Pastor's Blog
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December 16, 2016, 12:00 AM

HAIL TO PITT!!

So I walked into the church building on Thursday morning, 12/15/16. As I approached my office I noticed the green holiday wreath that adorned the door had been replaced by a different one. It had Christmas tree ornaments on it and canes that looked like the candy ones. As I got closer I noticed there was writing on the ornaments and the canes - one word: PITT. Someone (and you know who you are) had crafted a holiday wreath for my office door celebrating the University of Pittsburgh. The humor in all of this is that when you open my office door and walk in, you realize pretty quickly that I am a fan of WEST VIRGINA, not Pitt. The colors of my office are WEST VIRGINIA blue and yellow and a quick glance around reveals at least eight different things that say WEST VIRGINIA, including my bachelor’s degree that hangs on the wall. Mountaineers and Panthers have not cared for each other – at least on the football field – for a very long time. Even now that the “Back Yard Brawl” has gone the way of the dodo, it is hard for me to acknowledge the great season the Pitt football team has had this year, and hard for me not to brag about WEST VIRGINIA’S  10-2 record, particularly to Pitt fans…….

That being said, if you visit me at my office you will see the Pitt wreath is still hanging on my door. I confess I have thought a lot about taking it down…maybe using it to start a fire or something like that. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s one of the challenges in our culture today – turf wars. We spend huge amounts of time trying to defend and prove the correctness of our particular ground, and all that happens is the canyon between us gets wider making it harder and harder to build a bridge. As long as there have been more human beings than one on this planet, people have viewed things differently. History is replete with examples of progress that only came from different viewpoints choosing compromise and giving a little bit so that a relationship, an organization, a nation could find its way forward. The most rewarding moments in my journey of ministry have been the times we have let go of who wins and who loses and searched hard for the ground where all of us could stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, even while we saw things differently. It is hard work – this work of compromise and common ground – but it is key to following Jesus, seems to me. Romans 12: “Live in harmony with each other…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Verses 16a, 18) And I just read these words from Jesus yesterday, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Sooooooooo……..in the spirit of those verses, here goes….. (swallow)…….HAIL TO PITT!!!!.....especially a running back named James Connor, who would be exciting to watch no matter whose uniform he had on……. And remember…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.



Comments

12-17-2016 at 6:20 AM
Tom Young
I am NOT a poster of things on media sites, however in this case I need to say: SPOT ON BROTHER. There are those who would say that this is about a football rivalry, but it is much more than that. Your scripture verses are as relevant today as they were when they were written, perhaps even more. Just as you and many of us Pitt fans jockey back and forth about sports, we are all here for the glory of GOD.
12-16-2016 at 3:11 PM
Pat Mann
Great "blog." I remember reading this verse somewhere as such: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone, especially those of the brethern." Makes sense!! Often enough, opposition or oppression comes from within the church, as Nehemiah found out. BUT, not in this case, Praise God.
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November 2, 2016, 3:12 PM

What Are You Talking About?

Are you bi-lingual? Maybe even multi-lingual? Are you able to speak one or more languages fluently? I’m not talking about knowing a few words that everyone else knows, like “adios” or “adieu.” I’m talking about being able to carry on a conversation with someone in a language other than your “native tongue” – can you do that? My first experience with a language other than English was in college, not long after I received the call to be a pastor. I decided I should switch majors to religion rather than music, and I thought it would be a good idea to study Latin. I bought the books, engaged a tutor, and tried my best to learn, but no luck. I just couldn’t seem to negotiate all of the different rules and word forms and sentence structures. It was so “foreign” to me – frustration was the result, rather than a broader ability to communicate.

Some people feel like that when they engage the church. The church speaks a language all its own, using words that make sense to “the natives,” but are quite “foreign” to those who are unfamiliar with the tongue. We throw around words like redemption and salvation and communion and fellowship and hymns and anthems and postlude like everyone should be familiar with them because we’ve been using them most, if not all of our lives. Add to that the additional set of vocabulary that each particular religious “system” uses, and it’s no wonder new persons leave a church service with this dazed and confused look on their faces.

