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

October Blog

                                                           Reflections on Christian Leadership

How would you describe leadership in our faith? What does it look and sound like? (The quick answer is Jesus; at
times he seems so far above us, we ask what does it look like for us?) In a recent meeting of some people working
hard to be leaders in our church, many asked why it is often so difficult to encourage and develop good leaders in
the church. Paul writes in II Timothy, “Rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;
for God did not give us the spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and of self-discipline. Do not be
ashamed then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace… Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit.” II Timothy 1:6-9a, 13-14 When I look through the scriptures, a strong realization comes through that God holds leaders accountable for their work. It’s very challenging; the standards are high. The people who upset Jesus the most, the ones he was most critical of, were the leaders. What’s important isn’t just what we “do,” but also why we do it, our motivations (I Corinthians 13). So no wonder many of us may be reluctant at times to step forward. There are plenty of reasons we hesitate getting involved, giving our all, and staying committed to fulfilling our promises. And yet in some way, as believers in Christ, God calls us to be aware that we are, all of us, uniquely gifted in some small or large way to provide leadership in faith through our fellowship together. We all have God’s love to share, which is most empowering.
Our Challenges
We may feel under-appreciated, or even face constant criticism and lots of fault finding; remembering how much
God loves us provides the help and encouragement we need in building on the strengths we have. God’s love provides
a willingness to engage with people new to us, and to try new solutions. God’s Word gives us great strength.
When we fall short or “fail” at something, in Christ by grace we learn, grow, and mature from it. We trust God, believing that a resurrection comes even from betrayal and crucifixion, the way it did for the Disciples. Compassion teaches us that many people today are just down right heart broken and depressed. We can’t let someone’s depression or fears define our lives or the fellowship we share. With Christ at the center, we respond with real love, care and friendship, not letting one or a handful of people define who we are and what we do. The Church’s one foundation is Jesus, God’s love is central to our lives. We have wonderful leaders and members in Glossbrenner; the truth is also that everyone, all of us, also have our faults and sins. Criticism in thankless jobs, and the emotional heartache in disappointments that might even grow into arguments, are what Paul was writing about to Timothy and the Corinthians. So we are both challenged and very blessed to be invited to live by grace, while setting high standards that are built not on our accomplishments, but upon God’s generosity, God’s grace. Faith calls upon us all to take on responsibility without being overly controlling and demanding. We don’t “own” what we do; especially through baptism, our lives and the work in ministry we
share belong first to God.
Living Our Faith
When we think of good leadership, we do turn to Jesus and see a man who didn’t just give out a lot of orders, or
filled a to do list or wanted to “do” a lot. Yet he accomplished more than any other human being because he spent
time in prayer, devotions and scripture, and took time to listen and ask good questions. He spent a lot of time in enriching fellowship. We need to do the same, set the same priorities. We need the same commitment from all our
church leaders and all of our members too. It’s vital that meetings begin with a brief devotion, not just a prayer, but
also a word from God that reflects our devotional lives. This dynamic was an essential part of the early UB Church
and the Methodists; they made time for devotions, and it’s more vital for us today. Many of you know my story and
are probably tired of hearing; devotions literally saved my life. God wants us all to share in that gift.
I was with a group of people recently as we discussed our faith and fellowship, one person remarked, “It’s all about
the relationships.” Wow! I felt great; the lessons we’ve been sharing and trying to lift up in Disciple Bible Study, Stephen Ministry, and many, many other places like Sunday School and Bible study are being heard. It remains a great challenge to integrate our understanding into life. Yet we can grow and learn from mistakes and our sins; the misfit disciples did and were willing to be open to God’s possibilities as they trusted in God’s love and forgiveness. So with these thoughts and prayerful concerns in my mind and heart this fall, I put together a list that I share below. Please give me your feedback and thoughts. How can we strengthen our faith together?

Characteristics of Christian Leadership
Accept the gift of God’s Love and Forgiveness, keep it central to everything
Daily Time of Prayer and Devotions in the Word; Try to Hear and See through God’s Eyes
Believe and Live in Christ, Heaven, and the Resurrection
Intentional Sharing in Fellowship with other Christians; we cannot do this alone
Taking risks of heart and mind trusting God to help you and others grow
Remember always that our lives and the lives of the church belong first to God, not us
It doesn’t belong to any one family or group (including the Andermans)
Enter into what God is doing, don’t try to do it yourself and never all by yourself
Live in life-long learning, be open in creative awareness, always listening, ask lots of
questions (without interrogating) Always be prepared to be vulnerable in wise, careful ways; set healthy boundaries
What would you add to the list? One thing is certain about leadership today; the understanding of what it is has evolved dramatically over the last forty years. It is far less about controlling or dominating others as it was in the past. Yet some characteristics of leadership are timeless in faith, and require that we all aspire to them. Remember too, we can’t rely on our heritage in saying that just because our family took part, somehow we are entitled to status, or power, or control (Here again, I think of my own Anderman family). It’s all about God’s grace, love and generosity. Fall is here, I think of a recent devotion, “You were all called to travel the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.” Ephesians 4:4 Thank you all for your faithfulness; I pray and trust in the ways God will lead us all in the coming year. Thanks for reading; feel free to share your thoughts with me, and your faithful leadership in our fellowship. May we guard and share the good treasure entrusted to us, with the help of the Holy Spirit. – Tim