From the Pastor’s Desk

Greetings from The Monastery of St. Gertrude!

This is Day 4 of our week-long silent retreat. If I were to receive a grade on how I am doing with my silence, (and thank heavens the sisters do not give grades) I would say I am doing better than last year but I still have much room for improvement. I am up here with Diane Claus and of course,St. Gertrudes I need to speak to her occasionally about such things as why we avoid taking crunchy foods, the names the sisters gave the pair of local mourning doves~Lonesome and LP, Lonesome’s Partner, and hints about how to get through the very long quiet evenings.

A week of silence is life-changing. For me I have come to love this place that is so steeped in prayer that it feels like free-falling into God’s love. God is so present here! I have had many epiphanies which will come out in my sermons for many months ahead. The one I will leave you with is this. The week started abruptly with a dream about the many ways I have sinned in my life. That was not incredibly pleasant, but very humbling and informative because some events I had not even counted as sin. I stayed there long enough to learn what must be learned and then it was as if God said, “But none of that matters. I love you and I trust you with the calling I have given you. Now go enjoy this surprisingly wild and joyful world I gave you.”

God is holding the same gift for you. The gift of forgiveness that leads to deep joy in knowing how much you are cherished and trusted. I will be back at Wright Church this Sunday to celebrate Holy Communion with you. I can’t wait!

Life is good. God is good. You are good.

Much love to you all,

Pastor Kathy

The Cross: A Lesson in How to Love

Dear Friends,

Yesterday morning we had a crew of people here to hang our cross back up on the wall. It’s up and the world feels right again. I haven’t been here all that long but I have beenThe Cross here long enough to come to love that cross and realize the significance of its presence in the front of our sanctuary. We took it down to have the sanctuary painted and during the time it was down nothing felt quite right in our church. That cross has helped me learn an important lesson about our spiritual health within this community.

We have experienced much change in the last nine months and the cross being down was simply too much for some people. While it was down we installed the projector and screen. I asked you to please let me know how you feel about the screen and I have heard from many of you. Many are very pleased with it and are excited to see all of the many ways we can use it in our worship services. Some people with hearing and vision problems report that the screen makes it easier to sing the songs and read the responsive readings. Some who sit in the back are having a hard time seeing the screen and many people are concerned about it covering the cross. Some would like the screen to go up during the sermon and not be up before the service starts.

To address the concerns we are working on placing a monitor in the back section. This will allow the people in the back another viewing option. When we hung the cross back up today we can see that the screen covers most of the top section of the cross, none of the horizontal section or the bottom. We are going to try rolling up the screen during the sermons and we could eliminate our announcement loop before church and lower the screen after church begins. These are the solutions we have come up with so far that we believe will help us with the challenges we are facing. The cross is helping us learn how to be in community together. We are expressing our thoughts and feelings in kind and caring ways and coming up with solution and compromises that place the good of the community before our individual desires. Who would have the guessed God could use a simple cross to teach us how to love each other and be in community together?

The irony is not lost on me and I stand in humble gratitude of how God continues to mold and make us into a strong and unified community of faith. We are in this together and God is working many miracles between us.

In other news, I am heading up to the Monastery of St. Gertrude’s for a week-long silent retreat. I will be gone Friday, January 26th through Friday, February 2nd. I am looking forward to spending seven days with God in the snowy mountains of northern Idaho.

Rev. Larry Etter will be preaching this Sunday. I feel so blessed to have Larry in our congregation. He is willing to offer us his sage wisdom, gentle encouragements, and preach meaningful sermons while I am away. Thank you, Larry.

Thank you for walking with me on the journey toward the heart of God. You are wonderful travel companions.
With much love,

Pastor Kathy

Meeting Dr. Gaylord Kambali

Dear Friends,

This Sunday during worship we have the privilege of welcoming Dr. Gaylord Kambali, a physician from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dr. Kambali who became a refugee to Latin America, arrived in the United States as an asylum seeker, and is now a permanent resident of Boise. Stacey Shegrud, an active participant in the life of Wright Church, is bringing Dr. Kambali to us through her work with the Idaho Department of Labor. Stacey has been honored for her work in providing intensive support and career guidance and identifying their skills from their country of origin and aligning them with a career path in the U.S.

