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Pastor’s reflection August 2017: 
As we head into the hottest month of the year and the summer harvest begins to ripen, we become even more mindful of God’s wonderful ongoing creation.  In the passage (Mt 13:24-30) Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and weed and how the field workers wanted to ‘pluck up’ the weeds that were growing among the wheat plants.  The landowner (God) said to let the wheat and weed grow together for the plants were indistinguishable until the time of harvest and it would therefore be easy (by mistake) to pluck wheat along with the weed.  At harvest time, the seeds of each plant grew to be visually quite different – the (good) wheat seed was larger than the weed’s seed which was much smaller and innately poisonous. 
In these times, when there is such division in our country and even our places of worship, it is easy to fall into seeing others as either/or—wheat or weed.  The parable makes it clear that to God we are all seen in the same way---deserving of cultivation and intended to grow together.  We are not to judge or to pluck for we will surely make mistakes.  And, in truth, we each hold the potential to be both wheat and weed.  This parable offers us a chance to self-reflect, asking ourselves…does my life reflect more wheat or weed?  And, will I choose to cultivate with love-- the wheat in others, rather than to judge others as weeds to be ‘weeded out?’  Will we heed God’s guidance and choose to grow together?
 
My prayer is that we choose just that -- to be ‘plucky’ rather than to pluck---as we help God produce, cultivated with love, a good and beautiful harvest this year and all the years to come.   Amen.   Pastor Aaron 
 
 

 Pastor’s reflection July 2017: 
As summer officially begins and we near the end of the June Pride celebration, we round the corner toward the July 4th Independence Day holiday.  It is interesting that Pride and Independence Day are juxtaposition and perhaps it calls our attention to see beyond independence---to full liberation and true freedom.  
          As we know, Independence Day began as a celebration of our official independence from England.  We settled this country to be free from political and religious oppression and it now begs the question – after nearly 300 years---with independence, are we truly free?  Given the current climate, once again rife with political and religious oppression, I would posit the answer is…not yet. 
         The month of Pride is a welcome opportunity to recognize the progress made by the LGBTQ community and to celebrate who we are, liberated from religious/political gender and sexuality norms, constructs, roles,
and demands.  More than independence, Pride celebrates liberation as we live with authenticity and into who God so magnificently and intentionally created us to become.  This liberation offers the prospect of true freedom.
        My prayer is that every day we strive to become more liberated and more glorious.  That’s what God’s love can do…it can truly set us free. So, dear friends, happy liberation day and days----well beyond this July 4th holiday. 
 
May it be so, amen!  Pastor Aaron 

 

Pastor’s reflection June 2017: 
 
What better way to start June and the heat of summer than with a celebration of Pentecost?  The flaming passion of the Holy Spirit descended that first Pentecost  upon the disciples who had gathered from many nations, and each spoke in different ‘tongues’ -- that all may hear, in their native language, a personal message from God.
 This was a spiritual gift given to those early believers just as the Holy Spirit (to this day) provides us with spiritual gifts.  Do you know what gifts you have been given?  Is it a gift to serve, preach, teach, lead, sing or prophesy?  Is a gift of wisdom, faith, bridge-building, compassion, encouragement, giving, helping or healing?
Each of us is given different spiritual gifts needed by all of us as members of the church and body of Christ.  It is important for us to recognize and claim those gifts and then to use them – for the good of the body and the glory of God.
My prayer for us during this season of Pentecost is that we (re)discover our spiritual gifts, renew our passion, and with blazing hearts--- through our different gifts---continue to deliver a personal message from God, through love.  May it be so!  Amen.
 
~ Pastor Aaron 

 
 
Pastor's Reflection May 1, 2017
 
Now that Easter Sunday has passed, we are left in the afterglow of the joy of resurrection as we look toward spring and the celebrations of Cinco De Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day.  Each holiday offers a moment to reflect and to celebrate.  Beyond the holidays, what does this Easter season call us to see and to do? 
In what ways will we ‘spring’ into action and what ways will we share the joy of the resurrection with those around us?  Will we be witnesses at the crosses of our friends and loved ones, offering comfort and support? 
My prayer is that Easter lasts all year long and that we share our Good Fridays, hold vigil in our Easter Saturdays, and rejoice when we experience (yet another by the grace of God) resurrection.  God is with us each day as we walk from the Calvary to the Garden, and then beyond as this uncontainable love spreads to all nations and to all God’s beloved.  That is Easter life and resurrection living.  May we experience this…every day…for He is indeed alive so that we, too, may live.  Hallelujah   Amen.  Pastor Aaron 

 

Pastor’s reflection March 24, 2017: 

Spring has sprung!  Soon, we will see the breaking through of new life from the earth as plants sprout and blossom.  As we turn the corner and head toward Easter, we also prepare for and await the new life that springs from the earth through resurrection. We will again tell the story of the Passion that recounts Jesus’ last days and actions while he lived among us.  We see the triumphant parade into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and, later that week, Jesus is on his knees washing the disciples’ feet and sharing a last meal with those he loved dearly. Such tender love as he prepares them for his death and the beginning of something indescribable and life changing--- resurrection that brings life everlasting. Spring has sprung!  As with the starting of new life from the earth in all its beauty and splendor, may we remember Jesus who sprung from the earth and the beauty and splendor that continues to blossom in our hearts and in our lives, here and now through eternity…because he lived…because he lives...and because he love. With God’s help, may we prepare for the Good News that began with that first Easter morning and resounds with every Easter since.
           
He has sprung.  He is risen.  He is alive
           
Hallelujah 
           
Amen. 
           
Pastor Aaron 

 

Pastor’s reflection February 25, 2017: 
 
As we look toward March and gain more daylight with each new day, we are reminded of the Light of God’s love that is always present; a light that lasts eternally and is unwavering through each season.    
No doubt, at times, it can seem as if darkness crowds in and becomes pervasive in the messaging we experience through social media and the news.  And, yet, it is in the very center of such times the Light burns even brighter – perhaps it is just more noticeable in contrast.  The kindness, love, solidarity, and social justice action pierces through as if God is saying “Don’t lose perspective or focus---I am always with you; my Spirit will sustain you and lead you onward.-- love, truth, and justice will prevail.” 
As the season of Lent begins March 1 on Ash Wednesday, we begin a time of reflection and preparation that will culminate on Easter Sunday.  What is it that we might leave behind?  What new spiritual growth will we welcome?  How will the Light be reflected in and through us in new ways?  Will that light create more daylight for us and others with each passing day?
My prayer is that we, just like the clocks, take every opportunity to ‘spring ahead’ gaining one more hour of daylight for our minds, lives, and souls.  God is Light and Love…that burns brightly every hour of every day; in every season.   Amen.  Pastor Aaron 

 

Pastor’s reflection January 26, 2017: 
 
As we look to Valentine’s Day and our ‘Red Tie’ celebration, we are reminded that love in all its many iterations and expressions is a blessing and gift from God.  Whether we are single or in a relationship, there is plenty of love to share…in our church and beyond. 
These days, I am sure we need to hear about love and to see it more. How perfectly timed that we remember (at this time each year) the baptism of Jesus and God’s proclamation to Jesus and us (“You are my beloved with you I am well pleased”).  This is the greatest of all ‘Valentine’s Day’ messages for it comes from God and it is for each one of us…not just February 14 but every day throughout the year.  Let us hold tightly to this message and always remember this truth; of which we can be certain.  We are God’s beloved and we are a delight to God. 
It may feel like we are going through hard times.  BUT, perhaps we are really going through HEART times; a time that calls us to care about and for one another --- even more.  Some among us may be developing a ‘heart condition’ and feel discouraged, lonely, and even afraid.  Let us resolve to be God’s ‘first responders’ and love each other through.  We are part of God’s Beloved Community, that Jesus began gathering with 12 those many years ago. We belong to God and we also belong to one another.
Thank you for being a part of this church, this Beloved Community, and bringing your hearts to share.  We indeed live (always) in heart time and that is a wonderful thing.  May it be so, I pray (with or without a ‘red tie’).  Amen!   Pastor Aaron 

 Pastor’s reflection December 29, 2016: 

    As we the year draws to a close, we traditionally look back at the year and then look forward to the year beginning. 
Looking back at 2016, no doubt we will smile with joy at the memorable moments that are filled with love and delight (and even miracles) just as we will also never forget the heartache we experienced with Pulse and the political landscapes (domestic and foreign) that began to emerge.  I remember a song from the ‘60s “The Good, the bad, and the ugly” that was the soundtrack to a western film at that time.  Sometimes, life experiences separate in such ways and, no doubt, we have experienced the good, bad, and ugly this past year, as in years past.
Perhaps it is just that mix that reminds us that in the messiness of life there is but one constant…God.  God dances with us in the joy, holds us and catches each tear in the heartache, and when things get ugly God brings us through and then leads us back to the dance.
When I look back at this year at MCC Hartford, I want to spell the name differently.  I believe this year (like the 23 before it) we have been MCC HEARTford, a place where many have found a spiritual home, a loving and caring community (family), and have deepened or grown a relationship with God and one another.  True, we have no control over the messiness of life…what we CAN do is have heart and take heart ----as we delight in, help, encourage, and love one another through it.  Yes, at times we will dance together; other times hold each other with compassion; and at times offer love and encouragement as we help each other through and then back to the dance.
Dear God’s beloved (and mine), may 2017 be a year of dancing with God and one another.  I, for one, have truly enjoyed this dance over the past 5 years at MCC Heart-ford.  The spiritual song playing is beautiful and beckons us to the dance floor---may we dance every chance we get.  And, for all the messiness, we can trust God is with us always (Emmanuel) and, as children of God, we are heirs to God’s promises, faithfulness, and love.
Thank you for being a part of this church and joining the dance.  And, equally as important, thank you for helping others to dance, too.  In this way, we share and live the Good News (for some it may be the very first time) that ALL are loved and beloved, by God…and by us, too. 
Happy New Year and Amen!  Pastor Aaron 

