From the Pastor’s Desk

LENT - March 2024

 

by Pastor Kenn Curren

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:1-3 (NIV)

You have probably experienced this: you are driving and receive an important phone call. As you are talking (hands free and not distracted of course), you suddenly discover that the call was dropped because you lost the signal. If we are honest, this can also happen in our spiritual lives. During a prayer our minds wander. We set out to do something for God but get sidetracked.

During this season of Lent, we have the opportunity to create time and a place where we can focus our minds on Jesus. Susan Kent says that we could have the most beautiful chapels for worship or a serene devotional space, but if our minds are not set, we can be like the Israelites wandering in the desert. Paul wrote to the Colossians to help encourage them and to readjust their focus. They were distracted by the things of the world and Paul reminds them to set their focus on the things above.

The original meaning of the word “set” was to direct one’s mind or to seek. To “set” your mind was not a passive activity. If we do not actively engage our minds or focus on a particular activity, what happens? It wanders and flits from one thought to another, or seeks something to occupy its time. Paul knew that the world was always offering distractions for a wandering mind and so encouraged the Colossians to actively direct their minds toward Jesus.

Theologian A. W. Tozer wrote, “The person who would know God must give time to Him.” When our hearts and minds are on Jesus, it is reflected in our lives. As we all know, setting our minds on the things above is sometimes easier said than done. Lent is an opportunity for us to reset our hearts and minds. Creating mental space may require physically moving to a space that allows your mind to focus (Mark 1:35). Creating space might mean replacing our normal routine with a different activity. What is taking up your mental space today? The world offers many things to distract us and drain us. We have a choice to reset and replace those things so that we may offer our time to the Lord and focus on what truly is important.

Peace, Pastor Kenn

Forty Days - February 2024

 

by Pastor Kenn Curren

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

(Matthew 28:16-20 NIV)

This year, on February 14 we will celebrate Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday. I find it quite appropriate that we will be combining these two special days as we begin the season of Lent. What better way to remember the love of our Creator and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for the forty days of the Lenten season? I hope that during these forty days of reflection we open ourselves to the restoration and love of God.

Let us join together in offering up prayers of repentance and to listen for God’s call in our lives and for our churches. Let us welcome the Holy Spirit and allow the transformation and redirection in our lives. It is my hope and prayer that we will become a stronger church as we follow the mission God lays before us. May we become even more outward focused and committed to reaching the next generation. I hope we are somehow different when we emerge from the Lenten season.

Let this be our prayer: Lord, help us to accept the unchangeable past as a grace and to make it a stepping stone toward a future full of life and hope. Open us to the unexpected, to the new birth you intend for us, and to the new paths we have not planned, but which nevertheless lead to you. Amen

Let us prepare for a holy adventure. A lot can change in forty days.

Peace, Pastor Kenn

New Year - January 2024

 

by Pastor Kenn Curren

As I sit in my office this last week of 2023, I ponder all that has happened this past year and look with hope for the coming new year. We find that many of the writers of the Bible provided the readers of their day, and on down to us today, great visions of hope for the future. In the book of Isaiah, the Israelites were taken from their homes and exiled to a foreign land. In the midst of this, we come to Isaiah 11:5-9; “Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobras den, and the young child will put its hand into the vipers nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (NIV)

 

Matt and Josh LeRoy say that Isaiah 11 is often spoken of as a vision of the messianic kingdom when Jesus will reign and the earth renewed. It is a future reality that we long for, and yet this prophecy holds an important place for us in the here and now. The Messiah has been born, and we anxiously await his return. Jesus’ birth is our guarantee of things to come.

 

Think about the ripple effect – when you drop a pebble into a pond, it might take a while for the ripples to reach the shore. When Jesus was born, the pebble was dropped and the healing of the world is inevitable. All that remains is for us his followers to continue in prayer and obedience. Jesus’ long-awaited arrival has awakened within us a yearning for his imminent return.

 

Let this be our prayer for 2024: Creator and Sustainer of all that is, renew within us a hunger for the completion of your plan. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

Peace, Pastor Kenn

Advent - December 2023

 

by Pastor Kenn Curren

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

John 1:4-5 (NIV)

When we look at the world around us, we see the darkness of war, captivity, greed, and broken relationships. We long for Christ to come again and bring light to our world. We worship as those who have a glimpse of that reality, and we long for its fullness. We are those who labor to make Christs light more visible on earth. Let us praise God that the light of Christ shines on in the darkness, which has never overcome it.

We begin the Christian Year by celebrating the Holy Season known as Advent. It is a time when we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Messiah. Advent means “Coming.” We celebrate these days of Advent in expectation and preparation for Christ’s arrival.

Advent is a time of expectation, and this is symbolized, not only by the four-week period of preparation, but also by the lighting of an Advent Candle on each Sunday of the season. The flame of each new candle reminds us, the worshipers, that something is happening, and something more is still to come.

The candles are arranged in a circle to remind us of the continuous power of God, which knows neither beginning nor ending. There is also symbolism in the colors of the candles. The three blue [purple] candles symbolize the coming of Christ from the royal line of David. He is coming as the King of Kings as well as the Prince of Peace. The pink [rose] candle is to be lighted on the third Sunday of the Advent season. This candle represents joy. The large white candle in the center is known as the Christ candle, and points to Jesus as the Christ, the Light of the world.

Through the centuries, Christians have observed a time of waiting and expectation before celebrating the birth of the Savior at Christmas. The Advent season is a time for reflection and preparation, but its mood is joyful. Advent has been enriched by Christian tradition to reflect its distinctive Christian meaning. It proclaims the revelation of God’s love as expressed in Christ’s birth in a humble stable, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His victorious resurrection! It points to the hope of Christ’s coming again as the King of kings and Lord of Lords. Advent makes innkeepers out of all of us, asking each of us to make room for the arrival of Christ The King. Let us, today, prepare Him room in our hearts, our lives, and our homes!

Peace, Pastor Kenn

 

Give Thanks - November 2023

 

by Pastor Kenn Curren

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

During this time of year many of us are busy with preparations for the Thanksgiving holiday. The guests are coming, so the house needs to be cleaned from top to bottom. The food preparation is a job in and of itself: Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, and it just wouldnt be Thanksgiving without the homemade pumpkin pie.

And yet, there is ample temptation to make ourselves so busy with the preparations for the holiday, that we fail to celebrate the holiday. After all, Thanksgiving is a day we are supposed pause, and give thanks to God for the things in our lives that were thankful for.

Sometimes it can be difficult to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day. If we take a look at the world around us, it can be difficult to remember to be thankful. It can be hard to live a life of thanks. But, as followers of Jesus, we understand that we are to show our thankfulness on more than just this one day. To be truly thankful requires an attitude of gratitude. To be truly thankful, requires a life of thanksgiving.

How often throughout the year do we say thanks? How often do we count our blessings one by one to see what God has done? If we are not counting our blessings then maybe we are taking our blessings for granted. If we are not taking time to give thanks every day, then we are not living a thankful life. If we are not giving thanks, are we filling our time instead with complaining?

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that the issue of giving thanks is not a matter of mere words but instead is an issue of understanding. Our Lord has freed us. Freed us to love and serve our neighbor, to act on behalf of those in need in our midst. We have been blessed to be a blessing to others. There is indeed much to give thanks for.

Peace, Pastor Kenn

 

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