January 2019

From Pastor Tim
“Do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other; be deep-spirited friends.” Philip. 2:2
Christmas brings many huge blessings to our lives. Many people are all about the gifts and personal fulfillment. Faith in Christ helps us see greater possibilities and wholeness. Acquiring good things does not mean that we become more and more independent. As Jesus taught in a famous parable (Luke 12), we don’t build bigger, larger storehouses to hoard our winnings and earnings, or preserve our riches. Instead, in Christ we find new outlets for sharing, helping, and for giving. We are blessed to be a blessing. Among the most important realms we move and live in, these dynamics are especially important in the relationships we share. (From Traveling Light)
We may feel weak or inadequate, with so much happening in our world, we may feel helpless and powerless. Yet in Christ we always have choices and are free to give. But we are not “free” to not give. Because not giv-ing is imprisoning, suffocating, constricting, and enslaving us to what doesn’t give life, and only leads to death. Not giving reduces the full sight of our hearts, minds, and souls. It reduces the scope of living. We are made in God’s image, God who is full of grace and creativity. “Not giving is the narcissistic obsession with the self, and mangles the human spirit.” And so Christ comes to show us how to live life fully, faithfully, in wholeness.
I’m grateful for the many witnesses to our faith that I have seen in people like many of you. The real treasures I have are the memories of the faithfulness I’ve witnessed. Yet sometimes I can’t share what I see because it is private and personal. I’m also challenged at times, if you haven’t noticed, to make sure we have a culture in our fellowship that also lives in grace-filled accountability; we strive to learn and grow from our mistakes, so that we offer the best of our hearts, minds, and lives together in God. It’s not an easy vision to fulfill; it is a faithful one.
So, I think again about Paul in I Thessalonians 5:13, “Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part.” In A Long Obedience, the author writes, “When we become Christians, we are among brothers and sisters in faith. No Christian is an only child.” Even though we are a family of faith, it doesn’t mean we are one big, happy family; we are not always nice people; we do not stop being sinners when we begin believing in Christ. We have our faults and failings, our aggressive and passive nature too. In the midst we remember, “If God is my Father, then this is my family.”
As we begin a new year in Christ, we remember so many people who have loved us and shown and set the Way for us in faith. Their lives testify in very real ways to what Christ can do; God’s love in their lives has led us in our faith. And so we are now called to come close to him in our own personal relationships to see him, relate with him for ourselves. God breaks us free from what might hold us back, and restrict us. He also keeps us on a path of faithfulness. We can see the fullness of God’s creativity and promise that are beyond our imaginations and abilities. I am prayerful about this year ahead; it will be a year of transition; changes and challenges will come. Not the ones that so many people expect; many will be disappointed, indeed someone will not have things the way they would like. When we entrust ourselves to God, we might not get what we expect or want, but we receive blessings beyond our imaginations. I pray you will join me in entrusting our lives to him. – Tim
Affirmation Sunday with Communion
On the first Sunday of the new year, in addition to communion, I’m planning on hosting a special time during the service to affirm the commitments of our leaders to their service to Christ in 2019. We want to say thank you for stepping forward, recognize them, as they feel and affirm God is in their lives as they serve in ministry. I know it is usually not the most well-attended service of the year. Yet it is an important way to begin a year that will bring changes and challenges that in God’s hand will yield many blessings. In spite of uncertainty, we make our commitments and affirmations, and they are even more vital in the face of the turmoil our world faces.
Hospitality
This Advent season I was able to overcome my challenges with technology and placed and received an order for post cards to be used to invite people to our cantata and Christmas Eve services. I would like to have handed out more of them; I mailed about a hundred, and I think we can learn more about how to effectively distribute them, including using them at Winterfest. Market mailing is an option, yet what I have learned from successful efforts other churches have engaged in, is that people most appreciate a personal effort from individuals who reach out to them in a genuine way to invite and welcome. It’s good news, and perhaps also challenging us at the same time to be faithful and authentic in our personal efforts in hospitality. It’s great to have greeters and ushers, guests expect them; it is even more faithful to have greetings come from us all on more personal terms. I pray we are all more prayerful about how we are assertive at greeting, welcoming,and including people into our fellowship and ministries. The greatest welcome center is the human heart in Christ.
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The Way Forward – Vote & Presentation
In February, there will be a special gathering of General Conference of the United Methodist Church. Delegates, half lay members, half ordained clergy, will convene the Conference to make a decision about how our UM Church will relate around the issue of homosexuality. It will not be an easy decision for many because the issue has caused such division within the Church and our nation. Some important dynamics to remember are that the delegates are coming from all over the world. Over 40% are from other countries. I don’t think
anyone can be sure of how the vote will go. Every one of the choices will require a change of some type. Most of our sisters and brothers overseas are more conservative (if that is an appropriate term), and would be likely to make one of three choices. People from the US are likely to be evenly divided in how they perceive the choices.
I have always seen my responsibility as a pastor in the UMC to be faithful in bringing people of diverse back-grounds together in Christ. God’s love helps us understand why certain rules or laws are in the Bible, and guides and motivates our responses. Sharing our experiences helps us effectively put faith in to practice. Diversity has been a core characteristic of who we are; listening is a vital part of our faith. It is a dynamic that has blessed our church, nation, and the world, to listen and seek to understand one another. Many times such an approach to life and ministry also places us in the middle of groups of unhappy people. My hope and prayer has always been that people will come together and share their stories of life and faith, really listening, hearing, and learning from one another. By sharing our journey in God’s grace, while we may never agree on a variety of issues, we can seek to come to understand what we have come through, and see God’s presence and love in our lives, and the people we come to know.
Many people are reluctant to share because of the reactions of others. Looking to scripture is vital, sharing our stories leads us to greater understanding, and hopefully respect. Various sides in this issue have blamed each other for the division and decline in the church. But what many of us as Christians have observed is that it isn’t that we have different perspective on any issue that divides, but it is when people “dig in” and remain unable to listen or seek to understand others, that causes decline and further division and pain. God’s mercy, grace, and love will transform lives on all sides of an issue, whatever the issue may be.
On Sunday, January 6, we will host a time to present the details of the plan and choices about the vote, so that we are prayerful and prepared, understanding what may be before us as we go forward.

