Pastor's Message

“Time Like an Ever Rolling Stream”

For a few years Joy and I made “time capsules” with our children.  On New Year’s Eve we’d sit down together and all of us would answer a few questions on a piece of paper.  We’d write down the name of a favorite book we had read or what our favorite song was at that particular time.   The children would jot down their height and their age.  We would all write down what we were looking forward to in the new year and what we hoped would happen during the coming months.  When we were finished we’d “seal” our answers in a canister and “hide” it among the Christmas decorations that would soon be packed up and put away until next year.   It was always a little mysterious to think that in “the future” we’d open this canister up and look over its contents.  Twelve months later we’d find the capsule and see what we had written. It was a playful way to recall the events of the year, to see the changes that had taken place and to mark the passage of time. 

As we begin the new year it is interesting to reflect upon what has changed over the course of the past twelve months.  For example Joy and I didn’t know we’d be living on Cape Cod or that we’d be sharing life and ministry with all of you in South Yarmouth.   What unexpected blessings!  Every year some things in our lives stay the same, but others change.   Some of these changes may have been anticipated, but others can come as a surprise.   Some are welcome others are not.

The passage of time is a mysterious thing.  There is something sacred about the different cycles of life, the movement of the seasons and the rhythms of nature.  This coming year will also undoubtedly be filled with a number of rich experiences, some things we anticipate and a few surprises.  What are you looking forward to in this new year? What might you be a bit anxious about as you look ahead to the next few months?   As people of faith we claim that through every season and time of year God is faithful. Throughout the passage of time there is the steady love and grace of God.  The experience of this grace grounds us and gives us confidence as we face each new year.  It enables us to joyfully and humbly look forward to all that the future holds for us.

Joy and I look forward to sharing in this new year with you all!

God Bless,

Pastor John

From the Pastor’s Desk

“Look!  A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son.  And they will call him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God with us.’”
Matthew 1:23 CEB

I have been doing a little reading to prepare for the seasons of Advent and Christmas.  A thoughtful reflection I recently came across was written by Wendy Wright and published some time ago in “Weavings:  A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life.”  I appreciated the author’s thoughtfulness and insights around the wonder of the birth of Jesus.  In her reflection she writes:  “God became human in the person of Jesus through the person of Marythrough this woman’s willingness to open herself, soul and body, to the divine seed that soon would flower for the redemption of the world.  It was Mary’s assent to the angel’s startling announce-ment that ushered in a new age. It was in her pregnant womb that heaven and earth were so lovingly intermingled, through the waiting experienced in her flesh and blood that God was made to walk with humankind.”  

This reflection reminded me that at a minimum it took Mary and nine months for God’s Word to become flesh and dwell among us. God sent Jesus to us all, but needed some time and willing partners for God’s own life to be revealed in such dramatic fashion.  This is exciting news and adds to the mystery of this time of year.  It means that in addition to Christmas being a celebration of an extraordinary, joyous event that happened a long time ago, it is also about a very present possibility.  God continues to be with us and invites each of us to play a role in the “birthing” of that which is divine in our world.  Like Mary, we too may be surprised at times by the opportunities presented to us for doing so, as well as the intuition that even we have been hailed to receive into ourselves the seed that God wishes to plant there.  God is waiting to be born over and over again; in us, in others and in the world around us.  When we say “yes” to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we too can become the ground out of which the incarnate God flowers the world.  As the author of this reflection states “We are pregnant.  We are the place of waiting, the place of the question, of the advent.  We are the womb through whose pulsing life God is born.”  

These words remind me of others I have considered, particularly the insights of the prophet, pastor and mystic of the late 13thcentury Meister Eckhart:  “What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself?  And what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace and if I am not also full of grace?  What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture?  This, then, is the fullness of time:  When the Son of God is begotten in us.”  

During this Advent we recognize the holy waiting we do for God’s life to grow in us and in this world.  This waiting can be hard at times, yet we also celebrate that God is with us; breathes and moves in us and continues to long to be born.  We rejoice because our Christian faith does not celebrate the reign of a disembodied deity but rather a God whose presence here on earth can be dramatically revealed at any time, in any place, in any person – including each one of us.

Blessings this Advent!

Pastor John

From the pastor’s desk

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, 
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above 
join with all nature in manifold witness 
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.”  
                           (Great Is Thy Faithfulness, UMH #140)

As I write this, we are still in the summer season. We have been having some beautiful, warm days, but a change is taking place as well.  The days are not as long as they were at the start of the season. It is getting darker earlier and it is cooler at night.  The light in general is changing and the sights and sounds around us are pointing to the approaching new season.  This is one of the things I enjoy about living in New England, just at about the time I am less excited about the gifts of one season, a distinct new season is right around the corner with its own gifts to offer. 

I am grateful God is faithful in every season of our lives.  We have witnessed God’s faithfulness this summer in many ways; through the glorious weather we’ve enjoyed, through the fun activities of the summer months, through being brought safely through an unusual storm, through the many summer activities of our congregation and through the start of a new chapter within this community of faith. 

Another special event we will be having on Rally Day will be to gather outside after worship to plant a tree together.  There are a number of reasons why we thought this act would be appropriate.  First, one of the more memorable moments of this past summer was our experience of tornados here on the Cape.  God brought us safely through this experience, but a great deal of damage was done to a number of trees all around us.

Another special event we will be having on Rally Day will be to gather outside after worship to plant a tree together.  There are a number of reasons why we thought this act would be appropriate.  First, one of the more memorable moments of this past summer was our experience of tornados here on the Cape.  God brought us safely through this experience, but a great deal of damage was done to a number of trees all around us.

Planting a tree is a sign that we seek to do our part in restoring and caring for God’s creation around us.  In addition, planting a tree or bush is often something people do when they start a new journey together.  As we enjoy watching this tree grow, we will also watch how, through God’s grace and love, we will also grow as a community of faith in the days ahead.  

Plans are underway at SYUMC to get ready for a new season in the life of our congregation as well.  We will formally mark the start of this season on Sunday, September 8 with  our Rally  Day.   On this Sunday, the congregation will gather together again as one body.  The beach services during this summer have been wonderful, but it will also be nice for us to all gather under one roof for worship once again.  The choir will be back with us to begin a new season of music ministry and our church school program for children and youth will formally be starting up again as well. 

Trees also play a prominent role in the Bible, literally from beginning to end; from the tree of life God planted in the midst of the Garden of Eden in Genesis, to the tree of life on the side of the river that flows through in the holy city in the Book of Revelation.  

Finally, we are a people of hope, who believe in God’s faithfulness at all times and in all seasons.  Planting a tree is one concrete way we can express our commitment to the future to which God is calling us.  

So, I hope to see many people out for worship together on Sunday, September 8.  Come, celebrate God’s faithfulness and watch us grow!

God Bless,

Pastor John