Pastor’s Corner – March 2018



March is the month that either comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion or come is like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year no matter how March begins, it will go out like a lamb. We begin in Lent and by the end we have entered Holy Week. Therefore, March will go out like a Lamb.

We will continue our journey of Lent, looking deeply into our faith journey, discovering our strengths and limitations as we prepare to receive the gift of Easter morning.

Discipline is often an unpleasant word. We never liked it as children, adults don’t like it much better. Yet discipline is exactly the focus of Lent and this final month of the journey. On the first Sunday of Lent, I gave 6 challenges to the congregation for Lent. These challenges could also be seen as disciplines, practices that can strengthen our faith life. Take a look at them and see if they might help you.

  1. One day a week go without accessing any social media platforms. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, etc. It can be amazing how much time is spent reading the feeds of people we know, think we know, and checking out cat videos. Invest that time each day doing something else, such as talking to people directly.
  2. One day a week substitute watching 30 minutes of news with prayer for a list of people, places and events that need prayerful support. We can become addicted to the idea that we “need” to stay informed. Most of our news is opinion and not details that help us understand and come to a course of action. Let us instead pray for leaders (local and global), prayer for healthcare workers, pray for educators, pray for whoever and whatever comes to your mind and heart.
  3. Invest 15 minutes more per day reading the Bible or something that helps you understand and learn something about our faith. If you don’t invest 15 minutes reading the Bible, how can you understand our faith?
  4. Pick 1 day each week to intentionally recognize and greet the people you encounter during the day. This includes the people you know as well as the people you encounter during the day such as store clerks, office workers, etc. Speak to them with warmth and joy.
  5. Visit someone who does not get out of the homes or are in care facilities.
  6. Create a Sabbath hour each week. We are supposed to have a day of Sabbath, but in reality, most of us need to start with a single hour and gradually add more time until we finally achieve the Commandment to honor the Sabbath. Take that hour and reflect upon God’s creation all around you. Listen to the bird and the wind rustling the leaves, watch the clouds, feel the grass and the earth. Honor all that God created.

These are the challenges that might help you during the final weeks of Lent. May you be blessed in self-discovery and arrive at the empty tomb filled with joy.

Shalom, Darrell


Pastor’s Corner – February 2018


We have reached the second month of the new year. On February 14, we will begin the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days of preparation for the joy of Easter. How should we get ready?

One of the normal practices that is done currently is the “giving up” of something for the season of Lent. People give up sodas, candy, social media, among many more. This is a good discipline. We could all pass on somethings we consume or spend our time doing. But let’s make it even better.

If you stop purchasing something that you usually purchase daily or weekly, take the money you would normally have spent and turn it into something constructive. At the end of Lent, give that money to Habitat, or Society of St. Andrews, or St. Jude, or any other special service group.

If you give up something like social media or other activities that take your time, turn that time into something constructive. Use that time to read the Bible, practice spiritual disciplines such as journaling, prayerful listening, or meditation. If you can do so, invest that time in volunteering, visiting those who live alone, or helping out a neighbor.

Why do we do these things? What is it we are seeking to accomplish during Lent? We are challenged during this season to examine our own lives and practices and discover if they fit how a Christ-like life is to be lived. Do we need to have all the things that we have and want? Could we live more simply? Do our possessions interfere with practicing our faith?

Let us all take this month to do self-examination and see if we need to redirect our course. The people who talk about getting ready for retirement always talk about reviewing our path to retirement, why not do the same for our Christian life here and beyond.

Shalom, Darrell

Pastor’s Corner – January 2018


A brand-new year has begun. What will it become? Will it be a blessing or a struggle? Chances are it will be both. How should we approach the next 12 months?

Maybe the best thing to do in this new year is remembering the practices of Christians through the centuries. Practices that go back to the early days of our faith. Practices of prayer, meditation, focused reading of the Bible, and living compassionately.

We all pray at various times of the day. We pray at church. The typical type of pray practiced is when we ask God to act in some manner to help those hurting, or sick, or in need. This is a good practice to maintain. However, we could add another dimension to our prayer life, the practice of listening to God. Early Christians would repeat a short phrase over and over to focus their minds in order to actively listen in their prayers. Phrases like “Lord Jesus, forgive a sinner like me.” Once your mind in calmed, you let your mind be open to the guidance that God may provide.

Meditation can begin in the same manner as the praying described above. It can also be accomplished by focusing on the flame of a candle and listening. In many ways, meditation is a way to pray, to open yourself to the presence of God around you. At various times during worship, I “center” myself by closing my eyes and envisioning my feet sinking into the floor like tree roots seeking the Earth God created. Then I imagine reaching upward toward God and being open to the flow of God’s presence through all of us.

