Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reflections from Ordination Sunday

Laying on of hands during Ordination Prayer

I’m still giddy from the celebration of my ordination on Sunday, January 17, and quite honestly, I’m a little surprised by that.  There have been so many hoops to jump through to get to this point:  5 ½ years of education, three interviews, two lengthy applications, two congregational votes – meanwhile I’d been doing the job I was just ordained to do for the last year and eight months.  The cynical side of me wondered if folks would think this was just another ploy to get one of Nokesville’s famous potluck meals and some presents.

Silly, silly girl.  Have I learned nothing after all these years?

My very first class in seminary was Rituals and Reflections.  In that class we learned that the need for ritual is one of the basic human needs – every bit as real as the need for food, shelter and love.  Ritual is one of the ways we connect with one another, and it is a communal means of connecting with the Divine.

This weekend’s service reminded me of that in a humbling and breathtaking way.  And even though it was my ordination, I was not the only one moved to tears or to dancing by the Spirit.   

Flute and percussion as part of the choral anthem, "A New Song"
 Of the 148 people who attended, there were some who only found themselves in a church building for weddings or the occasional funeral.  There were others for whom formal religion had in some way injured or marginalized them or left them feeling cold and unwelcome.  And still they came – some from a very great distance.  

There were friends from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Tennessee and Mississippi and Maryland.  There were friends from my craft store and from different faith traditions and from no faith traditions.  In all, there were 14 Churches of the Brethren represented – from across 4 districts.

Pastor Yakubu Bakfwash of Graceway Church of the Brethren and John Shafer, Music Director of Oakton Church of the Brethren and member of the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements committee
This gathering of people, all of whom are dear to me, reflects our society.  I see many of them so rarely.  In all of my work over the last several years on building the community, I know that we are becoming more isolated and disconnected – from one another, from God and from a sense even of who we are.  

Sunday’s service reminded me of who I am – and I wish we could all have days like this.  Someone said it was like a “celebrity roast” – to which I responded “no it wasn’t – it was the opposite of that!”  
Someone else said it was like attending your funeral while you were still alive – to hear how the intersection of two lives enhanced life for both!

Hugs from my son
For me, and I think for many who witnessed it, it was a powerful reminder of how very NOT ALONE I am – we are.  God is and has always been with us – regardless of our wandering paths. 
God has placed angels alongside me in human skin – to encourage me and feed me and protect me and correct me and simply to laugh with me and love me!

Hugs from church leadership
This Ordination ritual recognized all of that – as well as my calling to share the Good News – God’s many blessings - with everyone else.  And, I loved how Jesus was so very present in every moment – in every picture.  

With Mid-Atlantic District Executive Gene Hagenberger

Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

More Memories

We had such a great time at our 120th Homecoming celebration last month.  One of the highlights was the Memory Book that Gayle H. put together.  The book is full of pictures and stories - a treasure of recollections from folks in the congregation.

We finally had to put a deadline on accepting entries so that we could send the book to be printed - but that doesn't mean we can't continue to share memories in another format.  And so, I'm delighted to share what Nancy Tiller emailed me after homecoming weekend.  If you would like to share some memories, please email me and I'll post them here as well.


Some of my memories of the Church

There are so many memories that I could share about my Church. I will select the one that I really treasure. I was taken to Church from birth and had many experiences. At that time we went to Church in the Hebron Seminary. It was a large three story white building. My father had went to school there. When we went in the front door there was a large entry room. On the right was a classroom used by the public school system.

On the left was the class room for the little children. At the back of the building on the left was a big kitchen with a big wood range. To the right was a dining room. In the front there was a stairway to the left and one to the right. I would get confused as a little girl as to which one to take to my classroom. If I went to the right, I had to go through the sanctuary to get to the other side where my classroom was.

The center of the second floor was the sanctuary. There was a third floor where the staff had living quarters when it was a school. We children were told not to go up there but of course when told not to do something there was always the temptation to do it. I remember at least one time when I went up. It was night, very dark and scary so I didn't really see anything. I have always wondered just what it looked like up there. Outside there was a concrete baptismal pool. It had steps to go down and up from it. We wore bathing suits when baptized. I was ten when Rev. Olden Mitchell baptized me. I can remember it well. When I was real little Mama would let me sit beside her during Love Feast. She would share the feast with me. I loved it. When I got a little older us girls, Myrna, Sarah and I would go to the ends of the table and get the communion bread that was left and were usually fussed at by some of the ladies. We sure did love that bread. I still love it and have been known to bake it just so I could eat all I wanted. I did not like to see the Seminary torn down but was also excited about the new building.

I was married there and expect to have my memorial service there. No matter where I have lived, going to another Church, The Nokesville Church of the Brethren is my Church. My great grandfather was a circuit riding preacher so I guess The Church of the Brethren is in my blood.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sneak Peek of the New Banners!

We have been doing quite a bit of housekeeping, getting ready for our 120th celebration of homecoming on April 23 & 24. As we look back at "what was", we also want to look ahead at "What's new".  One suggestion was to create new banners, and unveil them at the April 24 worship service.  (Polly Flory is working hard!)

 We are grateful for Lyn Ficili's leadership and vision (pictured above with Beth Vigil) to create a series of 6 banners.  We are also thankful for everyone who cut out felt letters and images, and who gathered to do the final assembly.

