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Pastor's Corner

Pastors' Corner

2023 Summer Newsletter - Hear from each of Harbor's Pastoral Team

 

Rev. Sadie Cullumber


It’s hard to believe that summer is here. It’s hard to believe because wasn’t it just Lent? It’s also hard to believe because this weather can’t make up it’s mind!!! Is anyone else feeling ready for some warm weather? We spent the Lenten season digging into the honest questions we need to ask in order to deepen into an authentic faith. It was a rich time of community and I have so many amazing memories from our baptism services, our amazing Youth Sunday, our Lenten study group, our Blessing of the Bikes, the Architects of Justice event we hosted, and so much more. It was a beautiful season, and it’s hard to believe that we are already off and running into our next beautiful season.

This summer season, we are studying the Gospel of Luke and we are focusing on a few main themes. The overarching question for our study is this:
How do we mature in our Christian walk?

What a question! Not how do we get saved? Not how do we know we picked the right church? Rather, how do we each mature in our unique Christian walk? So often we join a church and we kind of wait to be told what we are supposed to do, how we are supposed to walk. But at Harbor, we are trying to do things a little differently. We are recognizing that each one of us has a unique path with unique gifts and challenges. The purpose of our community is to hold one another as we each take our next steps. And the Gospel of Luke is here to help us wrestle with what this looks like. As we study, we are noticing some themes which are helping us to see how we are able to mature in our Christian walk.


On Sundays our community often hears me talk about getting off of our hamster wheels. What does this mean? So much! But briefly, it means that we often spend a lot of time and energy doing the same things over and over again. And while many of these hamster wheels we find ourselves on can be comfortable or fun or expected, they aren’t necessarily helping us to take our next steps of faith. We’ve begun imagining Jesus standing off to the sides of our hamster wheels, encouraging us to jump off, to come and see what the world looks like outside of the loops and circles we find ourselves caught in.


The Gospel of Luke shows us the remarkable things that can happen when we put ourselves out there and try a new thing. We saw Zechariah agree to naming his son John rather than after himself, and this started a whole new trajectory for his family. Zechariah did the unexpected thing and it set a whole new world into motion. We saw Mary, the mother of Jesus do the unexpected thing and agree to bearing a son in a most unexpected way. She jumped off her hamster wheel and gave birth to an unexpected savior.


And this unexpected savior showed up in towns, communities, tables, wells, seashores, boats, and gardens to teach the people how to jump off of their hamster wheels. He taught us that we can do things differently. We don’t have to do things the way we were taught to do them. We don’t have to worry about hurting someone’s feelings, or offending someone. We simply have to take our next step, allowing ourselves to be guided by the Spirit of Life rather than the lists of rules and regulations that have been handed down to us.


The beauty of what is happening at Harbor is that as each of us individually gathers the courage to take our next steps, we are able to support one another. Each week you have an opportunity to share how you are maturing in your Christian walk. Each week you learn more and more that your voice and vision matters to this community. Each week you hear joyful and painful things and are able to respond to the areas you feel called. Each week we learn more and more about what it means to be the kind of community that Jesus envisioned.


We all have unique gifts to share, and those gifts become evident once we jump off the hamster wheel of shoulda, woulda, coulda and find ourselves in the folds of true community. Community where we are both honored and also held accountable to our own growth. Community where we are both seen and expected to see. Community where we are both the shepherd and the sheep.


I hope you all can feel the shifts within our community. I hope you all can feel the power and beauty that grows when we simply show up with honesty and authenticity and speak our needs and our desires in love. It’s really so simple. This is the vision of Christ, that we all have a place at the table, that we all get to pour ourselves into the things that endure–the things of community. It is a blessing to lead this community and I am daily humbled by all we are becoming as individuals and as the body of Christ. Let’s keep moving and taking those small steps. Let’s love each other through the hard places. Let’s rest when we are tired. And let’s allow ourselves to feel the joy of being part of a community that heals and holds.