On Sunday we will have the opportunity to meet Dr. Kambali, hear his story of life in the DRC, the reasons he became a doctor, and how his work to help others caused him to have to flee for his life as a refugee. We will learn about the process he is working through to receive credentials as a physician in the U.S. and how we can help him.

I will connect his story to the story of The Good Samaritan, which Jesus offered as a response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” As a congregation of the United Church of Christ, we are clear about our biblical understanding of how we are called to respond to the needs of the immigrant and refugee. Below is a summary of our General Synod 2017 Resolution on becoming an immigrant welcoming church.

Thirty-first General Synod of the United Church of Christ
This resolution calls on the United Church of Christ and its congregations to become Immigrant Welcoming as it recognizes the ongoing struggles of refugees and migrants who come to the United States seeking safety, security, freedom and opportunity but instead experience suffering as they fear raids, deportation, and witness their families being torn apart. It further encourages the development of policies to facilitate this.
Our Jewish and Christian traditions honor the text from Leviticus 19:33-34 (adapted from 23 NRSV): “When an immigrant resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the immigrant. The immigrant who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the immigrant as yourself, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.” In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of those who will receive the kingdom: “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat,
and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger you welcomed me…” Jesus also says (Mark 12:31, NRSV) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
This resolution is in keeping with the commitment of the United Church of Christ to provide an extravagant welcome to all God’s Children. As negative stereotyping of immigrants increases, becoming an “immigrant welcoming” church provides a critical alternative witness rooted in Biblical and theological principles the United Church of Christ deeply values.

Please join us on Sunday with your hearts and minds open to hear how God is calling us to respond to the needs of our neighbors.

Together in Christ,

Pastor Kathy

To Be Known and Understood

First reading
1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20)

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

Second reading
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

John 1:43-51

This week I am going to use all of the scriptures in the lectionary. Read them all! These passages pertain to our call to follow the deepest longings of our heart, otherwise known as God. Last week we renewed our baptisms with the splash of water and heard those cherished words from God, “You are my child, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” This week we hear the stories of Samuel, Philip, and Nathanael who heard God’s call to turn and follow a new road, which leads to our deepest longings of knowing God, being known and understood. I will focus on the Psalm 139, my favorite Psalm, where we dare to consider the idea that God hems us in, behind and before, knows our every thought and action, is acquainted with all our ways, and still wants nothing more than to be close to us. Spend some time with these sacred texts this week and come to church ready to see God in a whole new way.

In God’s love,

Pastor Kathy

Do Not Be Afraid: #morelove

Dear Friends,

Christmas is almost here and I must take a minute to stop and simply be present to this moment. God is with us and presenting us with abundant gifts. First of all, we have a community of faith that is alive and thriving. Wright Church is a joyful place to worship, serve, and belong. New friendships are budding all around us. Our Giving Tree is overflowing with gifts for the Boise Rescue Mission. Our Christmas Eve worship services are full to the brim with joyful people and children who all want to worship our newborn Christ child. New people are stepping up to help with leadership roles and we are once again able to give financial help to many charitable missions. We have a new roof, a new sound system, and a projector system almost ready to go. We are able to update our facilities and provide Christian Education and programming for our growing community. If I don’t stop to be grateful I might miss the true meaning of Christmas~God is with us. God has sent angels among us disguised as you. You are all angels of God, messengers of hope, joy, peace, and love. I thank God for everyone of you this Christmas.

Christmas Eve will be fun. Come to the morning service for communion in a more traditional setting. Our Candlelight Service is at 7:00pm complete with a children’s procession being led in by a donkey. We will end by singing Silent Night with our faces aglow with candlelight.

Merry Christmas Wright Church! God is with us and we need not be afraid.

With much love,
Pastor Kathy