Focused Bible readings are different than just reading selections of passages, but rather reading small sections repeatedly. Select a special passage for you and as you read it over and again, stress the first word, then the second, and so on through the entire passage. But rather than reading it one time right after another, pause between each reading and think about the meaning of the passage with the new understanding of the focus being on a new word. Don’t rush this, let each reading settle in your thoughts and understanding, then go to the next time through stressing a new word.

Finally, we come to living compassionately. This goes beyond being nice to other people. It means being aware of how everything we do has an impact on the world and people around us. As we are the stewards of all that God created, we need to act responsibly toward every-one and everything that God has made. We cannot “fix” everything and everyone. We can examine how we treat the people around us. We can examine what we throw away and waste. We can do better to respect that which God created.

Maybe these tools will impact how we review the year 2018 next January.

Shalom, Darrell

Pastor’s Corner – December 2017


Here we are at the end of another year. We are in the full-on Christmas pressures loaded upon us by our jobs, our friends, our family, and most often by ourselves. The point of the season is to remember that this time of year is not about us at all. It is about discovering that infant hope within each of us.

Shepherds and Magi didn’t travel to feast on wonderful delights or to trade gifts trying to impress each other. They didn’t fill their days with event after event. They arrived with what little they had and gave thanks for what they discovered.

We need to join them on this journey this month. With all that is occurring in our world, we need to travel with shepherds and Magi again.

We need to discover the awe of all that God has created. We may not have a fantastic star shining in the sky, but we can go out on a clear night away from the lights of cities and stare up into the night sky and see the wonder of all that God laid out. We can seek the bright lights among the stars and rejoice and be amazed.

Take time to sit quietly as the shepherd did before the angels started singing. To rest in the presence of God. Then sing carols or listen to the others sing and recall the angels singing to the shepherds.

We need to wander around our community and find the grace and hope in people around us. We need to spend time with our neighbors sharing joys, comforting pains, and living in the love of our neighbors.

With all the pain that surrounds us, we need to remember that the point of the season is not about spending money. It is about recognizing the infant Jesus in each person. It is about treating everyone as we should see them, as the image of God before us. We need to step away from the fear, anger, hatred, and partisanship that modern society encourages.

May your holiday season be blessed. May the New Year be filled with hope and promise. But most of all, may you be the blessings, the hope and the promise for the people around you. May you bear the image of God clearly through the end of 2017 and into 2018.

Shalom, Darrell

Pastor’s Corner – October 2017


As I write this, Puerto Rico is being hit by Hurricane Maria, the second hurricane they have felt this month. Earthquakes have again hit Mexico. Concerns about nuclear weapons in North Korea and Iran cause us worries. And there are people predicting the end of the world on September 23 (if you get the chance to read this they were wrong). I could go on adding other crises from around the world, but I think this is sufficient for the point.

On this scale, you and I are overwhelmed by the desperate need to help those who suffer and fear and lost so much. We pray for them and that we never should experience such an event. We can give a gift to Week of Compassion and other agencies trying to help people in desperate situations, but we don’t believe that it will help everyone. Despair grows.

Our Tuesday evening Bible study is reading Mark. Last night we read the second feeding of the multitude which is followed by Jesus and the Disciples getting into a boat to cross the sea. During the journey, the disciples worry that they only have 1 loaf of bread, despite witnessing a second feeding of multitudes. The saw Jesus take a few loaves and some fish and abundantly feed over 9000 people, but when it comes to feeding themselves, they worried about scarcity of bread.

As Christians, we are to listen to the wisdom of Jesus and discover the blessings of God. God created a world of abundance. We are taught that there can never be enough for all. When disasters occur, we fall back on the lessons of the world and not on the lessons of our faith. We become susceptible to those who point to events as signs of the end times and our lack of resources to offer help.

Jesus was teaching his disciples to trust in the act of generosity to make a difference. Generosity is contagious, people witness the sacrifice made to help and respond by sharing their resources rather than hiding them away. We witnessed the generosity of people in the victims of Hurricane Harvey as people of all walks of life put themselves at risk to save lives and rescue people trapped in flood waters. They didn’t think it was strange or unusual, it is what they believed they were supposed to do for their brothers and sisters. They used their resources to rescue, feed, and protect others and didn’t worry about running out of something for themselves. They “fed” thousands. So can we!

“Fear not!” We are the hands, faces, actions, and compassion of our God visible in the world. If we want to see miracles, we have to be willing to participate in the making of miracles that are needed. None of us are exempt. Age is not a limitation, wealth or the lack of it is not a limitation, depth of faith is not a limitation. Fear is our only limitation in order to be part of the miracles needed in our world today. God Is With Us! We have to try.

