Rev. Janet Maykus, Senior Interim Minister

Rev. Janet Maykus, Senior Interim Minister

It’s now July.  We are entering our fourth month of worshipping at a distance, making pastoral visits by phone, worrying about the wellbeing of our members, families, and friends, and there is not a clear end in sight.  In fact, the infection rate in our state is growing geometrically.  This means that we will be apart longer.  Because we are part of the larger community, we all must be compassionate citizens.  We must stay home as much as possible, always wear a mask in public, practice good hand hygiene, do not sing in public, and stay focused on the greater good.   We all are tired of being cooped in our homes.  We all are lonely for our friends and family.  We all are concerned about the economy and how we will make ends meet.  But COVID 19 is a deadly disease, and we must take this mission of service to our neighbors seriously.

Somehow this disease and the resulting pandemic have become entangled in evangelical and political bloviating.  Viruses are not personal.  They do not care about our religious faith or political party.  Their purpose is to infect and multiply.  We do not yet have a vaccination for this virus, but we do know ways to slow rapid infection rates, which in turn allow for our healthcare system to safely accommodate those who are sick. 

We are not the first to suffer from a pandemic. We will make it through.  (If you want to wander down an interesting rabbit hole of information about the 10 plagues that were visited upon the Egyptians, you might like visiting this site.) We will make it through this time even as we are lonely, afraid, worried, anxious, bored, angry, and/or confused.  Our routines have been interrupted, but the mighty power of God’s creative force has not.  Babies are being born, birds are singing, snails continue to plague my lettuce, new conversations about racial justice are emerging, and people are experiencing the love of Christ through service to others. 

Those who canonized the Bible were wise.  They included writings that incorporated the whole of the human condition, not just the happy or satisfied times.  The Book of Lamentations is just that, an entire book of mournful cries.  During this confusing time of pandemic-required social distancing, we can become overwhelmed with our personal feelings.  If you find yourself in this spot, reach out to someone.  Call or send an email.  Don’t be concerned about saying that you are lonely or sick of all this or frightened or….you fill in the adjective.  More than likely the person on the other end has had these same feelings.  Do something kind for someone…write a letter (a real letter with a stamp and everything!), send an unexpected gift, write a prayer or a poem for someone.  Most of the world’s great museums have made their collections available on their websites or on Instagram.  Roaming through these collections never fails to inspire me.  LAUGH….watch a funny movie, read a funny book, tell funny stories.  Remember, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov.17:22). The Orthodox Church calls the Monday after Easter Risus Paschalis…The Easter Laugh…God’s final joke on the devil!

We will make it through this time, and we will be changed by this time.  I believe that we will be inspired to dream grand and bold dreams.  That we will be committed to a deeper understanding of our theology and history so we can better be the church God calls us to be.  Remember, our congregational family built our grand building as a testament to the beauty of God after they suffered the pandemic of 1918-1919.  What will we be inspired to create?

In last night’s book group we read, “…The church does not have a mission.  Rather, God’s mission has a church…..Calling people to Christ was not all that God was up to.  Combating racism, working for peace, seeking justice in all its forms were also mission.  The church was the community of Christ working on behalf of the mission of God…..The message we speak has to be put into action.  The church must model its own words.  Being reconcilers in the name of Jesus can be the identity Disciples project to the world.  Thus, mission is not something we decide to do; mission is an essential expression of the people we are and are seeking to become.  Mission and identity.  Identity and mission….Two parts of a whole life committed to putting God first.” (Disciples Who We are and What Holds us Together; Kinnamon and Linn, pp.78-79)

So, what does putting God first in this time of pandemic mean for us?  Well, it means that we take all the necessary precautions to slow the spread of this awful disease.  It means that we believe God is with us and will prevail even when we feel overwhelmed or afraid.  It means that we are mature Christians who know that others may be suffering more than we are, and we must reach out in whatever manner we can.  It means we continue to support the church even as we meet separately.  It means that we must remember that Jesus taught us God is on the side of life, of joy, of compassion, of creativity, of hope. 

