Horizons – September

It’s been exciting over these past weeks to see the work being done on our steeple. We are so fortunate to have been entrusted with this beautiful church. Now, with the leadership of our Trustees, we strive to be faithful stewards of it, with the foresight and financial means to make sure that everything is well-maintained and safe-guarded for the future.

Across these last many decades, our steeple has been a beacon of faith and hope in our community. Even in this era of internet and Facebook, I’m amazed at how many visitors tell me that they’ve found their way to worship and prayer here because they’ve seen our steeple.

The scaffolding that’s been up has been a great advertisement as well. Many neighbors and passers-by have stopped to look and to inquire. They, too, appreciate our investment in the community they and we love.

But with the work completed, I’m glad the scaffolding has come down. I was starting to have the feeling that our steeple was in jail, held in, restricted in the message it could send. It’s free again–and more radiant than ever.

Especially in these turbulent times, may its message of God’s love, constancy, and abiding presence in our midst exuberantly witness to abiding joy and peace.

​It’s time for Fall Kick-Off!

Horizons – August

Those of you of a certain age may remember the popular video game called “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” A global spy series designed to teach kids geography and to inspire curiosity, it is now available as a “retro game” through its app.

Even if you’re not searching around the world for Carmen Sandiego, you may from time to time look at the news and dare to ask or at least privately wonder: “Where in the world is God?” I don’t intend to be sacrilegious in posing this question, but rather to acknowledge the way we all feel after one too many stories of atrocity, war, global warming, and the like. Reminds me of the refrain from the old spiritual…”Oh, sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble….”

As the name of this newsletter, “Sentinel,” and this column, “Horizons,” remind, part of our work as people of faith is to look to the far horizons, to keep watch and perceive what’s really happening before it’s totally apparent. Actually, it’s what the author of the Book of the Hebrews meant when asserting: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

So take in the news, but look beyond. Be strategically serious about what’s happening in the world, but also remember the promises of God. For God said: “…surely I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD,’ plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Be the hope.

Horizons – June/July

May our summer be blessed with joy and renewal. I share this prayer with you to ask for God’s blessing on all the summer may bring:

Creator of all, thank You for summer!
Thank You for the warmth of the sun
and the increased daylight.
Thank You for the beauty I see all around me
and for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy Your creation.
Thank You for the increased time I have to be with my friends and family,
and for the more casual pace of the summer season.
Draw me closer to You this summer.
Teach me how I can pray
no matter where I am or what I am doing.
Warm my soul with the awareness of Your presence
and light my path with Your Word and Counsel.
As I enjoy Your creation, create in me
a pure heart and a hunger and a thirst for You.
Amen.

Blessings,

Rev. Farris

Horizons – May

Eastertide. The word itself sounds old-fashioned, doesn’t it? If you prefer, you can refer to this 50-day season simply as “the season of Easter.” The point is, no matter what we call it—if we remember to call it anything—is that the early church knew that the full impact of Easter could hardly be experienced in one 24-hour period. They gave us 50 days, from now through Pentecost on June 4 when we will receive our new Confirmation class and celebrate the sacraments of baptism and communion.

Eastertide is a season that offers some time and space for us to grow spiritually. As our confirmands continue to learn, pray and prepare, so, too, we all are called to live deep into the power and joy that is the Resurrection. There is so much contained in that three word Easter proclamation: “Christ is Risen!” In our baptism, we affirm that we are all “incorporated into Christ’s mighty acts of salvation.” In prayer, ask God to reveal to you what this Good News means—for your personal life as a disciple of our Risen Lord and also for your witness in the world as part of Christ’s body, the church.

Joy! Peace! Mercy! Righteousness! Courage! LIFE! Gifts of God for the people of God.
Eastertide blessings to one and all.

Horizons – April

Authenticity, Compassion and Courage…these have been our touchstones on our Lenten journey this year. They have been revealed to us in the life of Jesus as we have explored his encounters with his disciples and with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, and Lazarus. They will take on even deeper meaning as we ponder again his last days, his death, and his resurrection.

Authenticity, Compassion and Courage. They have been portrayed by our youth and a few adults in their Fireside Room artwork and experienced in profound, transformative ways by our Haiti Work Team. They have been reflected upon in your daily Lenten devotionals and prayed and sung in every worship experience across these 40 days of Lent.

Authenticity, Compassion and Courage. They have been experienced in very personal ways in times of illness and of grief. They appear in the daily acts of witness and persistence that keep each one of us moving forward through challenging situations of all kinds, needed now more than ever.

“No coward soul is mine,” wrote the poet Emily Bronte,
“No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear”

May we all be lifted up to new life in this Lent/Easter time, faith shining equal to Heaven’s glories, souls marked by Authenticity, Compassion and Courage.