If you never get to read this because the world did end, we are still God’s children. If it doesn’t end, we are still God’s children with the mission to love our neighbors as ourselves, to seek justice, do kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

Shalom, Darrell

Pastor’s Corner – September 2017


Marsha, Kathryn Peters, and I traveled to Springfield, TN to see the total eclipse in August. Springfield is north and west of Nashville and we were out in the country north of the city. Near where we were staying was a church and we sought permission to watch the eclipse from their parking lot. The pastor’s family welcomed us along with a mother and college aged son from New York City and a family from northern Mississippi. We shared in conversation, laughter, music, and watermelon. Then we reached totality. In awe we sat around looking at the ring of the sun’s corona visible around the moon. As we watched, the moon continued it journey through space and a small bit of the sun appeared and the ring of light was turned into a ring with a bright gem on the ring. These words pale in the effort to describe the event. All of us were overwhelmed by the experience. We were united with generations past who looked to the sky in fear due to the onset of night in the afternoon of the day. We witnessed an event displaying the amazing work of God.

In August, we were all able to watch the overwhelming experience of the dismaying work of human beings. We witnessed the destructive energy of hatred released in Charlottesville, VA. Groups with a history of hatred toward anyone who looks or believes differently than they do, gathered in VA and expressed their views that some of or brothers and sisters are less deserving than those marching. Nazism is destructive and antithet-ical to our faith. The KKK claims to be Christian, yet espouses the belief that anyone not “white” deserve to be second to themselves. Historically, the KKK is a homegrown terrorist group by the modern definitions used to-day.

How do we as Christians respond to these groups? Do we take to the streets to physically battle against them? Do we declare war on them? NO!

We should stand in opposition to these groups. But we should be standing in loving opposition. Not with hateful language of the Neo-Nazis, the KKK, the Alt-Right but with the language of faith. The faith that pray-ers for those who hate. The language that speaks love for everyone, especially if they do not look or sound like the rest of us. The language of Jesus who told us to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to forgive too many times to count, the language that led to the Cross.

As Christians we should stand between those who hate and those whom the hate groups see as tar-gets. We will teach love to overcome the hatred they learned during their lives.

The excuse for all of this was centered around the removal or destruction of statues of Southern Civil War leaders. The Civil War represents the story of Cain and Abel played out on a national level. We fought be-cause some had repented of their sin of buying and selling human beings and others had not. I am aware of the “State’s Rights” argument. But it was the focus on the State Right to own human beings to provide the workforce to compete with the industrial states. This is not to say that these statues should be destroyed. It means they should be utilized as a national lesson of the price that was paid for the decision to see people of color property, not brothers and sisters. This lesson should reflect upon the history of this nation even before it became a nation and include who we failed to see our brothers and sisters who lived here before Europeans arrived. We must acknowledge the sin of the prideful belief that my way is superior to any other way that I don’t like or understand.

We, as Christians believe in love and forgiving grace. We must not limited this practice to our words, but put them to work in our lives.

Shalom, Darrell

Pastor’s Corner – August 2017



Another General Assembly has come and gone. This year the energy of the event was even higher than in the last few with the focus on electing Teresa Hord Owen as the newest General Minister and President. This was accomplished during the Sunday night worship service. For the first time, the Assembly opened its business session in the middle of worship. We approved the order of business and held the election of the new GMP.

All the sermons were excellent, including during the Sunday night service when the sermon was divided between three people, Henry Brewer-Calvert (son of James and Betty Brewer-Calvert of Decatur, GA and candidate for ministry), Rev. Jae Young Rhee, the pastor of the Ghent, OH congregation, and Rev. Mary Lou Kegler, Regional Minister of Canada (talk about a large region).

The general theme of all the messages was the Assembly theme of ONE. It was recognized that this theme was not about total agreement in all matters but rather calling all of us back to the unifying reason we exist as a church. We were reminded of one of the original themes of Disciples, found at #521 in the Chalice Hymnal, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” This is attributed to Rupertus Meldenius. Rupertus was a 16th Century Lutheran pastor in Germany, yet his words became a powerful call for Disciples.

This statement acknowledges that we will never really achieve total agreement. Yet, it calls us to be unified in our core, that we are students or more accurately, Disciples of Jesus. We are to follow his teachings and actions as the core of our religious practice. The interpretations and theologies that developed of the course of centuries fall into the liberty area and along with the rest of life today is in the charity area.

Love God with all we are. Love each other, not only in words but in actions and attitudes. Seek justice, do kindness, and walk humbly with God – God is the judge, not humanity. This should be our core of unity. We can differ in how that is played out on a day by day basis. As individuals, we are at liberty to decide how best we live into this core accepting that we may not always choose the same methods, and understanding that differences are not divisions, but only the rich diversity that inspires others to follow the essential core.

During the Assembly, we recalled and repented from the actions of the past that assumed European superiority over the “savages” of the New World and denied them recognition as another civilized culture. We repented from the denial of welcoming to other branches of humanity merely because of degrees of melatonin in their skin. We repented our converting our role in God’s Creation from stewards into owners. We repented from reversing the order of Meldenius’ statement and making absolute agreement as the only essential.

