In the movie, “The Intern” with Robert De Niro and Ann Hathaway, De Niro has the title role. His character’s name is Ben Whittaker, and he’s a retired, well-off widower in Brooklyn who’s bored with the relative inactivity of his current, pleasant mode of living. So he applies for a position in an “Intern Program” at a start-up e-commerce, mail order, clothing business called “About the Fit.” His role calls for him to interact with colleagues 40 years his junior. He is 65. They are 22. He learns about the “Weird Things These Kids Do Today.” He is thrown into culture shock. He questions the way they work, live and socialize - most it online and all of it for everyone to see. As the young interns gather for their work most are wearing very casual clothes like t-shirts and jeans. Whittaker rants, “Does no one know how to tuck in a shirt anymore?” The young company founder played by Hathaway laments in one scene how there are no good men anymore. She says, “They are boys. Wearing boys clothes, but with adult jobs. What happened to gentlemen and handsome stars like a young Paul Newman, a classy Carry Grant or a Robert Redford lead?” As I approach my mid 40s I notice that we have grown boys, who don’t know what it means to be a gentleman? We have girls who still think it is cute to be clueless, when they are closer to menopause than college. I think you can agree with me, when I say that we have lost a little polish and refinement in our daily lives. In Colossians 1:28-29, Paul shares the purpose for which he worked hard, namely, to present every person “complete/ mature/developed/recreated” in Christ. We all should aim at becoming mature in Christ and we should help others grow to spiritual maturity also. What does that look like? Maturity in Christ means developing Christ-like character and conduct. To describe this, we could go through the entire Bible cataloging all the character traits and behaviors that are commanded and exemplified in the lives of godly saints. But the supreme example is Jesus. He said that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. These are relationship commands. You can measure how mature in Christ you are by assessing your relationships with God and with others. Are you growing with God intellectually? Emotionally? Physically? Many of our mainline Christians today would shrug at this question. They don’t know how to answer it. Most haven’t taken a Christian discipleship class since their confirmation. How long ago was that? To help others mature in Christ, you’ve got to be growing in maturity, too. Seminary professor, Dr. Howard Hendricks, used to say, “You cannot impart what you do not possess!” If you’re not making a concerted effort to become more than a couch potato Christian in Christ, then you won’t mature past an adolescent faith and then you can’t help someone else in that process. One of the last things Jesus says to us is to “go and make disciples of all the nations.” Paul says, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (See, also, 1 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 and 3:9.) You may be thinking, “That’s kind of intimidating! I don’t feel adequate to help others grow in Christ. I don’t think I’ll ever be at the point where I could tell others to be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” Well, I’ve got news for you: If you’ve got kids, or grandkids, or neighbors or go to work or church or the gym, if people see you period: they are learning from your example! You may be a good example to them of someone who is growing in Christ, or you may be a poor example. But you are an example! We want to help you! I want you to join me on my growth journey. You may be a gift to me. Join us for Wednesday studies, “Good and Beautiful God” at 6 PM or Bible study at 10 AM. Look for our soon to be announced fall offerings, too. Or better yet start your own group! I would love to see people maturing into the image of Jesus by loving God and neighbors. May you be inspired to become more of who you are meant to be. Rev. Trey Hegar
Hi! This is your Director of Congregational Ministries speaking. I’ve hijacked Pastor Trey’s column for this month. Partly because he’s got a lot on his plate right now. But also because I wanted to tell you something. I wanted to tell you how amazing you are and how appreciative we are to be a part of this loving and welcoming community.
Our church has been quite the hub of activity for the last two weeks. I have welcomed the increase in activity and I feel like this is exactly how the church should be used.
The other week I posted something about the immigration raid on my Facebook page. One old friend from a previous congregation asked, “Why can’t they come here legally?” To which I answered, “Perhaps some of them have and perhaps some of them are in the process which can take years. But my first response is to help when help is needed. We’ll ask questions later.”
Immigration can be such a touchy subject with so many different thoughts and opinions surrounding this topic. I urge us all to respect each other’s opinions but I also urge us to be open to changing our own opinions. Trey and I have learned so much about the immigration process over the past two weeks. We’ve also learned so much about the families affected by the raid. And what I’m most thankful for is that our church - the Session, our elected leaders - decided years ago that this place was going to be a safe place, a place of refuge.
One of my favorite stories from the Bible is that of Esther. Her journey came down to a single moment that could have changed the course of her story forever. Esther had the opportunity to save her people, and she could have easily walked away, scared of the risk she would need to take. Esther 4:14 says, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” For such a time as this! We have been called to this place and to this time for such a time as this. And maybe we are like Esther, still trying to make sense of all of this. Still trying to make sense of God’s calling on our lives and in this church. And that’s okay. But, for such a time as this, we are helping where help is needed. We are being a beacon of hope.
