SO, I will be gone for a couple of weeks of much needed R & R with Sarah. We will be hitting the road to Florida and back. I want to thank you all for this opportunity. Sarah and I have not had time like this for a very long time and the opportunity to spend time together without the hecticness of our usual life is a blessing--particularly for a couple of weeks.
Before I go, I want to say once again how blessed I am to be your minister. You may be a small group, but the what we accomplish is remarkable. Everyone is finding a little niche and doing what they feels right to them, and there is nothing more powerful in a church than that.
I particularly want to thank the board, Joe, Barbara, Jill and Kelli, for their dedication to overseeing the material well-being of the church. And to Gary for his long time efforts in a hundred different ways. And to Andrea for stepping into help out with music. I guess I could, and should be thanking everyone individually... suffice to say that everything happens at NCUC through a community effort, and that is what church is all about.
We are blessed as a little church to have such members. So I hope you will take time in the early part of the New Year, to count your own blessings. We are a church that is small in membership but huge in heart. Let's make it our resolution to let the world know that.
Blessings, and peace and energy to you all.
This is about the only time of year when we seem to breathe a big sigh of relief. For most of the year we muddle along, paying too little attention to what goes on around us, and focusing mainly on the nitty-gritty of everyday life. Then Christmas time comes, and there is a flurry of activity culminating with a feeling of being wrapped in wonder. But even as we struggle our way through the hustle and bustle, something seems a bit different.
I notice it most in Sarah. Generally, the last thing she would do is head to the malls in our area for any kind of shopping experience. It's not that she minds the stores, but the vast parking lots, the rampant consumerism and throngs of consumers are all things that irritate her almost more than I do. But yesterday she called me from her car, in the parking lot of the mall, where she had been waiting for more than 20 minutes just to get out of the parking lot. I expected a string of expletives, but what I received was a reasonable and sane person, not happy, necessarily, to be stuck in the mire of parking purgatory, but not at all overwhelmed by the experience.
And that's the way much of life seems at this time of year. Our tolerance grows significantly for the things that slow us down, or get in the way of our routine, or make us irritated, or feel like impositions to our everyday living. And I don't know about you, but it just plain feels good to me. I worry less. I live more in the present. I let go of things that at other times of year might nag me for days.
I suppose that what causes all this is that we expect to feel different this time of year. We expect people to be nice. We expect to be more forgiving. We expect to feel excitement and tolerance and compassion. And we are all focusing on giving; whether gifts of stuff to family and friends, or gifts of support to the needy, or gifts of love--giving is kind of the watchword at Christmas time.
It is arguably the most profound lesson of Christmas. It is not the size or expense of the gift. It is not actually anything material about a gift. It is from giving humbly and selflessly, with love and compassion, and with forgiveness, that we truly receive the greatest gifts; we receive the gift of tolerance, of inner calm and of a true love of humankind even that strengthens us even amid all the struggles of life.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we gave this way all year? It's not impossible.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Happy New Year
This post also appears in Rev. Fowler's Blog--Eyes and Ears.
December 14, 2011
Well, we have just launched this new website and we are hopeful that this is the beginning of a push for growth of the church. We are, however, a much larger church than our membership indicates. This is most particularly true of the heart of the community. The compassion displayed by this group for one another and for the surrounding community is the most profound beauty of the people that I serve. Clearly, this church is WAY more about them than about me and WAY more about compassion than anything else..
All the same, the things that this congregation accomplishes over a year are amazing. This year alone we have sponsored 6 concerts. We have hosted a weekend workshop on scared chant. We have donated more than $1000 to the local food pantry through our fund raising efforts. At every event, we have had hospitality with donated goodies for intermissions. Additionally, the congregation has seen that the entire church is painted on the exterior. A new stonewall has been built in front of the church. We have had four services that included at least two trumpets, organ, violin, piano and guitar. We have had services with up to four guitar players. Several of our members have volunteered to play music for our services at other times. Whew, for the size of our membership, it is fantastic what we have done both for our own little community and for the community around us. And all this is aside from the pastoral care that our compassionate membership has offered to members of the church and to members of the community around us. I am awed.
I hope that some of you who do not join us regularly, or who are seeking a new spiritual community will come and give us a try. We would love to meet you and have you experience the open and loving community that we are. If you are seeking a community that will strengthen your spiritual underpinnings, we can be that for you.
See you in church, I hope!!
Faith, peace, and energy,
Rev. Ben Fowler
On this page I will occasionally make entries which will speak to the good works of the our church, to the spirit of our members or just to make observations about the nature of the spirit and life as I see it. Please make comments and add your own thoughts.