Pastor Henry's Memo

Category: Pentecost 2020

Wednesday, November 25

Pastor’s Memo… One year short of four centuries ago, by some accounts, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the New World.  I say "by some accounts," because the date 1621, is in dispute.  I wasn't there; and this memo isn't intended to be a history lesson.  The story is that after that first hard winter there was food to eat and new neighbors to entertain.  I have no idea how accurate the legend is of that first meal between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.  Too many fanciful depictions have been authored down the years.  I'd prefer to think it was gracious and welcoming.  Over the last four hundred years Thanksgiving became more and more celebrated and it became a national holiday.  Now, pretty much, Thanksgiving is the seasonal marker for when the great rush for Christmas shopping begins.  Midnight openings, sales, on-line give-aways, the opportunity for buying and selling is kind of free-for-all grab-fest.  Our holiday feast has hardly had time to settle and we look forward to Christmas.  This year our patience is thinner than usual.  Our politics and the pandemic have taken a toll on the nation.  But a turkey can be purchased almost anywhere and cranberry sauce. too, if you like that red stuff.   I can almost smell yeast rolls baking and my prayers turn to having enough butter.  When so very many millions of our fellow global citizens, nay, neighbors, nay, brothers and sisters are hungry most of the time, we should indeed be thankful for the feast laid before us, even if we are not gathered in droves to eat it as we have been in years past. We should celebrate and remember and give thanks for the bounty before us.  Happy Thanksgiving!  May the rest of this year be more settled than the last many months.  And may the coming year be one of peace and joy and love.  

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Wednesday, November 18

Pastor’s Memo…   It's that time of year when to turn on the car radio is to risk Christmas music on lots of channels.  For the last couple of weeks that has been my experience.  I can still find news and oldie rock and talk radio of every sort.  What I have rediscovered is, for me, how quickly the repetitive seasonal music no longer holds my attention; and it's not even Thanksgiving.  To how many versions of "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "White Christmas" and "The Christmas Song" can I listen without wondering if there is anything else that would vibrate my eardrums to my satisfaction?   This particular season of joy and good cheer and mistletoe-ing is tempered because of Covid-19 and a still contentious election.  However, with vaccines on the way we may be nearing the end of a very long and dispiriting tunnel.  Please keep being cautious.  Please keep wearing your mask when around others.  Wash your hands and use sanitizer.  Be socially distant for your own good and everyone else.  The Thanksgiving table will still bear witness to bounty and goodness and family.  The Christ Child will still come on schedule.  Thank God for your blessings and pass on good wishes to those you know and love. 

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Wednesday, November 4

Pastor’s Memo…   Predicting the future is a risky business.  If one doesn't mind being wrong more often than not, have at it.  Reveal what the crystal ball and the tea leaves and the tarot cards say to you.  And let's not forget the astrologers.  Their special brand of reading the positions of the stars and offering advice about everything from love to war to football scores is sure to excite and astonish.  I write this on Tuesday morning, as my schedule for Wednesday prevents me from commenting on the outcome of the Presidential Election.  I may be more optimistic than warranted in that the official results may not be certified for several days or weeks.  God forbid we're still without a decision beyond that.  Let me comment on something that takes no prognosticating talent.  This coming Sunday Calvary UMC will honor our next class of veterans with Purple Heart Blankets.  Every November, as close to the 11th as possible, we remember the military service of all United States veterans and specifically those who are members of Calvary's congregation.  We do so out of a profound sense of thanksgiving and a desire to recognize their commitment "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."  Thank you and God bless you.