 

Pastor Janette Jara


The Climbing Tree... you can say that to pretty much any Harbor kid that has been here longer than a month and they will know exactly what you're talking about. Just outside of church, on the Tustin St. side is our beautiful and much loved climbing tree. The perfect tree for children and children at heart. It has a great trunk that serves as a step up and onto the lower branches. You can choose to sit and dangle your feet while you talk with friends, or you can keep going up. The branches on top take a little more focus and effort, you have to keep a good hold of one as you work your way there. This tree has been home and playground to many kiddos. The week after Easter Sunday as we finally went back to our regular schedule with Childrens’ Church in our sanctuary, we finished early and went outside. As the kiddos were climbing and laughing and talking, I had a realization that this is the second wave of kids I’ve worked with at Harbor, and they already love this tree as much as the others. They were having a BLAST!


Harbor's "Climbing Tree"

This made me think about what our faith journey is like. We start off easy. Usually taking our first hesitant steps. Maybe we find a church online, maybe we happen to walk into our neighborhood church one day, or maybe a friend invites us to join them at their church and we finally say yes. That first step into a new spiritual space can be so thrilling. It's new and exciting, but if you’ve had any church-hurt like I have, it can also be quite daunting. You don't know what to expect from the teaching or the members, but you try it out. Once you get a hang of what this church is like, and you see that the teaching aligns with your values, maybe you take a new step and officially join the church, or volunteer in one of its ministries. Whatever it is, you find a way to deepen your faith by becoming more of this community.


And that is the next and scariest step, really becoming community because it calls for a type of vulnerability many of us are not used to. Every step of his ministry, Jesus showed us that the way to learn more about God, to experience God's love and grace, and to show love to God, is through community. Jesus constantly chose to spend time with those that society had already decided were not worth the time. Jesus went to people's homes, had meals with them, and made miracles happen to those who believed in the presence of the Christ. Truly becoming community can be difficult for those who have either been hurt by church before, or to those who have never really been part of a faith community.


If soulmates can be a group of people, I know I have found mine. Friends I love catching up with, life teachers I look up to, little ones I guide, and a physical space I feel energetically called to. My own faith journey has been its own tree to climb. I have taken massive leaps and lots of tiny baby steps and finally arrived at a place with a view I just adore. Church, today I want to encourage you to be like our children on the climbing tree. Take that first exciting and scary but so worth it step onto your tree or onto the next branch up. Ask for help when you need it. Grab on tight when you need something solid to hold on to. Encourage and cheer on your friends as they do their best as well, and do all of this knowing that the view will be so worth it when you arrive.


 

Rev. Ryan Cullumber


Coming out of the Lenten season and Easter I can really feel the living waters within myself and the community. As the weeks have gone by I can see and feel the congregation getting more comfortable being uncomfortable. That is what the living water is, the spirit being allowed to move without excuses and hindrances to show us the path. When we inch deeper into the waters it can be uncomfortable, not being able to ‘touch the bottom’ any longer. That is when we have to rely on faith that the spirit will guide us. Get a little more out of our head and into our heart and soul.


As we finish up the gospel of John and transition to Luke, I feel our own community in transition. John was very focused on the divinity of Jesus, that Jesus has been here from the beginning and is the creator of all things. I really loved the focus on the purely spiritual, the mystery, the oneness and universality of God through Jesus. Our time at Harbor with John has been introspective, looking inward, which is healing and incredibly important for growth. But now I feel us transitioning to Luke and being given a ‘how to’ manual: How to be a Follower of the Way, as Luke would say.


Allowing ourselves the time and space to be quiet and to go inwards, to reflect and listen and simply be, increases our capacity to be in communion with God. We have strengthened our connection with God through the teachings of Jesus and being in quiet contemplation and meditation. This allows us to be more active members of the body of Christ. And now Luke is going to give us the tools to live the way of Jesus in our everyday lives.


I am very excited for this transition and very grateful for our time in quiet contemplation with John. I am very proud of our community here at Harbor and how we have all grown together in the spirit of Jesus. It is a blessing to be one of your Pastors.


 
Thank you for reading!

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

 

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