April Pastor’s Reflection (2017)

The Weaving Grows …

Our Lenten journey into the Lord’s prayer has been challenging at times and deeply meaningful. I must confess that I have not remembered to pray the Lord’s Prayer every day, but I have come close.

What I have been struck by most significantly is that the prayer is not all about me and my journey of faith, it is about the whole body of Christ that is praying this prayer throughout the world. We pray collectively as we say “Our Father … give us … forgive us and we forgive … lead us.” It is a prayer that people of faith are praying on behalf of the whole world and all the people’s of the world. We are praying that all have enough to eat and the basic needs of life. We are recognize the collective need for forgiveness especially as we look at issues of discrimination and injustice, both in the past and the present. We are praying that God’s kingdom — God’s reign — of peace, justice and love unfold throughout all the places of the world and that we are collaborators with God in bringing forth this reign.

As we have been sharing in different interpretations of the Lord’s Prayer each Sunday, I have decided to write my own.

Our Creator who spans heaven and earth,
We lift your name in praise.
Inspire and challenge us to bring forth
Your vision of heaven’s peace and grace
Upon all the places and peoples of the earth.
As we are blessed with our daily needs for water,
Bread and shelter, may we work to provide
The same for all your beloved children.
May we confess the acts of selfishness and harm
We have done to others,
Forgive those who have harmed us and
Open ourselves to receive your forgiveness that you freely offer.
May your Spirit work with in us to guide us away
From further acts of harm and destruction and
Turn us towards living faithfully.
For Your steadfast love and mercy endures forever. Amen.

Blessings upon you as you continue in this Lenten journey.

Pastor Wendy

March Pastor’s Reflection (2017)

The Weaving Grows…

How many times have you prayed the Lord’s Prayer? I am going to make a wild guess for myself and say I have prayed it at least 2,000 times and I wonder if it is much more. I suspect many of you have prayed it anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 times on a weekly bases and as much as 20,000 times if you pray it daily. Does it still hold meaning for you?

One of the things I always find meaningful is hearing the other voices with whom I am praying. Sometimes that voice is a young child or someone in the midst of their last days of life on earth or one who is simply going through a difficult time. The voices who are praying carry meaning for me which I appreciate as I can become careless and simply let the very familiar words roll off my tongue with little thought as to their meaning for my life of faith.

We have an opportunity this Lenten Season to reflect more deeply on the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. You will see from our worship schedule that each week we will have a phrase from the prayer be our focus. We will use different translations and versions of the Lord’s Prayer throughout Lent as well as experience it through music.

There is also a Lenten Class being offered based on the book, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of The Lord’s Prayer by John Dominic Crossan. This book will be informative and challenging as one review says, “Provides a satisfying blend of history, scholarship and theology, in researching the moral responsibilities that come with leading a Godly life.” In Crossan’s own words, he approaches the prayer as a “revolutionary manifesto and a hymn of hope. It is revolutionary because it presumes and proclaims the radical vision of justice that is the care of Israel’s biblical tradition. It is a hymn, because it presumes and produces poetic techniques that are the core of Israel’s biblical poetry.” I am looking forward to the rich dialogue we will have studying this book.

There are several opportunities to be part of a class:

  • Tuesdays at 1:30 pm at Clear Lake UMC beginning Feb. 24.
  • Tuesdays at 6:30 pm at Pastor Wendy’s home – 902 Mimosa St S beginning March 7.
  • Thursdays at 12:30 pm at Morningside UMC beginning March 2 as part of our Lunch, Bible and News Class.
  • Thursdays at 3:30 pm at Englewood UMC beginning March 2.

I will be leading the study at my home and at Morningside UMC. Books are $12 each and are on order – please sign up for a book on the bulletin board.  It is also available on Kindle.  I can find an extra copy for you as needed.

Blessings, Pastor Wendy

November Pastor’s Message (2016)

The Weaving Grows…

It was such a joy to have our United Methodist Ministries of Salem-Keizer Youth share about their summer mission trip in worship on Oct. 23. I was inspired to see the various service projects they engaged in and to hear of how they grew in both their understanding of service and their relationship with God.  Morningside was part of that service project through our support of the Youth Dinner/Auction that happened earlier in the year, through individual  sponsorships for the trip and with one youth and one adult participating.  It is the beginning of our area wide Youth group.  

