Friday, April 29, 2016

Relationship as Reflection

A tributary of the Susquehanna River, the Conewago Creek wraps around the town of East Berlin in eastern Adams County. Many times on my way to York Hospital over the years I have caught a glimpse of the creek on the western side of town, but never took the time to stop. This morning I did. I took the picture at the top of the post (and the one at the bottom). This image of reflection on the water on an otherwise miserable, rainy, cold morning reveals a bit of the the beauty of God's creation. Reflections are images of the original.

As children of God, we have been created in the image of God. Are we then not to be the reflections of the original? Our call is to re-present the priorities and intentions of God. A tall order in deed!

Think of the many relationships that we have. What do they say about who we are? What can we discover about ourselves (or any individual, for that matter) by the relationships that constitute our lives? What is reflected? Is the image of the original obvious, or has it by time and circumstance become distorted or even unrecognizable?

The theme for Sunday's sermon will be Relationships as Reflection. The following texts from scripture will serve as the basis for our exploration of this theme. Seen in the context of our efforts to ground our mission and ministry in the will of God for our life together, we will consider the connections we have with all that God has entrusted to us. Please take a few moments to read and meditate on the following passages:
Moses assembled all the congregation of the Israelites and said to them: These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do: Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy sabbath of solemn rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in all your dwellings on the sabbath day. 
Moses said to all the congregation of the Israelites: This is the thing that the LORD has commanded: Take from among you an offering to the LORD; let whoever is of a generous heart bring the LORD's offering. 
Then all the congregation of the Israelites withdrew from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and brought the LORD's offering to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service...  (Exodus 35:1-5, 20-21)
And from the gospel of Matthew, Jesus' parable of the talents:
For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  
For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance... (Matthew 25:14-15, 29a)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Assembly Required

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The next five consecutive Sundays call for your attention, participation, and presence. Please make every effort to be what we are: a congregation, an assembly of believers in the Lord.  (If we could figuratively turn over the box of the church, we would see written, assembly required.

This coming Sunday morning we will distribute our campaign handbook/magazine. Over the next weeks, I’m confident that you will take a few minutes to review this resource as an introduction to 2020 Vision: Growing in Boldness and Hope. I also ask that you bring it along with you each of the subsequent four weeks. It will serve as a reference for the sermon series and brief presentations each Sunday. 

Together over the last several years we have discerned that God is calling us to grow in our mutual ministry as a congregation for the community. Week after week we welcome new visitors. On a regular basis we experience the variety and breadth of God’s blessings. And as we look to the community around us, we see the abundant mission field to which we are sent to serve and witness to the hope that is within us.

While the goal that we most often think of is the physical construction of expanded and renovated facilities, we need to remember that Christ is also calling us to be a new creation as we stretch in our faith and willingness to cooperate with God’s will for our life together. Specifically, we envision expanding our ministry with the community.

While some of us may be hesitant to embrace this vision, we need to remind ourselves that out of a similar vision this congregation has grown over the years. This perhaps is no better exemplified than by the relocation from Scotland over 25 years ago to our current location on Luther Ridge. Taking risks and trusting God is part of the spiritual DNA of this congregation. We need to be mindful that God has a way of coming through every time, even and especially when we cooperate and participate.

There will be several opportunities to participate in gatherings for updates, encouragement, and fellowship as we look forward together. Please keep this effort in your prayers in the weeks and months ahead.

Meanwhile, may the peace of God that passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yours in Christ,

Christopher Frye

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Launch Date

Sunday, April 24th will be the official launch of 2020 Vision: Growing in Boldness and Hope. It is an intentional campaign to generate, gather, and guide support for the renovation and expansion of our facilities. This project is not an end, but a means. As we increase the physical capacity of the church facilities through a two-phase approach, we are responding to God's call to share the light of Christ. Seating capacity will increase. Also, our capacity to remain an inviting and welcoming community will be broadened.

Next Sunday, April 24th, please make every effort to be in worship at 10:00 AM.  The magazine that has been produced for this campaign will be distributed. It contains information and materials that will assist us in moving forward.  Be sure to get your copy.

Meanwhile, I also would like to encourage you to participate in our first "Pray-In" on Wednesday evening, April 20, at 7:00 PM.  This sweet hour of prayer will include meditative scripture reading, responsive prayer, and periods of silence for contemplation and reflection. We need to continue to be attentive to the Holy Spirit as we look to the future that God is calling us toward together as the Body of Christ in this time and place.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Striking a Balance

On a good day, could we all agree that we need to look out for one another? I don't mean just having the good-will of each other in mind, but actively seeking the best for each other.

What is the best? What might be enough? Is more better?

The great commandment is to love.  Here is the passage from Matthew's gospel:
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”   (Matthew 22:34-40, NRSV)
What might we notice about this at first glance?  Well, the greatest commandment is the first, but it's not the only. There is a second like it. They are connected. In fact, do you think the first is possible without the second? Can you love your neighbor without loving God?  Striving to live up to these commandments is enough for many to be preoccupied for long periods of time. You might say, it's a work in progress.

That's not all. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been given something other than this Great Commandment. We have also been given the Great Commission:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   (Matthew 28:16-20, NRSV)

As we continue our exploration on the topic of Mission this Sunday during the Faith Formation hour, we'll contend with these passages and their implications for our life together. I invite you to read over these passages and consider how things are going. Are we doing better at one than the other? Are both equally important? What are some things that you do and practice to strike a healthy balance?

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Saturday, April 2, 2016


I'd like to ask you for a moment to sit down and stop. Allow yourself a few minutes to consider something without worrying about what you must do the rest of the day.  Once you have done that, please continue reading.
When they were together for the last time they asked, "Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?" He told them, "You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business. What you'll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world." (Acts 1:6-8, The Message)
If you have continued reading this, it may be safe to assume that you consider yourself at least more than casually interested in deepening your faith.  This season of Easter is meant to be the springtime of renewal and growth. We've heard the Good News of the victory Christ has won over sin, death, and the devil.  Now what?

Yes, that's right, we are on a mission from God! We need not don our Ray Bans and wear black, but because we live, move, and have our being in the One who raised Jesus from the dead, we have been made able. We have the ability to share what has first been so freely given to us. And weather we like it or not, we are witnessing to our faith no matter what we do or say, because everything we do and say is a reflection -- an indication, a measure -- of our level of faithfulness. That should give us pause.

This Sunday, tomorrow morning, we will begin a three-week series of classes during our Faith Formation hour to consider the theme of Mission. 

If, somehow, we don't allow the Resurrection of Christ from the dead to get our attention and embrace an attitude of humility, we will necessarily fall short in being able to engage in adoration. Without that, what possibly could we have to offer a world in need of blessing and life?

Curiosity is a good thing.  Everyone is invited and welcome to gather together tomorrow and in the weeks ahead to explore the meaning of God's mission that is the Church.