Abundance…we’ve got it! When I saw this cherry tree at the playground where Kora and I were spending some time last week all I could think was, “Wow! What abundance!!” Watching the birds fly in and out of the tree, the chipmunk hauling the cherries from the tree to its stash and hearing Kevin’s story of the bear feasting from the bounteous fruit earlier in the week gave me pause to appreciate the Creator’s supply of abundance for these creatures. The Gospel of Matthew reminds us to, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” This was one of those “If, then” moments. If God provides abundant fruit for the creatures of the earth, then God also provides abundance for us. After all, are we not creatures as well?
In this pledging season we take stock of what we can financially offer the church. Last year we had 57 pledging “units.” That generally means individual households. Did you know that we have the potential for over 100 pledging units? If you were to look at this cherry tree in May, you would see beautiful flowers covering the branches and you would consider the potential for the fruit in October. The same can be said of our church. We have the potential to not just meet our budget of $180,000 next year, we have the abundant ability to top it and create a substantial endowment. An endowment that would take this church into the future on solid footing. Pledging gives our Executive Committee solid numbers to count on for our budget rather than guessing how much might show up in the “plate” on Sunday.
Some of you may wonder how much you should pledge to the church. The Bible refers to putting a tithe, or a tenth, in the storehouse. Could you imagine the potential for our church if we all pledged a tenth of our income? Imagine if each of those buds on the cherry tree in May produced a bushel of fruit for the birds, chipmunks and bears in October. I think you get the picture. How is the Spirit nudging you in your pledge this year?
Vocation and volunteering, what do they have in common? Children have one vocation in life and that is to play. Through play they learn. Adults have the opportunity to join in that same vocation and if COVID has taken one thing from us, it has been the ability to play. How do we restore that vocation as life changes the way that we interact with each other? Through the joy of volunteering! This is the time of year when we look at what we do in the church through the role of volunteering for our councils, committees, and activities. The big question before us now is, how do we do that and remain safe?
Through the wonders of technology, we are able to continue in a forward motion of play. We have the ability to Zoom, Facebook and meet on-line. We are looking at ways to safely join together with protocols in place to do our very best to reduce our risk and learn to live with what we have learned about a virus that took us by surprise. If there is one thing that we have learned from children in this time it is how to play and learn together. We cannot live in seclusion to wait this thing out, we must come together and take advantage of our technology, applying our desire to play with our call to a vocation of volunteering.
While spending the last 2 weeks with my granddaughter I have been reminded that we turn our tools into toys. Kora has reminded me of how the natural tools provided by our Creator turned into toys. Smelling flowers, pulling seeds out of hollyhocks, chasing chipmunks and counting berries are just some of the ways that Kora has turned these tools of nature into toys. How can we do the same? Look around you. You have computers and cell phones at hand. You have books, pencils and paper within reach. Combine those tools and look at what you can do. If there is one thing that Red Lodge has to offer the world it is a resource-rich community of volunteerism that is vocation-centered. Vocation involves a “strong feeling…particularly worthy…requiring great dedication.”
Kora’s determination to learn “Itsy Bitsy Spider” reminded me of the great dedication that it takes to make a commitment to master a skill. The same can be said of our learning curve for applying technology to our new way of life. It means logging on to Zoom or Facebook over and over until we have figured out how to make it work. It means writing and re-writing articles for the Shalom, Weekly Wrangler and the Carbon County News until we’ve captured the message that we want the public to see. It means putting times and dates on our calendars so that we won’t forget to show up and have our voices heard. The challenge for volunteerism in Red Lodge is in re-engaging your vocation that had been the career that you retired from. What part of that vocation will you now apply to the life of your church? What part of that vocation did you always want to develop, and you did not have the time? This is the time to take the opportunity set before you and play with it!
In March of 2020, our church was on a path to putting herself on the map. We need to get back to that map. Our ONA status in the UCC needs to be completed. Our doors being open to the public as a family rest station need to be re-opened. Our commitment to re-creating our children’s Sunday school and the creation of a youth group needs to begin now. Dedication to working with the Northern Cheyenne people needs to find a different way of support. These are just 4 of the things that were on our map in March. They all take time and effort, and can be done in small group gatherings and on-line.
What is your “strong feeling” toward these efforts? Which one do you feel is “particularly worthy” of your time? And to which one are you willing to put forth “great dedication”? Ask yourself these questions and when the nominating committee comes calling in the next few weeks you will have the answer to their questions, “Are you willing to serve in the vocation of a particular committee? And which committee will that be?”
