That's what we are called to be. And we are called to act accordingly. When we consider the world with all of its ups and down and joys and struggles – we are called to do so with gratitude rather than negative feelings of bitterness or anger or a sense of “woe is me”. That will never get us anything but sorrow. We know that life is not easy - this is earth, after all, and heaven has not fully arrived here as of yet.
But, there are glimpses of heaven all around us. And that is what we are meant to focus our time and energy and money on - those glimpses of light and love and goodness. Sometimes, things are not going so well for us and we have to look a little harder to see them – but they are there for those of us who know how to recognize them.
So, look carefully – seek what is good and right and worthy of our attention – and let the rest just slide on past you. Hold fast to the signs of heaven among us – words of tenderness, acts of kindness, intentions for goodness. Let us practice being thankful people.
And in my opinion, the first place to start is by being thankful for yourself. And showing your gratitude for all that you are – to cherish what is good within you and share that with the world in all that you say and do. Here's a poem by Julia Fehrenbacher to start that journey of being grateful for YOU.
I am making a home inside myself. A shelter of kindness where everything is forgiven, everything allowed - a quiet patch of sunlight to stretch out without hurry, where all that has been banished and buried is welcomed, spoken, listened to - released. A fiercely friendly place I can claim as my very own.
I am throwing arms open to the whole of myself - especially the fearful, fault-finding, falling apart, unfinished parts, knowing every seed and weed, every drop of rain, has made the soil richer.
I will light a candle, pour a hot cup of tea, gather around the warmth of my own blazing fire. I will howl if I want to, knowing this flame can burn through any perceived problem, any prescribed perfectionism, any lying limitation, every heavy thing.
I am making a home inside myself where grace blooms in grand and glorious abundance, a shelter of kindness that grows all the truest things. I whisper hallelujah to the friendly sky. Watch now as I burst into blossom.
Let us practice being thankful people – thankful for a God who loves us no matter what – thankful that Jesus shows us how to embrace that love for ourselves, and then, share it with others – grateful that being thankful people has the power to change everything. Glory be to God. Last month was a time of anniversary celebrations for our church. On September 4th, we observed the 171st anniversary of worship together in our current location. And on the 16th, we observed the 10th anniversary of us being pastor and congregation together.
We had a really nice celebration on September 24th with great attendance in spite of the rainy weather. We honored the members of the search committee who brought us together in the first place – Chris Buck, Paula Errington, Cheryl Patterson – who were in attendance, and Jen Kluge and Brenda McFadden, who were unable to be with us. Pastor Susan presented them with “thank you” gifts that are meant to pamper them – blessed them with prayer and hugs and gratitude.
There was special music – Deb Rick and Keith Patterson sang the same anthem they sang for Pastor Susan's Installation (oh man, so sentimental). We all shared prayers and fond memories of being part of the church. There was an inspirational message about the spiritual gift of generosity. And we recognized those members who have been a part of the St. Vincent family for over 70 years and gave them a gift of guardian angel figurines to watch over them.
The Pastor invited everyone to fellowship downstairs after the service where we enjoyed homemade breakfast casseroles, a fresh fruit bowl, muffins, challah bread and cream cheese, and peanut butter pretzels – the food was delicious! People even asked for the recipes for the casseroles.
There were tabletop games and corn hole bean bag boards to play for those so inclined, but most of us sat and talked together, continuing to share memories and special thoughts. There was a “Guess How Many Chocolate Hugs & Kisses” jar and two people shared the contents of the jar when the count was revealed. Tim Rossiter and Tia Rossi were both about 20 points from the true count – so they shared the spoils. That's the way to do things!
We also had a Frameo digital frame projecting photos of church members and events from the last ten years. If you have a photo you'd like to contribute to it, send it to Pastor Susan's phone and she can upload it from there. This digital frame will be running at church for the next few weeks, so you have a chance to check it out! One of those photos is from May 30, 2015 – a picture of the whole church family who were in church that day. There is an enlarged picture of it on the back table. Can you find yourself in that picture?
We have several members who have been part of our church family for over 70 years – and it was noted that Dot Fryer is the longest living “active” member at St. Vincent. Dot still attends faithfully and serves on the pastoral visitation team with the pastor and Brenda McFadden. Thanks, Dot! We've included that Recognition of Anniversaries elsewhere in this newsletter. Read all about it!
We had a special guest at this event – two-month-old Piper Kathleen Ann Sutter made her debut at church on this day – and we couldn't stop smiling at her. So beautiful – and a wonderful reminder of how God is still creating in the world (with a lot of help and love by her parents Todd and Kristina).
People wrote out their memories of the past ten years on cards and Pastor Susan enjoyed reading them later that day when she got home. Thank you, everyone, for sharing such wonderful memories and gratitude for the time we've had together. Thanks for the memories!
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 email@example.com or by cell phone at 610.393.6971.
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Celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion
Scripture = Matthew 18: 15-20
“Bind Us Together With Love” 23 St. Vincent United Church of Christ - All Rights Reserved.