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Pastor's Corner

Pastors' Corner - 2024 Lent

2024 Lent Newsletter - Hear from each of Harbor's Pastoral Team



 

Rev. Sadie Cullumber


O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let that grace now, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here's my heart; O take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.


I've loved our journey through Lent so far. We've had such rich and meaningful conversations in worship, Bible study, Men's and Women's groups, and more. It's been inspiring to listen to our community share their wandering hearts with one another, and I am grateful for this contemplative journey we've all been on. As you know, each week of our study pulls a different line from the theme song, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. So, I thought I would spend some time in the lyrics and ask myself what line spoke to me. Just above I shared the stanza of music surrounding my most impactful lines, which I bolded.

I love the contrast of a wild wandering heart alongside a desire to be bound, or sealed. Isn't that how it is? Isn't there a constant pull between the safety and comfort of being bound or sealed and the pure delight and freedom of wandering?

I think the season of Lent speaks to this contrast between our desire to curiously wander and our desire to be held and fully known. We see Peter struggle with this contrast: keep living the life of a fisherman, or follow the strange man who told me he'd teach me to fish for other men; stay safe in the boat, or walk on the water; agree with who everyone else says Jesus is, or declare the truth about who Peter knew Jesus to be. Peter's stuck in that place between the desire to wander and the desire to be held and safe.


I remember the first night that Ryan, two year old Indigo, and I arrived in Panama City, Panama. We had taken an impossibly long bus ride all the way from Costa Rica and we were exhausted. As we pulled into the bus station, I looked down at my peacefully sleeping two year old and wondered if I would have the strength to carry her off the bus. Her peaceful sleep had been at the expense of my own back and I was in a lot of pain. It was 3 am in the morning, and all I wanted was a bed to fall into for many hours.


Our desire to wander and explore had resulted in utter exhaustion and an overwhelming desire to be safe and held in a comfortable bed. I don't remember much more about that night, it's a bit of a blur. But the next morning, while I rested with our daughter, Ryan found what would be our home for the next six weeks. He also braved the airport and got us a rental car that we packed with our luggage and made our way to Nueva Gorgona, a small fishing village on the Pacific side of Panama.


We arrived in this sleepy little town and were delighted to discover that we could get half off our rent if I would agree to teach English at a local school for a few hours each Tuesday and Wednesday. It was such a fun experience to work with the students. And we still had time to travel all over Panama from Thursday to Monday every week. Looking back at those six weeks, I realize that part of what made them so perfect was the contrast between the wandering and the being held or bound. We could wander and play and explore for four days, knowing that our little studio was holding our things and waiting for our return.


Like Peter, my husband and I had and still have a great desire to wander and to explore. For us, this is part of being human and it is not something we need to change. Peter's wandering heart got him out out of the boat and onto the water. Peter's wandering heart gave him the courage to declare Jesus to be the Son of the Living God, to carve a new path, to lead in a new direction.


As I'm learning from Peter this Lenten season, I'm beginning to see that courage comes from knowing we are held even as we wander, knowing that we are not alone navigating the waters of our lives.

We've got Jesus with us, saying come walk with me, friend, I'm right here, you're not alone. I don't think Peter ever stopped wandering. And through the trials of his life he learned again and again that he is never alone, he is always held. Always.


I don't think I'll ever stop wandering either. I'm still working on the part where I believe that no matter how stormy the waters of my life become, I'm always held. And so I'm holding onto the image of my wandering heart bound to the God I love. It's less me carrying God with me, and more me and us existing within God. We can wander, and no matter where we go, there is God--the same lesson that Abram and Sarai learned when they left their home, the same lesson the Israelites learned as they wandered in the desert, the same lesson Mary and Joseph learned at Jesus birth and again when he disappeared at the temple. Wandering is baked into us, it's part of who we are. But guess what else is baked into us--the Spirit of the Living God. We are never alone, we are always bound in the heart and love of God.


And while we've had a great start to our journey with Peter, it isn't over yet! We will still see him grapple with Jesus reprimanding him. We'll see him betray his dear friend and teacher. And we'll see him run to the tomb, full of all the love and grief and hope we can imagine. We'll never see Peter put down that tension of the wandering heart that begs to be bound. But we will see Peter continue to grow as his trust in the God he loves grows deeper and deeper as he wanders into new and unexpected landscapes. I hope you've enjoyed the journey so far!


Happy wandering!