 
Pastor's Reflection November 23, 2016 
 
As we prepare to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with our loved ones and friends, we again take stock in what is most important to us and draw nearer to those we cherish.   There will be turkey (or tofu!), football, the Macy’s Day parade, and a time of reminiscing and joy. 
Perhaps this year we find ourselves hungry for more than just the Thanksgiving meal. The past few weeks post-election have no doubt been difficult for most of us.  And yet, we must not overlook the ways in which God continues to bless us and the grace that surrounds us.  We can feast on this and the hope that is ours in a God who is in our midst and loves us unconditionally and beyond any comprehension. 
As we gather in homes and at tables this holiday, my prayer is that we remember that God’s feast is never ending.  May we hold hands with our loved ones and know that God holds our hearts -- bringing us through and to a time that we can all but imagine.  Faith guides us to trust that God is always moving, restoring, and renewing.
Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones.  And, as we move into the season of Advent; let us continue to gather together as we await the Christ who is born each day anew wherever love is found.  And, love can certainly be found here…in each of us and as church family.  Amen.  Pastor Aaron 

 
Pastor’s reflection October 26, 2016: 
 
As we move past Halloween (and all the scariness we can conjure up!), we welcome in November and a month that we traditionally set aside for giving thanks. 
Beyond the family gathering, turkey dinner, and football games, we can also take a moment to reflect on that which surrounds us.  The leaves are brilliant colors now, leaving us breathless at times, and we remember that we are like those leaves---God’s creation who have been (and still being) magnificently shaped and imbued with color, making us unique and breathtakingly beautiful, too.  We see relationships with family, friends, and church folk that have made our lives richer and more meaningful.  As we turn the clocks back, we look forward and see hope on the horizon with holidays and a new year, filled with God’s blessings and grace.
As I, too, take a moment to reflect---I give thanks at Thanksgiving and every day---for the joy, compassion, and love we have shared in this church and beyond our walls with those who have been touched by God through us.
My prayer is that we remember that God is bringing us through, lifting us up, blessing us in surprising ways, and loving us always…every step of the way.  For that—may we always take a moment to give thanks.  Amen.  Pastor Aaron 

 

Pastor’s Reflection September 29, 2016: 
 
This month, as we celebrate the 48th anniversary of MCC as a denomination and prepare for MCC Hartford’s 43rd anniversary in November, we take a moment to reflect on the Good News of God’s unconditional love that we (as MCC) have helped to share locally and throughout the world. 
What better time to remember these anniversaries than on Communion Sunday (this Sunday)?  The Communion table is open at MCCs around the world.  And, it is this very invitation and warm welcome that invites us to gather around tables as God’s beloved in Cuba, Uganda, Hartford, and many other places globally.  At God’s table, that has no boundaries or conditions, we continue to share the bread and the cup that carry the potential to save and to transform lives. Fed and nourished spiritually in this way, we are then called to reach out to those who have not yet heard of God’s love or experienced personally the liberating love and light of Christ.
So, on this anniversary and at this table, let us more than remember --- may we also re-commit to the ministry that God started in Jesus all those years ago. And, with the passion of the Holy Spirit, continue to offer this invitation and extend a warm welcome here, in Hartford, and into the world. 
 
The table is wide -- as wide as God’s reach…and so is this love.
 
Happy anniversary MCC.  May the Good News that contains such joy and love continue to spread far and wide with our help!  Amen.  Pastor Aaron 

September 9, 2016  Pastor’s reflection:  

It is a fact that life is ever changing and evolving.  We know nothing stays the same and yet at times this brings excitement while at other times it can create uncertainty and even dread.  How is it that we might welcome autumn and all that season brings and yet when the seasons change in our lives we often lose our anticipation and excitement that something new is happening? 
 
Maybe, the answer lies in the fact that looking forward often necessitates looking back and letting go.  Whatever is new comes on the heels of something that is ending.  A new job means another job has ended.  A new place to live means leaving a home in which we may have cherished memories. A new relationship could mean another relationship has ended.    
 
Making the difference in moving forward may be found in the letter ‘d.’  When we let go and let God we open to God leading and filling us with joyful anticipation, seeing with faith not just eyes.  Seasons changing then become a new experience that holds possibility and hope.  In Isaiah 43:19 God said “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”  Perhaps, this prophet offers revelation for us still today.  Maybe we do not perceive because we are not looking for God’s hand in it ALL. 
My prayer is that we look for and see God in the welcoming in and in the letting go.  A new season is beginning and, with God, it will undoubtedly be glorious.  May we perceive – what God is doing and welcome it with joy!  Amen.  Pastor Aaron 

 

Pastor's Reflection August 26, 2016
 
This past Sunday, our gospel reading was Luke 13:10-17.  It is a story about a woman who has been spiritually crippled for 18 years and unable to stand upright.  She was in the synagogue and Jesus noticed her.  After so long, stooping lower and lower each year until she can see nothing more than her feet, this woman shows she is faithful in praying and worshipping.  Others may see her but it is likely only Jesus notices her – and then Jesus calls her to him.  He says words that would change her life forever :”You are set free…”  Jesus then ‘lays hands’ on her and scripture says the woman immediately stood upright and began praising God.
 
How many of US are spiritually burdened?  What is it that we carry to the point that it has become too heavy?  The truth is…this happens to us all.  And, it often happens slowly over time---we hardly see it happening until we can’t ignore it any longer.  Like this woman, we lose perspective and can only focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  It was in a moment like this that God intervened through Jesus.  For this woman, Jesus provided the words and touch that changed her life forever.  Are we waiting?  Listening to hear a word from God?  Needing to feel God’s healing touch, changing our lives forever?  I pray that as we wait and listen….we trust that God will intervene in our lives, too---with a word and a touch---that has the power to set us free.  When this happens (and it will), may we respond as this woman did…praising God.   Amen.    Pastor Aaron 

Pastor's Reflection July 29, 2016

It is easy to see we are now in full swing in the election cycle, especially as we conclude the two political conventions that selected the party nominees for President.  It is interesting the scripture reading for this week (Luke 12:13-21) speaks to the same subject we hear among the debated subjects still today…is wealth a bad thing?  Is greed rampant?  And, are we drawn into the promises that we can have MORE as others (who have more) receive less?  Jesus responds to the fair distribution of wealth (in this case inheritance) in a way that does not call down the wealthy, rather he warns saying “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”  In other words…Jesus is asking---do we have possessions or do our possessions -- possess US?

Jesus seems unconcerned with wealth in and of itself; rather, Jesus’ focus is on being spiritually rich in our relationship with God, when he adds his concern for those who “store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”  I believe this very same concern is true still today.  Is there a point when we have enough and are we rich toward God?  

My prayer is that we are rich beyond worldly measure in being rich toward God.  It is God’s love that is offered unconditionally and free, that which truly satisfies and sustains, and a gift that is everlasting and eternal.  Discovering this, we can truly “relax, eat, drink, be merry” just as the man in the scripture desired.  With God and God’s love, who could ask for more?  Amen!  

Pastor Aaron 

 

 Pastor's Reflection July 22, 2016
 
After nearly 2 weeks in Victoria, B.C. Canada, attending the MCC General Conference and then staying for some vacation time, it seems like light years since the last newsletter.  Some things have changed during this time…MCC did not vote in a new moderator at General Conference, so an interim will be appointed for the next 3 years (see attached report from Lay Delegate Jonathan Ford) and here, at MCC Hartford, we said ‘farewell’ to our beloved Paul Cooke as he relocates to Orlando, FL.  
 
Sometimes it seems the world is moving faster than we are and it was good to stop and catch my breath; perhaps we all need to do this (often) and re-center on the One who provides each breath, infused with love and grace.
 
I am certain the Holy Spirit will lead the denomination deeper and differently into its calling and I believe this is true here in Hartford as well.  MCC’s local and global ministry is just as critical as was in 1968.  As our scripture reading asks, do we trust that God is answering our prayers with much more than we ourselves would give to those we love?  This is God’s radical and radically abundant response and, given the daily news cycle, we may doubt God is present or that God is still working -- in our lives and in the world.  So, the most important question remains…do we trust God?  Do we trust IN God??  Even when things seem most difficult and the world is moving so fast?? 
 
God’s gift of grace makes it Christmas in July…Good News that is hot off the press.  My prayer is that we live with expectancy, act with conviction, and trust with absolute certainty.  God is doing a new thing, locally and globally…faithfully.  May we strive in all times to be faithful, too.  Amen and Merry Christmas!!  Pastor Aaron 

 Pastor's Reflection July 1, 2016 As we begin to celebrate the July 4th weekend (commonly known as ‘Independence Day,’) it is a great time to look at the word independence and reflect on what it means to us today.  Are we truly independent and is that the highest good?  Might it be better still if we were inter-dependent and, as God’s beloved community, helped and relied upon one another; recognizing we need one another?  We have freedom in many ways, but are we truly free and do we ensure others are free too?  As Nelson Mandela said “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  
 
My prayer for this Independence Day is that we don’t take independence or freedom for granted or seek to reserve it only for some.  May we know and grant each other freedom…for, in God’s eyes, all of us are equally precious.  May we see ourselves and others through God’s eyes and love one another with God’s heart, this weekend and beyond.  Amen.  Pastor Aaron 

 
Pastor’s reflection June 3, 2016: 
As we begin June, the month of ‘Pride,’ we look back at the progress made in the past year.  Marriage Equality happened on June 26, 2015 and we are about to celebrate this historic SCOTUS decision on its first anniversary!  Like an infant learning to walk, we have now taken more than ‘baby steps’ in preserving human rights and securing civil rights for LGBTQ people.  The rainbow covenant that God made thousands of years ago with God’s beloved people---is still skywriting for us today --- that it is God who creates this magnificent diversity and that God continues to call this creation ‘very good’ and calls us ‘beloved.’    
 
My prayer, as we begin this month of Pride, is that we remember God is still at work and doing marvelous things, above and beyond the noise and distractions in the world.  And, God continues to call us to help (as LGBTQ people and allies), in speaking and living the truth of God’s justice and unconditional love.  As we begin the second year of the SCOTUS decision, may we live justice, give love, and create peace.  In this way, we can help God create a better, kinder, and more loving world.  May it be so…and enjoy Pride Month!.  Pastor Aaron

 

Pastor’s reflection May 20, 2016
In his letter to the Corinthians (a church community that gathered in Corinth), Paul identifies ‘spiritual gifts’ that are given by the Holy Spirit.  Each of these gifts is different yet crucial in the ministry of the church and serves to unify its church community.  Just as an eye, ear, and foot are different yet important to the physical body---so, are the many spiritual gifts given to the body of the church (server, helper, preacher, healer, teacher, and so on).  No gift is more important than another – for all gifts are equally important and necessary.  What gift(s) have you and I been given?  Do we know?  Have we welcomed the gift(s)?  And, are we using and expanding the gift(s) to build up one another and our church?
 
