Sunday, February 18, 2018

Feb. 19 Mainstreeter Online

February 19, 2018

Words from the Pastor

"From dust you have come and to dust you shall return."

Genesis 2:6

This past Wednesday we gathered to observe Ash Wednesday, a day set apart to remind ourselves of our mortality and the need to depend utterly on God for all things. Earlier that day students, teachers, coaches, administrators, parents and family members of Parkland High School in Florida received a grim and tragic reminder of our human frailty and mortality when a former student killed 17 students and teachers in yet another act of senseless violence. As a nation we are still reeling and will do so until the next act of violence replaces this one in our collective memory.

Much has been written about this tragedy. Once again we are confronted with questions about mental illness, the prevalence of guns in our society, the reality that white males are more often the perpetrators of such acts of violence, and the struggles of youth who feel ostracized from their peers. These are all good questions that we need to struggle with as we seek to move from violence to shalom.

We, as a nation, need to have some serious conversations that lead to actions that will have positive results. We can't stick our heads in the sand any longer.

The struggle for us as people of faith is to also ask the question, "Where is God in such tragic events?" There are no easy answers. Yes, God was there in the helpers, as Mr. Rogers reminded us. Yes, God was there in the first responders who acted selflessly and sacrificially to assist the wounded and dying. Yes, God was present in the grieving parents and friends who cried out in anguish. Yes, God was present in the memorial gatherings as these young lives were celebrated and honored. And yes, God is present in the jail cell with the perpetrator of this tragic act and yes, God is present in the justice system that will have to decide his fate.  Still, what we desire most is that there be an end to such acts of violence and that our children be safe from such harm. This is where the words of Ash Wednesday serve as such a powerful reminder--"From dust you have come and to dust you shall return". God is with us in the ashes of our lives, present from birth to death, always a loving presence, even in the tragedies of life.

My hope and prayer for all of us as we journey through this season of Lent is that an awareness of our mortality will move us even more to act in ways that will address those ills that we face as the human family. My prayer is that each one of us will act in ways that reflect the love of God for all people--victims and perpetrators alike. May we align ourselves with the One who was the victim of senseless violence and death and yet could pray, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Worship Ahead in February

2/25 -- The Second Sunday in Lent

Scripture : Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Mark 8:31-38

Theme: Choosing the Way of the Cross--Following Jesus, being a disciple, requires that one choose the way of the cross. What does it mean to take up one's cross and follow Jesus? What does it mean to lose one's life in order to find it?


Announcements  

Calendar  for the Week of February 18

Confirmation Classes Have Begun

We have four youth who are participating in confirmation classes and preparing to be confirmed on Sunday, April 22nd. They are Grace Ivumva, John Sommer, Eric Romano, and Austin Borroto. Please keep each of these youth in your prayers throughout this time.

Finance News

Early one morning I compared what I do at work with what I do as a volunteer here at church. Both businesses and churches need to maintain current operations but also have an eye towards the future. What do I do at work?

About a third of my time is spent trying to understand market trends and shifts in order to align the company with the next big wave. Companies ignore vision at their peril, and even when they do their diligence, they can get it wrong. Nobody has made it big developing flying cars although many tried.

I also spend a significant amount of time trying to persuade the organization to pull resources away from profitable day-to-day operations, which have immediate financial returns, and instead invest a portion in highly uncertain and risky innovation.

I am David fighting Goliath otherwise known as Finance, Marketing, and Sales who are focused on refreshing or selling their existing product rather than putting a few resources to areas outside their comfort zones.

There are hazards to ignoring innovation. For example, Nokia was a world leader in cell phones and relied on keeping the status quo with an existing large customer base until the Apple iPhone came out and stole the market with their innovative product.

Once my company commits to innovation, I help execute the strategy with an eye towards our customer needs to ensure we fine tune as we innovate.

Execution is a science of its own. DEC had the vision to shift to microcomputers, but failed to make it a viable business. IBM successfully transformed itself from a computer maker to a leader in expert systems such as Watson. However, such technology is rapidly evolving, and that throws a wrench in execution.

So how does this apply to our church? Imagine an organization with stretched resources trying to adapt to changes, such as becoming relevant to young families in today's times. I wear the hat of the finance chair keeping a tight lid on expenses. Yet in the midst of this grind of spreadsheets tracking--where it comes from, where it goes, will we have enough?--I am keeping an eye on making sure we fund our growth items. Recently approved growth items include a youth group, extended nursery care hours, a nursery toilet, and outreach activities.

This takes a certain amount of faith that such extra-budget items will lead to growth, and that you will rally around this cause. Just as our members had concerns for safety and funded urgent electrical panel work, I suspect you will have similar concerns about attracting young families and keeping our institution of worship open in the next generation. I will give more growth strategy details in future columns. In the meantime, if you know junior and senior high youth interesting in joining our youth group, please send them towards Pastor Rich or me.

Thank you.

Joe Dechene

Ham & Bean Un-supper Update

Ham & Bean Un-Supper Closing Soon!

Time is running out on the Ham & Bean Un-Supper. We will be taking votes through 2/25, so if you want to make sure your favorite food item receives a vote, do it now! Currently, we have collected $199.

The standings of all the food items is:


       Ranking     Food Item          Votes

1

Potato Salad

 17

2

Pea Beans    

 12

3

Kidney Beans

 11

4

Ham

 10

4

Cole Slaw

 10

4

Pie

 10

5

Beverage

   8

5

Bread

   8


To place your vote, see Phyllis Bowden or Susan McDonald.

But hurry - or you'll miss your chance!