Letter from Pastor Carl

I’ve been your pastor for only a few days, but during those few days I have had an enjoyable time of getting to know some of the members of this church.

My wife, Dainn, and I returned from a Volunteers In Mission (VIM) trip to Cochabamba Bolivia on July 4th. Diann came down with pneumonia the next day. She remained bed ridden for almost two weeks. I confessed (from the pulpit 7/12) that I was not a very good nurturer when it comes to taking care of her needs. So, someone picked up on that and sent me home with some flowers and some food left over from that wonderful reception on my first Sunday. Thank you. Diann was able to come with me for the next Sunday; her first time out. Thank you for the cards and the prayers.

I am the coordinator for the New York Conference sponsored VIM to Bolivia, so you will hear more about this as we journey together in the coming days. This is a Conference in mission led by a bishop in mission, Jeremiah Park.

Pleasant Valley UMC is also in mission right here, right now. Mission is all about building the body of Christ both at home and far away, so the world will know how great God is I want to get to know the people of this congregation. I will need your help. I plan to have office hours on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. You may drop in for a visit during those hours or we can set a time and date that better suits your needs. I’ll be available every Tuesday from 2 – 6 p.m. for other opportunities to get together.

I intend to be present at the scheduled Tuesday evening meetings as well. I would love to be invited for a meal before the meeting. On Sundays, following worship, I will be meeting with 8-10 people who sign up at the Bessie Table. This will provide another opportunity for us to exchange our stories and experiences. This kind of “getting together” will help me to serve as your pastor and leader for the coming days.

I envision my time with you as an opportunity to lead each other to the waters of God’s grace so that we may lead others to the possibility of falling in love with God in Christ Jesus.

Love, pastor Carl Franson

May Letter from Pastor Lynne

PLA friend of mine e-mailed me this week, asking, ”What happened to Spring?” I had to agree. We seem to have gone from near winter 40’s to near summer 80’s in a weekend. What happened to Spring was a very good question.

It lead me to think about how fast time passes these days (not of course because I’m getting older). Time passes quickly as life around us changes quickly. Communications arrive in milliseconds from around the globe. New technology is developed that allows us to accomplish more faster, leaving us with more time on our hands to fritter
away with more and more technicological gadgets and gizmos that numb our brains and our children’s’ brains and now even our babies brains!

And church? What about church? It is 3 weeks after Easter and what happened to the lilies? The trumpets? The Alleluia’s? Where did the mystery, the wonder of the empty tomb that drew us further and further into the darkness of Christ’s death and then into the blazing light of His glorious resurrection disappear to?

It is still there you know. It comes back to life as soon as you start to recall it. Doesn’t it? That awe. That stirring of mystery and wonder. That longing to greet the One risen from the dead. Be it “By the Old Rugged Cross”. Or, in the garden – when you “Come to the Garden alone”.

Keep that mystery and stirring alive in your life. Join your fellow disciples and share that mystery and wonder. Share it those who may be faltering a bit and need some bolstering. Come and have yours bolstered when in need. Come just to join in the Alleluia choruses and make you praises known on high.

Peace,

Pastor Lynne

April Letter from Pastor Lynne

PLAs I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the larges holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.

My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn’t had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times.

I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again.

I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was. I rose and slowly lifed the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes. Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, ‘Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships and My struggles.

“Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.”

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

Letter from Pastor Lynne

PLDear Friends,

It has been nearly a year now since I’ve moved to “God’s country” and not a day goes by that I do not thank God for being here in Pleasant Valley. I continue to see and experience a faith community that strives, and at times, struggles to do Christ’s work in the world.  How we measure that work is an elusive idea these days. It amazes me how much work the church has to do in today’s world. How many opportunities there are knocking on our doors seeking God’s Word. How many places God would have us serve and bring the Good News. We are used to counting numbers of people brought into the fold – the letters of Paul will speak of thousands baptized in just one day. And – O that we could have that kind of experience at PVUMC!

At the same time that we look at the numbers of people who so sorely need not only the word and acts of love that we as Christ’s body have to offer, we must never lose sight of the awesome impact the smallest of our actions can have on someone. A smile in the supermarket line just might avert an evening of domestic violence at home. A listening ear at the market may provide the only company a single mother has had for several days. And a compliment about her kids or her parenting might just let her soar through the week ahead.

Of course the reverse is true. An unkind word spoken with or without thinking can be powerfully wounding. Judging someone else’s life style or culture or way of thinking is something only God’s infinite wisdom can discern – and the examples from Christ are always of acceptance and love. For some reason, words of criticism, words of negativity carry more weight and serve to bring the spirit of a group down faster than words of encouragement and love.

One thing is for sure, and that is the more kind and loving things we say to one another, the more loving a community will form around us and radiate out from us. I challenge each of us to keep that goal foremost in our minds as we gather together, be it on Sunday mornings, for meetings, in small groups, and in the “parking lot” meetings. So many people need to hear words of encouragement. So many people come to church who need to be built up. In fact, each and every one of us needs that. Besides which, that’s something each and every member of this body of Christ can do. And in doing that, the love and warmth of this community will spread further and further afield. At the core of this church resides the Holy Spirit waiting for those Holy Spirit holes to burst forth in power and grace and glory. Let’s let the Holy Spirit thrive at PVUMC. Let’s let God lead the planning and see where we wind up.

Peace, Pastor Lynne