My prayer is that, held in this truth, we see a glimpse of how much God loves us, individually and as church, in the blessing and gifting --- differently --- to enrich, edify, and unify us as the body and church.  Then, may we be eager to use and share these gifts with one another.  In this way, we can choose to live out loud God’s love, in church and community.  May it be so!  Amen.  Pastor Aaron

 
Pastor’s reflection April 28, 2016: 
This past Sunday in John’s gospel, Jesus asks us to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  He says this after washing the feet of all 12 disciples, even Judas (who was in the midst of betraying Jesus) and Peter (who would soon deny even knowing Jesus). In spite of all that would happen over the next 2 days that included the disciples falling asleep in his hour of need and then fleeing in fear when he is crucified, Jesus kneels and washes their feet in an act of tender love and humble service.  In this example, Jesus calls us not to an ordinary love---but an extraordinary (even radical) love…for those who are part of the ‘beloved community’ of believers, our church family.  Jesus calls us to start here first---then love beyond.    
As we move past our church walls this Sunday (as a team) to participate in the “Walk Against Hunger,” may we remember the first team – the 12+ disciples – who were known by their love.  And, in response, may we spiritually feed one another with great love that we might go on to feed others in the ways they hunger.  As Prince (the gifted musician, performer, and artist, we lost last week) said “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.’  I am convinced --- we ONLY get through this thing called life….with this thing called LOVE. So, may we indeed seek to love each other just as Jesus loved us…with both feet in.  Amen.  ~Pastor Aaron

Pastor's Reflection April 16, 2016: As we continue through the post-resurrection Easter season, we remember the times Jesus appeared to the disciples.  Perhaps the best remembered encounter was with doubting Thomas.  This one disciple became famous for doubt and his doubt is often seen in a negative light, as if Thomas lacked faith.  Yet, I believe Thomas was indeed faithful yet very human and he now opens the door for us all to see that we are a ‘doubting Thomas’ too as we ask “where, and how” God is present in our lives and in specific challenges/events we face. 
 
It is in response to such doubt that Jesus appeared to Thomas, showed his wounds, and offered Thomas the opportunity to touch the scars and confirm it was indeed Jesus, resurrected.  And, I believe it is through our times of doubt that we also open ourselves to a very personal experience and encounter with God as well.  So, when we become very human like Thomas, let us then watch and listen for God’s presence – for it is in those very moments (as with Thomas) that God meets us just where we are and with great love…removing all doubt He is indeed resurrected.  And, in that moment, so are we.   Amen. ~Pastor Aaron

 
 
Pastor’s reflection:  (John 20:1-18) March 31, 2016
As we move past Easter, how do we make the wonder-full resurrection event stay with us?  The scripture tells us that two disciples race to the tomb – one sees and believes, the other sees and leaves uncertain.  Mary is left alone graveside weeping and is surprised into believing by hearing the sound of her name.  The disciples all come to believe as they encounter the risen Christ after resurrection.  We, too, react differently and are unique in when and how we come to believe. 
Whether we run to, walk from, or linger weeping, we are not alone in the garden ever again; for Jesus is with us too---and, if we listen, I am certain we will each hear the sound of our names…said intimately and tenderly, too.  No doubt, Jesus will appear to us in unexpected ways, places, and times.  In those moments, our unbelief vanishes and it is Easter once more…or maybe it is (more accurately) Easter still.  Amen. ~Pastor Aaron

 
Pastor’s reflection March 10, 2016:  (Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32)
This past Sunday’s scripture reading was the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son.’  You may remember the story---the younger son leaves home and squanders his inheritance (albeit asking for this while his father is still alive) and when he returns home is welcomed by his father with compassion while his older brother seethes with resentment and jealousy at the celebration that ensues. 
This offers a moment to stop and reflect on our perceptions and perspectives.  Which one of the children is ‘bad’ and which one is ‘good?’  Is the parent loving or foolish?  How would we receive home the younger child, like the father or the older brother?  Would we lecture, demand apology or punish as the parent – would we become angry like the older sibling, seeing the ‘favor’ that was given as unfair?  If we are the younger child, are we returning humble, wiser, seeing life and love differently?   Do we recognize that we can be (and likely are!) any one of these actors at any given time?
In this story, the parent loves the two children equally; showing us that love is not earned.  Perhaps good/bad, in/out are human terms and not God’s.  What if God’s only response is unconditional love – that RUNS to meet us when we return and goes out to us whether we are fine or slighted----to be sure ALL are loved and included?  How would we live our lives with this perception and from this perspective, knowing with certainty that we are all equally God’s beloved and that love is God’s response?
I pray that during this season of Lent (and beyond) that we turn toward God and receive the embrace and kiss that awaits.  Then, I hope to see you at the party!  Amen  ~Pastor Aaron

 

Pastor’s reflection:  Adding Back  March 1, 2016
During this season of Lent, we often give up something (such as candy) to remind us of the suffering and sacrifice that was made by Jesus the Christ.  Yet, in Hebrews chapter 10 we are reminded the One sacrifice made was sufficient.  So, what if we believed this and did something radical this Lenten season and added back rather than sacrifice?
Let us add back dignity and worth, for we are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).  Let us add back being cherished by God as God’s ‘beloved’ (Ephesians 6:1).   Let us add back love, for God commanded us (not a mere suggestion) to love ourselves “as” or equally with loving others (Matthew 22:39).  Lastly, let us add back joy for we have been given a spirit of joy that is as complete as it is unconditional (John 15:11).
I imagine that God has taken great delight in creating us and that we are precious to God –loved and quite lovable in God’s sight.  Perhaps God has ‘lent’ us this time before Easter’s glory and celebration to rethink, reevaluate, and to redirect our minds, hearts, and spirit toward love---by God who is love. So, let us add back whatever we need so that we live lives that are abundantly blessed.  And, may love always be our guide and goal this Lenten season and beyond.  Amen  ~Pastor Aaron

Pastor’s reflection February 19, 2015: (Luke 4:1-13)
This past Sunday we reflected on the “wilderness” that Jesus entered for 40 days and how this can relate to the wilderness experiences in our own lives.  As we continue through the season of Lent, may we remember the temptations and trials that Jesus faced and (more importantly) that he turned toward love with every choice.  No doubt, God was with Jesus every step of the way and brought him through.  This passage offers an important reminder that facing our most difficult challenges become an opportunity to turn toward love and this often offers intimate time alone with God.  Like Jesus we too can emerge stronger and more sure of who we are…walking with God and turning toward love. I believe Jesus became more sure of his faith and his mission/ministry as he grew more intimately in relationship with God during this experience.  My prayer…is that, with each wilderness experience, this may be true for us as well. 
Amen. ~Pastor Aaron

 

Pastor’s reflection February 5, 2016:

This past Sunday we studied Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Jeremiah’s call to ministry (see below).  In beautiful feminine imagery, we hear about God knowing Jeremiah before God formed him in the womb.  Then God blessed Jeremiah with a special purpose---to provide encouragement and hope to his people.  Jeremiah’s response?  His response was to see himself incapable and perhaps unworthy for such a big job for God.  God told Jeremiah not to be afraid and then touched his lips, giving him the words he would need to say.
 
This is one of my favorite passages for God’s love is not only clear – it transcends all time (this human life).  This passage also contains a personal promise from God – when God assures Jeremiah that God will be with him always (and deliver him) and will give Jeremiah all he needs to do what God is asking (in this case, giving him the words).
 
Do we realize that God is making such a promise to US as well?  That God will always be with (and deliver) us, too?  Are we sure that God will give us all that we need for the special purpose(s) to which God is calling and blessing us (perhaps with words, a touch, the compassion or courage)?
 
My prayer is that we hear this reminder -- that God loves us eternally and deeply; and, that each of us has a special purpose in God’s plan.  Jeremiah was called to do great things and many of us are called to do small things that God will use for great results.  ALL of us are important (even essential) to God’s plan and to reach those whom God loves….all of US.  Amen. ~Pastor Aaron
 
Jeremiah 1:4-10
4Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6Then I said, “Ah, God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a child.” 7But God said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, said God.” 9Then God put out a hand and touched my mouth; and God said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

 

Pastor’s reflection January 22, 2015
 
Over the past 3 Sundays, we have celebrated: Ephiphany (3 Kings Day), our baptism remembrance (with Jesus’), and the wedding in Cana (the first ‘sign’ in John’s gospel).  All point to joy and God’s desire to fill us with joy and love so that we may, with gratitude, answer the call to serve those in need and to share our joy with others.  This ‘spiritual cup’ provides what we need to give, demand justice, and liberate as expressions of our faith and to respond to God’s kin-dom; a place where all are equally beloved (not just by God, but by us as well). 
 
This past Monday, we remembered the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy – his vision and his work among us.  As we move past that day, we are called to remember this every day in our words and actions.  Do they move us toward the presence of God’s kin-dom?  Are we brought closer together?  Is there good news for the poor, the prisoners, the sick, the oppressed, and the downtrodden?    
 
My prayer is that we ‘remember’ in real, significant, and lasting ways throughout the year; making his dream our dream—one that is possible with our hands and feet and certain with our hearts and minds.  May it be so, we pray, and may it be soon. Amen. ~Pastor Aaron
 
Note: I use the term ‘kin-dom’ – to represent God’s realm in which we are all related (as kin) to one another as part of God’s family; sharing equally in grace and responsibility.

 

Pastor’s reflection January 8, 2016:  As we celebrated Epiphany (also known as 3 Kings Day) this past Wednesday, it offers a time to stop and reflect on the ways in which God is STILL providing revelation in our lives today.  Just as the birth of Jesus was a manifestation and gift of God’s love, can we see God’s love and presence still today?  Are there times when we are in wonder and awe just as the wise men and shepherds were?  It may be in small things and hardly noticeable or something extraordinary that we cannot miss….that has God’s imprint saying “I love you” and “I am with you always.”  May every day of this new year be a day that has an Epiphany and may God help us to see them!  May it be so, I pray.  Amen. ~Pastor Aaron

 
Pastor’s reflection December 18, 2015:
 
This is the last week of Advent (my how time flies!) and we round the bend toward Christmas Day and the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  This week we remember Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) and Mary (the mother of Jesus); brave women who trusted God in the face of a community that would reject and shame--- and, oh, did they have great joy!  Each was a prophet and disciple long before Jesus would call the 12.  And, each trusted God and welcomed their pregnancies AS DIVINE BLESSING, in spite of the difficulty this might have presented, especially for Mary. 
 
