Pastoral Ponderings – February 2022

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines..”  ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

According to scripture, each of us, as humans, have been given some sort of gift from God/Holy Spirit. These gifts vary for each one of us, and are to be used to make the world a better place. Sometimes we know what our gifts are, and sometimes we don’t. Regardless of what our gifts are, God calls us to use them for Their plan for us and the world. If we don’t use our gifts, we are cheating others and all of creation.

As people of faith, we don’t always recognize these gifts in ourselves, or don’t know we have them until we have an opportunity to try something new. As we continue to move through this pandemic, the chaos of violence, continued division, and hatred, we must hold fast to our gifts, and let them shine in ways we never thought possible.

I currently serve on two different committees outside of Faith UCC. I am the Chairperson for the Funding Future Leaders Scholarship Committee, and Treasurer for the Eastern Iowa Association. Like every other aspect in our lives, both of these committees are in need of volunteers to serve. (As does the Eastern Iowa Association Committee on Ministry.) At this point in time, all three of these are meeting online. Below are the descriptions of the committees, as well as the positions we are looking for.

COMMITTEE ON MINISTRY—meets monthly (3 year term)
COM is the committee which authorizes ministers in the EIA, as well as the overall health of clergy, and relationships between clergy/congregations.

 Term Ending 2024 (lay person)

ADVISORY COUNCIL—meets every other month (2 year term)
Advisory Council is the governing body of the EIA. They are in charge of budget and policies, hold the Annual Meeting. They are the support of the lay leaders of the churches within the EIA.
Term ending 2023 Vice Moderator—Lay Person
Term ending 2023 Member-at-Large—Lay Person
Term ending 2023 Nominating Committee Chairperson—Lay or Clergy

FUNDING FUTURE LEADERS– meets 8 times a year (2 year term)
FFL is the committee who reviews the scholarships for the Members in Discernment of the Iowa Conference.
Term beginning August 1, 2022—ending July 31, 2024

If you are interested in using your gifts by serving on any of these committees, please contact me!

~ Always Peace,

Pastor Heidi

 

Pastoral Ponderings – January 2022

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”  ~ Philippians 4:9

The year of our Lord, 2022, is quite literally, right around the corner—only 11 days from the day I write this! With each year comes new life lessons for us to learn. I read somewhere that if we don’t learn our lesson the first time through an experience, then we will continue to have similar experiences until we learn that lesson. Whether or not that is actually a truth, I feel very much like it is, especially over the last two years.

As we celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus this week, and prepare to welcome in yet another new year, I would invite you to take a couple of moments and look over the last year of your life. Taking time to really understand yourself and your relationship with God and with God’s creation, is important for you to move forward in God’s plan for you.

Find a quiet place, with no distractions, even if for 10 minutes. Get yourself comfortable, maybe grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and allow yourself to just be. Breathe in the hope and love of this Christmas season, and breathe out all your could haves / should haves / would haves of the past year. Allow these to float away from you, taking any regret with them.

After a few breaths, take a couple of minutes for each of the following questions:

  1. What life lesson have I learned this past year?
  2. How has this lesson changed my life? Have I actually allowed it to make the change it is supposed to?
  3. How has this lesson changed my relationships with those I love, as well as with those I find difficult being in relationship with?
  4. Is there a lesson that I didn’t learn, but feel like the opportunities to learn it keep popping up in my life?
  5. How can I pay more attention to those lessons I choose not to learn, or have trouble understanding I need to learn?

When you finish, breathe in the hope of this new year, and breathe out everything of which you want to let go. Breathe in. Breathe out. Make room for the opportunities for whatever lessons are coming your way.

What lessons do you need to learn? What lesson do you think God needs you to learn? What lessons do you think God needs us to learn as a whole? Will you resolve to be open to those lessons?

May you have a Wonder-filled Christmas, and an abundant New Year!

~ Always Peace,  Pastor Heidi

 

Pastoral Ponderings – December 2021

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14

WHEW! It has been quite a year! And I would never have guessed that we could top last year. Guess I need to stop saying things like that! No need for the Universe to get any crazy ideas for 2022!

As the preparations for Advent and Christmas begin to rear their heads, and we follow those up with a plunge into another new year, may we find a few quiet moments to take a few deep breaths and look back upon the year. Maybe we can learn something about our world, our community, our family and friends, or maybe even ourselves.