In love in action,
Community Worship Service - Red Lodge Community Church, Messiah Lutheran Church, and Calvary Episcopal Church
Last Sunday's community worship service held jointly by Red Lodge Community Church, Messiah Lutheran Church, and Calvary Episcopal Church was a great success and enjoyed by all! If you missed it, you can watch the video right here.
For those of you who missed the outdoor worship service last Sunday at Kaleva, you can watch it here . Enjoy! :)
John 4: 19-20 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
In this time of COVID we have discovered that we are able to worship in places other than our church buildings. Can you imagine what our grandchildren are going to say when they look back at our historical worship? Will it sound like the Samaritan woman speaking to Jesus? “We worship on a mountain, and you say we need to be in a building??!!” I hope so!
Children are so much better than adults at figuring things like this out. After spending a week with Kora, watching her “figuring out” nature, I realized that I just need to follow her lead on outdoor worship. As she toddled around the mountain top she didn’t worry about the weather. She played hide and seek with a pica, smelled the flowers and splashed in the puddles. Perhaps this was the litany that was going through her toddler mind:
You are there, and then you are gone. I will wait for your return.
Your fragrance fills my being. Does the yellow flower not feed the bees?
I am bathed in your presence, washed clean for yet another day.
If we just follow the children’s lead and play in God’s beautiful mountain top creation, our worship will come.
Acts 2: 17 “… God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
I have a vision. The first time that I walked out to Greenough Lake last year the vision of worship around the lake was just a nudge. This week when I walked to the lake that vision took shape. I could see it, hear it, feel it and even smell the rich pine surrounding us as we surround the lake. Worship in God’s beautiful creation. Just imagine it with me for a moment. All of us surrounding the lake, chanting prayers, humming hymns, moments of human silence surrounded by God’s presence in the sounds of birds, the wind in the trees and the rush of the creek.
In these times of tremendous fear and anxiety we are called to a place of visioning. To get to that place, we are best served by the stillness of God’s creation. The scent of pine and sage, water and loam envelopes us in a place of calm and trust. God’s Spirit is poured out on all of us as we experience the sun on our faces as the light in these very dark times.
Allow your anxiety to be stilled by the hush of the forested floor; walk with me to this beautiful place of peace.
Did you miss the outdoor worship service and baptism at Kaleva on July 5? Or, maybe you were there and enjoyed it so much you'd like to see it again? Well, you can watch the entire service and baptism right here! Enjoy! (Please note: The services are in chronological order, so scroll down past last Sunday's service to see the Kaleva service.)
Red Lodge Community Church & Red Lodge Area Community Foundation - Jointly Caring About our Community!!
Red Lodge Area Community Foundation's COVID-19 Relief Fund was the recipient of a Hazel Chamberlain Endowment Fund grant given through the Red Lodge Community Church. You can find out more about the program and the grant in the video below.
The Confirmation Class has begun their mission work! They are raising funds for blankets through Church World Service. Each student will be trying to raise the MOST funds...and the one who succeeds gets to have their own success shared with Pastor Pam. If Eliza comes out on top, Pastor Pam has to bake her bread. If Samarra is the top fund raiser, Pastor Pam has to make her Rice Krispie Treats. And Mason...well...Mason has challenged Pastor Pam to cracking raw eggs on her head...in public!! So support these great mission-focused students by going to the "Giving" link on our website and selecting which student you would like to support. The blankets are $30.00 each. The mission campaign will run until August 15. Good luck, Confirmation Students!!
Did you miss the outdoor worship service at Kaleva last Sunday? If you did and you'd like to watch it, you can view the video of the service on our website. Just click the link and scroll down to the video. Yes! It DID rain!! :) But, it was all wonderful!!
Proverbs 16: 3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Do you find yourself wafting between these two verses like I do? One day it feels like everything is going right and then the next day…the Plague of Frogs has descended on our plans. One minute we are rejoicing in the sun and then next day we are grumbling when we see our newly planted pansies covered and frozen in snow. One day we were all rejoicing in worship and then the next day we were trying to figure out how to log on to FaceBook just to see a familiar face…and FaceBook needs a password.
Make a plan and watch God laugh, they say. That doesn’t sound much like the proverbial success that we were planning on, does it? I sometimes that if I hear one more person say, “This is the new normal” I will just sit down and…and…and what? Scream? Cry? Laugh until I cry?