Betty Hepler and Bev Baker pose with their "sneak peek".  To see them all, be sure to join us, Sunday, April 24 at 11:00 AM. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Homecoming Updates

Circle April 23 and 24 on your calendars to join us for the 120th anniversary of the Nokesville Church of the Brethren..  And if you have already marked the dates, highlight them so you don’t miss the celebration.
The event begins on Saturday (23rd) at 8:30 A.M. when planned service projects will begin for those wishing to participate.  Project #1 is the construction of an A-frame kiosk to house signs of Nokesville Business Association members.  This is in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America.  If this is not your “cup of tea” several lawns in the community owned by incapacitated people are in need of some spring cleaning.  (Lunch will be on your own).  

At 5:00 P.M. a cookout will be held at the church to recognize those who have or are presently participating in service programs like Brethren Volunteer Service or Peace Corps.

                Our Sunday morning worship service begins at 11:00 AM and will feature Ben Bear (a member of our congregation and presently serving as Outdoor Recreation and Sustainability Graduate Assistant at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, WVA). Former pastors Tom and Paula Bowser will also participate in the service.  All three choirs (Chancel, Bells, Children’s) will present special music.

                Following the worship service, all are invited to the delicious carry-in meal in the fellowship hall. This will be a great opportunity for you to visit and share memories.

                Throughout the church, there will be displays of events from the church’s past --- a continual slide show, display case, memory table, scrapbook, etc. --- You may wander through them at your own pace.

                The Youth will be selling DVD’s featuring the slide show assembled by Eric Finet at a cost of $10.00.  Monies will be added the National Youth Conference Fund.

See you on the 23rd (and 24th, too)!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

120th Anniversary Homecoming - April 23 & 24

Save the Date!
We will be celebrating our 120th year as an organized congregation with a service project and cookout on Saturday, April 23 and a worship service and carry-in meal on Sunday, April 24.  More details about those events are in the works.

Meanwhile, here is a list of needs we have in the next few weeks.  If you can help with any of these projects, please contact the church office, and we will get your contact information to the correct person.  You can email us at or call us at 703-594-2685.

If you have any suggestions for ways we can enhance the event or if you have names and addresses of individuals you would like to have invited, please provide those as soon as possible.

Lyn would love to work with a few people on the creation of a set of new banners for the sanctuary. While no art or crafting talent is required it is certainly welcomed, as well as creative ideas and concepts.

Slide Show
Eric has volunteered to put together a slideshow to run during the Homecoming carry-in-meal!
If you have pictures that you could loan (you will get them back). Please put them in an envelope marked "slide show- your name " and put them in a box in the back of the sanctuary that will be labeled "Slide Show". When your pictures have been scanned they will be returned to you.
If you have a few digital pictures that you would like to share, put them on a C.D, chip or thumb drive and put in the slide show box. Homecoming is all about remembering and pictures can tell a wonderful story.

Updating Church Scrapbook
We are updating the church scrapbook before Homecoming. If you have pictures or other memorabilia that you can donate (you will not get them back).

Please separate them into years and put each year into it's own envelope.  Ex.) "Scrapbook  Pictures 1992"
-It would be helpful to identify all people in the picture
- Please also include your name in case we have questions

*There will be a box in the back of the sanctuary to collect your envelopes.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Alternative Worship Service: January 24, 2016

Due to the extraordinary amount of snow, we will not be having our traditional church service this Sunday, January 24.  We pray that you are home, safe and warm.

However, we didn't want to miss an opportunity to worship our Creator God - the maker of all seasons.  So, grab a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, and prepare to worship in this "nontraditional" way, knowing that your praise is music to God's ears.

Opening Hymn - Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
 (If you click on the title, it will open a window where you can hear the hymn and read the lyrics as it plays - feel free to sing along).

Pastoral Prayer
Since we are not together to pray this morning, please join me in a bidding prayer.  Read along in prayer, and then insert the names and things on your heart where guided.

Never-changing God,
Though your flock in not together in body, we are gathered in spirit in praise to you.
This morning, we are reminded of the power that is not ours to wield.  We are made to rest, and to take note of the awesomeness of your creation. 

Lord, we are grateful for this time to reflect on all that you are, and on how dependent we are on you.  Thank you for the warmth of our homes, for the provision of food, for the love of those near us.  We are grateful for the men and women who are even now out in the storm taking care of our needs:  the police and firemen, the utilities workers, the doctors and nurses, and the plow drivers.  Lord, bless them.

We lift up the following names in gratitude to you:

Lord, we are concerned for those who are ill or alone during this time of storm.  Bring comfort and healing to those in need, and bring someone along side who can help them dig out.  Make us mindful of those we may be able to help. 

We lift up the following names of those who need your healing touch:

Lord, bringer of peace - in times of rest, our brains often remain busy.  We worry.  What will the storm bring?  What will tomorrow bring?  Are we prepared?  These worries may reflect cares far beyond the current weather.  Help us to turn our worries over to you.  Strengthen our faith to know that you are working.  Give us courage to let go of our need to control, and to let your abundant plan for our lives play out. 

We lift up the following cares and concerns - knowing you are in the midst of them:

Thank you for this day and for your unending presence with us. 
In gratitude and praise,

Scripture Reading:   2 Kings 2:1-13
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Elijah Ascends to Heaven
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”

Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Elisha Succeeds Elijah

13 He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 

Sermon  "Change is Hard"

(If you click on the sermon title, you will get to see and hear a sermon I wrote last March.  I was asked to provide pulpit supply for a church that was in the midst of another change - and I was also in the midst of my own change - having not yet been called to serve your church.  I prepared this sermon in advance for one of my preaching classes, so you'll see that I share the "context" for this sermon prior to starting.  May you be blessed by what you hear).

Closing Praise MusicPraise You in this Storm

(Click on the song title to be taken to a video with lyrics)

Thank you Lord, for making a way to intentionally spend time in worship and praise.  As we continue about our day, may your name be on our lips and your ways be our ways.