The United Baptist Church
Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
September 7, 2021
Thank you, church and friends, for the August birthday wishes, cards, notes, lunches, gifts, and calls! Re-reading your kind sentiments after the last few weeks is hopeful and heart-warming to see how God is at work in each of you. Our hearts are broken over the events in Afghanistan over the last several weeks. It has been hard to move forward in any vision-casting or budget preparation arena (on the calendar) when people are under such threats. We are praying, of course, and there are a number of organizations we already support who are mobilizing for Afghan refugees.
It is important for us also to pray and feel compassion for those in Haiti, Louisiana, Maryland, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York City, and the western United States, not to mention concerns over increasing COVID-19 variant infections and deaths. Personal losses during this year seem heavier than ever in light of global news and our long list of prayer requests. And, hearing church news that Margarita will be leaving September 17th could produce more anxiety. True that we must express our grief, but “worry” is not helpful. Proverbs 12:25 NLT tells us that worry weighs a person down, and God, who often works through people and their encouraging words, is the one who comforts and reassures us in difficult times like these. I fondly recall Dolores Puckett’s positive Facebook posts; even in her pain, she was sure of her faith and shared it with others daily! We have hope in our hearts because of our salvation and relationship with Jesus! That hope may feel fleeting when so much is happening, so that is why we worship together, call on each other for encouraging words, and willingly work for the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT).
As I shared in a recent sermon, the world right now does not need “anxious” believers! As a church, we must be that calm and non-anxious presence to others in the fray of anxiety right now. We do that through the strength of the Holy Spirit, our personal connection with God, diligence in our studies, and of course prayer. Non-anxious presence matters—in your homes, local shops, neighborhoods, workplaces, organizations, etc. As any apostle or pioneer can understand, pioneering in today’s world will take the courage and adaptive leadership examples of Moses, Joshua, Jesus, and Paul to spread the Gospel in a hurting, unbelieving world. Paul’s unique call was to those unfamiliar with Christ or to those who reject Him. This is our call too, to gently lead by example and share our faith stories, especially now.
During a recent safe, masked “Hymn Sing”, we were fortified by instruments, lyrics, Scripture, and inspiring origin stories. Thank you to the Worship Team for co-laboring with God to reassure, uplift, and heal our burdened souls. Take care of your own emotional health.
August 3, 2021
Summer is coming to a close! ☹ I both dread and celebrate the month of August. I no longer go to school, but it’s a habit long engrained in my “student-at-heart’s” brain. The back-to-school sales, smell of pencils and new notebooks . . . no matter how old you are, it feels like Fall is a fresh start! We felt that way July 15th as the church and Missions Center re-opened officially to optional masks and distancing. Two weeks later, we are hanging on every news story again, checking COVID-19 variant cases and hospitalizations. Both celebration and dread. Isn’t that how life seems to flow all the time, anyway?
It’s a bit like gardening, which I have been learning to do, under my horticultural housemate’s patient direction. We till the soil, fertilize, water, and prepare for planting; then we wait. We keep watering in expectation. Once the plants grow, we trim, fertilize again, pull out the weeds, and wait. At church, we’ve enjoyed the blossoms throughout the season as plants have been timed well. We were a little late putting our tomatoes in this year, so every day, I water, weed, and watch for color! The process reminded me of sin; we are watering and feeding the weeds as well as the plants! So, we must tend the plants (our souls) every day, or the weeds (sin) can take over. We must also be careful because the good plants can be mistaken for weeds as they sprout and pulled out by mistake.
These thoughts took me to the pandemic and our country’s divisive views on vaccinations right now. 95% of our members and groups are vaccinated and took all precautions in 2020-21. Fairfax County is well vaccinated, but not everyone. I agree with our principles of freedom, but, as a Christian, I feel strongly about loving “neighbor” and doing what is best for the common good. If the vaccination options are “water and fertilizer” for us (the plants) in order to thrive and survive, then why wouldn’t a majority of individuals want to see a healthy population (a garden)? In my role as a human being, not your pastor, I encourage you to get vaccinated for the good of the whole. I do realize there are some extenuating circumstances for health and auto-immune situations and children under 12, where it is not recommended. You have my prayers and respect. However, we need each other to stay well and thrive, so that we may fulfill the mission God has given us.
June 11th, our Scriptures were Proverbs 17:17 and 27:17 NLT: “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” And “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” And Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
July 6, 2021
Are you having a good summer, so far? Time passes so quickly, so it is important to recall silver linings amid the challenging times, and to appreciate people, routines, and things we cherish. “22 Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23 CSB).”