Could this be true for us as well?  Perhaps God is ready to be born anew this season in our lives in spite of the difficulties we (and the world) face.  Will we see the divine blessing?  And, will WE sing out loud as Mary did…a song of hope, joy, and liberation?  May divine blessings abound now as in days of old.  And, yes, let’s SING…together!  Amen. ~Pastor Aaron

 
Pastor's Reflection December 10, 2015  As we continue our Advent journey, we remember the love that was born in a lowly manger, a love that was (and is) so powerful it has changed and saved lives over the course of history and still does today.  Love in the form of a baby, not a general, a mighty king, or a high priest as was expected.  Though Jesus appeared less than expected, he would reach beyond these lowly circumstances to give the gift of love and life –eternal—well beyond anything we could expect or even imagine. 
 
As we remember the Christmas story, may we also remember that good things often come in small packages and in ways and at times we least expect.  The beauty of God’s message this Christmas season is that God is not limited by our expectations and it seems God delights in surprising us.   My prayer is that hope and love be re-born this Christmas.  And, may God’s blessings surprise you all year long!.  Amen.  ~Rev. Aaron

 

Pastor's Reflection December 3, 2015
 
As we begin the Advent season, we become aware again the birth of Jesus is no ordinary event.  It is (in many ways) a ‘moving’ experience.  First, Joseph and Mary are forced, by the political powers, to travel to Bethlehem for a census.  After the birth, the shepherds travel some distance to see this baby foretold by angelic messenger and wise men/astrologers/magi travel quite a long way to see the baby and to bring gifts.  Then, Joseph and Mary are given divine instruction to flee to Egypt.  No one stays in one place (for long) throughout the story!
My prayer is that during our Advent Journey, God moves us, too, in ways that change us and deepen us spiritually as well as opens us to the birth (and rebirth) of what God is doing that is new in our lives.  We cannot stay the same…for Christmas IS indeed a moving experience, in many ways.  May it be so for us all..  Amen. ~Pastor Aaron

 

Pastor’s reflection November 6, 2015
As we head into November and approach Thanksgiving, it causes us to take a moment to pause and reflect on our many blessings.  What do we see as blessing?  Is it the favor?  Is it also that which challenges us…moves us…changes us??  And, if we cannot see the blessing at the time, are we able to hold it open in faith that somehow, in time, it will become a blessing from God?  Faith shapes and informs our perception --- whether thankful or hopeful---we know that ALL things work out for good in God’s hands. The reason?  Because God loves us THAT much (and more!).  Do we trust God and trust in God?   If we can…
then perhaps Thanksgiving may just become an ‘every day’ kind of event. ~Pastor Aaron

 


Pastor's Reflection October 29, 2015: This past Sunday – MCC Hartford had a great representation at the Northeast Network Gathering held in Harrisburg, PA.  We joined the MCC churches in our network for a great conference and fellowship along with our Moderator Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson.  What a treat!! 

It was an inspiring and blessed time.  MCC is on the move, beyond our region and the United States, to those throughout the world.  And, we are all part of (and important to) making this happen. 

May we remember the Good News is so good we just have to share it in all the ways that we can.  May we each remember, that as our logo says “Be MCC” and part of this movement – we are called on a deeper and greater level to “Be God’s Beloved” – knowing we are loved unconditionally and belong without exception to God’s family.  THAT is what we share---which is truly Good News….no tricks, only treats.  Amen and see you Sunday!  ~Pastor Aaron

 

Pastor's Reflection October 1, 2015:

This past Sunday – the scripture reading called us to look at WHO we follow (Mark 9:38-50).  There was a man who was healing by “casting out demons” in the name of Jesus and the disciples pointed out (and pointed at) this man to Jesus.  I believe the key word in this scripture is using the word “US” not “YOU” --- for the disciples judged this man as wrong to do this healing because he did not follow them.  But, the man WAS following Jesus, evidenced by the healing done in his name. 
 
I believe this scripture is incredibly important and quite timely -- for it asks us to question who it is we follow and who we expect others to follow.  Is it US?  Is it JESUS?  Are we looking at each other (as people and as churches) pointing and pointing at…rather than walking together in the same direction on the path of the One we follow?
 
We individually, and collectively as church, must answer that crucial and critical question.  A question that is as important today as it was 2,000 ago.  In fact, our faith and the very future of the church depend on it.  I pray our answer and focus will always be…that we follow the One, not the many.  Amen.   ~Pastor Aaron

 

Pastor's Reflection September 24, 2015:

This past Sunday – what a wonderful day celebrating Homecoming and the gathering of 3 churches (ours, Church of the Good Shepherd, and Parish of the Divine), along with other dear colleagues and friends.  Many voices together, we prayed, praised, and worshiped.  Communion was celebrated in the pews, at the table, and afterward during fellowship.  No doubt God was smiling upon this house filled with joy!  Rev. Valerie Miller preached and we saw “wisdom” uncontained, jumping off the pulpit.  The Holy Spirit was moving in so many ways! 

As we celebrate the change of season, may we remember that just as leaves change in magnificent colors, so do WE.  God is expressing all the time through us in glorious ways.  My prayer is that Homecoming is more than an annual celebration…it is something we do every day when we continue to pray, praise, and worship with one another (yes) in living color, as God continues to create us and change us in beauty and grace…with God’s great and unconditional love.  Amen. ~Pastor Aaron

Pastor's Reflection September 16, 2015:

This past Sunday we had the joy of Marie Alford-Harkey (our intern) preaching and sharing the message -- that we are glorious and fabulously made by God.  In scripture (Mark 8:27-38) Jesus asks “Who do people say that I am?”  People may say many things about us…what is most important is that WE know with certainty that we are God’s beloved, each and every one of us.  And, God loves us (to the moon and back!) unconditionally and eternally.  May WE (just as Jesus) know who we are and whose we are, regardless of what others might think, say, and do.  As Mother Teresa is attributed in saying “…in the end, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”  May we believe this truth and live OUT this love, with certainty.  Amen. ~Pastor Aaron

 

Pastor’s reflection August 27, 2015:

Last Sunday, we had yet one more slice of communion bread as we explored what Jesus meant by literally consuming him. He was intentionally offensive and shocked the senses and sensibilities of his followers.  Jesus was far more than just a mild-mannered peace keeper.  Jesus was counter cultural, radical, and scandalous in his day.  The disciples (all but the 12) ran.  What Jesus taught was too hard to hear and even harder to act upon. 

Jesus is reminding us we are what we eat.  When we eat communion bread, Jesus is in its grains of love, forgiveness and healing.  And, that bread also contains grains of social justice activism and advocacy (standing for what is right and those adversely affected)….all grains that are essential ingredients to who Jesus was and his message ---the very heart of Christ. 

May we not just nibble during communion for we are all invited to feast until we are full.  And then, with a full heart (Christ’s heart), let us go and do likewise (to love, heal, forgive, and further social justice)---feeding a world that is starving in so many ways.  Amen.     ~Pastor Aaron

Pastor's Reflection August 20, 2015 
 
This past Sunday our beloved member Brianna Johnston preached about what the Living Bread means to her, as described in the gospel of John.  The message was wonderful and left us to reflect about the heart of Christ.  Do WE have His heart?  And, is it our heart that we follow it?  Imagine how life would be if we decided to follow our hearts, with the heart of Jesus, in all things we do and say.  Imagine a world that did the same.  Perhaps then we would get a glimpse of what we pray each week “Thy Kin-dom done on earth as it is in heaven” – we might indeed see heaven on earth as God envisions.  May we follow our hearts (with His heart) each and every day, I pray.  Amen.     ~Pastor Aaron

 Pastor’s Reflection August 14, 2015:

This past Sunday the scripture spoke about Jesus referring to himself as the Living Bread from Heaven and how that provoked the ire of the crowd (who had known him since birth) who asked “Who do you think you are?”  expecting (even demanding) Jesus to ‘stay in his lane’ as a poor carpenter and the son of Mary and Joseph.  We can only imagine how history would have been altered and our faith changed forever had Jesus given in to this social pressure to conform.  Instead, Jesus radically claims who he is and is determined to live into all he was created to be and become. 
Many of us today have heard that same question “Who do you think you are?”  Who are we to be different, unique, delightful, and loved unconditionally by God?
IT’S NOT WHO YOU ARE THAT HOLDS YOU BACK;
IT’S WHO YOU THINK YOU’RE NOT.   AUTHOR UNKNOWN
 
My prayer is that each one of us knows who and whose we are (God’s).  And, that we choose to live OUTside our ‘lane’---just as radically as Jesus.  This is the bread we share and, yes, it is truly heaven-sent!  Amen.     ~Pastor Aaron

 

      
Pastor's Reflection July 30, 2015  Over the next 5 Sundays, scripture reading revolves around bread.  Jesus fed the 5,000 in the first reading (we read last Sunday).  Certainly a well known story but did you know it started with a young boy who never questioned, yet gave up his 5 loaves and 2 fishes?  He (and all those who gathered) were devastatingly poor and profoundly hungry.  They were all different but Jesus makes no distinction.  ALL were gathered and fed, as many as 15-20,000 it is estimated (men, women, and children).  A simple act of generosity by this small boy, matched with abundant and unconditional compassion and love from Jesus, is experienced in that moment.  We never hear a word from this boy during or after---but his action is remembered for all time.  That bread lasted much longer than the one meal, for it became forever part of these people and their understanding of the power of faith and the graciousness of God, who feeds us, fills us, and meets every need. 
The one thing that is made to be broken?  Bread.  May we break bread together, side-by-side, with those we unconditionally gather to us – working with God (just like this young boy) to be generous, compassionate, and loving.  Amen.     ~Pastor Aaron

 Pastor’s reflection July 10, 2015:

The scripture reading for this Sunday (Mark 6:14-29) tells the story of Herod beheading John the Baptist so as to keep a promise he made to his step-daughter, promising to give her anything she wished.  Salome demanded John the Baptist’s death, likely in cahoots with her mother to once and for all silence John speaking truth to power; truth that had publicly shamed the Queen .The King actually liked John and liked listening to him; but, an oath is an oath, a promise a promise.  His word meant something…it actually meant everything. 
This made me wonder – do WE make promises lightly?  Without knowing what is involved?  Do we make promises we end up regretting?  Do we keep all the promises we make?  My prayer is that our promises are made with great discretion and discernment.  And, the promises we make we are sure to keep.  An oath is an oath, a promise a promise.  OUR word means something, too and it could mean everything, especially if the promise is to be faithful and to follow Jesus.  May these be among the promises we keep, promises that are sure to bring hope not despair and life not death.  Amen.     ~Pastor Aaron

Pastor's Reflection July 3, 2015   As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July tomorrow, with picnics and fireworks, we might also take a moment to reflect a bit on how this year’s celebration is different than in years past.  Each year we celebrate our country’s independence but are we all, in fact, free?  This year we have greater freedom to love and marry by the SCOTUS ruling for marriage equality yet we are also mindful that not everyone experiences the same range of freedom.  There are painful reminders of this everywhere.  Jesus intentionally sought out those who were outsiders and not full members of the community – that he might restore them to full inclusion.  Perhaps this year we can take his lead and, with God’s help, ensure greater freedom for our outsiders by this time next year.  We have much to celebrate this year…and we have much to do….  Amen.     ~Pastor Aaron

 
Pastor's Reflection 
 
June 20, 2015
 
God’s beloved,
 
I was away on vacation this week but not beyond reach of the news about the events that occurred this past Wednesday that claimed the lives of 9 people (a Pastor and a Bible Study group) in Charleston SC.
 
My heart is breaking from this news and the racially motivated violence that continues to tear apart lives, families, and communities.  We are at a time when we must see clearly and live truthfully what the Apostle Paul declared in Galatians 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
 
Media response has once again attempted to distract – to place blame on the fallen and to claim this as an(other) attack on Christianity.  To do this is to look the other way and find comfort in placing blame elsewhere from what was, by any truthful account, a vicious attack that came from racially motivated ignorance, hate, and fear.  Blame cannot be so neatly placed and the shooter does not stand alone.  Rather, it calls us to recognize a symptom of a deeper and prevailing issue.  There is indeed an ‘attack on Christianity’ – for this challenges what we believe and how we will respond.  Will we be silent and look the other way or with outrage respond with love in such ways as to bring about necessary change and needed healing?
 
“…no longer slave or free” means we share one status, as God’s Beloved.  And it is this one Love, that we receive by God’s grace and called to share, that guides us to rise against injustice at every turn.  Dear ones, we must rise….and stand with our siblings, the Beloved of God in Charleston and beyond, who are treated unfairly or harmed, and stand for those whom we have lost.  It is time for change.
 
“There is no longer…” and we must no longer look away.  May our mourning give rise to action and the Word that was being studied that fateful (and faithful) day be brought to life and made real by our response.  All lives matter to God and to us, so let us begin by responding with prayer -- for the shooter’s soul and his family, the souls of those whose lives were tragically cut short, the families who mourn, the community of Charleston SC, and let us also pray for a nation that continues to construct ways to keep us from being the world that God created and intended, a world that is just and equal.   
 
In our grief, we must re-dedicate ourselves to the work that is before us.  As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so profoundly said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  May love be the driver and the Holy Spirit be our guide as we commit to transform this nation into one that lives the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL.  We must always remember that we are siblings who share but one status: God’s Beloved.  I pray that in the days and months ahead we will put grieving into action so that all can see God’s Light burning brightly through us as we create real, meaningful, and sustainable change and heal our people.
 
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13).  Love is the greatest of these, indeed.  And, it is love that ensures that we will overcome any and all darkness.  The grieving family members are leading us with words of forgiveness and in proclaiming that hate will not win.  God’s house is indeed a “House of Love.”  As we step out with courage, faith will push aside fear.  For now, let us mourn and praying for forgiveness and healing.  Then take my hand and we will rise together to do the work ahead…with God leading and with one Love.
 
In faith, hope, and love,
Pastor Aaron

Pastor's Reflection June 11, 2015  What is faith?  How would you define it?  Is it something that we learn by experience to trust or is it something we experience because we already trust in God?  A little bit of both??  In such times as we find ourselves today, I pray that we remember and know that God is faithful (even though we may struggle with our faith at times) and God is with us in and through all things.  God is faithful and loves us abundantly and unconditionally. That is something we can trust and experience.  As the prophet Jeremiah so aptly said (Jeremiah 29:13) “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  May we continue to seek God, all the while knowing that God has already found us.  Amen.  ~Rev. Aaron

Pastor's Reflection June 4, 2015

As we begin the month of June, historically considered “Pride Month” for the LGBTQI community, we are reminded that family is often created and that we are indeed family.  So much has happened over the past decades, led by our siblings, to achieve social justice and equality and to bring us to the place we are today.  As we await the decision by the Supreme Court over marriage equality, let us reflect on all those who brought us to this day, including us!  And, may we remember that in all the New Testament Bible passages Jesus (not once) placed conditions, exceptions or exclusions on the love and grace of God.  Rather, he intentionally sought out those who had yet to hear this Good News or had been told a different message.  Our work is not done until the truth is a lived experience and ALL are free to be and to live life to its fullest potential, as beloved of God.  So, let us celebrate…and continue this good work.

Amen.     ~Pastor Aaron

Pastor's Reflection May 28, 2015

I traveled last week to Washington DC to join our Moderator the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson in attending the MomentUs leadership summit.  Leaders from across the nation from health, education, political, business and faith joined together to discuss climate/creation care and how we can move toward sustainable change.  It was exciting to hear about the “Path to Positive” and the work that has and is being done, across sectors. 

As we approach 'Rogation Sunday' it is clear that God’s garden needs tending.  Genesis tells of a time when creation started off in a Garden, the Garden of Eden.  I believe God is calling us now to return to the garden and to be better stewards of what God has entrusted into our care.  Join us Sunday, join the movement…to protect this good earth and the life that calls it ‘home’---today and all our blessed tomorrows.  Amen.     ~Pastor Aaron

Pastor's Reflection 5/14/2015

A constant theme throughout Jesus’ ministry was LIBERATION.  He freed people from illness, evil spirits, and oppression from structures and institutions.  Jesus did not wait for people in need to find him…he sought them out, often in places that were unsafe and where he was unwelcome.  Jesus shows us the courage it takes to stand for injustice and over turn tables that exploit the vulnerable and exclude those in society deemed unworthy and unlovable, those who have been shamed and shunned.  The Good News must be shared.  We are ALL beloved children of God, without exception or condition.  THIS is the truth and it will indeed make us free.

If we look closer and truly follow Jesus’ life, teachings, and example we, too, will stand against injustice at every turn on behalf of our siblings in Christ.  As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr so poignantly said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
So, join us on Sunday when we join with faith communities around the nation and take part in the Gilead Sabbath, observing the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.  We will pray for healing and liberation and again commit to stand alongside Jesus in continuing his healing work by over turning more tables and liberating more people.
Hope to see you Sunday, hope to stand with you every day….  Pastor Aaron

 

Pastor’s Reflection May 9, 2015:

Tomorrow is ‘Mother’s Day,’ a day set aside to remember those who have had a deep and abiding impact on our lives, those who have cared about us, nurtured and nourished us, inspired and taught us, and provided what we needed during our earlier years.  Who was that for you?  It may have been a special (regardless of gender) person who has helped you become the person you are today.  Grown, we have become the fruit of such love and joy in our lives.  And now, in the ways we can, we are called to do likewise.

The first line of our scripture reading tomorrow (Gospel of John verse 9) says “Just as God has loved me [Jesus], so I have loved you…”  The love that we have been given, we are also called to give to others.  And so it goes….that all may be loved and go on to love.  That is true fruit of the vine, what has been given to us is now ours to share.  This is even more important in times when shadows are cast, that love’s light shine brighter and wider.  May that light shine, I pray, on this Mother’s Day and beyond.  Amen.  Pastor Aaron

Pastor’s reflection May 2, 2015
  
      
Baptism is often forgotten after immersion as an infant or adult.  At MCC, baptism is recognized as a sacrament and it welcomes individuals into the Church Universal.  This Sunday, we will be baptizing baby Benjamin.  As we welcome him ‘officially’ into our church family and the Body of Christ, we remember WE have been named and claimed – as God’s beloved, in whom God takes delight. 

We are in a time when it is important to remember who and WHOSE we are.  That does not change and it is unconditional.  We are God’s children, infant through aged. 
Come tomorrow to church and remember…join us in welcoming Benjamin and remembering that we are all welcome and welcoming – to those among us and those we have yet to meet.  Everyone is important and loved by God and by the Body.  Everyone. Let us also take delight.

My prayer is that we keep our eyes fixed on this truth, no matter how the world spins.  It is our centering post and our hope…it is also the Good News we must share.  May it be so I pray.  Amen.    ~ Rev. Aaron

March 31, 2015 Pastor's reflection:

This Thursday night begins the dramatic unfolding of the Passion narrative, with the Last Supper.  Jesus will break bread and share the cup for the last time in his earthly life with those he loved dearly.  Quickly, the events unfold after this and Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified.  Good Friday, the veil of the temple will split and hearts will be broken as their beloved Jesus is tortured and killed.  All hope would seem lost in those dark hours of betrayal, denial, and deserting. 
Saturday was likely a day of healing for Jesus, a time spent with God alone, to restore and prepare him for the resurrection â and that early dawn moment in the garden when Jesus would return and change the world forever.  Hope eternal was born in that moment.
Resurrection is not just an Easter morning phenomena, it is an everyday way of life for those who believe.  Yes, we may still doubt, deny, and desert when faced with the most difficult times of our lives.  But, we now KNOW with certainty that what we are going through does not have the last word.  Jesus will break into that moment and appear to us in our gardens reminding us the tomb is indeed empty.  Good Friday passes and the glorious and joyous will envelop us yet again.  He is alive, just as he said.  May we welcome him into the gardens of our lives for, with him, hope springs eternal.  May it be so---and Happy Easter---every day!  ~ Rev. Aaron

 March 26, 2015   This Sunday, we will begin Holy Week with the remembrance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with Palms waving.  “Hosanna!” the crowds yelled.  Yet, as the week progresses, the excitement of those “Hosanna’s” will wane as the drama unfolds with Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion.                                           

In our lives, we too have experienced jubilation that doesn’t last and we may end up facing difficult and challenging life circumstances.  BUT, the Good News that we learn Easter morning is that “Hosanna” ultimately arrives at glory, no matter the challenge, suffering, and hardship. 
That is the hope that becomes a promise kept on Easter morning. My prayer is that “Hosanna” takes residence in our hearts and we live the truth…that God’s glory can be seen and known every day and that resurrection can become a way of life, regardless of (or perhaps the best response to) what the world around us may present.  May it be so, I pray.  Amen.    ~ Rev. Aaron

 

Pastor's Reflection: 

 

As we wake up again to frigid temperatures, we are reminded that Spring officially starts in 14 days.  The clocks will “spring forward” this weekend and days are getting longer and hopefully becoming warmer soon.  And, with the sun and the warmth, we will again begin to see the restlessness of the earth as it brings forth a flower here, a blade of grass there…signs that life will burst out anew, from the hands of our Creator.

