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Devotions

Advent Week 4

John 1:  6 – 9

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

When I was little, I used to beg my parents to let me sleep in the living room with the Christmas tree…and not on Christmas Eve.  I asked all season long (they maybe gave in two or three times over the course of my childhood).  I wasn’t at all interested in seeing Santa Claus or even peeking at the presents.  I just wanted to be with the tree.

Our tree wasn’t anything you’d give a second glance to.  It was an artificial tree (thanks to my mom and brother’s allergies) with blue lights and a hodge-podge of ornaments – certainly nothing that would win a tree decorating contest.  But that didn’t matter – when the lights in the living room were turned off, those tiny blue lights were magical…the way they danced on my favorite reindeer ornament, the way they made the entire room glow blue.

My favorite Christmas memories are of that magical feeling I got from those lights.  Maybe that’s the feeling John is trying to describe as he tells us about the coming of Jesus:  a feeling of anticipation, of awe, of magic, of hope.

In case you weren’t aware, our next pastor will not be Jesus, but that doesn’t mean we can’t or don’t feel a similar excitement.  I feel the spirit of Christmas in PNC meetings when we review candidates, and I picture them in our church.  I felt the magic of Christmas last Sunday during the children’s pageant – they were AMAZING!  (Those kids aren’t our future.  They are our here and now, and that pageant proved the vital role they play in the life of our congregation.)  I feel the spirit of Christmas in choir practice, surrounded by friends who love to talk even when we should be paying attention.

What makes you feel the spirit of Christmas?  What makes you feel the excitement of a child as we look toward our church’s future?

 

Advent Week 3

Luke 1: 8 – 12

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  12 This will be a sign for you:  you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

Let’s imagine a similar situation happening in our own congregation…

It’s Christmas Eve, and we are gathering for our service.  Suddenly, the lights dim for no apparent reason, and a single being floats down from the ceiling, telling us not to be afraid.  This being proceeds to tell us that God has a new pastor for us, and we are to go and find him/her.  Here’s how you’ll know it’s the right pastor:  it’s a baby who has just been born in a back alley in downtown Easton.

Let’s assume we all quickly get over the shock of seeing an angel appear before us in physical form.  I can hear our responses now:  “But Lord, we need a pastor NOW!”  “This is not what we’ve been praying for.”  “How will we survive the next two and a half decades without a pastor?”  And perhaps we would make the oh-so-Presbyterian response and form a committee to discuss this encounter.

I can’t predict the future, so I can’t promise you this won’t happen on Christmas Eve, but I will say that it is very unlikely.  I can also tell you that the PNC is not reviewing any applications from candidates under 2 years old.  But what if our new pastor doesn’t look like who you pictured?  doesn’t talk like how you’re used to a pastor talking?  doesn’t dress like you’re used to?

Last week, I wrote about preparing the way for a new pastor; let us also consider how we will prepare our hearts and our minds.

In peace,

Kimberlee Runnion
PNC Chair

 

Advent Week 2

Mark 1: 1 – 3

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

This verse always makes me think of when a President or King comes to town.  Nowadays, that means the city has to clear the streets, barricades are put in place, and there are likely snipers posted on the surrounding rooftops.  But there isn’t a whole lot for the average citizen to do except get out of the way.  But that is never how Jesus came into a town, and often, he went to someone’s home for dinner – that’s how they prepared the way…through hospitality.

When you have guests over for Christmas, do you leave your home and get out of the way?  I guess that answer depends on how much you like your relatives but probably not.  We spend the time leading up to Christmas preparing our homes for relatives, cooking, cleaning, mailing cards – we want to make sure when we have company that we make them feel at home.

So how can we prepare the way for our new pastor?  Do we simply get out of the way, or do we prepare the way, ready to make them feel welcomed and at home?

Here are some ways you can help prepare the way:

-Pray for and with the PNC.  Write up a prayer for us to open our meetings with.  Let us know that you are thinking of us and praying for God’s wisdom to inspire us.

-Do you know of someone who might be a good fit for this congregation? Give us those names – we’d be happy to reach out to them to see if they’re interested in applying for our position.

-If you serve on a committee, ask your committee two very important questions:

  1. Who are we doing this for?
  2. Is what we’re doing worth the life of our Savior?

The last thing any pastor wants to hear is “because we’ve always done it this way…” so he or she would be very impressed to know that we put careful thought into what we do and why we do it.

-Trust in God. This church has a long history and a bright future.  God has a plan for us.

In peace,

Kimberlee Runnion
PNC Chair

 

Advent Week 1

Dear Faith Family,

The Book of Matthew begins with a family tree, followed by “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way” (NRSV).  Just two paragraphs later, the baby Jesus is born.  I’d venture a guess that most women would LOVE it if pregnancy and birth were that quick and easy.  Instead, there’s a lot of waiting, but it’s a type of waiting that we understand.  We’ve all known someone or heard stories of someone whose baby was born too soon.  We value the time that it takes for a baby to grow and develop in the womb.  We know the need for healthy organs and strong muscles.  And yet, as the baby grows and starts kicking, the mother becomes more and more uncomfortable . . . but still, she waits.  She might even be grateful for the length of the pregnancy as she plans and budgets and prepares the way for her new baby.

As we enter this Advent season, it is a wonderful time for us to reflect on our current period of waiting – waiting for a new pastor.  Just as a pregnant mother does not sit around aimlessly waiting for the birth of her child, we have so much to do to prepare the way for our new pastor.  We, too, must actively wait.  Are our hearts open to God’s calling for our church?  Are our minds open to the changes a new pastor will bring?  As we look to grow our congregation, are we open to the new ideas and visions new members may bring?

Leading up to Christmas, I will be sending out a weekly devotion on behalf of the PNC.  I encourage all to consider how this time of Advent mirrors our own experience of waiting and how we, as a congregation, might prepare the way for a new pastor.

In peace,

Kimberlee Runnion
PNC Chair