When I was a senior at Iowa State University I student taught for eight weeks in the Czech Republic. This was a foreign land in every sense of the word. The language was difficult. The food was different. And there were a couple of times when hatred was spewed in my direction simply because I was American. But what I remember even more were the people that loved me and welcomed me into their community.
We are called for such a time as this!
Rev. Sarah F. Hegar
My father-in-law bought each member of the family the same book this past Christmas. He mentioned how he read the book and found it inspiring. He asked if we would be willing to read the book together as a family over the course of the year and share our insights each week through email. The name of the book is “My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging.” The author, Rachel Naomi Remen, is a medical doctor, professor, and author of another best-selling book called “Kitchen Table Wisdom.” One quote says, “Where most doctors treat symptoms, Dr. Remen heals souls.”
From the back cover it says, In “My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Naomi Remen, cancer physician and master storyteller, uses her luminous stories to remind us of the power of our kindness and the joy of being alive. Dr. Remen's grandfather, an Orthodox rabbi and scholar of the Kabbalah, saw life as a web of connections and knew that everyone belonged to him, and that he belonged to everyone. He taught her that blessing one another is what fills our emptiness, heals our loneliness, and connects us more deeply to life.
Life has given us many more blessings than we have allowed ourselves to receive. “My Grandfather’s Blessings” is about how we can recognize and receive our blessings and bless the life in others. Serving others heals us. Through our service we will discover our own wholeness— and the way to restore hidden wholeness in the world.
I would like to share with you a passage from the book that is shaping my life personally. It begins, “Most of us have been given many more blessings than we have received. We do not take time to be blessed or make the space for it. We may have filled our lives so full of other things that we have no room to receive our blessings. One of my patients once told me that she has an image of us all being circled by our blessings, sometimes for years, like airplanes in the holding pattern at an airport, stacked up with no place to land. They are there waiting for a moment of our time, our attention.
People with serious illness have often let go of a great deal; their illness has created an opening in their lives for the first time. They may discover ways to receive all the blessings they are given, even those that we were given long ago. Such people have shown me how to receive many blessings.
Many years ago the doctor cared for a woman called Mae Thomas. Mae had grown up in Georgia. She had worked hard all her life, cleaning houses in order to raise seven children and more than a few grandchildren. By the time the doctor met her she was old and riddled with cancer. Yet, Mae celebrated her life. Her laugh was pure joy. It made you remember how to laugh yourself. Just thinking of her made the Dr. smile. As Mae became sicker the Dr. began to call her every few days to check on her. She would always answer the phone the same way. The Dr. would ask, “Mae, how you doing?" And Mae would chuckle in reply, "I'm blessed sister I'm blessed.” On the day Mae died her last words to the Dr. were, “I am blessed.” Mae was one of those kinds of people. And perhaps so are we all.”
I was blessed reading that excerpt from the book. I have known many dear friends in the church who count their blessings and bless others. I hope you will know that you are blessed and that you will find ways to receive your many blessings and to bless others, too. May you enjoy the beauty of the earth, the laughter of life, the sacredness of tears, and the deep joy of hope in Jesus whose will is making the world a blessing for all. Amen. Rev. Trey Hegar
We live in an age of increasing doubt and skepticism. Our fellow Americans boast about how much they distrust the United States government. Our brothers and sisters in Christ brag about not believing many of the teachings of the church. Have you discussed the virgin birth lately? Our Catholic friends struggle with faith in their long trusted institution because of priestly scandals. We doubt science and put religion at a distance. There is no authority for the right belief.
We also live in an age of increasing unexamined belief in the absurd. Conspiracy theories comfort our political views. We don’t care if they aren’t proven. They just have to make sense to our minds. “Well, that sounds right.” We accept pseudo-science over long evidence based research using the scientific method. As one author put it "aliens are real, ghosts exist, and the earth was made in six days, but climate change and GMOs and vaccines are made up by the government deep state to control the masses." The age of complete relativism is upon us.
With all of this I find myself at a crossroad about how to articulate my hope in Christ and the doctrines of the church. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.” Hebrews 11:11 says, "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
At my last church I did 20 funerals. In each we talked about the “Witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” We did not talk about what to believe about Easter. We did not talk about how chocolate and bunnies got involved. We talked about hope.
I remember holding the hand of one friend who was dying. She had said in Bible study that she had doubts about the resurrection and heaven, etc. Later she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We talked in her hospital room. She shared how she was moved to tears with hope and comfort about who Jesus was. In a way, her doubt still lingered. She knew it was absurd. But to her the hope was beautiful and
a comfort. In her reality of living and dying the hope of the resurrection was real. Nothing else mattered about skepticism or belief for that matter. What mattered was comfort and peace.
That is what the resurrection means to me. It is a gift from Jesus and our tradition of faith. It gives hope. Romans 8:24 says, "For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see?” And from 2 Corinthians 4:18, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
May you have hope in Christ. Happy Easter!
Rev. Trey Hegar
Hi Friends and Families,