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Pastor's Corner

Pastors' Corner

2023 Lenten Newsletter - Hear from Harbor's Pastoral Team

 

Rev. Sadie Cullumber


Hello Harbor, and welcome to the Lenten season!


This year we are digging into the theme of seeking. We are going to jump into deep questions that will inspire and challenge us. When I think about the Jesus that we meet in scripture, it is clear that he was a man who loved questions. But of the 307 questions he asked in the gospels, he only answered eight. So, he loved to ask questions, but he rarely offered answers to them.


I thought to myself:


why does Jesus ask all these questions, and then not answer them? If Jesus is not concerned with giving answers, why are we so fixated on the answer?

And then I was reminded of one of my two favorite images of Jesus. One of these images, I share with Maryann–Jesus laughing deep from his belly, surrounded by children. But it’s the other image of Jesus that I want to talk about today. The image is of Jesus sitting at a table with his friends and (don’t forget) his enemies. I see him sitting at a table, comfortable in himself, a smile on his face, a look of understanding in his eyes, and the rivers of living water, bubbling from his heart, like we hear in John’s gospel. I see him sitting there, talking about the ordinary miracles of life: the seeds that when planted grow; the flowers of the field and the birds of the air; the broken hearted people who find healing in community; the lonely ones who feel held and loved around a table; the rejected ones who feel seen in the simplest requests, can I have a glass of water? This Jesus, the one around the table, the one who scoots over and makes a little more room, he inspires me and he comforts me.


I am inspired because I see how easy it is to make a difference. How easy it is to invite someone to sit around a table and share a moment of life, to share communion. How easy it is to find deep healing in community, once we find our spot at the table. When we look to the gospels Jesus tells us, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” What does this mean? Maybe that when we actually follow Jesus, we find our community and we share both the load of life and the joy of life. In community, we experience growth when we learn to move over for the others who might find their seat at the table a little after us. In community, we feel comfort when we can finally ask our questions, knowing that they will be held and cherished. In community, we experience joy when we find our sense of humor and can laugh together. In community, we find wholeness, when we learn to cry together, refusing to check our grief at the door. In community, we are able to envision a new way to work together and we find purpose. How easy this could have been, how easy it could be, if we would only believe in the vision of Jesus: a vision that would have allowed (will allow) us to build the kingdom of heaven right here, right now.


You see, this Lenten season isn’t just about ritual and remembrance, it is also about digging deep into ourselves, asking the hard questions, and believing that on the other side of those hard questions is a faith that is deeply rooted and grounded. So, this Lenten season, I really hope you’ll join us for our Wednesday night discussion groups. We are going to sit around the zoom table with our dinners, and we are going to ask our questions, share our reflections, pray together, and hold each other in community. Just like Jesus taught us to do. We are going to show him we love him by actually following him, by doing what he did. And he asked questions, around tables, and anywhere he found himself. And he loved people and food and gathering for the simple things: the bread and the cup. So this Lent, I hope you’ll join us for our simple things: the zoom boxes, our own dinners, and some really good questions.


Let’s be faithful in community. Let’s gather just like Jesus did and let’s break bread together. Wednesday nights @ 6:30 pm on Zoom.




 

Pastor Janette Jara


Hello Harbor!


I can’t believe we are about to enter the season of Lent already. The last few months have gone by so quickly and have been so full of activity, that my head is reeling a bit from all of it! In thinking and preparing for this season and this newsletter specifically, I asked myself, “What am I seeking right now”? I could have said, “I’m seeking peace, I'm seeking grace, I'm seeking time.” And they would have all been correct, but in narrowing it down to just one, it felt so specific that it lost the wonder part of seeking.


You all know that the program we use with our little ones is called Children Worship and Wonder. Every week, with each story, we ask questions and allow for wondering time. This is for the children of course, but I also find myself wondering so many things. About the logistics of the story, about what message Jesus was trying to get across, and about how I should take that meaning and implement it in my life.


Sometimes, the answers are simple and clear. But sometimes, they aren't; and in those moments, there’s no end to the sentence. We just leave it at “I wonder…”

I believe that when we do that, we leave space for the answer to come. Maybe in a day, a week, or it may take a lifetime, but we have faith that that sentence will be completed. When we remove ourselves from being the one who must answer, we leave space for Spirit. Spirit holds our questions, Spirit can answer our questions, and Spirit can guide us on a seeking journey.


Church, my hope for you in these next few months is that you allow yourself the space to wonder and to be okay with not having the answers. I know that is SO HARD for some of us, but I hope it is a small challenge you take in this time. Jesus’ seeking journey led him to the cross, and then into eternal life through Spirit. May that Spirit be in each one of us as we bravely ask the questions that allow us to dig deeper into our faith.


 

Rev. Ryan Cullumber


Hello Harbor,


Honest questions for deeper faith is the theme of Lent this year at Harbor. I love this idea because I often feel that in spiritual settings the questions are often more important than the answers. The Church should have always been a place where anyone was comfortable asking questions in order to develop a deeper understanding of God and Jesus.


My personal experience growing up in the Church taught me the opposite lesson. Blind faith was something celebrated and encouraged in my Sunday School classes. I have been trying to unlearn this lesson ever since. Questions have traditionally been discouraged at many houses of worship while adherence to dogma and certain beliefs was elevated above all other considerations. What you believed was the point in this old model of church. Not the community, not your personal growth, not welcoming others who might have a different viewpoint or perspective, conformity was what mattered. That is what makes Harbor Christian Church so unique. Your beliefs are your own and do not have to look like mine or anyone else's beliefs to be accepted into the community. In fact, I believe that diversity of opinion and views on faith, Jesus, and God are what make our community dynamic and strong.


Asking questions is how we develop deeper connections to our faith and to each other. We see the children under the care of Pastor Janette free to ask questions and wonder about the Bible stories that are being shared. There are no right or wrong questions. In fact, it’s the wondering that is the point.


Questions open up new possibilities and new ways of viewing familiar stories. Having space during worship, Bible study and fellowship time to talk with your neighbors about their faith and perspectives is how the early church operated. This model is more in line with Jesus and his teachings.

So during this Lenten season I encourage you all to ask questions, wonder about this new way of Jesus and lean into the discomfort and uncertainty of not always having the answer.


 
Thank you for reading!

If you wish to continue reading our Lent Newsletter in the recommended reading order, please click on the next post shown below in the Related Posts section.

 

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