There are signs of growth as we begin this school year for the youth program.  An event in September had participation from three of our church’s, including 5 youth from Morningside and 2 from Clear Lake.  The youth have also occasionally held youth meetings at Morningside. We are in the process of interviewing additional youth interns and hope to have one at Morningside in the near future.  A vital UMMSK Youth Ministry is happening.

What else has been happening with UM Ministries of Salem-Keizer?  

*Messy Church is now happening at three locations, including Morningside.  The Trinity location is called Fiesta Church and is bi-lingual and already having strong attendance.  Morningside is starting out small, but the programing has been great – especially the October theme of “Make a Joyful Noise.”  

*Rev. Jorge Rodriguez and his family has moved to Salem and he is beginning to make connections for the development of our Hispanic Ministries.

*The clergy went to the “Time to Sow” retreat to plan worship themes and texts for the next liturgical year.

*We have submitted a grant application to develop a comprehensive communication and marketing strategy and for implementation. We should hear word about this application in November and quickly get to work on this important aspect.

*The clergy and board are working on a plan for better utilizing clergy time and passions to further the ministries of both local congregations and our work together.

*One future goal is to develop new worship opportunities for targeted populations.

Would you like to know more, do you have questions?  We will have our United Methodist Ministries of Salem-Keizer Charge Conference on November 28 at Jason Lee UMC at 7:00. We will gather with a hymn sing, share information on our ministry together, present clergy salaries which will be voted on by the UMMSK Charge Conference and have a time of fellowship.

Are you curious about specific Morningside Ministries ~ please stay after worship on Nov. 6 for Pie and Ice Cream, presentation of fall reports and our Morningside goals for 2017.

Blessings,

Pastor Wendy

October Pastor’s Message (2016)

The Weaving Grows …

You are all invited to the most exciting, amazing, fun-filled event of the year!  What could it be, hold on to your hats and please be sit down.  You are invited to a church gathering to celebrate our ministries from the past year and to lift up ministry goals for the next year.  Okay, I know you are saying, “Really — Wendy thinks this is the most exciting event of the year!”  In all honesty, let’s just say I rank it up there in the top ten, because it will be spirit-filled! Sunday, October 9, you are invited following worship to pack a few lunches for the backpack lunch program for Morningside Elementary School, get your refreshments and sit together at tables for a time of conversation related to the ministries of Morningside UMC and United Methodist Ministries of Salem-Keizer.  We will share what we have done this past year that we feel good about and think about what we would like to see happen during the next year or two.  Karna and I will lead our time together and we expect to finish by 12:00.  Please plan to stay for as long as you are able.

To help us being to think about goals for the coming year, please ask yourself “How is God calling Morningside UMC to be in ministry?”  We will reflect on this question as it relates to our mission of faith and priorities for our ministry.  

We are all God’s people! We are called by Christ to ministries of love, justice and reconciliation with our church, community and world.

We embrace this call by being      

 Inclusive          Connected          Progressive    

God’s presence, the example of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit guide us in answering this call.    

We are an inclusive, safe and welcoming church where every person can experience the gift of God’s love.

We are in ministry with the people in our neighborhood and community, sharing the gift of God’s love.    

We are engaged in the exploration of beliefs, scripture, spirituality, social justice and how we are called to live our faith. 

I am looking forward to this exciting, amazing and spirt-filled event!    Pastor Wendy

September Pastor’s Message (2016)

The Weaving Grows …

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.  During this past year, we have taken a step back to reflect on how we are worshipping and does is it 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 is be best to have one worship service on Sunday morning year round.  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.   

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.  We have been feeling this energy this summer.
  • 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 is allowing 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.  Our first Sunday Sermon chat will be September 11 in the Fireside Room.
  • 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 year round change, we will better 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.

See you at our 10:00 Sunday Worship Service,  Pastor Wendy

August Pastor’s Reflection (2016)

The Weaving Grows …

I must admit that I am loving our new pop-up tent trailer.  So far we have spent a week at Timothy Lake and a couple days along the Metolius River.  During the set-up process, I have discovered I have one crucial decision to make, where to place the cook station which consists of a prep table and a BBQ that will let me swap out the grill for a stove burner on half of it.  It is all about the view and the scene that will feed my soul. 

