Musings from Ministry Team Members

Posted March 21st, 2019

For this Musings I refer to the latest contribution by Wendy McFadden in the eBrethren Messenger of March 13, 2019.  In her thoughtful article she speaks about “letting go”.  In the season of Lent we often think about “giving up something” to deepen our spiritual journey and sacrifice leading to Holy Week and Easter asking one another “What is it you are giving up for Lent?”  In the article McFadden uses language of “letting go”.  The language of “letting go” is my choice of language for this season rather than “giving up”.  While this may seem to be mere semantics and word gymnastics, I believe there is a fundamental difference in the language we choose to use.  This being one of those times.

The practice of “letting go” is a discipline of the spirit.  Letting go suggests to me intent, discernment, thought, being present in the moment whatever the moment might be.  Letting go connotates a sense of empowerment suggesting an element of choice rather than a resigned or negative attitude of giving up.  This not only applies to the season of Lent but in my work as Chaplain, I believe, it is relevant to matters of end of life.  Often, I hear family members say their loved one just “gave up” as they took their last breath.   Perhaps so, but what if we viewed the experience of last breath not as resignation but that of letting go?  Of release?  Of freedom?  I quote from the referenced article, “There are people who give something up for Lent, but this month I’m thinking more about letting go.  These are different, but not completely.  Giving something up is about sacrifice; letting go is about freedom.  Both clear space for what matters.  Both can provide spiritual focus.”

For me, “giving up” feels as if it is a downfall or failure.  As if there is no other recourse and all is hopeless and powerless.  “Letting go” on the other hand, suggests choice and restores some sense of control, and power AND by gaining this sense of power and control we then have the choice to let go of it.  It becomes both / and.   With “letting go” hope seems to be restored with a sense of freedom and “lightness of spirit”.

In the gospel of Luke, we hear Jesus say at the last, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”, Luke 23:46.  This was a moment of letting go; this was a moment of release; this was a moment of freedom; this was a moment of giving rather than giving up.  The horizon of meaning in Greek for the word commend includes present (as in I give, I present), put forth (deposit as a trust or for protection), set before, commit.  Jesus did not just “give up” (his spirit) closed fisted with a sense of hopelessness and resignation, but rather with a sense of open-handed giving, as in a sense of trust, a sense of presenting and putting forth – a sense of intention.   Jesus held within himself the power and choice to let go – as do we.

Last breath moments are not always met with a sense of letting go.  Some are tragic and unforgiving.  Some are unexpected and unforeseen.  Some last breath moments are met with fight, struggle, and resistance and in the end, some will say their loved one just gave up not fighting hard enough in denying death.  But what if somewhere deep inside the dying loved one’s heart and soul, where we can never go in those moments, they found that place of release, that place of presenting, that place of trust, that place where hopelessness turns into hope and the freedom to let go of their spirit was realized.   For me, the capacity to let go leads to resurrection, to newness, to a clearer path forward over and above resigned giving up which can lead us to resentment, regret, disappointment, even self-loathing.

When all seems lost and hopeless, “letting go” creates the possibility to lead us to hope when we have an open way to change what it is we hope for.

This topic of “letting go” vs. “giving up” is not done with me yet.  I offer it here for thought and dialogue.  If you care to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Chris Whitacre; Minister of Pastoral Care

(Excerpt from eBrethren Messenger and Wendy McFadden used with permission.)

Attendance for February, 2019

Posted March 20th, 2019

Feb. 3:      Sunday School 52 – Worship 144

Feb. 10:    Sunday School 53 – Worship 138

 Feb. 17:    Sunday School 49 – Worship 121

Feb. 24:    Sunday School 38 – Worship 141

Notes of Appreciation

Posted March 20th, 2019

 – An acknowledgment letter has been received from McPherson College for contributions to their programs and ministries.