We know that we want to “get back to” where we left off on March 16. And we know that we can’t. So, then, what do we do? In this time of lament and laughter we do need to re-group and go back to what we were working on and look to the Lord in our commitments. Look to the Lord in our questions, curiosities and hesitations. Look to the Lord in all that we were doing so that we know how to ask, “Have you forsaken me…or strengthened me?”
During a time of mediation this week God reminded me through that still small voice that I have the tools that it takes to get through whatever comes my way. Tools to think deeply, reflect mightily and ask myself the tough questions. And one of those tools is indeed the ability to lament. It is also the ability to laugh at the smallest of blessings…especially the still small voice that guides me. As we go forward let me remind you that it is OKAY to lament…and then laugh. Though these two verses seem to be the ones that I find myself reciting almost daily, the one that bubbles up from within the lament is Ecclesiastes 3, “There is a time for every season under the sun.” Right now we make plans and watch God laugh. That’s our season, and I am here with you…right smack dab in the middle of it with you, lament and laughter and all.
When the Spirit overwhelms us, we must respond. When we are frozen in place and cannot move, that is when we must listen. Just sit and listen. We cannot move and yet we must respond.
Silence everything and wait for Wisdom to raise her mighty head, and we will see the direction that She is leading us to, the direction to go in. Just wait. And then respond. The direction comes so clearly that we feel that when we move, we are moving in a dream. We will ask, “Is this a dream? Am I really doing this?” and we will receive confirmation that we are doing the right thing.
This takes work. Work to separate ourselves from asking for advice, from seeking a sign. We move forward in a way that is mystical and yet real. And when we have done what Spirit has told us to do… yes told us, not asked us, we will know that we have done the right thing.
As we wander through this life, we are not in it alone, we are in it together. Together with Spirit and the other. The other who needs us to listen and respond. This is not about us. It is not about what we want or need. It is about what the other needs and Spirit knows that and draws us into the relationship of care.
Spirit comes to us in Truth. A Truth that is as pure and unselfish as the love that confounds us and confuses us all. A love that sometimes we doubt, question, and run from. But it is through love that Spirit speaks, and that love is not selfish, it is all encompassing.
Let yourselves act in confidence…through Spirit, Truth and love.
Have you missed the church calendar and wondered what's happening in the RLCC virtual church world? Well, we have created a "virtual" calendar to help you find out! You can check it out and/or download a copy of the calendar here. Enjoy!
Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains-- where does my help come from?”
“It is DONE!” The three favorite words of any student looking at a looming assignment. For me it was my Environmental Ethics paper… all 5000 words of it. It is such a good feeling of accomplishment when we can say, “It is DONE!” For many of us we have taken on tasks while being sequestered at home during this pandemic. Things like cleaning out closets, washing windows and cleaning up our yards. After each task is completed, we stand back and say, “It is DONE!”
That is how I felt this afternoon when my “word counter” hit 5085. DONE. SEND. RELAX…and then…repeat. The next two papers are not as long or detailed, but I know that after each one I will say, “It is DONE.”
We are all looking forward to the day when we can look COVID19 in the face and say, “YOU ARE DONE.” But what we also must realize is that we are going to continue with those next steps…relax…repeat. What?? Repeat?! Yes, we now realize the ease and extent of how a pandemic works. The scientists and theologians both agree…we will be repeating this someday. This is just the beginning of a new way of the world. No longer is it just the flu that we must be aware of.
How do we relax then? I know that once my doctorate is finished it will be another item on my long list of lifelong goals checked off, not unlike cleaning out my closets, so I can relax. But knowing that somewhere out there on the horizon is another pandemic looming? I look to the Word for my instruction on how to relax. And I lift up my eyes to the mountains, knowing that God will move them for us…again. This morning as I shared my thoughts on Good Morning, Red Lodge I realized that I said that the mountain had moved out of the mist. And I did not correct myself. God can and will move the mountains for us.
We just have to relax…and stand still long enough to see them move.
May God’s peace surround you as you relax…and stand still long enough in trust that God will move that next mountain just like God has all of the others before this one.
1 Thessalonians 2:17 (NRSV) “As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face.”
Oh how we long to see one another…and we wait for that day when we can once again join TOGETHER in worship, meal and celebration!
Knowing that our community needed to “keep our spirits up” until that time, Bill (the Mayor) and I (the Minister) came up with the idea for a “positivity” campaign. With the help of Junction7 we have been able to plaster our “Together we can do this!” signs all over Red Lodge and those signs are now finding their way across the country. (Please note that this was a personal endeavor and we are funding it through our own donations and those from the community, not the city or the church.)
