits into our next three worship themes for Lent: Turning to Repentance, Turning to Grace, Turning Towards Extravagant Love.  I am left pondering for today how repentance and grace will lie the foundation for living out God’s compassion and love.

Blessings, Wendy