Transitions
Life brings many changes to our lives today. There are many resources that can guide us as they lift our think-ing to include the whole horizon of what is happening, and how we may want to proceed. One of the most memorable transitions a group of people faced was when the Israelites went from Egypt to the Promised Land. It was a difficult journey. It took much longer than expected. What most people would say should take a couple of months to travel, took forty years; forty years! So too, we face transitions that are challenging. We’ve had many, in the last nine years here at Glossbrenner, and perhaps there have been some deep-rooted dynamics that needed to have surfaced, so that they could be dealt with in healthy ways. In the months ahead, it will be wise for us to seek some insight about handling transitions. A classic book on the sub-ject is Managing Transitions, by William Bridges. It’s used by organizations of all types, including churches. Some insights to think about:
It Isn’t the Changes That Do You In
Change is tied to the situation; transitions are about the emotional, psychological aspect of internalizing a process we go through as we come to terms with new situations that change brings to us. It’s hard to let go of the past and who we think we are to move to the uncertainty of a new future, even when it offers us so much potential and creativity. Faithfully getting people through transitions is an essential part of what faith strives to do. “When a change happens without people going through a transition, it is just a rearrangement of the chairs.” (Bridges) And so a three part process is highlighted:
Letting Go of the Old, the old identity and old ways; it’s an ending; a time to deal with losses. (There’s grief to deal with)
Going through an in-between time when the old is gone but the new isn’t fully operational; it is often called the “neutral zone.” New identity and behavior patterns are emerging and often not yet clear.
Coming Out of the Transition Into a New Beginning. Here people really develop a new identity, feel new energy, and see a new purpose or mission with vision that helps motivate them to make things work.
A variety of areas of our lives may be at various stages of transition caused by change at any given time, and it’s all happening at once. Whew! No wonder so many people are tired and stressed! In an organization there can be a variety of people who all have different reasons to be part of the group. Shift some activities and who is doing them, just a little bit, and it causes major upheaval, grief, even stresses or breaks relationships, as people need to shift why they take part. Some people may respond in unhealthy ways, demanding to be at the center of attention, wanting to hold on to perceived status or stability.
It’s tough reorienting our lives to new settings and status. Imagine what the Israelites went through leaving Egypt for the Promised Land; imagine what would have happened had they stayed in Egypt! They would have remained slaves, and melted away into history. Today, there are times when people find themselves in an emotional wilderness, caught between old and new, emerging conditions. Imagine the challenges the early disciples faced too, and yet look at what God was able to do in their lives, and how it has blessed us all since.
In the months ahead, I expect to share more of the book with you and come up with some scriptures to go with it. We will all face changes and transitions this coming year. I believe the book can be a resource to help us thoughtfully reflect on the issues we face. Some additional chapters include:
How to Help People Let Go
Leading People Through the Neutral Zone
Launching a New Beginning
Transition, Development, & Renewal
We may also face great challenges when things don’t change at the times when we think they should or must. In all cases, God is with us and we are not alone. We believe in God who has created and is creating. This understanding is at the core of our faith.