In the face of the current bad news of rising infection and death rates, I invite all of you to join with me in a project for the church.  In Biblical numerology, the number 7 symbolizes perfection.  To that end, I ask that every day at 7 we all pause and say a prayer for one another and then think of something that makes you laugh.  Let’s practice daily prayer for one another as a life affirming spiritual discipline.  And let us laugh as a reminder that no form of evil or despair will ever prevail. 

A Message from the Music Minister

A Message from the Music Minister

Hello Everyone, First off, I wanted to say how much I miss all of you! After nearly five years of working as the music director at CCC, getting to say hello and see you all Sunday morning has become the highlight of my week! Sunday mornings are not the same without all of the warm smiles and greetings.

There are so many things to miss about worshiping in person, but at the same time there are many things that I’ve really grown to appreciate since we’ve adapted our time together these past couple months. One of these ways is how we’ve all come together to find new ways to worship and share fellowship together. Our church community has felt so vibrant and active, with more people taking part in a variety of activities! With multiple Zoom calls and gatherings throughout the week it has been wonderful getting to see and hear everyone more often than only on Sunday mornings. The need to adapt has brought us together, and I hope to see people remain so active in the life of the church as part of our new normal.

I’d also like to commend everyone on how willing they’ve been to try new ways of worship. I’ve seen other churches with members that have not been as understanding during this uncertain time and have rushed to resume services without proper planning and thoughtfulness towards keeping everyone safe. It is a testament to the strength and love of our congregation that we have not done this, and it makes me very proud!

I hope you are all doing well and continuing to stay safe at home, and if you haven’t had a chance to join any of the Zoom prayer gatherings, book studies, game nights, or morning coffee chats please think about giving them a try. It’s a great way to stay connected, and if you’ve never used any of these digital tools please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to walk through the process with you so you can still enjoy fellowship while we are together but separate.

Much love to you all,

Mark

Bound by Faith

Bound by Faith

A few weeks back as I was preparing lunch kits to deliver to Central Presbyterian Church, I posted a picture of my PB&J making station on my Facebook page and asked, “do you put the jelly on first or the peanut butter?” And the responses started flying in!

I never knew there were so many different opinions on the correct way to make a PB&J sandwich. Do you put peanut butter on one piece of bread with the jelly on another piece, or peanut butter on both slices with jelly in the middle or maybe no jelly at all and you add honey instead? Along with all the different methods came the critiquing about my mix matched bread (one slice wheat and one slice white) and then there was talk about how uneven the peanut butter and jelly was spread on the bread.

I had no idea how much conversation would stem from such a post but it made me begin to think about our current situation amidst a global pandemic and how everyone has a different mindset. The conversation around the making of PB&J wasn’t solely about the art of sandwich making but also about the traditions in which we grew up and how a loved one did a certain thing in a particular way and thereby passed down that tradition to us.

What I learned from this social media posting is that there is a great opportunity for each of us to learn from one another. And there is no one way to make a PB&J which leads me to the conclusion that there is no one way to live through this time in history. However, what I do know for certain is that kindness matters and together we will get through this incredible time by listening to one another as we work to care for one another in the best possible manner.

Blessings to each of you,

Pastor Heidi

Bound by Faith

Bound by Faith

With all of the recent deaths in the news – Kobe Bryant; NBA athlete, Jim Lehrer; PBS news anchor, John Karlen; Emmy-winning actor, Terry Jones; British comedian and cofounder of Monty Python and Neil Peart; drummer of Rush, alongside so many innocent deaths around the world due to war and natural disasters stacked with some of our very own near and dear deaths to those in our own community of faith, it is no wonder so many people are questioning it all.

“Why?” we ask. I have heard all the cliché sayings and to be honest, I may have even repeated some of them a time or two. “There’s a reason for everything,” “heaven gained another angel,” “guess their time/purpose was up here on earth,” but is that the best we can do? Today I am writing this not to try to explain the why but to try to find some meaning to it
all. Whether a death of a loved one is sudden or inevitable, it is all tragic and awful. But what I can share, having experienced both ways, is how horrific and lost you feel when it is so sudden.

