How Do We “Stand Up Together?”

Ronald Pogue is a transition specialist who has served several interims. He makes some very interesting comments concerning a faith community and mission. I may have shared this once before, but it bears repeating as we finish up our September focus on the vision and mission God has for us at FCC

Pogue says he recalled some words of Titus Presler: “Mission is not fundamentally something we do as Christians but a quality of God’s own being. It is not a program of ours but the path of God’s action in the world. The mission of the Church, therefore, derives from the mission of God, and it has meaning only in relation to what God is up to in the universe. Already engaged in mission, God simply invites us to participate in what God is doing.”

Pogue goes on to state that “a faith community doesn’t have a mission. The mission has a faith community. Everything we do as God’s people in community is related to and in the service of that mission. And God’s mission is constantly in transition. It became clear to me that when a community continues to function as if nothing has changed, the mission suffers. It also became clear to me that the mission suffers when changes are needed but are avoided or resisted.

So, intentional transition work in the Church, whether between pastors or at any time, must involve discernment about mission, participation in what God is doing for the sake of the world at our doorstep. Transition work matters only in relation to mission.”

Last night I sat with some people in a small group I belong to with my wife, and found these words to bring about precisely what seemed to be missing! This group wanted to build community in various ways in their church and in their community, but were having trouble identifying something that seemed missing- their mission.

They are in a transitional time as well, but what I have gathered from the talks during the process have not brought out what is needed for them to “stand up together.” Here at FCC, we have been working on this for two years, and now we have the opportunity to put the mission at the forefront of what we say we do and then do it!

Let us remember that our mission is a quality of God’s own being, and everything we do as God’s people in community is related to that mission.

I am excited what awaits this congregation. In October our Council will begin to help us to stand up together in fulfilling God’s mission here at FCC.

So, stay tuned!
Pastor Steve

October Newsletter

World Communion Sunday, October 3, 2021

Reformation Sunday, October 31, 2021

Grace – What a Gift!

Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us. It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection of life does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage.

Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: “You are accepted.”    Paul Tillich

Mixed Signals

A newcomer approached the pastor after worship and said, “I’d like you to pray for my hearing.”

Placing hands on the man’s ears, the pastor said a very passionate, earnest prayer and then asked the visitor, “How’s your hearing now?”

With a confused look, the man said, “Well, it’s scheduled for tomorrow.”

Before Saying Yes

I keep learning the same lesson over and over (so maybe that means I haven’t learned it yet). With church, school and community volunteer work, my schedule is packed. I’m exhausted! And to be honest, only about a third of the roles truly excite me.

Of course, service is important and yields blessings. And in a pinch, helpers need to step up. But consider all these benefits of occasionally saying no:

  • You give someone else a chance to shine and thrive.
  • You free up your schedule to be present elsewhere.
  • You protect your mental resources for existing roles.
  • You gain a bit more sleep or rest.

The last time you felt fully alive while volunteering, what were you doing? Who was serving alongside you? Can you do this — or something similar — again?

Before quickly agreeing to a request, see if God is tugging your heart in a certain direction. If he prompts you, by all means, shout yes! If not, “rest” assured that it’s okay to say no.

—Janna Firestone

Going to Extremes

When a herd of elephants ventured into a town in eastern India, people chased them away. But soon they learned that a baby elephant had fallen into a 30-foot well and been left behind. Workers had to use three backhoes to free the calf, breaking down the brick well and digging a sloping trench for the youngster to walk out on.

Righting a wrong — and even saving a life — may require extreme measures. A structure holding someone captive may need to be torn down. And in many cases, it’s better to allow the trapped one as much independence and agency as possible. Rather than hoisting the elephant out vertically, which might have been dangerous and traumatic, helpers made a path so it could take part in attaining its freedom.

God often works like this, restoring and equipping us to partner with him. How can we assist others while granting them the dignity of being part of the solution?  —Heidi Hyland Mann

Defending Your Name

Hundreds of people recently brought pool noodles to a Nebraska field to “fight” for the name they all share: Josh. The event was the brainchild of Josh Swain, who jokingly suggested a battle to keep that moniker.

The #JoshFight was tongue-in-cheek, but how strongly do we stand up for our name as Christians? “Defending the faith to the best of our ability is not a luxury or an indulgence in intellectual vanity,” writes R.C. Sproul. “It is the task given to each one of us as we bear witness to our faith before the world.”

Pool noodles may not work well for this task, but we have God’s armor and the cross. As the hymn notes, “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim / Till all the world adore his sacred name.”

—Stephanie Martin