A word that’s part of the United Methodist vocabulary is “conference.” The general meaning of that word is “a formal meeting for discussion.” We conference when we have conversation with one or two or twenty persons, according to this definition. In United Methodism, this general meaning of conference applies, but the word means more for us. We use it to identify specific groups and geographical regions that exist within the church. For example, the group of folks who meet every four years to determine the direction and mission of the United Methodist Church is called the “General Conference.” It’s made up of lay and clergy delegates from all over the world. Then there are the “Jurisdictional Conferences” which refers to both geographic regions (we are in the Northeast Jurisdiction) and primary purpose – election of bishops. Each Jurisdictional Conference is broken down into “Annual Conferences” - a reference to both a geographic region (we are in the Western PA Annual Conference) and a group that meets “annually” for conversation. Annual Conferences are then divided into “District Conferences” which is more a geographic designation than anything else (we are in the Franklin District), and each District Conference consists of “Charge Conferences” – each local church that either stands by itself or is yoked with other churches. Charge Conferences meet annually for the purpose of setting pastoral salaries, electing local church leaders for the coming year, and other items of both local church importance and issues important to the denomination.

Christ UMC, Franklin is the Charge Conference we belong to, and our annual meeting is coming up this Sunday, November 6, at 1:15pm. We will share communion at all three worship experiences, enjoy a light lunch following the 11am service, and then we’ll “conference” together -  caring for the needs and issues that need to come before us. All participants in the life of Christ Church are invited to attend, but only those who are formally members are permitted to vote. To be honest, some of what we’ll experience on Sunday is simply what we’re required to do. But it will also be an opportunity to talk about the ministry of Christ Church and where we’re headed in the months ahead.

Now that you know a bit more of the Methodist lingo, I hope you’ll be able to join us this Sunday for “Charge Conference!” As always…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor David



Comments

11-04-2016 at 6:38 AM
David Parker
Our prayers will be with you on Sunday as Charge Conference meets and fellowships and gives thanks for what has been and envisions and testifies as to what is hoped for, and prays committing again in love for Father, Jesus And Holy Spirit ourselves to You and to one another, and to all you love in this world Amen I will be preaching on the New Covenant Charge as Melody Kimmel, , the pastor recovers from surgery. Alice Jean and I send our love inHim, David
11-03-2016 at 2:47 PM
Tish Way`
You're "right on", pastor David, about understanding of the "Methodist lingo. and having grown up with it, I still don't "understand" at times! You've done a great job of helping with the understanding of conference and I hope we have a good attendance from our congregation. Finding out and knowing more about our church helps us to become better citizens for the Kingdom. Thanks!!
11-02-2016 at 2:09 PM
Pat Mann
Last year was my first "exposure" to Christ Church Charge Conference which I felt was very informative regarding the future of the church in Franklin. I look forward, once again this year, to sit and listen. May the Lord have his way & will for Christ Church of Franklin.
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October 26, 2016, 5:16 PM

What's Up With All Saints Day?

I so appreciate the people I work with! Our staff team at Christ Church is amazing - they support each other and they challenge me as the leader. We were talking this past Tuesday following our weekly prayer time about how many of the folks who worship with us are unfamiliar with some things we do in worship and in church in general. As we kicked around what to do about this reality, Patty (our Director of Children’s Ministry) said, “What about your blog? Could you use that to help us understand some of these things?” I think that’s a great idea - and so did everyone else. I have not been very diligent as of late in writing a blog entry - this challenge will help me be more faithful to the task.

