Randy's Reflections
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October 2, 2014, 4:00 PM

Pastor Randy's October Reflection


Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position...            Romans 12: 15-16


     I love the crispness in the air. I love to sip hot chocolate on cool evenings.  I love to see leaves start to change color.
Fall is an invigorating time of year. Each season of the year holds special memories and special meaning for me; I am grateful for the variety of the changing seasons. 

     When we lived in Reinbeck, Iowa, we had a majestic sugar maple alongside our fifty foot long gravel driveway. The tree towered at least thirty-five feet into the sky, but it was also nearly as wide as it was tall and the leaves turned a fiery red in the fall. Of course each leaf wasn’t exactly the same color, but as you looked at the tree as a whole, the variety of leaves with their different hue and shades of red took on an breathtaking unified appearance.
     Although our yard contained fourteen trees – oak, elm, red bud, pine, walnut and locust – many of them over thirty feet tall, this sugar maple surpassed them all in its resplendent glory. Its presence brought us joy every single autumn of our fourteen years in Reinbeck. In fact, a kindergarten teacher at the nearby elementary school would annually walk her class by our house in the fall to see the tree and gather its colorful leaves. We had another maple tree by the street at the property line. It was not as large as the sugar maple, but nicely shaped and similarly brilliant in the fall. One summer, during a severe thunderstorm, it was struck by lightning. I didn’t see the evidence until the following fall when we noticed black coloring around a particular divide in the tree. I also noticed that the tree was starting to split at that divide. I tried to figure out a way to save as much of the tree as possible, but it was irreparably damaged.
We had to have it taken down.

     Sometimes making changes on our property, in our homes, or in our lives is difficult. I really missed that tree We had to take down. Yet I learned to appreciate the other maple tree that remained even more, and I was also moer thankful for our other trees because I didn’t know how long they would be there.
 

     I find it difficult to say good bye to people in our congregation. As I have mentioned previously, the population of this church changes more often than I was used to in Reinbeck. People become an integral part of who we are as a community, and then they change employment or life circumstances or decide it is time to go elsewhere.


     We, as well as I, need to extend our congratulations and give people our best wishes as they make the
transitions they feel called to make. I also think we need to celebrate those people who are in our church
and in our lives and be grateful for the blessing of those relationships. Of course not everyone is our
best friend, and we may find it more of challenge to get along with some people than others. But I believe
that each time we gather as a community, and each time we can celebrate as that community, is a foretaste
 of heaven.

      So I hope as we move into this fall season we will have renewed gratitude for one another and
that we will be able to thank those around us for being part of our lives. God has called us together to be his  people, to show the world that we can love each other despite our differences and appreciate the 
gift of each other as a community.

 

     As we each add our own colorful leaf to the tree at JKPC, I hope we will be able to recognize what a rich mosaic we bring to this community of faith and that, together, we will be able to celebrate a wonderful festival of leaves this fall.


Thankful for each and every one of you,
              Pastor Randy McGrady-Beach




September 16, 2014, 5:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Face to Face"


The Gospels are an amazing record of Jesus. They aren’t duplicates of each other, they sometimes have things in a different order, and they even may have conflicting material, but combined they give us a diversely rich picture of Jesus.

    Labels are part of who we are and part of how we define others. Labels help us know how to relate to others.  Yet sometimes we forget those labels are our invention. You may be able to understand someone better if you label them, democrat, republican, liberal, conservative, moderate. But when we label people we think we know what they believe or where they are coming from, but we must remember when we give people labels we are putting a box around them, which we can do, but we need to allow them to move out of that box.

    As I was thinking about the differences between the gospels I thought about how the gospel of John has so many stories about one-on-one encounters with Jesus. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, the Invalid at the Pool of Bethesda, the Blind Man and many more. That is how we know these people, but in the story these people become more than how they are labeled.

    Jesus speaks to those who are considered unclean or imperfect. Jesus speaks to those who even we would question whether it would beneficial to talk to, such as the Pharisee Nicodemus. Jesus is willing to talk with, to care for, and to challenge those who are so easily labeled as sinners.

    Yet Jesus does not call them sinners. Jesus talks to them face to face. Jesus puts a face on the sinner, whether they are outcasts, whether they are considered self-righteous, even whether they know him or not, such as the blind man.  The Blind Man never did speak the name of Jesus, yet he was asked if he believed in the Son of Man. He was given an opportunity to become a follower, a worshipper of this man Jesus.

    We need to remember when we think we know someone we need to allow them to be different than who we think they are. We need to be concerned about what they need and share with them our hope and joy. We need to think of them more as a friend than someone whom we have labeled.

    Let us strive to allow others to be more than the label we have given them. Let us, like Jesus, open up the box we have put them in and seek to become their friend. This is what Jesus did and this is what we need to do.

 

    Seeking to allow others out of the box with you,

 

    Pastor Randy




August 28, 2014, 3:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "Doubled Grace"


 

 

    Double your pleasure and double your fun. That is an old advertisement about Doublemint gum. Yet it is also true of the grace we receive from God. We receive double grace.

    In my daily (or almost daily) devotion of “Coffee with Calvin” I found an interesting insight. Today the devotion was about Sanctification. This is a word that labels our continuing walk with Jesus. Calvin reminds us that we are justified, that is reconciled to God, because of Jesus. Calvin also says we are learning to walk in the ways of Jesus because the Holy Spirit is guiding us, this is Sanctification.

    It is not our actions which gain us merit or provide the means to salvation it is Jesus. Nor is it our actions which Sanctify us, it is the Holy Spirit. We need to remember that the beginning of our relationship with God was because of what Christ did and our continuing relationship with God is because of the Holy Spirit. So when we think we are so great because of the decisions we have made or are making we must remember, in humility, it is God who calls us to him and God who helps us continue to walk with him.

    This is good news. We could never do this on our own. Yet we have God and God justifies us and God sanctifies us. We must continue to strive to follow the ways of Jesus, but remember God is the one who helps us stay on the path. Let us be grateful for what God has done and is doing and let us be witnesses and not judges that God is calling us to be his witnesses to the world around us.

    This is our double grace, a grace granted to us by the loving, living God, who calls all creation to redemption. We are becoming a redeemed creation through God’s grace and not because of our own efforts but because of God. So let us always give God the glory. Hallelujah!!!

 

     Celebratin Grace with you,

 

     Pastor Randy


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