December 2018

From Pastor Tim
Every year at this time a powerful light emerges in the heavens. I often notice it in the mornings as I retrieve the
newspaper; now that it stays dark longer, it’s easier to see. If I remember my astronomy from college, it’s Venus,
a white light that seems to rise just before the Sun. We see it more clearly because of the length of the
darkness, and the pitch of the earth. It becomes a reminder of the season, that in the midst of darkness God
always seems to shine a light for us. No one will be warmed by the light of Venus, certainly not as warm as
what the Sun provides. Yet for some of us the light is another sighting of God’s miracles in creation, and how
much we must rely on God in our lives. It can warm our hearts, especially when it engages us with the Covenant
that Abraham experienced.
This year our Chancel Choir will be singing the cantata, “Darkness into Light.” It invites us to, “Come into the
light of a Savior. Come into the light of a King. Son of God, Redeemer; to Him the angels sing: ‘Glory to God in
the highest.’ Princes to Him we bring. Follow the light of our Savior! Come to the light of our King!” We live in a
dark world, darkened by violence, fear, competition, hatred, and neglect. At this time of year we gather the
courage of Christ into our hearts and lift up the light of the Lord. Most all of us need that now more than ever,
lest we be defined by, and live in despair. The darker the times, the stronger and brighter the light shines into
our hearts. It is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did
not overcome it.” John 1:5 God wants us to live by his light.
Or another passage that in my heart is its companion, “You are the light of the world…No one after lighting a
lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but (places it) on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In
the same way, let your light shine so that they…may give glory to God the Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14a,
15-16 During every Advent there is a mini-wrestling match that goes on in our hearts. We want to get to Christmas
right away, like children who want to open their presents and just can’t wait. Yet the great joy is found in
anticipation and preparation. In our preparation, we see (just a little bit of) how much, how deeply God loves
us through God’s long preparation of Christ’s coming. How we prepare to receive Jesus into our hearts, can
be found in the ways we are open (or not) to opening our hearts to welcome people new to us, into our
hearts, lives, and fellowship.
This season we have a lot to celebrate about our fellowship’s life. We have a lot of ways to engage and share
God’s light beyond our worship services. We have three new groups that have started that offer increased
opportunities to share friendship in fellowship with Christ; a parent group that is calling itself 2030, for the year
the children will graduate, is meeting on Mondays at least once a month; the parents hope that the children
will get to know each other and develop good friendships that will bless them in the years ahead. A Men’s
group that will be meeting about twice a month on Thursday evenings has also started. Additionally we’ve
been hosting a third group, almost every Tuesday morning, that seeks to help us heal from grief. This group has
been meeting in the home of a generous parishioner, and will move into the church during the holidays, as we
open it up and extend a wider invitation to more people outside our church as we invite others to join us in
dealing with grief during the holidays.
As in years past, we also will have postcards available for everyone to take and send and share with family,
friends, and neighbors. The cards help us invite people to join us for our cantata and Christmas Eve services.
Please be sure and pick up a dozen or so when you see them at the church in the next couple of weeks, and
share them. In preparation for our season’s outreach and lifting up the Light of Christ, we will also offer a time
to prepare our efforts in hospitality. We’ve hosted times for studying Christian hospitality several times before
and we want to offer an additional time on Thursday, December 4 at 7PM, and a second meeting on Tuesday
evening December 18 at 7PM. We invite and look for greeters and ushers to join us, as we look at the ways
Jesus commissions us to open our hearts in faith, and extend friendship to guests. The holidays present us with
special opportunities to share and be more focused and clear in who we are and how we reach out and welcome.