So where to begin? Well, it just so happens this coming Sunday - October 30th - will be “All Saints Day” at Christ Church. Many may wonder what this day is all about and why we observe it - thanks so much for asking! The origins of All Saints Day can be traced back to the practice of the early church commemorating those who were martyred for their faith in Christ. It was customary for each martyr to have their own day of commemoration, but during the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great a separate day could not be assigned to each one. But the church, feeling that each martyr should be remembered, assigned a common day to remember them all. The current practice of November 1 as that day reaches back to decrees issued by emperors and pope’s as early as the mid 700’s AD. Many Christian communities such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches observe All Saints Day on November 1st, or on the Sunday between October 30 and November 5th, remembering all who have been named “saints” throughout the church’s history and as a general commemoration of the dead. Protestant churches - such as the United Methodist Church - typically observe All Saints Day the first Sunday in November as a time of remembering all Christians who have died, especially those who have passed away from the local congregation during the past year. Because our annual Church Conference (the topic for the next blog entry) falls on the first Sunday of November this year, we are choosing to observe All Saints Day the final Sunday in October - this coming Sunday. We’ll be giving thanks for 15 persons who have entered the Church Triumphant this past year, and remembering all of those who are physically gone, but whose fingerprints remain on our lives.

Why do we take time to do this? Simply put, because for better or worse, we are all the  product of someone else - physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’m reminded of Paul’s words to his apprentice Timothy: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5) All Saints Day provides us the opportunity to give thanks for the people who first “housed” the faith that now lives in us - whether they reside in the Church Triumphant or still in the Church of our time. And it’s a time to recommit ourselves to “passing on” the faith that lives in us to someone else. Remember, your faith came from someone...the pathway to faith for someone else most certainly runs through your life as well.

Whether or not you call Christ Church “home,” I invite you to worship with us this Sunday, October 30th, at 8:15, 9:35, or 11am as we celebrate “All Saints Day” - gratefully remembering those who have passed faith on to us, and resolutely recommitting ourselves to passing on the faith that lives in us. As always…

Keep Lookin’ Up

Pastor David



Comments

10-27-2016 at 3:57 PM
Scott Walters
Bob Finch put his Christian mark on my life. Well done good and faithful servant!
10-27-2016 at 3:34 PM
Marie Cozad
In our series "Follow" by Andy Stanley we are reminded that as God's chosen people we are clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. By remembering those who have passed on we can reflect on their many good characteristics such as those above.
10-26-2016 at 5:01 PM
Pat Mann
Because of who I am and where I am in my walk with Christ, I "Thank God" for those He has put in the journey with me.
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June 24, 2016, 12:00 AM

Pink Slips from the Mall

It was last Saturday afternoon. Our prayer coordinator Annett Scott texted me and asked if she could drop something off at the church. I said, “Sure!” She walked in my office carrying a bountiful hand full of “pink slips.” They were folded and crumpled every which way you could imagine. She let them fall out of her hands onto my desk. I asked, “What are these?” She said, “Prayer requests from our prayer table at the Cranberry Mall.” I was overwhelmed, and Annette said, “The container was STUFFED. Could not have gotten one more slip of paper in there if you tried.” I thanked her for sharing them with me, and then took them to the altar table in our sanctuary. The next day we took time at all three services to lay hands on the papers and pray for the requests.

It is now Friday morning as I write these words. I have read every one of those pink slips – all 57 of them. Many of them asked us to pray for people and their needs: healing of illnesses, reconciliation of broken relationships, the need for employment, struggle with finances, and several simply thanking God for the blessings of life. All of those shared from sincere hearts seeking God’s touch upon the lives and situations put on the pink slips. Of the group of requests, several struck me a little deeper – check these out:

  1. “I want a cheeseburger.”
  2. From “Taylor:” “Some days it feels like my whole life is falling apart. I need better luck and strength.”
  3. “Pray for T____, that she removes herself of her abusive husband.”
  4. “My daughter to come back home.”
  5. “Dear Lord, I don’t really know how to pray but I pray that my grandma’s heart surgery goes well on Tuesday. Please keep a close eye on her.”
  6. “May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord turn his head to you. May the Lord shine his face upon you. God, heavenly Father, I ask for favor and the fire of God and the love of this church. I stand in the gap for this church and will continue prayer for them for spreading the love of Christ, your precious son.”
  7. Two different requests from a person regarding her dad: “Pray that my father is saved.”
  8. Christ’s divine will and guidance for the path of my life no matter how easy or difficult.”