 

Rev. Ryan Cullumber


Wandering Heart


This Lenten Season we are being led by Pastor Sadie to explore our own journey of faith as we see the trials and tribulations of Peter.  Peter is someone I can relate to because he is constantly taking two steps forward and one step back with his relationship with Jesus.  I often feel like Peter when he is walking confidently on the water out to Jesus until he begins to lose his nerve and question what he is doing. 

Being a pastor has been like this at times for me, wondering if I’m going to sink or if I’ll be able to walk confidently in my faith as a Disciple of Jesus.  

I think of the story of Jesus calling Peter and the other fishermen to drop everything and follow him.  Not high born priests and rabbis but regular everyday people like you and me.  I still have trouble believing that I am here following Jesus at all considering my immense resistance to religion since childhood.  I thought I had shut the door to all religion and spirituality.   God had a different plan for me and my life and I thank God I listened and changed the path I was walking.  I know that God put Sadie in my life as the one who could bring me to the path like Jesus did with Peter and the other disciples.  And now that is my role, offering guidance for those looking for support as we wrestle with our faith and our roles as Disciples.


Peter makes me think of the times in my life when I was being pulled closer to God and became deeply curious and engaged in the mystery of life and what we are all doing here.  I remember my time in the Dominican Republic during an overseas mission retreat and all the lessons and teachings I received there from so many diverse people and experiences.  Finding joy in community amongst heart wrenching poverty.  Being given a new vision of God from a UCC pastor.  Realizing joy is not about what you own but who you are.  


I think of my time with pneumonia when I thought I had lung cancer and was worried about whether I would see my kids grow up.  This health scare brought me closer to God and helped me reorient my life towards serving others instead of only myself.  Pneumonia led me to God and God led me to seminary and now to my role as one of your pastors.  

Just like Peter, I still wander, often curious, often questioning, often confused but always with a deeper knowledge that I am a child of God worthy of the gifts of this life. 

And at the same time realizing that everyone else is entitled to the same things I am.  We are all Disciples of Jesus and children of God, it is our job to remember that and live accordingly.


Enjoy the Lenten season and let your heart wander and question and to be challenged and to be changed through love and understanding.  That is our journey together just as it was Peter’s journey two thousand years ago alongside Jesus.


 

Pastor Janette J. Navarrete


"All this pain, I wonder if I'll ever find my way,

I wonder if my life could really change, at all.

All this earth, Could all that is lost ever be found?

Could a garden come out from this ground, at all?” 


In preparing for this season, I spent some time listening to the songs suggested in the youth curriculum and the song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor was one of them. I had heard this song before and really enjoyed it, but when listening to it in the context of this Lent season, it took on a new meaning. Lent is a time where we hold the sacred mystery of Jesus dying and God making him alive again. Not only is this true for Jesus, but how many times have we come to the end of something major and then had a moment of not knowing what was next, if anything, in our life. Maybe it was a cross-country move, maybe the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, a huge job change or even the nest suddenly being empty. All of these times and others can feel like the end of not just that situation but also of a piece of ourselves. It is almost impossible to go through our lives without a huge change like one of these, but as believers, we know that it doesn't have to be the end. Our God loves and cares for us and so is with us in these difficult times. 

All around, Hope is springing up from this old ground. Out of chaos life is being found, in you.

The hope of Jesus’ Resurrection is there is also hope for ours. That no matter what it is in life we are going through- it is not the end. When we hold on to the teachings of Jesus, and how we are supposed to lean on each other and the church, then we know that there is new life, in us and around us. In Matthew 16:13-20, when Jesus calls Simon “Peter”, Peter is getting a new life. Once he was a fisherman, working a tiresome and difficult job, having a hard time providing for his family, and now, he has a new name, a new role, new hope. Jesus gives Peter this task, and then tells all his disciples that we are to do this in community. We are not islands, our lives are interwoven and in the same way, so should our call.

You make me new, You are making me new. You make me new, You are making me new.”

The song ends with these words and a reminder that Jesus can make us new in so many ways, but that can only happen with our Yes. You are presented with this opportunity every single day. Some shifts may have a huge impact on your life, and others, may be tiny and almost imperceptible to others. 


Church, I hope you take this time of Lent to consider all the ways God is making your life beautiful. How even from the dust and ashes, we have hope of brighter days, and that we get to do that for others as well.  I pray that this is a time of reclaiming your life and saying ‘yes’ to whatever is next.


 

Thank you for reading!


If you wish to continue reading our 2024 Lenten Newsletter in the recommended reading order, please click on the next post shown below in the Related Posts section.
 




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