 

Perhaps, in single-digit temperature, it is possible for Spring to begin now, in our hearts and in our souls.  True and lasting warmth is not found in hats and scarves---but in smiles and hugs, kindness and compassion, creating buds that will become blossoms in us…with time. 

 

Last Sunday we spoke about the Transfiguration of Jesus on a mountain top, dazzling in the glow of God’s love as God shouted from the mountain top for all to hear – that Jesus is God’s beloved…and, by extension, so are WE.

 

My prayer is that we hear God saying “I love you” to each of us---sometimes whispered and at other times shouted from the mountain top.  May this Lenten season and your Lenten Journey be a time of dazzling in the glow of God’s love --- in its many forms and expressions---that promises to warm and change us in many, many ways…Spring and beyond.  Amen.  ~ Rev. Aaron

 

Pastor’s reflection:

 

This past Wednesday was “Ash Wedneseday” which marks the beginning of the Lenten season.  We traditionally set aside this time for self-refection and to spiritually grow deeper and closer in relationship to God as we journey toward Easter Sunday.  These 40 days offers the opportunity to be more intentional in our praying, fasting, and works of love, in response to God’s unconditional and abundant love for us.

 

Often, ‘fasting’ involves giving up something.  And, this Lenten season I invite us to add to the journey by adding something good each day…prayer, kindness, compassion, love…for ourselves and for others.  Perhaps take a moment each day to say “Thank You” to God for a new day together and making all things possible.  Maybe add some joy by calling someone who least expects it or do an act of kindness for a complete stranger, adding an element of glad surprise.  Perhaps, we give ourselves some needed self-care (rest, relaxation, connecting with loved ones). Be creative!  

 

My prayer, now and always, is that we live knowing that we are God’s beloved in whom God takes great delight and that we live our lives in grateful response.   May our Lenten journey be filled with inspiration, affirmation, and anticipation (of God doing good things in us, for us, and with us).   And, may God (and we) add to life in delightful, unexpected ways, this Lenten season and beyond.  Amen. 

~ Rev. Aaron

 

Pastor’s reflection:


1/29/2014  Last week the scripture reading was from the book of Jonah.  What a fish story!  If you are not familiar, it is an interesting reading about Jonah who God called to preach in Nineveh.  His response?  He RAN in the opposite direction (with fear and hatred) and hopped a boat!  A storm rages and Jonah ends up overboard and swallowed by a fish where he stays for 3 days, praising God who is with him whether he is disobedient or obedient.  Ultimately, Jonah is spit up by the fish and lands on the shores of…can you guess?  Nineveh.  Jonah was always going to Nineveh (God’s plan) and he took the long and dramatic way to get there. 

 

My prayer is that we say YES to God when we are called to give our gifts and talents.  We may preach like Jonah (who only preached 5 words and the entire city of Nineveh was converted) or we may be called to do that which might seem small and insignificant.  Though everything, with the power of the Holy Spirit, carries the potential to heal or open hearts, transform lives and restore souls (ours and others). 

 

So, let’s not go the long way!!  God has much to do and we are each uniquely gifted to do our part, an important and necessary part, in the unfolding of God’s plan.  So, let’s say YES…quickly!  We don’t want to create another fish story do we?  (smile)  Amen!  

Rev. Aaron

 

Pastor's Reflection:

 

December 27, 2014  As we gather up the last of the Christmas wrapping paper and begin to take the decorations down, we are reminded the Nativity Story continues with the three Kings (Wisemen, Magi) that are on their way following a bright star that is leading to Bethlehem.  They will find who they are looking for and return by another route – that saves the life of the Holy Family from the grip of King Herod.  These travelers remind us that Christmas is more than a holiday and season.  It is a time of following God’s guidance and finding much more than we expect or can imagine. 

 

My prayer is that, as we welcome in the New Year, we continue to seek God’s revelation -- for God is still breaking into the world with hope, joy, mercy, peace and unconditional love.  It can appear in a lowly stable, in places of strife and poverty, in regions of war and among those that seem most mis-guided and lost.  May we be watching for (and indeed see) the wonder of Bethlehem…everywhere.  For God will continue to surprise and delight us in the most unexpected ways, through the people we would least expect….including US!  May the New Year be filled with such revelation and, as Tiny Tim so aptly said, “God bless us---everyone!”  Amen.  Rev. Aaron

ChristmasMCC.jpg

December 25, 2014

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”     (Luke 2:10)


Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to my dear church family and friends, 

It is hard to believe this wonderful year is nearing a close…

 

 And, what a year in ministry it has been

We shared a spiritual journey that has visited many places, those of great joy, places where we have been advocates for justice and equality, and places that bring healing.  We have lifted, held, encouraged, and danced as we shared times of joy and sadness. 

 

We have welcomed 4 new members into our church family, one – our first “Junior Member,” and said ‘goodbye for now’ to some friends and loved ones. We have married 4 couples from other states and countries (Laos!), remembered the Holocaust at the Kristallnacht Commemoration, marched with our Moderator for Climate Care with over 400,000 in New York City, hosted the Transgender Day of Remembrance and the Northeast Gathering (with 12 MCC churches), and celebrated 41 years of fellowship, social activism, and ministry at this church.  We have created a strong outreach team (to the homeless and hungry), grown ecumenical and organizational collaborations in the community, served in leadership with MCC denominationally, and provided Congregational Care by our Care Ministry through social media, cards, meetings, and calls.  And, our worship experience has been enhanced by some technology!   

 

In all we do, good stewardship and sharing the Good News of God’s unconditional love have been a central focus in our mission.  Clearly, we care…and there is much we care about.

 

 We look forward to the ministry this year will bring

As we continue to listen for the “still small voice of God” and be led by the Holy Spirit, we cannot but imagine the places we will go and those we will meet, help, and warmly welcome along the way. 

 

On this Christmas Day

As we once again celebrate the birth of Jesus, may we remember the Nativity story that was fraught with danger and wonder, strife and miracles.  It is in this context that Christ’s love shines so brightly in so many ways, still today.  With his birth, those of different means and origins, all ages and economic dispensations, human and animal, gathered for that very first Holy Communion, around a manger…where animals were fed and from which humankind would find spiritual nourishment for all time.  That night over 2,000 years ago, all were invited and all were welcome, no conditions, exceptions, or exclusions; a practice and tradition we vow to passionately continue.

 

Thank you…

For your wonderful and generous spirit and being a cherished part of this church family.  Thank you also for the great joy that I find in serving God with this congregation and sharing this spiritual journey with each of you.  Please remember always that you are God’s Beloved…and mine as well.  So, from my heart to yours, a very Merry Christmas to you and to those you hold dear. 

 

More than a special day… it is a special way to be.

 

In faith, hope, peace, and (most of all) love,

Rev. Aaron

 

Pastor’s reflection:

December 19, 2014

 

 

We celebrated HOPE the first week of Advent, LOVE the second week, JOY the third week and this week we will celebrate PEACE.  We remember well the words spoken by the angel Gabriel “and on earth peace good will to all.”  (Luke 2:14). 

 

How do we claim this Good News in the world we see each and every day?  War, strife, and poverty are rampant. The Advent season speaks of hope, love, and joy—then peace.  If we live out the season (and beyond) in this order, might we realize the peace that seems elusive? 

 

My prayer is that we stay centered in and live out the hope, love, and joy that we find in Jesus each day.  May peace abide all year through…and may it begin with us.  Amen.  Rev. Aaron

 

Pastor's Reflection:

 

December 5, 2014:  We celebrated HOPE last week (the first week of Advent) and this week we will celebrate LOVE.  We remember God’s command to love God and to love ourselves and one another, and now we pause to remember the One who first loved us.

 

We see God’s unconditional love as the Christmas story unfolds…in an unwed mother’s acceptance of God’s love in a baby to be named Jesus and we see God’s love shining through a fiance’s love by protecting and caring for his family, in the outcast shepherds who rejoice, and the privileged magi who travel with gifts.  May we remember that love is in OUR stories today, coming through all different people and in unexpected ways. 

 

God’s love continues to lead us today like a bright star, surrounding us with people who care, and calling us to step out in faith as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (and others have throughout time) to share God’s love as generously and as unexpectedly.  May that light and that LOVE be your guide this Advent and beyond.  Amen. 

 

Rev. Aaron

 
November 26, 2014 
 

Greetings to all,

 

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I want to reach out to each of you with a heartfelt wish for a wonderful holiday tomorrow, hopefully surrounded by those who you hold most dear.

 

The word “thanksgiving” has become synonymous with turkey, parades, football, and shopping.  But, more than Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to join me in turning the sequence of words around to make it a "day giving thanks."  In this spirit, please know that as I count my many blessings…each of you and MCC Hartford are held closely in my heart with true gratitude.  My prayer is that you are as blessed during this season (and beyond) as I feel every day being a part of this wonderful church family.

 

May your Thanksgiving fill and nourish you physically and spiritually with good food and warm fellowship.  And, may God, whose love knows no bounds, find a warm place at your table and in your heart --- with thankfulness --- for being the One from whom all blessings indeed flow. 

 

To you and all those you hold dear, my warmest wishes for a day giving thanks on this special Thanksgiving Day.