This year, I see how much emotion plays into our lives. Of course we emote—God created us to do that, but have you paid attention to how your are emoting? If we shove our emotions aside, they will manifest themselves within our bodies. When our emotions don’t have a way to come out, they find a way. Physical pain and depression are common effects of not emoting in a healthy manner.

In a recent discussion with one of my many “healers,” we talked about surrender, and how surrendering to the feelings we have in the moment help our minds and bodies work through them, leaving us better equipped to cope with what is happening in our world. By “feeling all the feels,” we allow ourselves to let go of what we need to, and make room for something new.

As a follower of The Way, we believe that God is in the business of making something new, with whatever They want! This Advent/Christmas season, we will be talking about making room for the Holy. What does HOLY mean? How can we let go if we don’t know what we need to let go of? How can we allow the space for God’s new creation within us?

This is a very special year. Not only do we get to talk about these things, we are physically living into them. We get to practice what we preach! First Christian will be moved in by the time you get this letter. Two churches under one roof—talk about having to MAKE ROOM!! But here is the exciting part: while there is an ending to one way of life, we are birthing another! When it came time for Mary to give birth to her baby boy so long ago, the life she knew was ending, and a whole new way of life—one even she couldn’t fathom– was just beginning.

As we move into our new life as Two Churches, One Holy Space, One God, we will have growing pains, and many, many emotions. I pray that we allow ourselves these emotions. Let ourselves feel all the feels, and then make room for whatever new God is preparing us for.

May you cling to the hope only Christ can give; may you find the peace you seek; may you experience the joy that resides deep within; and may you love your neighbors as yourselves. Deep peace and blessings during this season!

~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi

Annual Holiday Bazaar

  • Post category:Fundraising

Our annual holiday bazaar is back!!  We are having the attic shop sale, bake sale, cookies by the pound and will also have some crafts for sale.  We are so excited to be back.

Due to Covid though, I’m sorry to say that we will not be serving breakfast or lunch.

Doors open at 8 a.m. and the event goes until 2 p.m. this Saturday, November 6th.

Candy Land is Ready!!

Hershey Candy Bars (Dark and Milk Chocolate), Hershey Nuggets, and Rolos are spruced up for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Use as part of your holiday table setting or give to teachers or friends!! They are almost too cute to eat!

Pastoral Ponderings – November 2021

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” ~ Acts 2:1-4

No, it isn’t Pentecost. In fact, we are a few short weeks away from the beginning of Advent, the season of preparation. I chose the first verses for this pondering because, if you have worshipped with us at all lately, or been in the building, the movement of Spirit is palpable! You can’t help but breathe it in! Like I said last month, it is something I have dreamed about since I got here—9 years ago December 1, by the way!

I am so excited about what is happening here, while at the same time, I am beginning to feel a little overwhelmed. Therefore, and this is the Spirit part, I am going to call on your help. We have some wonderful, and life-changing things, which will be happening within the next several weeks, and in order to make everything happen, we will need to work together.

First, our Annual Holiday Bazaar. We need all hands on deck, and that includes our prayer warriors! We need you to invite all your friends and family, co-workers, and people you bump into in order to make this another success. (See page 4 for further details. And if you need a flier to hand out, please contact me!)

Second, with a Scout Troop AND a Cub Scout Pack meeting here on Mondays and Tuesdays, we need to find space for their things. While they don’t have a whole lot to store, we still need to find them some space.

And that is going to be a bigger challenge than it would have even 6 months ago, as we will be sharing space with First Christian beginning Saturday, November 27! We have much to discuss yet, but we are closing in on some of it, like how they are going to rent space to begin with. The Adult Sunday School room will become Pastor Linda’s office, and their secretary will share that space with her. They will hold their worship services at 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays, again, for the time being. But the biggest challenge, is finding space to put everything they want to bring with them.

Over the next few weeks, we will be cleaning out spaces—Sunday School areas and nursery downstairs, the adult Sunday School room, and the big storage closet. If you have time and are able to help with some of these things, please let me know!

What we need most, are your prayers, your patience, and your radically open hearts and minds as we begin moving from our church building of Faith UCC to OUR church building, of Faith UCC AND First Christian Church.

This time calls for us to be creative, understanding of differences (which will be AWESOME practice for us!), and transparent communication. None of this will work without those things, by EVERYONE.

