Pastor's Blog
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December 26, 2016, 12:00 AM

Passing On...

I taught my 18 year old daughter to shoot a gun today. I will not take time or space to say why I felt this lesson important for her - that’s a topic for another conversation. Suffice it to say we took advantage of a rare “warmer” day in late December to make our way to the shooting range. The lesson began with basic safety elements common to handling any firearm. Then came the specifics of handling the gun she would learn to shoot. Following that, we spent time with shooting positions and postures, and dry fired the weapon several times. At that point we were ready for ammunition. I showed her how to load the gun, and then fired it a few times so she could get familiar with the sound. Then she sat down, took aim, and squeezed the trigger - a hit! By that I mean her first shot actually appeared on the target - not close to where she was aiming, but it was on the paper. As she fired subsequent shots, she got better and better - putting a smile on her dad’s face.

But as I stood behind her while she continued to practice, another thought occurred to me: everything about today - the lessons, the gun and ammunition, even the binoculars I used to watch the shots - my father first shared with me. Dad taught me the basic safety lessons that I shared with Kate. The process of handling and firing a weapon I taught her were the ones my dad first taught me. As I looked at her standing there, arms extended toward the target with the revolver in her hands, I realized the gun she held belonged to dad, and had been fired numerous times by him during his life. He had passed on his knowledge and experience and equipment to me, and I in turn was passing those things on to her.

Reminded me of a brief conversation we had via Facetime with our son on Saturday night. He was asked by his new bride’s family what traditions were part of the Janz Christmas Eve observance. Ben said simply, “church, food at home, midnight mass on TV.” Betsy and I didn’t sit down and say, “Here’s what we want our kids to remember about Christmas Eve.” That’s simply what has stayed with him from the Christmas Eve’s he remembers - that’s what we’ve “passed on” to him, which could be some of what he passes on to his children.

We pass on a number of things to those around us - some things intentionally, some things without even realizing it. Connection to God is one of those things, I think. We pass on what we believe and experience about God through intentional things like teaching Sunday School or daily family devotions. And our God connection is also passed on by the simple ways we choose to live - the choices we make, the patterns of life we live by. I remember reading once “The Gospel is as much caught as it is taught.” The reality is that for all of us, our connection to God has been “passed on” - through intentional and unintentional ways - by the people that surround us.

That leads me to ask two questions: who has passed their faith on to you - whether you’ve realized it before or not? And who - right now - might be on the receiving end of your connection to God? I’m recalling the end of a song we sang a lot when I was a youth: “I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found. You can depend on him, it matters not where you’re bound. I’ll shout it from the mountain top - HEY WORLD! - I want my world to know. The Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on.” As always…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.

 



Comments

12-27-2016 at 6:58 AM
Pat Mann
Reminds me of Deut 11:19-20 to continue this tradition / pattern on to the next generations. What is seen and experienced continues throughout the generation of family whether spiritual or otherwise. Great blog.
12-26-2016 at 9:54 PM
Jenny
Very nice blog! We also sang that song a lot in our youth group.
12-26-2016 at 7:09 PM
Robyn Ohmer
Always enjoy your posts. This one hits the heartstrings. Just what do I want to pass on?
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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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