“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin…” ~ Matthew 6:28

Thank you, my beloved congregation for the privilege of my renewal leave these past two months. Thank you, Pastor Mar and the leadership team, for leading and nurturing the people of Fields while I was away.  During the time away, I visited several churches for worship, spoke to numerous people along the way, prayed for every person of Fields by name daily, spent more time with family, read more than I have been able to do for years, caught up on chores around the house, and most importantly, learned how to “consider.” For so long I have been in a rush, often times sojourning with doing little more than offering a passing glance to those I “passed by;” I had things to do and places to go after all! Yet God had other ideas, reminding me what is truly good and wonderful, fulfilling and awe-inspiring. In other words, I took the time to truly “consider” what God has offered to me and the people of God; I was awe-struck by what I found! I “considered” my calling to preach the Good News with the confidence of a child of God; I “considered” my calling to walk with those in need and the blessings bestowed and received; I “considered” my calling to family, transitioning Dad to a new chapter of his life, moving Abby to her first apartment,  celebrating what was and what is to come and even more deeply fell in love with my beloved Laurie, Kelly, Abby, and even our wild puppy Tucker; I “considered” my calling to offer grace in every circumstance and to every person regardless of my personal opinion; I “considered” my calling and what it means to be ordained within the United Methodist Church and the charge the Bishop gave me twenty three years ago to “take authority” within the charge to which I am appointed. I “considered” our shared calling to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” When Jesus calls us to “consider,” it is a calling to look to all things created with the eyes of a child, in awe, wonder, and thanksgiving. To “consider” is to have fun in life, to actively choose to celebrate all that is good rather than dwell on what was or the negativity which at times rears its ugly head.  In God-speak, “considering” is focusing “solely” on God and recognizing each of our calling to fully live out our faith in love, hope, grace, and joy. As we begin our 9th year in ministry together, let us fulfill our shared calling by what-ever means necessary, with the same joy that Jesus shared with all people. Let us together even more deeply fall in love with God. God is incredibly good, all the time. I am excited, I am pumped, I am ready, I am committed to sharing the Good (no the amazing) news of Jesus Christ to our community, nation and world.

 

Pastor Tom

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The Day of Rest Deuteronomy 5:12

“Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.” (Deuteronomy 5:12, NRSV)

Then he said to them, “The sabbath day was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28, NRSV)

How regularly do we take our commanded day of rest? We run through life at a breakneck pace. We utilize every moment available to its fullest extent, striving to do as much as possible with the 168 hours in each week. As we pat ourselves on the back for such extraordinary, superhuman productivity, we must ask ourselves about the cost to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. God commanded that we take a day of rest, not for the sake of God, but for our sake: “The sabbath day was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). God knows that we have limits, and in order to live the whole and abundant lives that God desires for us, we must take regular opportunities to refresh and recharge not only our physical batteries, but our spiritual ones as well. God rested on the seventh day, and so should we – unlike God, we actually need that rest. On this designated day of rest, there should be no “work” of any kind – this is a day to commune with God, to “take time to be holy,” as the song says. This day should be devoted to growing closer to God: read scripture, go on a nature walk, spend time with family and friends, pray, or simply sit in the silence with God. Many of us are unable to take our sabbath on Sundays – we live in a time in which Sunday has become just another day of the week to the secular world – and, if this is the case, choose a different day; the commandment is to rest on one day out of every seven, whatever day that happens to be. In the gospels, Jesus is frequently seen taking time away from the people and the crowds to take his sabbath, to be alone with God, to sit and bask in the presence and peace of God, to be with his friends. Take note, then, that even the Son of God observed a day of rest. This requirement to rest regularly, and to keep this day of rest holy, is yet another example of the fierce love of a God who knows us inside and out – the God who knows that if this day of rest was not commanded, we would not take it. God wants us to love ourselves, even as we are commanded to love our neighbors, and this begins with taking our rest. God gives us explicit permission to rest, even requiring it of us, because God knows we need it to thrive.

 

Pastor Mar