The United Baptist Church
Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
August 2, 2022
This summer has gone too fast! I cannot believe it’s already August, yet it is. School starts very soon; in fact, David Evans goes back to his school to prep on August 11th! I hope you have all had valuable and refreshing vacation time. For you retirees, it’s still important to “get out of Dodge” occasionally! [Dodge City came from the 1950’s radio serial called Gunsmoke, and then moved to TV, running until the mid-1970s. The fictional lawman on the series, Marshal Dillon, was known for telling bad men to move on, or get out of Dodge. It’s a cliché, not that we must go!]. God rewards our “work” with Sabbath rest. If you did or will travel soon, our prayers go with you for enough pilots, crew, flights, and baggage handlers!
In July and August, we continue our parables study with the farmer scattering seed (the Sower), the wheat and weeds (tares in KJV), the Mustard Seed, and a Little Yeast (or leaven). This week is the Wedding Banquet and the following is the Good Samaritan. Because these are so familiar, it is easy to go a bit deeper in the meaning and application to our lives. I hope you’ve been enjoying the creative imagery Jesus used to instruct his disciples and perplex the crowds and religious leaders. The homework to re-read them, speak the words aloud, imagine the characters in a play, look at artwork (some used on bulletins), journal your thoughts, and use prayer tools to ponder them should help bring them to life! We are such an entertainment culture that simple Scripture reading may not excite us, so please try these options.
The other point of this series is to use such stories to help us “Listen for the Work” that Jesus is calling us to do. That reflection time is working because good things are happening all around our church and Mission Center. A new team has been beautifying the grounds at their own initiative (beyond the standard contract we have); we have had deep meaningful conversations at our social gatherings; we are seeing an occasional visitor (once again since pandemic); we have a new Mission Center partner in FACETS (see page 3); Zion Medical is growing and willing to collaborate in their health area; Amerikids is thriving; Gideons and Shepherd’s Center Annandale-Springfield are back; and our relationship with New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church is deepening. The former metrics of people in the pews on Sunday do not apply to church “success” anymore. Metrics have changed as we transform through service, outreach, lives influenced, stories heard, stories told, hearts opened, opportunities for growth granted, disciples commissioned, and gifts given. These are new measurements we use to determine our church’s “growth” or “success.” We are trying to live like Jesus, and it is a process of engagement and transformation. Will you tell us a parable, or tell others your story?
July 5, 2022
Happy Independence Day! We did celebrate with fireworks, music, cookouts, and friends, yet this was a particularly difficult day for the country, having witnessed yet another mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois. We have had our own losses in May and June as has the country, still healing from the Buffalo and Uvalde, TX violence. Some were protesting another unfortunate shooting of a black man in Akron, OH, and I just learned today of two separate fatal shootings Sunday and early Monday morning in Richmond.
How much more violence must there be for us to create change in our world or at least to influence it? Are we even listening? Are we salt and light? Or are we too busy or afraid to speak up? I don’t know the answers for this complex, systemic issue; still, I pray “May God have mercy on us all.” In Mark 4:21-24, we read:
21 Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. 22 For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. 23 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
24 Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more.
We began a new summer sermon series—the Parables of Jesus—and while the stories are familiar, they have new meaning today. The word comes from the Greek, parabolé, used mostly in the New Testament to identify meaning through literary forms. Like the geometric form of a bell curve, the Gospels describe them as stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end, with images, and sayings to make a point. Some parables in the Bible are used for comparative interpretation [“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 13:31) which we will study later] and others are told to illustrate an example for living [like the Good Samaritan of Luke 10:25-37]. Often there is a moral of the story at the end, relating to some aspect of living together well in Christian community.
Then, we must ask ourselves, how am I living that contributes to being light in the world? Another parable was the speck vs. log in the eye. Are you quick to judge others or circumstances? What can we do to remove the log in our own eyes? Do I take an active role in my church, community, state, or country? In whose life may I be a positive influence? Christ’s freedom is unique; the cross did not free us from the choice to sin or from its consequences; but by our faith, we are saved from that sin, and sanctified to be salt and light in our world so that others may know Jesus. We are truly free through Christ, no matter what is going on around us, and we are equipped and empowered through the Holy Spirit. So, let’s talk.
