Events – Folder

Reflections from a Veteran

Shirley Lamontagne Office Manager Administrator

Shirley Lamontagne, Director of Administration

Veteran’s Day is an official day where we honor ALL American veterans who have served in the armed services—living and deceased.  Veteran’s Day always reminds me to slow down and take some time to reflect on my life.  I am proud of the years that I served and proud of all those who have served with me.  I am grateful that the military has taught me many life lessons that to this day I value.

I value how the Air Force created a strong sense of family and camaraderie for me that has been matched by no other institution.  I value the leadership training that I received because leadership is essential in all aspects of life.  I learned how to manage time, how to be a team player, and how to communicate.  I learned that dedication means more than just showing up to work on time, and I learned that being courageous meant more than not crying upon leaving a haunted house or riding a bike without my hands on the handlebars!

As important as these lessons are—most importantly, I learned how to be a part of something bigger than myself.  Being a part of a “something bigger” gave me a strong sense of pride and improved my self-esteem.  I value the humility that I gained when I came to understand that treating people with respect motivates them to higher levels of performance.  Surprisingly enough, it is because of my military training that I came to see that every person is, in essence, a miracle worthy of love.  By learning to put the needs of others before my own I came to see that people and institutions that focus on the “we” rather than the “me” become more successful in their lives or their missions.  I believe we all have the ability to focus on the things bigger than ourselves.  Obviously, there are a lot of connections between these lessons and living as a part of church family!

So, on this Veteran’s Day I am thankful to all people who believe they, too, have the ability to focus on the big picture in life.  I feel closer to God when I focus on the big picture because God is always focused on the big picture.  Our communities thrive when those living in them can reflect, and find in that reflection, the motivation to serve others.

 

How to Make Time

pastor wesPastor Wes Mullins, Senior Pastor

With great regularity, I hear people—even myself—talking about how busy they are.  They are stretched a bit too thin, needing to “make time” to get everything finished.  It is interesting to talk about “making time” since we can’t really add any.  In truth, we don’t really make time as much as we “borrow time”—another rather odd phrase.  Really we only have a certain amount of time in a day, a week, a year, or even our lives.  We can “use that time” for only so many things.

Last week, I met with my Spiritual Director, Sister Mary Colleen from Benet Hill Monastery.  In talking with her, I committed to some significant life changes I have been pondering for a while.  For the duration of my life as a pastor, I have sought out opportunities to challenge myself.  Coming to be the pastor of this church was one such challenge.  Leading General Conference worship was another, and accepting the role of President of the MCC Board of Pensions was yet another.  All of my “yes’s” to these opportunities have made me a well-known and respected leader in MCC.  What they also did is make me an over-committed and very busy—too busy—pastor.  Some of you know this feeling well.

In reality, the only way we can “make time” is by saying “no” to some good things even while we say “yes” to other good things.  Life is about balance, and I have realized mine is, in fact, out of balance.  So, I now look forward to next July’s General Conference for a new reason:  when it ends and I’m no longer responsible for planning worship for our denomination’s largest gathering in six years (no pressure), I will have an opportunity to remove one large commitment from my life, “making time” for me to be a better example, partner, friend, & pastor.

While this rebalancing of my life is still several months away, somehow even knowing that it will happen is almost as good as it actually happening.  I could rebalance now by quitting, but I want to rebalance my life in ways that are responsible to the commitments I have already made.

How is your life balance right now?  Do you need to identify some things that you can do to “make time” for family, for friendships, or time to be able to listen for the voice of God?  It is not easy, and as AA teaches us, it starts only when you recognize and commit to the needed change.

 

Connecting Through Team Building

Denise Foerch Spiritual DirectorDenise Foerch, Spiritual Director

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

—Romans 12:4-5

Last weekend, the church staff went on our annual retreat to plan worship for 2013.  Our tradition is to spend our evenings playing a board game.  This year, we played a game called Pandemic in which all players work together to save the world from an epidemic.  This game cannot be played individually but only as a team.  Each of us had a specific skill and task—Medic, Researcher, Scientist, etc.  We could not win the game without each other.  It was interesting to watch as we played it for the first time.  When our turn came, our instinct was to jump in and see what we could do as an individual, momentarily forgetting we could not take our turn on our own.  It was also easy to forget how important our skill and tasks were—looking to the others to do their part, only to realize that their part was limited without ours.

We lost our first game—we had not yet learned the different ways we could use each others skills.   The next time we played we were getting used to watching for ways to pool all our resources in order to win.  When we won, WE won.  No one was able to say, “I won.”  I found myself thinking how great it would be if we all could live our lives like that—interdependent.

When Scripture talks about everyone having their own gifts and talents, we often see it as making us feel better about ourselves—which is a good thing.  However, I think the intent is for us to figure out how we can draw on all our amazing gifts together to bring God’s love and peace into our world.

A pandemic can be defined as, “An epidemic occurring worldwide or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries, and usually affecting a large number of people.” There are pandemics in our world:  physical, emotional, and spiritual.  Diseases, hunger, violence, indifference, hatred, poverty, loneliness…the list goes on and on.  Imagine conquering our world’s pandemics…together.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.  So, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all.  —Galatians 6:9-10a