Most of us know the story that King Herod was threatened by the birth of our Savior; his fears led him to commit
genocide on a group of little children. He cut himself off from the blessings and possibilities that God provides.
None of us would commit such a crime, but there are ways we suffocate life and the potential that God entrusts
to us. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me;” Mark 9:37 NIV While
Jesus was talking about a child of a young age brought to him. So it is that grace expands our view to look
upon all people today as children of God. And so we approach the holidays hopeful of the ways God will
open our hearts in sharing faith in fellowship together. Blessings, Tim

November 2018

“Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask of you.” (Mark 10:35b) In the
Gospel of Mark, the Disciples are portrayed as an especially challenged
group of people. They seem to misunderstand a lot about Jesus, about
God, and our faith. In Mark 9:33-37 they show their competitive side as they
argue over who is the greatest among them, and even after this discussion
and the clear response of Jesus, in Mark 10:32-34, James and John, sons of
Zebedee come to ask that they might occupy positions of great honor
alongside Jesus. The disciples just don’t get it. They compete; they argue a
lot. And yet God is at work with them, and they grow to set the foundation
for our lives in faith and all the countless generations that followed. And
God c an be at work in us too.
Jesus also warns the disciples that the road or journey of discipleship is not
easy. It is worthwhile, the most worthwhile or best life we can put ourselves
to. The conflict that is revealed throughout the Bible (and there is a ton of
conflict) shows us that while we want to work together and to love each
other as God loves us all, we cannot avoid conflict. A good church is not
one that avoids or doesn’t have any conflict, but one that learns how to
process it faithfully. When we hide it, we risk suppressing it in unhealthy ways
that prevents growth, and it is likely to surface later in the worst ways. When
we trust God, trust the growth of God’s love in our hearts, and learn to trust
one another, it means that there will be conflict that we work out together
i n God’s guidance.
Among gifted, intelligent, diverse people who are passionate about receiving
God’s love and serving God, we will often see things differently. We can
work out and work through those differences to see a more complete picture,
developing deeper understanding together. Our world today seems so
fractured. Difficulties and challenges cannot prevent us from living our faith.
They certainly will not prevent God from being faithful with us. Such is the
witness of the cross and those sons of Zebedee. When challenges come, it
can be helpful to remember that they are often a sign of movement and
transformation.
As we approach a time of year in November of consecration in our dedication
and commitments to Christ through Time & Talent, and our Financial
giving, we know we all face many challenges, with many of the greatest
ones being the ones in our own hearts. We can’t be afraid of change and
transformation; or, like so many people today, even fear success because
we are too happy with what is comfortable, known, and under our control.
With Christ, we step out in faith. Please take a look at our list of ministries and
consider how God is calling you to serve in 2019. While on vacation, I was
finally able to read several books I’ve had and only skimmed through. In the
book, The God-Shaped Brain, I read a quote, “Love has nothing to do with
what you get; It’s what you are expected to give – which is (that means)
everything. – Anonymous

I thought of how Jesus took the misfit band of disciples and called them friends, partners in ministry (John 15:14-15). Jesus went further and taught that the bad actions we do are symptoms of the problems. We have often created a system designed to treat the symptom rather than the real problem. We have misdiagnosed our greater, or great-est problem. It is the fearful and selfish heart that is at the root of our sins. We need to accept God’s remedy for the underlying illness; our hearts and minds need to be healed by God’s love. Instead of seeking simply to have our mis-deeds pardoned and our sins appeased, we must allow God’s love to take control of our lives. We don’t earn our way to heaven; our faith is not a business transaction. Instead of filling our lives with lots of actions that only run us around in circles, we need to get closer to God in effective ways. “Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives, and remembering what one receives. – Alexandre Dumas Pere I pray that the month ahead is a time of deep renewal for us all, when we accept anew the great gift God has entrusted to us by faith. As Jesus entrusts us with his friendship, may we give him ours in return. – Tim