February is totally a “month of love” in our household. The three people who live with me all celebrate their birthday this month - so, we eat a lot of cake! And then there's the “Love Day” - Valentine's Day – when we pass around boxes of chocolate treats! We consume a lot of sugar in the month of February – but it's our way of celebrating that LOVE IS SWEET – and that sweetness overflows into our spirits too!
So, it is really special to me that, in the church this year on February 14th, we'll be observing Transfiguration Sunday. It's a day when we remember the story of when Jesus went up on the mountaintop. He is visited there by Moses and Elijah and, in the midst of their meeting, Jesus is filled with so much heavenly light that he is transfigured by it. He becomes dazzling bright – leaving his disciples gathered there filled with wonder and awe by what they are witnessing. I imagine that if any experience could change the heart of a person – this could surely do the job.
This story gives us the perfect opportunity to consider what it would take to change OUR hearts in this time and place. These days - not much shocks us anymore; not much takes us by surprise; not much stirs us to the point that we would change what we think or believe or feel about our lives. But, what if it did? What if something happened that was so amazing that we're simply blinded by the light of heaven in our midst. Would that be enough to change how we live from this time on?
Well – look around, friends. If we have eyes to see it – the light of heaven does shine in our midst. It shines in some people, in certain events and situations we experience in our everyday ordinary lives – not all the time, not everywhere - but enough to make a difference – enough to help us let go of the past and determine that from now on - we will do better, be better, make room for
“BETTER” to be the way for everyone we love.
It is no mistake that this opportunity comes to us this year on Valentine's Day – for this is the perfect day to change our hearts and choose to make everything in life about LOVE – loving more, loving better, loving without limitation or hesitation or reservation.
May we show this heavenly sort of love not only toward one another, but also to the One who makes all of this possible - our Savior and Friend, Jesus. This Valentine's Day, I wish us all a heart-changing “Happy Love Day” and a life filled with love for evermore!
Reverend Susan Hanson has been serving churches since December 19, 1993, when she delivered her first sermon to her first congregation. Since then, Pastor Susan has served in 12 different settings of churches as an interim pastor and to nursing homes as a chaplain, primarily helping to heal hurting congregations and institutions so they could recover and start anew. Reverend Hanson came to St. Vincent UCC in 2013 - her lucky number 13, as she says - and has been with us ever since. How lucky we are because on Sunday, April 8, 2018, Pastor Susan was officially installed by the PA Southeast Conference of the UCC as St. Vincent UCC’s permanent pastor!
Susan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development from Florida State University; a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary; and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling from Moravian Theological Seminary. She was ordained in her home church, St. John’s UCC in Lansdale, PA, on January 9, 1994.
Susan and her husband, the Reverend Doug Hanson, pastor of St. Peter’s Pikeland UCC, live in Chester Springs. They have a daughter and son-in-law who live in Alabama with Pastor Susan’s two grandchildren, a daughter and a son who live locally, and a Golden Doodle. In addition to meeting new people, Pastor Susan enjoys reading a good book, taking walks in nature, and visiting with family and friends.
In her Statement on Ministry, Reverend Hanson says that “a pastor assists the congregation in living out our call to be the heart and hands and voice of God here on earth in our own particular time and place. We can be assured that all of God’s hopes and dreams for us will be realized when we allow God’s Spirit to work within our own lives, and through us, to help others as we seek to do God’s will in the world. Together, we celebrate that when good people seek to make a positive difference in the world, it is there that real ministry happens.”
Feel free to contact Pastor Susan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell phone at 610.393.6971.
Copyright © 2021 St. Vincent United Church of Christ - All Rights Reserved.