Friends, this is such an exciting time, and believe it or not, these are things God has had planned for us since we were born. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but for now, Faith and First, will be exactly what we are supposed to be, and the best part? We will be it TOGETHER!

Finally, I want to invite you all to join them at their last worship service on Sunday, November 21 at 10:00 a.m. WE WILL NOT HAVE WORSHIP AT FAITH UCC THAT MORNING! We will still be on Facebook live and YouTube. We are also invited to join them in a shared meal following that worship service. Please RSVP by Sunday, November 7.

This is all so exciting! God is so good, and Spirit really is moving! And for that, let us give thanks and praise to God!

~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi

Summer Hours

  • Post category:Worship

Summer Hours begin Sunday, May 30th!

In-Person Worship begins at 10:00 a.m.

Facebook Live also begins at 10:00 a.m.

These hours will stay in place through September 5th.

 

Annual Holiday Bazaar — Re-Imagined

  • Post category:Fundraising

We are Re-Imagining our Holiday Bazaar! To keep our community and tribe safe, we are not holding our traditional Annual Holiday Bazaar. 

Instead, we are setting up our crafts and baked goods for you to purchase. To keep everyone safe, we will sign up for a 20 minute appointment to shop. (Masks required) Please click on the link below and find a time on November 9, 10, or 11 to check out what we have for sale! 

Please contact the office at 563-391-5726 if you have questions!

Holiday Bazaar Re-Imagined

 

Pastoral Pondering — November 2020

“For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” ~ Luke 21:4

Do you give everything you have to the church? Most of us don’t, because at this time in history, we have to have money to pay bills, to eat, to drive cars, to go to school. There is almost nothing I can think of that is actually FREE.

We belong to a denomination (thank goodness!) that doesn’t believe in, or practice, telling individuals what they should give to the church. I don’t find that to be biblical. What I do find biblical, however, is that we are to give of our abundance, offering to God the first of our fruits, not what is leftover after we pay bills and all that other stuff. According to 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as they have decided in their heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

But why give in the first place? There is the obvious, and we just discussed these things at our annual budget meeting on October 18: because we have bills to pay, and a building and parsonage to maintain. But I want to share a little secret, when we give to the church, the first thing we should be doing, as the stewards of the money we are entrusted with, is to give it to those who need it. We are called to clothe the naked, free the prisoner, feed the hungry. As a church, our priority should be mission: based: to care for all of creation through sharing the light and love of God, offering justice for all in an unjust world.

I want to let you in on a another secret, one I have recently realized. For so long I have said we need to “find that mission we are called to.” Friends, we have already been doing it. You see, what we do well is sharing God’s love by taking care of the needs we see, as we see them, giving when the need is in front of us. Share a Meal, sandwiches, cookies for the blood bank, food, coats, backpacks, and the list goes on and on. We may not have much as far as financial resources to give, but I believe we can do more. We have one other great resource, our space—again, not a big space, but we do have some. How can we use this resource to add value to who we are and how we offer God’s love in this world? The possibilities are endless!

The reality is we still need to care for the building and pay our bills. As we move into November, we will talk more about stewardship, and share ideas of how we can be stewards for those around us. Be sure to watch for your pledge cards in the mail after November 10. Please pray about what you will give for next year, fill them out, and we will bless them during our Thanksgiving Worship on November 22.

How much do you give? That is between you and God, but maybe the scripture above will bring light to that question. David and I don’t give everything, but we do give to the church first, and we try to give a little more every year. This year, we are in a position to be able to give more than we ever have in our married lives. This is exciting for us! We will be increasing our pledge, and we challenge you to spend time in prayer with God about doing the same, if you are in the position to do so. Please remember, nobody is going to come after you if you don’t or aren’t able to fulfill your pledges. Life happens, and plans change. But when you make a pledge, you are helping us plan.

If you see a place in our community that has an immediate need, please share it with myself or a Council member. Maybe we can help! Thank you for being faithful; for donating your time, talents and treasures to this church, and to those who need it. You are truly a blessing!

~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi

Pastoral Pondering — October 2020

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”. ~ Philippians 4:6

It’s too much. It’s not fair, and it’s just too much. A pandemic, with no end in sight, and more questions than answers, not to mention the division in how people feel about what is happening. Loss of jobs, loss of freedom, and loss of lives.