All of these from people who were simply out at the mall and saw the table we have set up there. All of them reveal things going on in a life that otherwise looks like a person shopping at the mall. We assume so much when we look at people. We judge them based on what they’re wearing or the markings they have on their bodies or the kind of language they are using – and we do this in both negative and positive ways. We think because a person looks a certain way, or wears a certain type of clothing or speaks with certain types of words and phrases that they are either “not nice” or a person to be emulated. But these pink slips remind me that behind every face, behind every style of dress or language used is pain and heartache and anxiousness about SOMETHING… Pain and heartache and anxiousness in life are the great “equalizer.” Those things don’t discriminate between “not nice” and “people to be emulated.” They arrive in all of our lives somewhere, sometime...making us the same even in the midst of differences.

Hence the critical need - and the joyful invitation from God - to pray for one another. If you’re out at the mall and see our table (near the entrance to the old JC Penney store) and pain, heartache or anxiousness about something has paid you a visit, stop and invite Christ Church to pray for you. Christ Church folks – if you’re at the mall and you see pink slips in the prayer container, stop for a moment and lift the needs there to our heavenly Father, who is always attentive to the cries of his children. And as always…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.

 



Comments

08-23-2016 at 7:28 AM
Elaine
I am thinking, maybe anytime we are shopping, if we see a person placing a pink slip in the box, offer to pray WITH them, right then and there.
07-17-2016 at 2:36 PM
Scott
Annett has been Godsent for such a time as this!
06-24-2016 at 5:32 PM
Jenny
Great outreach mission. Wonder what a jug that says Answered Prayers would look like?
06-24-2016 at 12:02 PM
Lois Carr
I think this is a awesome way to reach out to a hurting, troubled community.
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June 13, 2016, 12:00 AM

Wrestling With Orlando....

So it’s happened again… this time, in Orlando Florida. A man claiming allegiance to Isis killed 50 people and wounded 53 more in a nightclub for gay persons called “Pulse.” He used a semiautomatic assault rifle and was also carrying a semiautomatic pistol, both capable of delivering multiple bullets in rapid succession. We have been where we are so many times in recent years. As sad as it is, we feel the pain more today because this most recent occurrence has happened here at home. Terrorist attacks that happen in places outside the U.S. often don’t make our radar screen in this world where violence seems to be standard operating procedure.

But I feel like this one is different, and not just because it happened on American soil. It seems different to me because several issues are involved. It’s more than simply the all too familiar story of radical terrorists killing people who don’t think like they do. Orlando is an example of that, but it’s more. The attack took place at a night club for gay persons, using an assault weapon that is generally relegated to the realm of soldiers and warfare. That brings not only terrorism into the spotlight; it also shines that light on the societal struggles of LGBTQI persons, and the debate over gun control.

I need to be brutally honest at this point: I am not sure how to feel as I write these words. I confess feeling like I’m being pulled in opposite directions. On the one hand, the patriot in me feels angry at this most recent terrorist attack and I want to strike back in kind. On the other hand, the Lord I follow calls me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. (Matthew 5:44) On the one hand, I know the passages in the Bible about homosexuality, particularly in Leviticus and Romans. On the other hand, I am keenly aware of the pain and heartache many gay persons experience at the hand of people who claim to be Christ followers – the One who said in Matthew 7, Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[a] eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor,[b] ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s[c] eye.” On the one hand, I am a responsible gun owner who was taught early to respect firearms and use them lawfully. I was raised to understand and embrace the Second Amendment as a fundamental right of every American. On the other hand, I wrestle with why any American other than those who defend our nation needs access to weapons whose primary purpose is enemy annihilation. And then there’s this Jesus who said,  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” (Matthew 5:39), and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Do you sense the tension? Do you feel it too?

Guess I’m not really sure what I want to say at this point. I guess I simply want to name the struggle going on inside of me, believing it’s probably going on in others as well. The world we live in is a complicated place, and I’m discovering answers to the challenges our society faces are not as easy or simple as some persons and groups suggest. We must always stand for truth as Jesus articulates it – but we must stand for it in the way he prescribes we should live – the way of love: “34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) And I recognize THAT, too, is a complicated thing. In this complicated world, what does it mean to love as Jesus loves?