As I was scrolling social media and various internet news accounts this past Monday following the horrendous helicopter crash that took nine innocent and unsuspecting lives, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter, I caught myself humming Tim McGraw’s song Live Like You Were Dying. Do you remember that song? I vaguely remember when it came out on
radio in 2004 but I more so recall one time when my dad and I were driving to lunch together and that song came on. My dad was an old country and western soul, think Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, so he didn’t care much for all the “newfangled stuff” but ya’ll, we drove down the road belting out that song without a care in the world as to how off key or out of
tune we were. Thankfully, no one was subjected to our singing!

In times such as this with so much loss around us, let us not step back from life and watch it play out on a movie screen but get in there. As the lyrics suggest, live like you were dying. What might that look like? What would you do differently today if you knew it was your last? Go fishing? Go to the movies or dinner with that friend you haven’t seen in far too long?
Eat the dessert? Take that trip? Go skydiving? Go hiking? Ride a bull for 8 seconds? Love those who may or may not be so easy to love? Forgive? Speak kindly?

As we each wrestle to find meaning in our losses, the one thing I know for certain is that all we have is today. Stop waiting for that “someday when I (fill in the blank)”. Do whatever that something is today! Don’t wait for the someday because as one of my favorite authors and blogger; Rachel Hollis says, “someday isn’t coming.” Get out there. Do the thing.
Live like you were dying!

A Message from the Music Minister

A Message from the Music Minister

“When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Group singing, for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony.”

This is the opening paragraph of an exciting online article that was shared
with me recently. The title is “Singing Changes Your Brain,” and it goes
into further detail about the evolution of singing, and the various positive
chemicals that are released during singing (especially when singing with a
group). Researchers have found that singing even lessons feelings of
loneliness and depression. I can attest to that! Some of my happiest times
have been working in various theatres where I’ve been rehearsing/
singing almost all day long, six days a week. I always feel uplifted after singing at church each Sunday as well! I hope more people from the congregation will try singing with the choir! It isn’t a large time commitment, it’s very flexible with attendance, and is such a rewarding experience! Like the article says, “Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed.” Amen to that! Check out the full article here.
All the best,
Mark

A Message from the Music Minister

A Message from the Music Minister

I hope you all had incredible Thanksgivings! One of the things I am grateful for is the opportunity every Sunday to worship together in fellowship. There are so many positive aspects of having a church home, and one of those is getting to see friends on a weekly basis, to say hello, catch up a little bit on our lives, and then worship together. Thanksgiving time is a time of the year when we focus on the things we are thankful for, but Central Christian Church and the people who meet here whether every Sunday or just a few Sundays out of the year are two things that I am grateful for the whole year through.

Now that we have passed the Thanksgiving holiday we are finding ourselves in the Advent and Christmas season. We have a lot of special activities and ways to enhance our worship this year. We will have beautiful music, guest musicians, services such as the Tree of Angels, hanging of the greens, decorating the Chrismon tree, setting up the life sized tableau, a special Advent devotional written by all of us from CCC, a reverse Advent calendar, and a book study that includes complimentary pie! I am so excited for this Christmas season, and I hope you are too! Please consider taking part in some of the extra activities we have planned. Our days can feel so busy and stressful, and before we know it this Christmas will have passed and we’ll need to wait another year before it returns.

Taking part in these activities is a way to slow the season down a little bit…which may seem counter intuitive. Doing more usually means having less time and more rushing around, but when activities help us to slow down, breath, and think about what the season is truly about it is a way of making this special time of year last. The extra meetings enjoying pie, the quiet time reading a chapter to join in the book study, slowing down enough in the morning to read the days devotional written by one of your fellow congregation members…these are the times that are equally important to the hustle and bustle of the season.

I also hope that some of you may consider singing with the choir during this time. Music is a huge part of the Christmas seasons, and is another one of those special activities that can make this Christmas extra memorable and meaningful for everyone involved. Please feel free to speak to me or any staff member if you’d be interested in singing with the choir.

Thank you all for making Central the warm and caring place that it is, and for making it an honor to be your music director.

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas season!

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