 

Faithfully, and in Christ’s love always,

 

Rev. Aaron

 

Psalm 107:22 NRS

“And let them [us] offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of God’s deeds with songs of joy."

 

  

Pastor’s reflection:

 As we look at the past year in our church life and look forward to what the next year might bring…let us take a moment to reflect on the impact and importance of this wonderful ministry.  Through outreach, social justice activism, and pastoral care we continue to deepen and expand our reach to those who have not yet heard or witnessed God’s abundant, radical, and unconditional love.  We are messengers of that sacred message, in what we say and do.  And, we are God’s reflection, through whom God shines a light into this world.  May we continue to pray, care, and act – in ways that lift, affirm, and love those around us, shining God’s light -- brightly.  Amen.  Rev. Aaron.

 As we put election day behind us and focus on our country’s future, may we remember that God is calling us to work better together and with more love.  God does not see blue or red states; rather, God sees us all as God’s beloved and invites us (time and again) to answer the call to love God and one another, with intentionality.  The disciples ask Jesus in Matthew 19:25-56 :…“Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With humankind this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”  May we remember that, in all things and with faith, we can move from impossible to possible with God…hope is ours because God is with us and, simply, God loves each one of us --- that much.  Amen –Rev. Aaron

10/31/2014 Today is Halloween and a day when kids (and adults!) dress in costume, attend parties, go door-to-door for ‘tricks or treats.’  May we remember in our festivities to ‘hallow’ or remember those who have faithfully departed.  More than goblins and spooks, this is also a time of loving remembrance and our continued prayer that all who have passed find eternal rest and peace, in the loving arms of our God.  THAT is more than a “treat” – that is God’s promise through the resurrection.  Amen.

 
May your Halloween be safe and, yes, filled with all that is sweet!  --- Rev. Aaron.

 


10/24/2014  This past week has been an exciting one as marriage equality moved to 2 more states, now totaling 32 states in all (and counting!).  Two verses from the Gospel reading this week (MT22:37-38) provides us with the two greatest commands ---the first:
to love God with all our hearts, mind, and soul and the second: to love others as we love ourselves.  In this moment, God ‘raised the bar’ from specific prohibitions in the 10 commandments to the higher (and most important) requirement and expectation:  that WE LOVE.  We watch with anticipation as today’s “law” around marriage opens to welcome all people doing just that…TO LOVE.  God did not place conditions, exceptions, or exclusion upon this command to love; and, dear friends, neither should we.
 
May we do as commanded…as best and as often as we can.  Amen and with much love, Rev. Aaron.

10/17/2014 This past week has been an exciting one as marriage equality moved to 30 states and now the majority (60%) of the nation.  My deeply held belief is that marriage starts with a gift…the gift of love from God.  God created us with love, then calls us together, just as in the beginning (in Genesis)---to be companions and helpmates for one another.  It is God who calls us together and it is God who gives the gift of life and the gift of love.  Who are WE (any of us) to judge God’s gifts and then privilege one as better or declare one as wrong?  I am in awe of love—for you see it is God’s love that we see manifested in a loving relationship.   God sets no qualifiers and makes no conditions.  Love never fails---and it is God’s love that we are given to share with one another.  May the remaining 20 states recognize this divine truth…quickly!!    Amen.

--  Rev. Aaron


10/10/2014  I awoke on Monday morning still smiling after church Sunday when we had a "blessing of the animals" in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi. We are reminded that Climate Care affects more than just human life and that God has entrusted us with stewardship of creation, all land and life (Genesis 1). During the sermon first a bird appeared in the window behind me. Then two flies flew past, followed by an orange cat in the window -- who just sat there looking at us through the window for some time. It stopped the sermon and the service. God delivers a message far better than I can! Yes, fin, fur, feather are blessings of Your creation, oh God. May WE protect and preserve creation and, in so doing, be a blessing to You as well.  Amen and Amen!  Rev. Aaron

9/26/14  Last Sunday, we (MCC Hartford) joined the Climate Care march in NYC.  We marched with our Moderator Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson and were part of the “interfaith” contingency, the final marchers at the end of the procession, and among hundreds of thousands of marchers.  We walked beside Methodists, Episcopalians, B’hai, Agnostics, and danced along with Hari Krishna.  In a world that seems divided on many subjects, the world (literally) came together (and its various religions/faiths/traditions) to raise a voice to save our good earth, its peoples, and its various life forms.  We have been entrusted by God with this care.  May we all do what we can (we can all do something) to preserve our resources and protect our environment.  The question is: HOW will we each choose to answer God’s call?  

9/4/2014  Last Sunday, we read scripture about Moses and the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses, calling him by name.  This man (who had been adopted as an infant and later forced to flee from Egypt as a fugitive) is sent by God to liberate an entire people who are oppressed in Egypt.  God makes a surprising choice – choosing Moses to free the captives.  Yet God gives Moses everything he needs and promises to be with him.  Perhaps Moses provided the most important qualities of all: a willingness, passion, and faith. 

It caused me to wonder…how many times has God appeared, spoken our names, and called us to do something for someone or some group?  Moses was an immigrant, a fugitive from the law, and tending a flock (a low status minimum wage job) for his father-in-law when God appeared.  Do we hear our names called?  Are we being asked to care for the children immigrants fleeing to our borders for asylum?  Are we being asked to ensure social justice prevails equally for all?  Are we being asked to treat with dignity and respect our minimum wage workers and those who have low/no status in our communities? 
Dear ones, the bush continues to burn…as God hears the cries of today’s oppressed and marginalized --- and calling (like Moses) US to respond. God is sending us, may we hear our names….and go.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

 
7/24/2014 One of my favorite condiments is mustard.  In fact, my hotdog has more mustard than dog, truth be told.  The parables in our gospel reading this week (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52) includes the mustard seed (the spice behind the mustard) –one of the smallest seeds that produces one of the largest trees; a tree that offers hospitality where the birds can rest and nest.
 
This is just one of several parables that Matthew’s Jesus tells in this scripture reading.  And, each short parable gives a reference to what the “Kingdom of Heaven” is like.  How would WE describe the Kingdom of Heaven?  More than blue skies and soft music that happens after this life…is it a way of being, a promise made and kept by God, a description of God’s transforming presence in our lives and in the world? This offers an invitation…to imagine and to see God’s presence and activity in a variety of ways.  Is God’s realm as small as a mustard seed or as big as a mustard tree—both—or beyond?  Does God welcome us and all as weary travelers to rest and nest? 
My prayer is that we see and feel God’s loving branches and accept the invitation to rest and nest --- right in the midst of a busy and uncertain world.  We just might find that heaven is accessible…here and now.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

7/16/2014  I am a terrible gardener.  I have two thumbs, neither one of them green!  So, for me, I can hardly tell the difference between weed and wheat (in our gospel reading this week Matthew 13:24-30,36-43).  What if we waited until the harvest to know the difference?  What if we let GOD determine what is truly weed and wheat?  And, what if both weed and wheat were created equally “good” as God declared all creation in the book of Genesis? 

 

Perhaps, rather than spending time in trying to discern the difference, we can give a hand (more than thumbs) to all who grow in our garden, seeing value, purpose, and potential--- in all who surround us.  Maybe that is why God gave us two hands --- and more fingers than thumbs.  My prayer is that we contribute to God’s harvest, in every way we can…God could use a hand!    

May it be ours.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

 

7/11/2014    As our gardens grow in the summer sun, do we stop to remember the source of all its elements…seed, sun, and rain?   As we pick our harvest of zucchini, tomatoes, and other ‘fruits of the earth’ do we realize that it is God’s bounty and blessing that we are holding in our hands? 
In God’s garden, WE are growing as well.  As the seeds of love and compassion are planted, the sun of God’s love warms us and nurtures us, and the rains of life’s challenges and opportunities feed us.  As we hold these life experiences in our hearts, may we be reminded that all we have and all we are…comes from God’s hand, from whom all blessings flow.  And, may we be the ‘good fruit’ of God’s harvest, not just in summertime -- but all throughout the year!   Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

 

7/2/2014 As we celebrate “Independence Day” may we look beyond the fireworks and sales events to what truly frees us.  Do we need to let some burdens go, placing them in God’s hands?  Reduce our obligations and commitments, so our schedule is a bit lighter? Stop some habits that are costly (in time or money) and not life-giving? 
May this Independence Day be a day to reevaluate and to ‘free’ ourselves from that which may end up costing us some of our joy. 
May God provide each of us the wisdom and courage to claim our true independence – which may well be best realized through interdependence upon God and each other, through love.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

 

6/27/2014 As we celebrate “Pride” this month, there is no better way to experience this than in witnessing the strong and enduring love of a Florida couple who has been married for 40 years, brought together by God, though not legally ‘recognized.’  Saturday, there was a house full of our church folk who not just witnessed the couple legally marry; but, surrounded and lifted each with love, two people they had not met before this day. 
We are God’s family and, at MCC Hartford, this is a lived reality -- in worship service and through fellowship, experienced through prayer, joys, and concerns…we share it all.  More than celebrating difference, we love those we meet and who come through our doors.  “Pride” is that sense of belonging and an expression of caring that is radical and unconditional.  THIS church has “Pride” – every day. 
May God continue to bless us and call us to be an expression of God’s love --- in the church and in the world; a blessing to others. 
Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

6/20/14 As we celebrate “Pride” this month, may we remember that we are made in God’s image.  Yes, each and every one is reflecting God’s magnificence in creation…different in many ways, but alike in one very important aspect---that we share a creator/parent who intentionally created us to be a rainbow people, splendid in color and artistry.  Recognizing that we are made in God’s image, may we strive always to reflect God’s loving ways as well—by acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).  Perhaps, in this way, we can reflect God’s heart in this world as well...a heart the world hungers to see and feel.   Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

6/11/2014 As we celebrate “Trinity Sunday” this week, we remember all the many names by which  God is known that reflect how we connect with God.  As Creator, Parent, Source, Mystery, Christ, Son, Word, Savior, Spirit, Breath, Wind, Passion…all reveal Love in its many names and expressions.  How do WE name God, Christ, Spirit?  How do we experience that revelation…in the world, in our lives, in our hearts?   My prayer for us this week is that every name connects us deeply, personally, and eternally with all that is Holy and Sacred.  It is what God seeks with us…may it be what we seek with God.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

