Holy Grounds with Pastor Dave

November Newsletter

Saints?  United Methodists believe in saints?  Yup, we do.  We define saints differently than, say, the Roman Catholic Church does.  A saint is any and all who exemplifies Christ.  We have no method of electing anyone to sainthood.  We don't worship them or even pray to them.  John Wesley believed we can learn a lot from the saints.  With his emphasis on the saving grace of Jesus Christ, anyone who live in and through that grace was an example to follow.  We celebrate All Saints Day/Sunday.  This celebration has different names depending on local traditions.  From the UM Discipleship web page:  "In the United Methodist Church, the first Sunday in November is usually a combination observance of two major feasts: All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Whereas All Saints Day commemorates the great historical forerunners to our faith, All Souls Day helps us remember some of the everyday saints who have gone before us and have entered into God’s rest."  Though we call it All Saints Sunday here at GUMC, technically we observe All Souls Sunday.  It is a time for us to remember and reflect upon the lives of those who through their love have shown us Christ's love.  As we learned how to be loved and to love, we are empowered to offer the same to those around us.  The good news of God's saving grace through Jesus Christ becomes a living legacy and it unfolds in life after life after life across the generations.  Take time to reflect on the wall of saints.  Read the brief stories of their lives.  Remember those who are part of your life story that have shown you the power of being loved.  Remember what you have learned about loving.  Let these lives open your eyes to those who have need of what you have learned from these saints and use your blessings to be a blessing.  WE celebrate these sainted souls "and I mean, God, helping, to be one too.1

Blessings,

Pastor Dave Crow

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1"I Sing the Song of the Saints of God", words by Lesbia Scott, UMH #721

 

Holy Grounds with Pastor Dave

October Newsletter

(Read these next few sentences with the voice of Rod Sterling echoing in your mind) This article will go to a dark and confusing place.  If you continue reading you will enter the tangled web of a distracted and cluttered mind.  You will enter the dimension of…change.  That’s right, change.  How many United Methodists does it take to make a change?  None.  It just happens.  No change, no life.  If there is life, there is change.  That being said, let’s name the elephant in the room.  Come July, there will be a pastoral change at Grinnell UMC.  After 41 years of service and ministry in the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church it is time for my ministry to make a change.  I am retiring.  Not from life.  Not from my call or from ministry.  I am retiring from the itinerant ministry in the local church of an ordained elder.  That brings to the forefront what we don’t like about change and what excites us about change:  the unknown.  It is that thrilling, excited terror of a roller coaster ride.  We see it coming.  We even paid for the ride.  We choose the front car.  Yet as we approach the drop from the high peak, the heart races, the lungs fill, our grip tightens, the adrenaline pumps…and it happens.

We are not unfamiliar with change at GUMC.  In just the past 3 years we have built a strong and gifted staff.  We reorganized ourselves to do our ministry better.  We handled a capital campaign to remodel the sanctuary and office area for better accessibility and efficiency.  We have introduced numerous study groups and opportunities for spiritual growth and formation.  All the while we stayed grounded in our rich heritage and traditions; not bound by them but rooted in them.  As a community of faith we have demonstrated the key element of healthy change: trust.  Trust does not mean there were never any questions, uncertainties, or doubts.  It means that we believed in each other as well as our calling to live, love, and share God’s word.  We have done it through worshipping together, serving together, growing together.  We have done it with commitment, sweat, tears, and healthy laughter.  And it is not over.  As this chapter prepares to close and the next one prepares to unfold, there is much before us that will get the blood flowing and the heart racing as we step into our community and the world as the body of Christ.  We don’t know all the details of those steps, but we do know will not walk them alone.  We can trust beyond words the One who walks with us.  Our trust in God opens the way for us to trust ourselves all that is before us.  Our trust in ourselves gives us the means to trust in each other.  That binds us together in community which provides both the foundation and the framework of our ministry through our gifts and our care for those to whom God sends us.