While this campaign came out of a sense of relationship and community, I can’t help but see the spiritual connections that are celebrated as well. First, we followed a nudge to talk about this as a possibility (ok, so we talk for hours on end every day…so that’s not a stretch), but when this idea “clicked” it was at the very same moment. The nudge had done her work yet again.
We are all longing for a return to our “place” of worship and celebration. We are yearning to be reunited with friends and family, a “yearn to return,” if you will, to what we once knew. “Longing with great eagerness” as Paul put it, to see each other face to face. In the meantime, we are blessed with the technology of Facebook, FaceTime and other social media platforms to “see” each other as best we can.
Some of the conveniences of those technologies will continue long after the “Stay at Home” orders are lifted. Some of the discoveries about quiet reflection time, long walks and home cooked meals will become our new normal. Some of the delightful things that we’ve discovered under the guise of being sequestered for long afternoons we will then yearn for when our doors are once again open to the public.
Separation creates a yearning of the heart that brings us together in a way that is challenging, especially when we do not have an end date. So as we continue this time apart, we know that “Together we can do this!” Together in thought, prayer and technology. Together in our yearning and in our new discoveries. Together in our hearts, minds and souls.
Together with you in every way,
“One protection we desire: that we not stumble in this life.”
From the Prayer of Thanksgiving
Every time that I approach my truck from the berm side to clean off the windshield, I am aware of the unstable-ness of my left knee. I can’t tell how deep the snow is before I hit ground and I’m not sure of what is under the snow…ice, stone, water…so I take a deep breath and very carefully plant my foot and make sure I’m stable before taking a good long reach across the windshield to clear the snow and pray under my breath, “Oh Lord don’t let me stumble.”
In this time of uncertainty, that has become my regular prayer. “Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble.” I want to get my sense of running through life with a certain feel of reckless abandon back. Like that of my granddaughter Kora in this picture, I want to just pick up my feet, spread out my arms and run like there’s nothing that is going to send me sprawling flat on my face. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want my pace to be uninhibited by a fear of making a mistake that will hurt someone. I find myself measuring my words before they leave my usually unfiltered mouth. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want my steps to take me places without having to look down and watch each one. I find myself hesitating before answering a question or giving an opinion. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want to have un-checked conversations about the future that go late into the night without fearing I’m being misunderstood. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want to pour out my praise to God without checking it to see if it’s praising God for something that I have that has brought pain to someone who lost it. “Lord, do not let me stumble.”
I have been trained and educated for disasters, including pandemics, for over a decade. And yet, here we are and all I can think is, “Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble.”
For me, the key to not stumbling is to be stabilized in my trust. Trust of God, trust of myself, and trust of the other. Trust that the ground beneath me may move, shift and be altered…and that God will lift me back up when I fall. I will be lifted by not only my strength, but by the strength of the one who discovers that I have stumbled along the way.
“Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble…and when I do, thank you for giving me someone to lift me back up.”
Did you enjoy last Wednesday's music from Red Lodge Community Church? If you did, or you missed it, you can listen again on our "Watch - Worship Services, Music, and Sermons" page!
The video offered below is a Public Service Announcement with safety tips for grocery shopping and bringing home take out food. We hope it serves you well in this trying time.
If you missed the latest live stream worship service held by Pastor Pam on Facebook, or if you just want to watch it again, you can find the video on our "Watch a Sermon" page, as well as Pastor Pam's timeline.
Our new online giving page and process is all set up, tested, and ready to go. You can make online contributions to the Red Lodge Community Church on our Giving Page.
For those of you wanting to do text giving, we do have that process set up. As soon as it is tested, we'll provide you with that number.
Please join us Sunday morning at 10:00am on Facebook as we live stream our worship service! You can find us on Pastor Pam's timeline. This live stream event can be seen by anyone. You don't have to be a "Facebook friend" to enjoy it.
You can find the bulletin for Sunday's service here. Print it out at home or just use it online.
In response to the suggested protocols from the CDC for the CoVid 19 virus, and by agreement of the Congregation following today's worship, we will suspend live worship until Easter Sunday.
Pastor Pam, our Deacons and Musicians will be working on creating on-line worship throughout the week. The sanctuary will remain open for private meditation and the church office will remain open for church business throughout this time.
If you have any pastoral needs please call Pastor Pam's cell phone at 203-631-9994 or e-mail her at email@example.com. Thank you for your prayers and support at this most challenging time.
Red Lodge Community Church - A place where Spirit and so much more happens!
308 S. Broadway
Red Lodge, Montana