 
6/4/2014 As we begin the season of Pentecost, we are called to become more aware of the Holy Spirit in our midst.  Do you feel the Spirit in song?  See the Spirit expressed in a sunset?  Have you felt the spirit guide in some way or spare you from something?  The Holy Spirit is moving in, among, and through us – yet we may not notice or recognize. 
I invite us all to spend some time this week watching for the Spirit.  You will not be disappointed..for all who seek find.  And, you just may end up amazed and in awe of what God is doing in often silent and anonymous ways.
May God visit us in unexpected ways and remind us that God’s love knows no bounds, longs to bless us, and delights in bringing us joy.  May we, in response, offer our praise and be a source of blessing as well.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron
 

5/29/2014 Recently, I had the great pleasure of spending some time in Cape Cod and to enjoy my long-time favorite beach, Herring Cove beach in Provincetown.  I was shocked to discover the loss of most of this beach due to extreme weather and rising tides over just the last few years.  It was a ‘wake up call’ -- that climate care is important and we are all called to join in the effort to become better stewards of our shared home…planet earth. 
Be watching for details…that will provide ways we can take action, individually and collectively, as we join the effort to change the trend and answer God’s call to be better stewards.
God is trusting us and entrusting us with the care of our environment and all who live here, too.  May we be good and faithful stewards in response!  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

5/9/2014  This past weekend, we hosted 8 MCC churches and ministries from the Northeast and had a weekend of gifts/talents, connection, learning, worshiping, and fellowship.  So many places in the Bible, Jesus is found gathering with those he loved and with whom he shared his ministry…as well as those he met for the first time.  He was comfortable with everyone, the familiar and the new and showed great hospitality and love to all.  This past weekend reflected this very same hospitality and love --- toward the familiar and the new.  May our circle continue to grow wider and our arms stretched to all, especially those who have not yet heard the good news…of God’s unconditional love. It is for us to continue what he started those many years ago, now in Jesus’ name.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

4/16/14  This past Sunday we waved palms and remembered Jesus entering Jerusalem for the last time.  This week, Jesus will over turn tables, wash feet as a servant, and stand in opposition to injustice and the powers of Rome.  Truth will be on trial and justice will be absent as Jesus is arrested, convicted, and executed.  What is so good about Good Friday?  We see Jesus broken, taunted, and humiliated then hung to die for hours.  In the worst of times and at the hands of the worst human behavior possible, Easter Sunday is in sight and hope is within grasp.  Resurrection is ours, as well, in each ‘Good Friday’ moment” which becomes a “God Friday” moment..  May we always keep our sights on and hope in the Risen One.  Amen and HAPPY EASTER!!  Rev. Aaron

 

4/11/14  Sunday begins the final journey with ‘palms waving’ as Jesus enters Jerusalem, a week that will see the worst and the best of people.  How true that is for us even today…there are days when people are waving palms as we enter and other times it feels like we, too, carry a cross to heavy to bear – with those closest turning away.  Throughout this Holy Week, may we feel close to God and stay strong in our faith during the Palm Sundays and Good Fridays of our lives, knowing that God is with us and loving us through every part...the palms and the crosses…the best and the worst…and all that lies in between.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

4/3/14  As we approach Holy Week may we, like the blind beggar healed by Jesus, gain our sight and insight into those things that would distract and dissuade us in our walk with God.  Are we tethered by our faith?  Anchored in God’s love?  Can we set aside time each day to quietly sit with God, listening for that still small voice, and be fed and nourished spiritually?  My prayer is that the presence and love of our living God is not relegated to the ‘blind spots’ created by our busy schedules; but rather, known and welcomed in real and intimate ways.  May we all see clearly and know dearly this light and the love of our God, this Lenten season and beyond.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

 
3/28/14  As we pass the half-way mark in our Lenten season of preparation, have some distractions lost importance?  Have you felt a tug by the Holy Spirit, pulling ever so gently toward a more centered life in faith?  Can we feel the hand that heals, touch us in ways that leave us moved and changed in some way?  Just as the Samaritan woman met Jesus at the well all those years ago we, too, are met at the deep and seemingly bottomless wells of our lives and offered Living Water, too.  Oh, how refreshing and renewing that water is!  And, it is ours because God loves us abundantly…no conditions, exceptions or exclusions.  Not then.  Not now.  Not ever.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

3/21/14  As we continue our Lenten Journey and slowing our pace (even a little!), have we noticed places that we have left unattended or areas that are cluttered and ignored?  Are our spirits weighed down with old habits, cluttered and busy schedules and feeling hungry for some peace and quiet – so we can catch our breath and perhaps listen and hear the still small voice of God?  My prayer is that we take time this Lent to let go of some habits and over scheduling to spend ‘quality time’ with ourselves and with God.  If we set aside some time and made room….we just may be surprised by something divine happening---so, keep your eyes and hearts open!   Amen. -- Rev. Aaron
3/14/14 In our busy schedules is there time for a moment to pause and simply spend some quiet and quality time with God?  As we venture into the 40 days and 40 nights in this ‘wilderness’ before the Easter celebration and joy….can we open to the movement of the Spirit and God’s whispered messages of love that may change some practices or our direction in some way?  My prayer is that when we emerge from these 40 days, we will be freed in some way from those things that may have slowed us or kept us from experiencing fully the love and joy of Easter…a resurrected life that can happen every day.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron
3/7/14  As we begin the Lenten season, may we take time to quiet ourselves and listen for God’s still small voice, as God reveals ways to deepen our relationship with self, others, and God.  Do we feel the gentle pulling of God in new or different directions?   Will we use this time to center again in our faith and in our walk with Jesus as we follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life?  My prayer this Lenten season is that we experience God’s abundant love and reconnect or connect deeper during this time --- and that our Lenten journey lasts far beyond the season.  May it be so…Amen. -- Rev. Aaron
 
2/14/14  Valentine’s Day is the day we set aside once a year to put love into action.  Flowers, cards, and chocolate will be flying off the shelves this week.  But, what if we put love into action every day?  More than cards, flowers, and chocolate, what if we surprised those we love with a thoughtful card or gift for no apparent reason or holiday?  What if the “I love you’s’’ were said often with heartfelt meaning?  That is what God is doing every day for us, our eternal Valentine.  Of course, God’s love doesn’t come wrapped in a Whitman’s sampler; but, you can recognize it if you are looking, and it is often revealed to our surprise and delight.  My prayer for us this week is that every day become Valentine’s Day, filled with love, surprises, and delight…from us and to us!  May it be so…Amen. -- Rev. Aaron

1/8/14 As the New Year begins…may we be daring enough to set out without hesitation, worry or doubt---to follow what may be a single star – as God leads US to unknown destinations by never traveled before routes.  Can we trust God through the dessert, day-in-day-out, a long journey that may leave us at times feeling tired, hungry, and lost….until we arrive at the place where WE will give our gifts?  We need to pack light…bringing only our trust, patience, and faith….the reward will be the joy that overwhelmed the magi when at last they arrived and, in the presence of God, gave their gifts with utter generosity, bowing on bended knee.  May it be so for us, as well.  Amen. -- Rev. Aaron
 
 
 

Christmas 2013

nativity3.jpg

 

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”        

    (Luke 2:10    

                              

Season’s greetings dear church family and friends,

 

 

        As we round the corner toward Christmas and the end of another year, it is a great time to pause and reflect on the past year and the promise of a year beginning.

         It was this past February that, with great joy, I was installed as the Pastor and covenanted to preach, teach, and spiritually guide this congregation.  We are a wonderful collection of diverse people and theologies yet clearly one body that is faithful in its ministry to one another and the larger community.       

       And, what a year in ministry it has been…we have lifted one another in sorrow, saying ‘good bye for now’ to two of our members (Lou Perrone and Ray Rand) who passed from this life; prayed with others through sickness and personal challenges; danced with joy as some were healed and others (like me) began new life chapters; worshiped with the Lt. Governor and worked with Senators Blumenthal and Bye; and welcomed 7 new members into our church family.

        Together, we marched for marriage equality and saw DOMA repealed, remembered the fallen during Kristallnacht, mourned those who died as a result of anti-transgender violence and hate, and celebrated 40 years of fellowship, social activism, and ministry as this particular MCC church.

        And, we look forward to the ministry this year will bring…as we look toward the New Year, we hold dearly our hopes and dreams as we discern ‘who’ God is calling us to be and ‘what’ God is calling us to do and invite the leading of the Holy Spirit as we answer that call.  Our walk is one in faith, believing that God will provide all that we need.  Indeed we already have what is most important, for we have God’s abundant and unconditional love, a light that burns brightly in and through us already.   Yes, love is in this place.

         As we remember and again celebrate the birth of Jesus who brings unexpected light and joy from a lowly manger, my prayer is that we be found as both blessed and a blessing.  May the message Jesus lived -- live on through us.  And, may we continue to share God’s radical love in unexpected and wondrous ways in the New Year and beyond.

        Thank you for being a wonderful part of this church family and sharing the spiritual journey.  Each is precious and cherished by God, by me, and by us.  So, from my heart to yours, a very Merry Christmas to you and to those you hold dear. 

It is far more than a wonderful time of year… it is a wonderful way to be.

 

In faith, hope, and love,

 Rev. Aaron     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October 19, 2013

 

Warm greetings dear members, colleagues, and friends.

 

We hope you share our delight as we celebrate MCC Hartford’s 40th Anniversary!

 

Like the denomination’s beginning, MCC Hartford’s first worship service was held in someone’s living room.  And, from that warm and personal worship experience, this church has become and continues to be a spiritual home for many in the LGBTQI community and beyond.

 

We have a long and distinguished history in standing for human and equal rights, raising a voice for the marginalized, and opening our doors and hearts to those in need.  And, with great joy, we walk together on this spiritual journey…for each of us is uniquely and wonderfully made in the image of God. 

 

We believe in virtual church which means the love of God virtually everywhere.  We hope you will accept our invitation to experience this; as we worship and fellowship on Sundays at 10am and beyond.  You just may discover that MCC Hartford might be a spiritual home for you, as well.

 

Congratulations MCC Hartford on 40 glorious years of love and service, and may the next 40 be a time of spiritual awakening and deepening, as we continue to make our table circle wider.

 

Faithfully, in Christ’s love,

 

Rev. Aaron

 

 

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MCC is a compassionate community of faith, and a spiritual home where all people can experience the liberating love of God.