Why Do We Do What We Do?

In Worship this past Sunday, Sharon began our reflections by asking, Why Do We Do What We Do? Why do we have Rally Day, Sunday School, Youth Programs? In the past several years, Eden has been working to foster intergenerational relationships between our older and younger members. These relationships give children the roots they need to grow into whole, healthy adults. They also help pass on values of kindness and care from “Generation to Generation” as the Bible says so often. We need places in our community where this still happens, places like our Sunday School and Youth programs where people teach and share the love of God. Jacki followed Sharon’s reflection by reminding us that we’re called as a whole to be a learning community, a phrase coined in early weeks of our interim period. The Good News is that this is how Jesus himself imagined it when he welcomed the children to him despite the impatience and protectiveness of stern disciples. She began this list of proposals of what Eden’s learning, and invited the wider church to chime in in coming days: What are we learning about living “one day at a time” from our elders facing daily challenge? What can this teach us about living in the present as individuals and church? What are we learning from our youth’s engagement as they step up to learning encounters and to share their lessons and voice with us? What are we learning from the trust they place in us? What does it mean to be and serve here, not so much out of duty but out of hearts fresh with love and joy? How are we doing in learning to say “no”, “yes” and “not this, but that…”? What is the right way – in 2017 – to balance the need for our members to be drawn to the gift of community worship AND for us all to graciously recognize the needs and demands of our stressed families who spend precious little time together What does it mean to pace our church’s programs as a whole… discerning where “keeping momentum” is essential to new life and where a pause or scaling back (once, or for a next chapter) are the best choices for conserving energy? We’re learning as we go about being called to new relationships and service with our neighbors and tenants – what might look like becoming a community center. Could it be not so much a community center disconnected from our mission, but instead more like we are offering an expanding sanctuary that serves and connects people in new ways as they get to know us? We closed with a recognition that Eden is learning...

Read More

Our Life Together

When I was a child, church was strictly about Worship and Fellowship and Teaching; about potlucks, Sunday School, and Ushers Guilds that often had a card club attached to them. But now, there is a different way that church is done in America. Church today is about being committed to the community. What this change means for many of us is that we are trying to keep pace with this new way to “be church”. Some of us are encouraged and excited about what is happening, some of us are worried, many of us are a mix of the two–excited and worried. This past Sunday, we looked at the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13: 1-9) where Jesus teaches us to try our best, and then to be at peace with what we do. There are changes and challenges at Eden, even while many of you are dealing with changes and challenges in your own lives. I hear that from you. And I hear, too, that there are all kind of emotions that go with this–guilt about not doing enough, frustration because we want to serve, but we only have so much time to give. So frustration and guilt may be present in our lives here at Eden as all as in our lives at home. What God encourages us to do in the Parable of the Sower is to shift from these emotions to the love that he has for us. Because in all of our best efforts, we are loved by God while we try. That is our strength, and that the basis of our life together. Peace, Pastor...

Read More

Gladness

The Word says “I was glad when they said unto me “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” It evokes for me the gladness of knowing what is energizing, what is renewing. Being together, working together, worshiping together in God’s presence. Of course, God IS everywhere… –at JeffFest (where our team represented us well at the Beer Tent, and Sandy and Jacki continued being the face of Eden to neighbors). –in the joy of baptism, communion and fellowship with Eden’s extended family celebrating the life of Michael Antonio Hernandez. –in the family trips and golf course outings you’ve been enjoying, and reunions too (welcome home, Katie!) –in the special spots of nature Sharon has asked us to identify in coming weeks. — in the rummage sale labors of love, as we take in donations of committed neighbors and members, and prepare for a day of offering hospitality and making new connections (and a little money). Watch for a Special Needs Update on the sale Thursday. In all this, let us remember what is truly renewing in God’s way. For me, that includes feeling connection, purpose, and teamwork. Feeling the peace and calm of rest claimed when we need it. Knowing that our labors are not in vain. Remembering what is worthy (by the way, that’s actually what the word “worship” MEANS:)) For the Good News, Rev. Jacki...

Read More

Work-ship

After our Ecumenical Worship Service on Sunday, I joined members of Jefferson Park UCC as they carried out what they call, “Work-ship” at Olive’s Garden. From the street, Olive’s Garden looks small, but when you step into it, you can be amazed by just how much produce this small plot of land yields. Pounds and pounds and pounds of tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, lettuce…it’s amazing how much good can come from this one corner lot. As I drove home that afternoon, I wondered how many small, miraculous places like Olive’s Garden exist in the city. Do you know? Peace to you, Pastor...

Read More

Going Deep

This past week in Worship, we talked about how “Going Deep” in our relationship with God is not the same as being “Stretched Out”. God loves us. In Genesis, God commands us to take care of all His creation. This includes ourselves. We are God’s handiwork, and we–our health, our emotional well-being–should not be neglected or taken lightly. We also said that this need to “Take Care” is important to lift up in a small church where it feels like so much has to get done. Talking with each other about what we can and what we can’t do–about where we feel called to ministry and where we don’t–this is important if we are to have healthy, trusting relationships with each other. Jesus had honest, open relationships with his disciples. As we talk together about Eden’s future, I hope we can likewise be open with each other about our personal needs as we also think about how we can serve in this congregation. Peace to you, Pastor...

Read More

Pastor Jacki Belile

From my devotional this morning, a word I needed. “My mind and heart are at ease through the grace of God. Grace is the love of God soothing me as I am going through a challenge.  From this sacred love, I can  and do draw on unlimited strength and understanding. God loves and blesses me in ways far greater than I could ever hope to receive or even imagine. If a make a choice that isn’t in my best interest, God’s grace protects me from experiencing the worst possible outcome…”  –from The Daily Word May you feel grace this day, and the strength of God it takes to share it. We’re all in this mess together… For the Good News,...

Read More