I used to want a crystal ball or at least a burning bush to consult.  I didn’t want to make any mistakes.  I didn’t get either one.  And I made mistakes.  And most likely there will be a few more before life’s journey is done.  Each mistake has served as a reminder it is not about me or my success and failures or even my perfection or lack of it.  It is all about opening the kingdom of God in the life of another.  And if that is best done by a literal or figurative face plant, may I, as Buzz Lightyear put it, fall with style.  If it best done by flawless accomplishment, that won’t skin the knees quite so much.  Either way, let us celebrate the moment together.

John Wesley was a bit more eloquent than Buzz Lightyear in his expression of trust in Christ when we writes in his covenant service “I put myself fully into your hands: put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing.  I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your pleasure and disposal.”

I have learned to trust in you and your gifts as a community of faith.  I trust in the One who has blessed you to be a blessing.  And I certainly trust that you will have the opportunity and joy of living those gifts into the world.

Blessings,

Pastor Dave Crow

Holy Grounds

September Newsletter

The One that Got Away

Every fisherman has a story.  Okay, stories.  The dramatic tend to be about the one that got away.  In July a friend and I managed to sneak away at the last minute to northwest Iowa to enjoy a day on the trout streams.  It was a beautiful day.  The trout on the other hand decided to be persnickety that day.  If it was just right, they weren’t biting.  But when they did, they hit hard and fought hard.  Even in the net, they continue to fight for their right to be in the water and not in our hands.  One spot turned out to be especially active for what I was casting.  At one point I hooked a beautiful rainbow that gave a long and spectacular fight.  Finally I was able to get him in the net.  So that you can get a perspective, my net is 15” deep and as he lay in the net with his tail curled, his head was sticking about ½ way out of the net.  He had to be around 17” or longer.  I laid my rod down and grabbed him in the net.  I could not get my hand around him.  I removed the hook and reached in to the net take hold of the fish directly. Almost as if he was waiting for that moment, he flicked his tail straight and launched himself straight up and out the net in one mighty leap.  The combination of my surprise and his speed and strength resulted in his freedom.  I made quite a spectacle thrashing about with net and bare hands trying to recapture him.  He got away.  My friend heard my frustrated wail echo down the stream.  As you can see, my net did not fair well that day.  A good fish story would attribute the broken net to the one that got away.  But that would only be a story filed in the fiction section of the library.  I slipped on a muddy bank and when I landed on my knee I heard a terrible crack.  I froze with a momentary picture of the paramedics struggling to get me out of the creek, up the vertical banks and the mile plus hike back to the car.  When I discovered it was only my net and not me, I was overjoyed to be the one who got away.  I could momentarily connect with the joy of that escaping trout.  The fishing continued that day with some entertaining moments of me using that broken net to land another 3 or 4 trout.  What’s the lesson in all this?  There are several.

  1. Life is not done until you quit trying to live it.Circumstances may change your plans on how you will live it.But it’s not over until you stop.Don’t stop.When you are tired, rest.Lean on a friend.Then when the opportunity presents itself, leap and live.

  2. When you are given a second chance, celebrate and take it.New possibilities are just up around the bend.

  3. You may feel broken and useless.But…in God’s eyes there is a place for you in the unfolding of God’s kingdom.In God’s hands as broken, twisted, or useless as we may feel, we can be used to bring in those who need the wonder of God’s love, grace, and mercy.If my clumsy hands could find a way to make that net useful, imagine the wonders that God can do with the likes of you and me.

I will always come home with stories about the one(s) that got away.  The Good News is that when God touches our lives, we don’t have to worry about getting away.  Those hands will not slip, will not drop you, will not lose their grip.  We are held and sheltered in hands that give us life.

May you always have a good story to tell, good friends to share it with, and hands ready to hold those who need to be assured they are not alone.

Pastor David W. Crow

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916 5th Ave.     Grinnell, IA  50112