June 7, 2022
Happy Father’s Day! To dads, granddads, great-grandfathers, uncles, step-dads, men who want to be fathers, father-figures, mentors, and men who show strong leadership in families, churches, and communities. We honor you January 19th for your faithfulness.
It seems when I start to write an educational article each month, lately, this needs to be a pastoral moment instead. So much has happened in our world that can cause grief and anxiety (violent shootings of innocent children and adults, the Ukraine war, infant formula shortages, rising prices of food, medicine, and gasoline, unexpected deaths of friends or family, etc.) It is unsettling to say the least, and these circumstances are brought up in almost every conversation. Yet, I am “preaching to the choir!” You all have witnessed more war and peace, life and death, affluence and recession than our current generation can imagine. They are uneasy, yet hopeful, as you can hear in each graduation speech this month. Although we are humans with frailties and fears, we also have a Savior in Jesus Christ that should and does carry us through these trials.
My message today shares hope in his vision of our future, not a news report, poll, academic analysis, or government decision. On Memorial Sunday, we read Lamentations 3:22-33: “22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
You are a faithful body of Christ, all who read this newsletter and worship with us. We can influence others as they see our strong faith, but how do we, if our faith is fragile and world-centered? For me, it means rest, beauty, prayer, and exercise for restoration. On my May vacation, I practiced the prayer tools of journalling, silence, Scripture, solitude, and prayer walking the labyrinth in this photo. It was sublime to spend time with God in his desert creation (a different perspective for sure!), and to see his wonderous “critters” (I saw a non-venomous green/gold snake, a desert spiny lizard, birds, and colorful cactus flowers on my walks). Are you taking some time this summer to recenter your spiritual selves?
Jesus prepared his disciples to receive the Advocate and Comforter (in the person of the Holy Spirit) who would empower them to carry on his ministry despite persecution. Are we spiritually prepared ourselves? Do we hear the chaos and confusion of this divine Pentecost event? Or do we feel a sudden calm, indwelling of the Holy Spirit to nudge us forward into the community, into the mission field of our neighborhoods. Can we hear the rushing wind and faith languages of our culture? Or are we fearful?
May 3, 2022
Happy Mother’s Day! to moms, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunts, step-moms, women who long to be mothers, women who lost a child, might be facing infertility, have strained relationships with their mothers, caregivers, and all women who are nurturers and share their love with others. We will honor you this Sunday!
With continuing heartbreaking news of Ukraine and Eastern Europe, it has been a challenging few months. At UBC, we were able to give some financial aid through our mission partners (see front page), and of course, we are praying fervently for God’s intercession and peace. I was moved by Good Friday’s reading, where Jesus told the grieving women followers: “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23:28).” It is hard not to be anxious, but we must trust our lives to the Lord. Matthew 6:34 GNT reminds us not to worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own, but he does not say sit there and be passive! Christ teaches action, not complacency, as we learned through our James study. So keep praying, listen for the work, and act where you can. We are blessed beyond measure.
It was an eventful April with Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter services focused on Jesus’ preparation, crucifixion, and resurrection (Allelujiah, He is Risen!). We had special music thanks to our team plus Jeff Snavely’s beautiful clarinet! We are also grateful to our Gospel music Sunday with talented friends Pat, Rob, Chet, and Eva Lee. Even in those times of joy, doubt and fear can creep into our minds. Reassurance came to the disciples through Christ’s many appearances; if we put ourselves in their places, we have much to consider. Use your imagination to read John 21:1-14 about having breakfast with Jesus! What would you ask him? Or tell him? Would you serve or be served? Have we forgotten the Easter story already? Is it only a week of time, or will we be Easter people all year long? Will we overcome fear or terror by seeing and feeling the Risen Christ and his words, spirit, and breath within us? Visit us Sundays to refuel and reconsider our spiritual selves. You are welcomed here! Come as you are.
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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