Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ at DCC,
There is a timely tradition embedded in the Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church. (See the story of Elisha and Elijah in 1 Kings 19: 19-20 for the Biblical reference) In years past, when the relative health of the denomination was much stronger, it was given much more attention than it now receives.
It goes something like this: the newly commissioned and ordained clergy receive the “mantle of leadership” from the previous generation of leaders. It is symbolized by the exchanging of Bibles, stoles, hymn books and Books of Discipline between older and younger members of the ordained clergy. It has always been a big deal to me, as a clergy member called to serve among colleagues, and having shared so many responsibilities for ministry and mission both inside the local church and in the Annual Conference level. I’ve been a leader of dozens of backpacking trips for hundreds young people in the mountains of Virginia and New Hampshire. I’ve served on the Board of Ordained ministry for many years, and District Committees on Ministry, I have enjoyed the privilege of mentoring dozens of people considering their call to ministry, and have served as Senior pastor on a team of dedicated servants of Jesus Christ engaged in ministry.
I have participated in this ordained vocation for 38 years, without adding in the 5 years before that while engaged in youth ministries and music ministries during college and seminary. Ever since I can remember, I have been an active participant in the United Methodist Church! And now it’s time to pass the mantle of leadership! Suddenly, I feel like I could confidently stand in for actor J.K. Simmons in my favorite Farmers Insurance commercials: and say, “We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two!!!”
It is soon time to turn over the mantle of pastoral leadership here at Denville Community UMC. It feels ‘mighty good’ to turn over pastoral and administrative responsibilities in a congregation that is spiritually healthy, committed to prayer, fully engaged in mission and oriented toward ‘the greater good’ of the community, and eager to engage the world for the sake of love and love- made-public-justice.
Over the coming months, I will be spending significant amounts of time and energy “passing the mantle” of my accumulated experiences and gathered wisdom to Rev. Heather Valosin! There will be ample time for reviewing the missions that remain important to us all: (1) making sure she is ready to pray with the ASP team at 6 am on the first Saturday of July, (and maybe do the Hippo Dance?) (2) offering the prayer at the Joey Bella Night at Gardner Field a day or so later, if she’d like, (3) getting her in touch with the many small groups that add depth and dimension to our congregation, (4) showing her the solar array on the roof, and (5) how to work the media systems in the sanctuary and remodeled rooms in the basement, (6) apprising her of the date set for Consecration Sunday (Nov. 18th), (7) familiarizing her with the DCC online giving program, (8) getting her all set up on ProPresenter for worship preparation, (9) setting up some meetings with Janice and YoungKwang for summer, fall and Advent/Christmas worship, (10) exploring new opportunities for the Bread and Cup ministry, and last but not least (11) connecting her with the Religious partnership liaisons at Morris/Essex Mental Health Association, and (12) having her spend time getting to know what Jean does for all of us through our Administrative Office and learning the ‘uniquenesses’ of partnering in the administrative life of DCC.
By the time we get all that squared away, Lent and Easter will have been gloriously celebrated… the water on the lakes will be warming and waking up the fish, new line will be on my reels, and it’ll be time to enjoy the amazing natural setting that has helped to make Denville and the surrounding countryside a beautiful place to live… and finish the full-time journey called “ordained ministry”.
Get ready for what’s to come in Lent and Easter because, as Yogi said, “It ain’t over til it’s over!”
“You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”
And, most importantly, get ready to celebration what Jesus proclaimed: “I am Resurrection and I am Life!”
Deep peace pure white of the winter moon to you… Pastor Ed
“… the oil of gladness, instead of mourning; the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit…” A Happy and Healthy New year to everyone!January 2018
Just a few weeks ago, we invited folks in the congregation and friends to join in our annual Quiet Christmas gathering during Advent. Each year at DCC, we make special efforts to reach out to families and friends who have lost loved ones, those who may grieving the loss of other relationships, and those who have experienced the loss of health and vitality. We join together for two things plain and simple. A soup supper with friends old and new and a time of quiet reflection, sharing readings which include both scripture and poetry or prayer, and the lighting of candles to bring warm light into the cold darkness we often experience.
There is a closing act of worship in our Quiet Christmas, which is the anointing with oil, an ancient Hebrew and Christian tradition. Among other references to this anointing with healing oil, the Prophet Isaiah’s recollection (in Isaiah 61) stands taller, for me, than all the rest in the Hebrew scriptures.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor… to comfort all who mourn… to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit” (from Isa. 61)
The oil of gladness, instead of mourning… the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. That is the encouragement, right out of the prophets mouth, with which we end the Quiet Christmas service!
These words may also sound familiar, because Jesus began his ministry with these words at the beginning of the first sermon he ever preached! Powerful, prophetic, Spirit-laden words… drawing from the well of the Isaiah’s ministry, to quench the thirst of those who came to Jesus, desperate for Good News! And this Good News, in the preaching and teaching life of Jesus, always began with a preference for the poor and dispossessed!
When I got it home after worship and looked at the label on the oil I used for the anointing, a smile spread across my face… because it struck me as ‘picture perfect’. The name of the oil? “Smart Balance”… the label claims it supports a healthy lifestyle. (So now go back to page 1 and study the label on the bottle for 15 seconds or so…)
As the new year begins, let me thank everyone again for an overwhelmingly glad and joyous response to the fear, sadness and devastation brought on by the natural disaster wreaked in the wake of our hurricane season last fall. Inspired by the sale of “Lemon-Aid” on the street corner in Indian Lake, by one of young congregants, an offering of over $5000 was first taken up; then, that inspired the annual auction committee to commit all of its’ $19,000+ proceeds to Puerto Rico.
That’s a Smart Balance, friends, and a prophetic witness that we here at DCC can take care of our brothers and sisters around the world who suffer, and then have more than enough to take care of our local mission and ministries. A smart balance emerges for us personally, and in our life-together, when we take the oil of gladness God provides us and use it for the healing of the worlds deepest fractures, and for the healing of our own hearts.
Smart Balance… it’s a blend… of soybean, canola, and olive oils… Smart Balance… it’s a blend… of love, justice, and gladness…
This smart, spiritual balance will help us remain healthier, and reach out to a broken world with deeper commitment to the calling that is ours in Christ Jesus!
Let’s find a Smart Balance in our life together in 2018!
Deep peace pure blue of the skies to you…
Smart Balance used in agreement with copyright notice: Copyright ©2010, GFA Brands, Inc. All rights reserved.