Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-Letter 02/14/20

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Happy Valentines Day!

On this day of commercialized love and romance, I thought it appropriate to reflect on all of the work we’ve done over our first sermon series this year. The love of Christ, which is true and unconditional, leads us to know and to love all people, just as Christ has loved all people. This is the core of what we’ve explored. At the forefront of our journey has been Mr. Roger’s spirit, leading us to be more loving towards our neighbors. In that way, we have to know our neighbors, reaching out beyond boundaries like race, gender, the difference in ability, and socioeconomic status. While I love the chocolate that comes along with Valentine’s Day, I think these ideas get more to the true and difficult spirit of love, don’t you?

The catch, though, is that we often desire to put limits or boundaries on love and neighborliness. In our humanness, we’d rather say no or separate ourselves than be invited into the radical and wild love of Christ. We heard over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend that Christ wants to bring us together in unity, as one body. Yet we struggle to know who is included in that. Being honest, I often pray, “Really them, too, Jesus?” My less-than-sanctified prayer reminds me of the opening statement from this week’s scripture,

 “And who is my neighbor?”

 Where is the line, Jesus? How can I get out of loving that person?

How can I put up a boundary between us?

Have you ever thought in this way?

It is the Good Samaritan that teaches us that we cannot put up lines, or walk on the other side of the road. It is Jesus who modes unconditional, sacrificial love. And it is this love that leads us to treat our neighbors better, with more respect and dignity. This is the message of Mr. Rogers, too.

This week, we’re lucky that we get to dive into this challenging scripture passage at the heart of our message series. But we are even luckier because the Rev. Dr. Latricia Scriven will be leading us. Rev. Dr. Scriven is one of the most joy-filled, wonderful pastors I have known. Her laughter is contagious and her excellent work speaks for itself. She is a bright light in our conference, and as we thought about how we wanted to work through this sermon series, we couldn’t imagine doing it without her leadership. I trust that she will challenge us in all four of our worship services this weekend, and I can’t wait to hear her FAMU Wesley Worship Band at the Gathering!

Be sure to join us for one or multiple of these opportunities! Pastor Annette and I reflected this week that we are so grateful to be a part of a congregation that walks through difficult conversations together. I’m excited to continue that work this Sunday with you.

Peace,

Pastor Allee

Posted by Allee Willcox with

Pastor's E-Letter 2/07/20

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A couple of weeks ago in her message, Pastor Allee asked the question, “How do you change your mind?” I’ve been thinking about that question for the last couple of weeks, thinking about when I have changed my mind and what brought about that change of thinking. What I’ve realized is that the quickest things that have come to mind have had to do with people – situations where I assumed something about someone only to find out later that I was wrong. 

I remember two instances where I met someone and, for a variety of reasons, I assumed that we were so different and had so little in common, that we could never be friends. But then, I spent time with them, got to know them, listened with my heart to their stories. In opening my heart to engage with them as persons and to listen to them, I discovered the truth of who they were and that they had much to offer me in friendship. But first, I had to choose to intentionally engage with them, beyond my preconceived notions of who they were. In doing so, I received an incredible gift from each of them and my life was greatly enriched. 

So much about this message series, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is an invitation to engage with new people and new perspectives. As a result of that engagement, we may not change our minds but even if we don’t, our minds and our hearts will be shaped and informed in a new way and we honor our neighbors when we engage with one another in that way. 

You may not realize that Jesus too changed his mind. This week we will focus on an often-overlooked story from Mark 7:24-30, (I encourage you to read it before worship Sunday) the story of Jesus’ tension-filled encounter with a Gentile woman from Tyre and explore how this encounter led Jesus to not only change his mind regarding his response to this woman but how the encounter may have led him to begin to expand his mission beyond Israel to the Gentiles, perhaps sooner than he had planned. Whatever happened, it is clear Jesus’ experience with her moved him. 

The same can be true of us. But we must be willing to intentionally engage in opportunities to spend time with folks who have different life experiences and perspectives. This Sunday at 4:00 pm in the worship center, we have a chance to do that at our showing of the film “Intelligent Lives” which chronicles the lives and journeys of adults living full, independent and fulfilled lives along with disabilities. We will also hear from our own Candace Whiting about her journey of independence and her call to motivational speaking. 

We will also have the great joy of welcoming the Bethune Cookman Concert Chorale at the 9:30 and 11:00 traditional services. I hope you plan to be in worship and perhaps bring a friend to hear the amazing musical gifts of these talented students. They are a gift to us every time they join us. 

I’m so glad God has led me to change my mind so often about many things. How narrow and limited my life experiences and perspectives would be without the folks in my life who have challenged me along my journey. What might God be inviting you to change your mind about, or to at least listen for a new perspective? You never know what a gift that might be. 

See you in worship this Sunday!

Grace and Peace,
Annette

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