FullSizeRender

As you can see, I had a great location along the Metolius.  A place to watch the river flow by, hear the melody of the river and slight breeze through the trees, see the occasional bird and simply take my time cutting veggies and preparing to cook.  My cook station in definitely one of my new happy places.  It goes deeper than that as well.  It not only puts a smile on my face, it feeds my soul and renews my spirit.

The past few months have been been rich with inspirational and emotional moments through various worship experiences at Morningside UMC, General, Western Jurisdictional and OR-ID Conferences, and in my personal life of faith.  At the same time, there have been too many heart breaking events of late, the number of people killed due to senseless acts violence is beyond comprehension and wears on my spirit and I am sure yours as well.  In our local community, we continue to hold in prayer those who are in the midst of health struggles and those who are grieving the death of one they have loved.  All of these experiences, the intense inspirational ones and the ones that break my heart have brought more tears to my eyes than I am comfortable admitting, it seems I constantly need a tissue around.

Which is why it is so wonderful to have found a new way to feed my soul and renew my spirit.  It is like adding a new tool to my spiritual health tool box.  Which leads to the question for each one of you ~ what is in you spiritual tool box and is it time to add a new way to feed your soul and renew your spirit?  Is there a book you have been meaning to read, a scripture passage that you have been planning to look up, a new way of praying that has been calling to you, a new passion or hobby you have wanted to try or a place in God’s wondrous creation you have wanted to lay your eyes on.  Is it time to upgrade your spiritual tool box?

Blessings,  Wendy

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

 

February Pastor’s Reflection (2016)

The Weaving Grows …

How many turning points have you had in your life time? How many forks in the road have you encountered? How many crossroads have you stood at and pondered the multiply directions you had to choose from? How many times has the road ahead of you taken an unexpected turn or a sharp curve and you could not see what would lie ahead. How often has the road remained straight?

Our lives are filled with turns, twists and curves. Some of them we control, many we do not. Turning points can lead to wonderful changes in our lives or be filled with difficult challenges or often a combination of both. Sometime when we take the wrong turn, we can make a u-turn and revisit our decision. Other times the only choice is to keep moving through it.

Our Lenten Season will focus on the theme “Turning Points.” We will look at various stories where Jesus was in the midst of a turning point and faced both the blessing and challenge of answering the call of to love unconditionally. The image of the labyrinth will be part of our journey with its turns that lead us deeper into relationship with God.

The other images that come to mind as I contemplate “Turning Points” are road signs. Take a few moments and reflect on the various road sign pictured. When in your life have you found yourself at such a point? How did you experience the presence of God? How did you make a decision? How did you move through the challenging turns? How did you faith grow and deepen? Blessings, Wendy

January Pastor’s Reflection (2016)

The Advent and Christmas Season is behind us and we are now in the midst of the season of Epiphany.  I am grateful to the many people people who made our worship so meaningful in December ~ the Choir and Joyful Noise, the Cantata that Sam selected, our soloists Robin Gough and Brace Langenwalter, the families who lit our Advent Candles and those who adorned our sanctuary with the Christmas Trees.

As I reflect upon the importance of worship for our community at Morningside, I have been thinking of how it 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 is it communicate who we are and allow us to grow as a community of faith.

The worship committee is inviting you to engage in such a conversation on Sunday, January 31.  We will have two times of discussion following each worship service.  We will begin at 10:15 and 12:15, gather in Herman Hall during the fellowship time, allowing people to get there coffee, snacks and be seated. We want to hear what is meaningful to you in worship and how we can better communicate who we are as we worship.  We realize that there will be many opinions shared ~ worship is very personal and each one of us will have our unique perspective.  The worship committee will listen carefully, debrief the feedback and discern what will remain the same in our worship and what, if any, changes we will make to enhance and deepen our worship at Morningside UMC.  

During this season of Epiphany ~ this time of seeking illumination and focusing upon the theme, “Called to Courage” ~ take time to reflect upon our worship at Morningside, prayerfully consider what is meaningful to you and how we can best reflect who we are in our worship experiences.  Blessings, Pastor Wendy

Living a Courageous Faith for Our Time

   “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9