In sharing my experience of the presence of Jesus, I would like to start by
remembering some of the different ways early followers experienced his
presence after his resurrection. We've heard about Mary's experience by the
tomb, when she thought he was a gardener and only recognized him by his voice.
There were the Apostles who had breakfast with him on the beach. There were
the travelers on the road to Emmaus that we heard about this week in Vacation
Bible Camp. They heard his explanation of scripture but didn't recognize him until
further in the story when he broke bread in a familiar way. Those in the upper
room experienced him magically coming through the wall and then disappearing,
and Thomas got to actually touch him. Some had visions, some had dreams,
some like Saul who became Paul had a vision, heard a voice and was physically
Many of these stories to me are almost unbelievable! But it has been said that
without those experiences of the presence of the Risen Jesus, nothing else much
would have been recorded about him. Maybe we wouldn't know all the things
that he taught in the 3 years before his death. Maybe there wouldn't be a New
Testament. Can you imagine that?! No story about the Good Samaritan to teach
us about kindness or the healing of the lepers to remind us to be thankful.
I must say that I do remember a time when I had come to the sanctuary alone to
pray about something. I spent some time there and I don't even remember what
I was praying about now, but when I left I felt this very strong presence with me.
It was so strong in fact that I actually looked around to see if someone was behind
me while I walked out. That was a rather rare experience for me, one of the few
what I would call mystical experiences I have had.
I mostly observe and feel the presence of Jesus in others: such as when a group
of caring people meets to pray with and comfort a friend going through a rough
time, when a few folks sing hymns at the bedside of someone in hospice care, or
when a meal is lovingly prepared for someone homebound. I feel it in healers and
teachers. I feel that presence when the most unlikely person teaches me
something new about God, someone in fact whose theology is different than
mine. This example relates to my reading a lot of books by those I would call
modern prophets. The woman said "Don't spend so much time reading about
God that you forget to spend time with God." It reminds me of Jesus lecturing to
the Pharisees! (Not that I'm comparing myself to a very educated Pharisee mind
I feel Jesus' Presence in communion and in the reverent way the communion
stewards prepare the table, and the bread and juice are blessed by the pastor. I
have recognized Jesus and felt his presence in social justice workers and to those
who dedicate their whole lives to the ministry or to mission. They have so much
compassion for the other. And there is Jesus' presence in the way some care for
animals, plants and all of creation. I feel the presence of Jesus through music, art
and poetry. I can feel that presence in a simple smile.
The presence of Jesus was very strong at Vacation Bible Camp this week while
adults and youth shepherded and taught children Jesus' message in all kinds of
ways. Often a youth stopped to spend time with a child who needed a little extra
We have been studying some of the qualities of Jesus this summer in our worship
services and Pastor Kelly's Wed. afternoon meditations. The list of qualities is
much longer of course. While I can experience them through those modern-day
prophets whose books I read and lectures I hear, sermons I experience, the
strongest presence of Jesus is most often through caring everyday people being
the hands, feet and heart of Jesus and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
~ Pam Breniser
We do encourage you to watch Pam's live "Presence of Jesus" presentation at last week's worship service. If you do not have time to watch the whole service (which we hope you do because the kids did a great job too!), Pam's presentation is at 25:48.
For those of you who may be interested in helping plan worship series for the upcoming year, our planning retreat is next week, August 13 - 16th. We will be joining the session from the Sanctuary at specific times. No travel required other than coming to the church during the sessions.
If you are interested in joining us, please let Jodi know in the office so we can plan accordingly and send you the schedule.
Sept 9 - Church Members Family & Friends Ham & Bean Supper - This will be a trial run of our buffet format and we encourage everyone to attend and help us make improvements. Tickets will be sold at the door.
Oct 7 - Our first Ham & Bean Supper open to the public. We're so excited to resume this ministry in our community and look forward to seeing both new and familiar faces! Tickets will be sold at the door.
Ham & Bean suppers will resume full schedule on the first Saturday of each month after we launch the first one on October 7th!
AUGUST 29TH - SAVE THE DATE
A NIGHT WITH AUTHOR CARTER HEYWARD
"THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF WHITE CHRISTIAN NATIONLISM: A CALL TO ACTION"
Summer keynote event: The Seven Deadly Sins of White Christian Nationalism: A Call to Action.
At Unitarian Universalist Church, Concord, NH
We are SO excited to welcome the Rev. Dr. Carter Hayward to New Hampshire on August 29th. In a time of rising hate activity across our state, Rev. Dr. Heyward is going to talk with us about her book, the Seven Deadly Sins of White Christian Nationalism. Together, we will learn about action steps we can take in our own churches and communities as we grow our muscles in this work together.
There will be opportunity to spend time together in both small and large groups, and to connect with other voices of faith from across the state who are also interested in doing this work. Registration, and more details about our book group accompanying this event coming next week!
Thanks to our partners at the NH Conference of the UCC, and Episcopal Diocese of NH who are working with us. We hope you will save-the-date, and join us.