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Wednesday, October 28

Pastor’s Memo…   November is nearly upon us.  All Saints, the election, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, rabbit and deer season.  Fall brings color to leaves as they drop from the trees, crops are harvested, and temperatures drop prompting the wearing of sweaters and jackets.  Change in the air.  COVID-19 has hampered some of our activities and most of our families are not gathering as tradition dictates.  An entire nation adjusts in fits and starts and then whines and murmurs and soldiers on; so to speak.  With all the uncertainty that can intrude on our lives, having an anchor or a rock or an altar can be of significant comfort.  For the Christian Church that anchor is Christ and so too that rock and altar.  It teaches Jesus not only to be the agent of God ordained to come for our redemption, but God!  Jesus is the Second person of the Trinity and as such, is God and not merely God's agent.  As to Christ being our anchor, it is he who not so much stabilizes, but holds us firmly as the world buffets us.  As to being our rock, it is upon Jesus whom we stand amidst that buffeting and still he holds on to us more than we hold on to him.  Finally, as to the altar, Jesus is a living altar around which we gather and pray and make humble offerings.  All the while, we remain the Church which is called to be the Body of Christ in a world awash in tumult, turmoil and travail.  Let November come upon us and let us be for the world the Church which knows how to prevail in sunshine and in shadow.

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Wednesday, October 21

Pastor’s Memo…   Not infrequently have I been prone to use a word unfamiliar in the common parlance.  There, I did it again.  Parlance; meaning "a particular way of speaking or using words."  This propensity flows from the literature we read; the magazines, books, and journals suited to theologians.  It doesn't hurt to be a logophile; a lover of words.  I am that, and love it that I am.  Got that?  Yesterday I came across two words that made me sit up and pay attention.  They were used in conjunction with other rhyming, alliterative insults which delighted my imagination.  The two words of which I now write were "pathetic peripatetics."  You can imagine my delight to see these two words juxtaposed.  And I knew immediately who they were.  Most of you know what pathetic means so I will not linger with a definition.  But peripatetic, that probably made you stop to reach for your Webster's Dictionary. Peripatetic comes from the Greek meaning "to walk up and down; back and forth."  Therefore a "pathetic peripatetic" is a ne'er-do-well who can't stay in one place; is constantly on the move.  Like those fanatics who range from city to city to city, state to state burning and destroying other people's property in the guise of peaceful protests.  I think I have made myself clear and exhausted my word limit for this memo.  See you next week with more intriguing innuendo.

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Wednesday, October 14

Pastor’s Memo…     Is there a difference between build and make?  Whatever the nuanced differences are, they are insignificant.  To build or to make is the same thing, for all practical purposes.  Former Vice President Joe Biden wants Americans to Build Back Better.  President Donald Trump wants Americans to Make America Great Again.  How is it possible two presidential campaigns want to do the same thing but offer almost diametrically opposite plans for doing so?  I've been voting in presidential elections since 1972.  Over the four decades since my first ballot I've been offered party platforms promising to improve and expand and deliver and reform and deny and defend ad infinitum.  That's Latin for " again and again in the same way; forever."  Now I'm being promised a choice between building and making.  Is that a real choice?  Am I being unreasonable to assume neither of the two major parties have a clue as to what will satisfy a nation yearning for unity and peace?  Unity and prosperity?  Unity and justice?  Unity and liberty?  I'm old and I'm not going to be around four decades down the road.  If the United States of America is still here then, will it be UNITED? 

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Monday, October 12

Pastor’s Memo…     John and Charles Wesley set sail for Georgia on the 14th of October, 1735.  They embarked on a "road trip" of sorts to bring the Gospel to the American Indians.  The brothers Wesley stayed in Georgia a short time and returned to England in October, 1737.  Their two year stay in America is well recorded and could be of some interest to 21st Century Methodists who care to read about it.  The last "road trip" my brother and I took was to the funeral of our Aunt Kate a couple of years ago.  She lived on the Atlantic Coast in Belhaven, North Carolina.  She was our mother's last living sibling.  Keith drove because his truck was a far more comfortable ride than my 2005 Ford Taurus. And, because he insisted.  Off we went on our 14 hour drive to pay our last respects to Aunt Kate.  When we arrived there were cousins present we hadn't seen since the last funeral called our name and we went forth.  There's something irresistible in that call; to hear the news and make the trip and share the memories.  Christian funerals are what they are.  Their shapes and forms vary but the theme is the same: a death has focused our attention and the Gospel of peace and love and grace is proclaimed.  Then we eat and laugh and remember.  We catch up and look at pictures and cry.  We make changes in our address books (our phones, really).  And we promise to do it again, but not too soon.  And we're off.  Keith and I begin our 14 hour drive back to Indiana.  Others make their own ways home. For some of our cousins, they are already home, well within sight of a newly filled grave. The "road trip" was more than we could have imagined.  Two beyond middle aged Hoosier brothers set sail to bear witness to family and faith and the future.