For the second time since the US decided to name hurricanes and tropical storms, we are naming them from letters of the Greek alphabet due to the volume of activity we are seeing.

School looks different. Do we hold school, do we hold only online? Are the numbers increasing? And now, for those of us who are part of the Davenport Community School District, we are left wondering what will happen after the removal of the Superintendent and CFO last Thursday.

Oh, and let us not forget that our country is preparing for our Presidential election, and stress around this subject is through the roof!

In his letter to the people of Philippi, Paul is telling them not to be anxious about anything. Really? Don’t worry, don’t be anxious? Paul certainly doesn’t know me very well.

But that’s just it, Paul does know. He knows that fear can take over and leave us paralyzed. He isn’t saying that if we do worry, that what we are worrying about doesn’t matter. What he is saying is that when we have anxiety, and we are anxious because of everything that is going on within and around us, we are to take it to God in prayer. God hears our prayers, each and every one of them. And when we are beyond words, we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit who will take our deep, anxious sighs, and turn them into words for God to hear.

There isn’t one of us who doesn’t need to let go of anxiety and anxious feelings, especially right now. When you lose your sense of peace, take it to God in prayer. With words, with gestures, with joy, with anger, with happiness, sadness, sorrow, or fear. Give what is hurting you over to God. Know that God hears your pleas, and is waiting to wrap you in Their arms. We are not alone in all of this. Our God is walking with us.

For that, and for so much more, I give thanks and praise, because it is too much, and it isn’t fair.

~ Always Peace, Pastor Heidi

Pastoral Pondering – September 2020

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  ~   John 8:32

We—and by “we”, I mean “I” – have talked an awful lot about the trials and tribulations of 2020, and we really don’t need to rehash them. Yes, that is part of the truth, but there is another part of the truth that we tend to leave out, especially when we are feeling the fear and despair of all that has been thrown at us.

That truth is the continued abundant blessings we have been given, as a world, as a nation, as a community, as a church, and as individuals. I want to share that part of the truth with you here.

WORLD

In this time of chaos and uncertainty, besides our humanity, we now have another thing in common with every single person walking on this planet—the experience of this pandemic. Every single human has their own stories to share about their lived experience. We are not alone!

NATION

We have much to work on as a nation, and even in the difficulties and tragedies that continue to be thrown our way, we have been blessed with the opportunity to begin to make things right—to offer justice and equality in ways that we have been ignoring. The more we work toward justice and peace, the more God will bless us.

COMMUNITY

In this last storm, I watched our community gather in ways I haven’t experienced before. Again, everyone in our community was affected by this last storm in one way or another, and yet, neighbors helped neighbors, strangers prayed for each other, and a real sense of community was present, if even for a brief moment.

CHURCH

This is the most amazing! During this time of sheltering in place, we have raised enough money to replace the roof and take down the cross, to repair the hail damage on the shed and gutters; we have purchased a new sound/video system (which is just about complete!); continued to offer our pledges for the bills that our church has; held a paint party; continue to gather on ZOOM every other Wednesday evening; gather in person and on ZOOM for Bible Study; held our first ever Virtual Vacation Bible School with 3 other churches; and we endured 15 weeks away from one another—while still worshiping—thanks to technology.

INDIVIDUAL

This might be my favorite truth. We have grown, albeit with growing pains, but we have grown nonetheless. We have stretched our ideas past what we have always done, and what we have known, opening ourselves to new life. We have used the creativity that God instilled in us. While we are rebuilding life, which can be hard, we are being given the opportunity to play! Think about it, in the beginning when God created everything, do you really think God stressed and worried, and was afraid? No way! God played! God said, LIGHT! and called it GOOD! God made water, land, animals, plants, and then called them all GOOD! And then God made humans—and we are GOOD. Creation wasn’t serious work—it was play! And now we are being invited to take part in that play; to come up with new ways to be and live, and new ways to love. And, as long as we keep God at the center—all of it will be GOOD!

In this time of chaos, uncertainty, and fear, these are the truths that we tend to overlook. Opportunity and abundance. But more than that, this opportunity is offering us freedom from the bondage we once thought to be truth. We don’t have to produce, produce, produce to be successful! We have to LOVE, and be loved. That’s all. And that is the abundant truth.

 ~ Always Peace,   Pastor Heidi