One thing I am sure of: God is not finished with us – with me – yet. God continues to reveal his heart and purpose with each breath, if we’ll pay attention. So I find myself praying a portion of Psalm 25 more and more these days: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord: teach me your paths.Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.”

Will you pray that with me? As always….

Keep Lookin’ Up!

Pastor David



Comments

06-23-2016 at 11:00 AM
ted
if i believe the word of GOD is truth, and it says , GODS word is the same yesterday,today and forever. that settells any argument for me. pilate asked JESUS what is truth. and he didn't relize he was looking at truth manifested in the flesh.
06-18-2016 at 11:43 AM
a concerned church member
Refreshing for a pastor to humanize the LGBTQI community, and not to hear the hypocritical phrase, "love the sinner, but hate the sin," which basically allows you to keep condemning the individual. Never been back to Sunday School because of the time the leader condemned gay people and basically told the class that they'd burn in hell if they didn't ask for "forgiveness." Our sign out back says, "Everyone Is Welcome," but if you were to ask each member of our congregation, would that still be true? If some members were to dare try to "love" a gay person, they might discover that being gay Is not a "lifestyle choice," or a willful disobedience to anyone, let alone our God. Many gay individuals are tortured inside over it, and it may drive them to commit suicide or kill many people (like in Orlando) because they or someone they love condemns what they know they can't change. The Orlando killer's father openly condemned homosexuality, and I'm wondering if Omar internalized this as a youth, and that this awareness of his own sexuality drove him to hate himself and others just like him so pathologically? There are LGBTQI individuals everywhere, including in our own church (gasp!), and their sexuality shouldn't be the barrier it is in loving that person unconditionally, just because of some ancient verses in the Bible, especially in the 21st century.
06-14-2016 at 11:21 AM
David Janz
Matt and Kevin - I appreciate both of your perspectives. It is a complicated time to be alive - and to follow Jesus. But by God's grace at work in each of us, we will find the way forward!
06-14-2016 at 8:23 AM
Matt Hayes
Please for give me, I'm not a good writer but I will try. I'm also still growing in my faith so these types of events become a consist struggle for me. We should love each other regardless of behavior. I heard that once on talking with the family radio show well driving in the car. It's a difficult topic to understand and apply in everyday life. How hard is it to love someone when you don't agree with their lifestyle choices? Let me tell you what it's difficult. So in my opinion it was just another night club that was sadly terrorized. The people involved where still just like you and me and they need help and guidance. It's a hard pill to swallow but these are the trying times that really shows what type of people we are and can be.

I'm a patriot. This is the greatest country on the face of the earth. Religion drove it from its infant stages to something great. It does seem like these days it has started to lose its way. Firearms are not terrible killing machines, but in the wrong hands they become a tool for such purpose. Does everyone need a firearm, no, but is it your right as a citizen of this great nation to go buy one, yes. It's that simply. God has give us a blessing and curse of choice. In life we face choices every day and with those choices come those consequences.

Firearms and location are not the issues at hand. It's the action of one, who brought terror to this country. The question is are we as a country going to be able to look past the fact that the terror event took place at a gay night club with a assault weapon. And focus on the needs of a country who has seemed to stumble.

I just feel like I'm rambling on and way off topic now. I hope someone can read this and understand my thoughts.

Sorry for any poor grammar.
06-13-2016 at 9:29 PM
Kevin Garmong
Well can a Christian be a Patriot? What is the second amendment for? What is a well armed militia? Could America ever become a dictatorship? Was the Holocaust real?Should diesel fuel and fertilizer be banned? Should we be thankful that the Orlando psycho didn't choose these weapons? All questions to ponder while contemplating denying my right to own the firearms of my choice as a law abiding citizen who (God forbid) could have to take part in a well armed militia...God bless you brother, I love your heart but can't go along with this.
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