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Wednesday, October 7

Pastor’s Memo…    Patience is a virtue.  It's also in short supply.  As our 2020 presidential election careens toward the 3rd of November the anxiety and anger and acrimony are on full display.  My first presidential election vote was cast in the Nixon/McGovern race back in 1972.  That makes me an old man.  With more and more frequency I hear it said "this election is the most consequential in our lifetime."  Same thing was said four years ago and eight years ago and 12 years ago and even 16 years ago.  For those of you who don't remember the 2004 election, it was George W. Bush winning over John Kerry.  Our aspirations for the country and our fears for our children and the environment and the economy and the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments to the Constitution, racial justice/injustice, immigration, abortion,..  The litany of concerns that give us pause as we pull the lever behind the curtain is lengthy.  And no one election settles the issue for all time.  Just wait until 2024.  The anxiety and the anger and the acrimony will rise again to test our citizenship.  I think of myself as an ultimate optimist.  I pray my patience finally wins out over my knee-jerk jerkiness; if you know what I mean.  In just under a month we will vote and we will live with the results.  I do earnestly hope we have those results much sooner than later.  Until then, let's turn our minds to calmer concerns, like there are only 80 shopping days until Christmas.

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Monday, October 5

Pastor’s Memo…    The frequency of one's prayer life might be a reflection of how significant one believes prayer to be.  There might even be a correlation to the rest of one's life.  Whether it's the Upper Room devotional or the Daily Office or The Schema at rising and bedtime, prayer can be a daily ritual.  Prayer need not be ritualized to be an integral part of a person's daily life.  Mealtime prayer and bowing toward Mecca five times daily, humans find their prayer patterns vary by age and religious affiliation.  I find my prayer list ever lengthening in this ongoing season of COVID -19.  There is no shortage of concerns worthy of my prayers and yours.  At issue is how we pray and to what end.  I know there are times when I wonder whether or not my prayers even matter.  However, that twinge of wonder never lasts long.  My suspicions concerning prayer have long been resolved in favor of offering them even when I see no tangible result.  As a pastor I have done a fair amount of praying in all sorts of circumstances.  As I witness others pray, I am in awe at their fervency and intensity and humility.  Imagine our prayers rising like incense to the Throne of Grace and the pleasure God takes in receiving them and answering them according to His will. That might call for a prayer of thanksgiving. 

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Wednesday, September 30

Pastor’s Memo:    There were times in the Henry house when four children made such a ruckus Mom would tell us to go outside and leave her in some peace.   The long suffering Stella Henry had come to the end of her rope.  Parenthetically, in the Hebrew, ROPE is the word TIQUA, meaning HOPE.  One word, two usages; they even rhyme in the English.  How economical of the Hebrew language.  MOM longed for a bit of silence.  I so give God thanks for not driving her to homicide.  Back to the calm and silence for which Mom desired, maybe even coveted.  Silence is a blessing so very often in our hectic lives.  I'm reminded of Revelation 8:1: "When 

the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."  All those angels and archangels, the seraphim and cherubim, the entirety of the Host of Heaven fall silent.  Their unending praise of God comes to a halt when that seventh seal is broken.  Watch out!  From the silence comes forth the prayers of the saints (verse 4), "and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God."   All of heaven is silent, yet the prayers of the saints still rise to the Throne of Grace.  Silence does not negate prayer nor weaken it nor hide it from God.  The saints of humanity continue to be heard by God even when all else is silent.  That is good news for us and a reminder to us never to cease praying.   

Never.  Never.  Never!   

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