– Thank you for the cards, your willingness to listen, your words of encouragement and sympathy after the recent death of my sister. – Bonnie Fruth

– I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and kindness during Bob’s stay in the hospital and after his passing. The women of the church made a fantastic meal that was enjoyed by all. I received several enthusiastic compliments on it. Thanks to Chris and Kathryn for their help and guidance. This is such a loving congregation, and I have felt enveloped by the care and concern everyone has given me. – Jill Brax

Thank You to Our Office Volunteers

Posted March 20th, 2019

Rita Beam, Glenn Gayer, Karen Hoch, Elsie Holderread, Ann Stover, Paul and Mary Wagoner

Musings from Ministry Team Members

Posted February 21st, 2019

Dear Church Family,

I had the privilege of going to Great Bend on Tuesday and being a part of the Western Plains District Leadership/Pastoral Training, and it was eye opening.  Gimbiya Kettering and Dennis Webb led the sessions, and I want to say that our district is in amazing hands as I sat with sisters and brothers reflecting on our congregations.  I was in awe of the vulnerability that flowed from our sisters and brothers.  Kettering and Webb were amazing navigators of this journey, and they made us all uncomfortable to God’s glory.

I don’t have enough time or space, in this newsletter, to highlight all that they shared and brought to light, so I invite any who want to hear more to get a hold of me and lets chat.  Over coffee.  Over lunch.  Around the table.  Listening. Engaging. Learning.  But I wanted to highlight my brief trip, because what time I spent inspired me and challenged me, and I want to invite any and all to join me at the table.

This is supposed to be a spring letter.  A chance to remind us that though we are buried under a bit of snow and the cold wind still bites our noses, spring is coming.  Color and life will emerge from a long winter slumber.  We could find ourselves playing outside, enjoying the Creation’s invitation to be together, in our backyards, in the mountains, or wherever God’s meets us and greets us.   That was supposed to be the purpose of this month’s newsletter but the training on Tuesday changed the trajectory of my thinking and writing.

Instead, I want us to think about icebergs.  Yeah I know it’s still winter, and we just moved the snow from our driveways and sidewalks, and we anticipate another bout of winter weather this weekend.  Yes, I know an iceberg only reminds us of the season we feel buried in.  Nonetheless, I want us to imagine an iceberg.  A huge one.  The kind of one that invites us to stand on and marvel at the majesty of it all, an iceberg that is inspiring. Beautiful.  Divine.

As marvelous as this iceberg appears, most know that what we see and enjoy is simply the tip.  There is more to this mountain of ice than meets the eye.  There are buried levels, beyond our ability to see or understand.  We love the peak, because it seems perfect.  Flawless.  Powerful.  Held together in such a way that all can ooh and awe at it as the masterpiece it is.  However, we do so at the risk of missing what lies hidden.

Churches can be beautiful icebergs: amazing, gorgeous, masterpieces, and they can have hidden layers.  It is the layers lurking beneath the surface of the waters that have the ability to anchor us deeply into the mystery of God or have the ability to shipwreck us and get us off course.  I am inviting us to check out what lies beneath the surface of our iceberg.

Let’s go diving.

Inspired by Sister Kettering and Brother Webb, I bid us to dive beneath the surface and examine our iceberg.  I want us to go into this adventure, together.  Bound to each other.  Listening to one another.  Letting God’s love tie us together, so that even if we discover that things are a little off, we can and will work through them.  Ensuring that we will be stronger and healthier and holier once we do.  We might get uncomfortable, and we might feel a little anxious, but if in the end we find God in each other, and if we come away whole, then hasn’t the journey been worth it?  Hasn’t the expedition beneath the waters proven to be Divine?

Spring is coming, what a wonderful time to look at ourselves and seek the new life that spring promises.  We could enter the Season of Lent, ready to reflect on ourselves and prepare ourselves for new life and new beginnings.   The leadership training helped me see my own stuff beneath the surface, and I realized, as I drove home, that I want to explore that stuff with you: my sisters and brothers.  My family.  My fellow pilgrims.  Because this mission only gets better if we have each other.

So may we all welcome the dawn of warmer temperatures that promise colorful days and singing birds, but may we also welcome the search for lies beneath our ice berg, so that together we can be whole.  To the glory of God and for our neighbor’s good.  Amen.

Pastor Jerry