Dear members and friends of Oakland UMC,
By now you will have heard the news that I will be leaving Oakland in late June to return to my home conference, and that pastor Kim Dewey will be appointed to Oakland as your pastor as of July 1st. As is with the history and tradition of our denomination, changes in pastors happen.
During this difficult past year, as we faced the unexpected and unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, I have tried, and the lay leadership have tried, to do our best in leading in ways we never thought we never thought we would have to. Who knew in March of 2020 that a year later we would have a virtual presence and multiple services?
First with worship and sermon videos posted on the church Facebook page and YouTube channel, and now with Zoom worship, Oakland UMC now has an online video presence which serves the members of our congregation. But it also has an audience that reaches beyond Oakland, throughout the state, and even beyond Iowa. This is a good ministry, which I hope will continue.
Lions Park during the summer and fall provided a beautiful place for in-person worship for those who felt safer worshipping together outside.
Worship in our church building, while I lead worship in the park and now, virtual worship via zoom, has led to lay people to step up to the challenge and develop their gifts for leading worship. Now we have an entirely lay-led worship service that involves both youth and adults in leadership. I celebrate and affirm this development of lay leadership in worship and hope that it continues. I believe it will prove valuable as Pastor Kim begins her ministry here.
This past year has been filled with uncertainty and anxiety for our church, our families, our
communities, our businesses, our schools, our health. Just like in our communities and our country, discerning a path for our church has brought together various and even apposing ways of getting there. What has remained, however, is the one true reason we are a church, belief the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
In the midst of this time of transition, as I prepare to move on to another appointment, I pray for all of you and for Pastor Kim and her husband as they prepare for their move from Aurelia to Oakland. And I ask for your prayers as David and I prepare for our move back to the Pacific Northwest.
My last Sunday preaching and leading worship will be June 6th. During the remainder of June, David and I will be finishing up our packing and preparations for moving so that the parsonage can be ready for Pastor Kim and her husband by July 1st.
I commit to being the best pastor I can be for this congregation until I leave at the end of June.
Read Psalm 139
Dear Friends in Christ,
The season of Lent is here once again here. Lent is the forty days of preparation leading up to Easter. This year it began on Wednesday, February 17th. Lent looks towards God's act in the cross and the resurrection. It is an opportunity to move within the shadows of the Cross and let our hearts be renewed by God's love and forgiveness. The 40 days of Lent offer us an opportunity for a period of intentional, focused engagement with God, and an opportunity for us take a personal and spiritual inventory.
Our worship series this year is “Holy Vessels.” Each week focuses on a different healing story from the gospels, and the different ways each of us, and our world, may need to experience healing. Each of us is created a precious and holy vessel of embodied love. Yet, we have been through a harrowing time since last Lent; a time that has shattered our sense of wholeness–body, mind, and spirit–like a glass vessel fractured into pieces. Still, our faith affirms that God can gather up our broken pieces and transform our brokenness into beauty.
One symbol of God’s power to transform brokenness into beauty is sea glass, or beach glass. An unknown author has said this about the glass fragments that are collected on various shores:
“Ordinary pieces of tableware or beer or soda bottles are flung into the ocean. Years pass, or decades, and then one day, there it is upon the shore: a small shard from one of those long ago discarded objects. Shifting currents have rounded its edges; abrasion has polished its surface; exposure to the sun has altered its hue. And so, when we happen upon it, here amidst the shells and seaweed, we can’t help but laugh with joy at what seems a miracle: this ordinary fragment of silica that time and adversity have transformed into something beautiful.”
Time and adversity… making something beautiful out of that which, once seen as ordinary and broken, is now considered a transformed and precious piece. This is the journey we undertake this season of Lent. Jesus attended to those considered ordinary, broken, even those deemed unworthy.
Each of you should have received a Lenten devotional book to go along with our worship series. So, during the days that lie ahead, I invite you to take a few moments each day to use that devotional material examine the broken places in your life that might need Christ’s healing touch. And when you find them, to look at them with the same eyes of compassion that God sees them, and then offer them up to God’s healing grace, remembering that no matter what, Jesus is both the healer and the lover of our souls.
May you have a blessed and holy Lent.
Pastor Kim Dewey