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Pastor’s Newsletter Message – October 2016

~ Times and Seasons ~

“To the snow God says, ‘Fall on the earth’; and the shower of rain serves as a sign… Then the animals go into their lairs and remain in their dens. From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast….”

~Job 37:6-12

Dear Members and Friends,

The long, hot days of summer draw to a belated close—and it was a hot one. The bright, cool days of fall settle in at last upon us, with their oranges and yellows, their reds and browns. October means that it’s time for me to stuff newspaper into all the cracks between rattling window panes at home, time to make sure the tanks in the basement are filled with heating oil, time to harvest what’s left of the garden: kale, greens, winter squash, a few lingering tomatoes. It’s time to clear the ground for winter so that it will be ready to plant again in spring. I ought to store away the lawn furniture, but I’ll put it off and put it off until it’s covered in snow, and then I’ll say to myself, “What’s the point?” It’s the rhythm of life since time immemorial, predictable, comforting.

God gives us times and seasons by which to measure out our living. The animals are in on it, as are the plants, and the weather. And though the regularity of the seasons is increasingly disrupted by carbon pollution, still they give a rhythm to life. They provide a sense of perspective, regularity, a cycle that gives meaning to time. Seasons display God’s eternal purpose in our world: birth, life, death, new birth…world without end, until the sun burns out. And even when our sun has finished its shining, God’s process of life probably just continues someplace else out there in this enormous cosmos, in the orbit of some other star. (Not that I necessarily believe in space aliens, but in a universe this vast, it’s a mathematical probability that this is not the only world God loves!)

The church hallows time by ordering its life according to seasons. Recent discussions in Adult Education have explored the fact that today is a new season in the life of our congregation. Stay tuned as we initiate all-church discussions of our vision for the future. Also, there are four other things to note as we settle into the new “program year” here at Bower Hill Church: First, Amy Grella is doing an outstanding job as our new Director of Christian Education and Youth Programs! See inside this newsletter for the many events and educational opportunities now available to our kids.

Secondly, the Rev. Dr. Fred Leasure has been named our “parish associate.” Fred is a retired minister in the United Methodist Church who attends worship at Bower Hill with his wife, Amy—who spent part of her childhood at our church. (A “parish associate” is typically a retired clergyperson who volunteers time and expertise to a congregation, kind of like a free associate pastor.) Fred’s specialty is stewardship and financial planning. He will be helping us in those areas and also serving as the on-call minister for pastoral emergencies in my absence. The “Company of Pastors” is still in place, consisting of the Rev. Dr. Betty Sykes, the Rev. John Yohe, and the Rev. Tami Hooker. We value the contribution of each of these, and they will also continue to offer their services and leadership from time to time.

Thirdly, the Mission Committee is looking for creative ways to partner with “Judah Christian Fellowship,” a new urban church plant with a special calling to minister to inner city people who suffer from economic injustice, racial inequality, and homophobia. You’ll probably be hearing a lot more about Judah in the days ahead.

Fourthly, I know that very few of you care what I wear to worship, but you may notice that I have begun to wear white on communion Sundays and “high holy days.” For thirteen years, I’ve proclaimed good news while dressed like the Grim Reaper—in a black robe! And black will continue to be my default color. But wearing white on sacrament Sundays is in keeping with old Protestant tradition; it is also the tendency of our mainline churches in this ecumenical age. White is joyful and celebratory. White symbolizes the purity of the sacraments. (Have you ever noticed that the communion table and baptismal font are a purer white than anything else in the church?) White is consistent with the new splashes of color in our worship space, namely the seasonal paraments. And one thing October teaches us is that colors are always changing with the seasons.

It is indeed an exciting season in the life and growth of Bower Hill Church.

Christ’s Peace to You, ~Brian

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