As we studied the locust plague in Joel, and the reassurance of God’s forgiveness, it was clear that dreaming dreams could not happen unless we submitted to God’s everlasting presence with us and our church. We sometimes skip the verse before and after Joel 28b: “Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men (& women) will dream dreams, and your young men (& women) will see visions.” God tells Joel and us that he “will pour out his Spirit upon all people . . . even on servants, men and women alike (Joel 28:29 NLT).” The bottom line is that we must yield to and rely upon the Holy Spirit to direct our steps and our mission.
Recent congregant needs, prayer requests, and the Miami-Dade building collapse brought me to my knees in June and the beginning of July. Change is difficult yet necessary for all growth--spiritual, physical, fiscal, congregational, and emotional. For example, if we don’t change our dietary preferences, we won’t live very long. God continues to heal the world in its violence and need even if we don’t see it on the “news”; we have been formed by legacy to participate in that healing work, however it presents itself. We must seek out and pray for the opportunities! Perhaps we lost momentum during the pandemic, but we can begin again, reset, and reclaim the Vision/Mission that God calls us to. We may feel limited in size, yet in the unlimited and creative imagination that God gave us, “13 I/WE can do all things through Christ who strengthens me/US (Phil 4:13).”
Just these last 2 weeks, I experienced 8 Kairos moments, where God was visibly or audibly present. Eight times I noticed God’s new mercies refreshing my soul just when I struggled to find hope! Delivering food for others to ACCA, when my prayer for fresh produce for those in need was answered (ACCA garden). Hearing how members helped others in need without expecting reward. Orienting a new health caregiver who rushed me with a hug when her own prayer had been answered by serving in a Christian home! Connecting with a new ordinand to mentor, and another friend preparing for seminary. Getting an encouraging, sermon-worthy email from a UBC member. Renting out a hall for training, to discover a potential Christian small business in need of a larger space! Are you praying for vision and dreams for UBC? Are you listening for the work Christ calls us to?
June 1, 2021
May was an eventful and emotional month! Mother’s Day, Pentecost Sunday and Memorial Sunday. Joy, sadness, wonder, awe, memory, grief—it is all welcome and created in us by God, isn’t it? June is here already, with some pandemic restriction relief for the fully vaccinated; however, after research and discussion, the Council (CLCEB) decided to continue with masks, distancing, and access to the building by appointment or prior agreement for a while longer. There are still some with complicated issues preventing vaccination, so to be safe for all our members, we will maintain the status quo until further notice. Thank you for your cooperation!
On Mother’s Day we traditionally honor the mothers and all women among us; we noted the comprehensive and resilient love witnessed during the pandemic as well. We saw it lived out in heroic deeds of first responders, medical personnel, families, restaurants feeding the poor, churches, and neighbors helping each other. Travel nurses, doctors, and chaplains left their own families for a time to care for others at their own peril. Teachers gave up space in their homes to teach virtually because they loved their students! New mothers risked everything to give birth in the pandemic. Adult children made posters to show through windows of assisted living homes to let their parents know how much they loved them. Many mothers, greats and grands were lost this year due to COVID-19. Painful isolation from children, great and grandkids happened because of their protective and sacrificial love. Are we grateful for the love we saw poured out this past year? Or are we still angry or fearful of the changes required? Love’s resilience as witnessed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is what we must honor; our heart source is God. Let us appreciate the “mothering” we received or shared and carry its value forward as we regather and reopen our society.
Then, on Sundays we began our “Dream Dreams” series of Joel and Revelation. It has been interesting to study prophecy and apocalypse together, especially at Pentecost and Memorial Day! We tried something new this year to honor all those lost since May 2019. We chimed the bell for each and gave a memory cross with the loved one’s name on it, wrapped with a scroll of poetry and Scripture: “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou has these words: “When great souls die, after a period peace blooms . . . Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.” And “They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.” As we go back to dreams and re-imagining our church and Mission Center post-pandemic, can we say that we are grateful? And how are our spiritual habits? Are we living life like Christ did?
Kairos (καιρός) is Greek for “opportune time,” where God may break in to our circumstances, and we then can reflect on the purpose of His in-breaking. I think of it as the Holy Spirit nudging me toward an “AHA!” moment. “Kairos Moments” will be the title of this regular article, so that observations, reflections, questions and theology can be examined for action.
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