For our congregation in Warner Robins, we need to look at this and discover how we live and act in our essentials and make use of the variety of ways we can turn them into actions that will bring in the diversity of our community into a core who love God with all that they are, and seek to show love to all of humanity.

Shalom, Darrell

Pastor’s Corner – June 2017


Last year during the month of June and July, instead of following the Lectionary as the basis for Sunday’s messages, I focused upon our Disciple understanding of being church. This summer I want to share similar understanding from a book by Diana Butler Bass, Christianity for the Rest of Us.

This book, published in 2006, is about the author’s journey around churches to see how they are moving from a “come to us” mentality to a “we are called to serve” as a way of defining the church’s mission for today. She begins the book talking about the change in the neighborhood church. Once upon a time, most members of the church lived near the actual church, in the neighborhood. Now the reality is that few people live within the neighborhood of the church building. It is also true that the neighborhood around the church is often very different from what was there when the church began.

This is very much true for our congregation. As part of our re-visioning, we are looking to learn about our neighbors and how we can best reach out as people of faith to serve as Christ served.

In the second part of her book, Diana Butler Bass highlights 10 signposts of renewal. I want to take this summer to look at these signposts and how we can grow in these areas. The areas upon which she focuses are Hospitality, Discernment, Healing, Contemplation, Testimony, Diversity, Justice, Worship, Reflection, and Beauty. We will look at these through the summer, despite the school calendar, August is still part of the Summer.

In June, we will look at Hospitality, Contemplation, and Testimony. Hospitality is more than just how we treat our guests, but a Biblical principle that expects hosts to treat guests like beloved family. Contemplation is not a focus upon seeking the correct answers to life challenges but a way to deepen our faith by spending time listening for the voice of God in Scripture and prayer. Testimony is not limited to the court room, but rather how we witness to the world the impact of the Grace of God in each of our lives.

Shalom, Darrell

Pastor’s Corner – May 2017


During this month we will celebrate a holiday that challenges us to remember those who gave their lives in defense of this nation. As a Boy Scout and later a member of a marching band, I attended many Memorial Day Parades and ceremonies at a cemetery in town or in front of the monument to the soldiers who fought in war. There was always a large group of people who would gather and listen to speeches and prayers, but I do not recall ever hearing names of any individual who gave their life for this nation. Families might visit graves to add flags or flowers, but unless your family had someone in the category, we marked the day for a vast unnamed multitude of individuals. Maybe we need to take time to put names to those whose sacrifice made a difference. Maybe we should expand our personal list to include those who gave their lives for making our nation greater outside the wars that have been fought.

During this year’s Clergy Summit at the Museum of Aviation, we watched a clip from the movie “We Were Soldiers.” The clip didn’t show any of the battles or the soldiers heading to war. Instead, the clip dealt with a cabbie pulling to the home of Mel Gibson’s character. His wife is alone since the soldiers were deployed and had just learned that the military was using cab drivers to deliver Western Union telegrams announcing the death of a soldier. When his wife saw the cabbie she yelled at him because she thought the cabbie was delivering news that her husband was dead. Instead, he wanted direction to another family because he knew she was the Major’s wife and would know where his soldiers lived on base. Instead of telling him, she took the telegram and said she would deliver it because no one should just be given this news by a lone cab driver.

This was the moment when the change in how death notifications were made in the military. The courage of a woman demanded that this type of news never be delivered without someone investing time and presence to a family receiving this type of news.

As we prepare for picnics and parades and gatherings at cemeteries, let us take time to invest ourselves to stand with people who lose loved ones, not only in the military, police, or fire services. We need to be willing to set aside our discomfort to spend time with people in grief, to sit, to babysit if needed, to prepare food and deliver it, and any other tasks that need to be done.

In our community, as a military community, we need to not wait for deaths. We need to pitch in and help families left behind during deployments. Young families trying to get children to and from school, work, clean the house, take care of the yard and upkeep of the home, and have a space of time to take care of themselves, need people to step up and sacrifice their time and provide assistance. What a much better way to honor Memorial Day. What a great way to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives by not leaving it to a single day and in some cases maybe an hour or so of Memorial Day.

“When you did this for these……you did it for me.” Jesus’s words still demand we act.

Shalom, Darrell

Pastor’s Corner – April 2017


It’s hard to believe that I am writing an article for the April newsletter. We are in the midst of Spring and of course, we all know what happens toward the middle of the month. Yes, it will be Easter. Oh, you thought I was going to mention something about April 15th. No, Easter is more important. Easter is the day we commemorate the amazing distance God went to assure us of His Grace and Love through the willingness of Jesus to give his life and return to demonstrate a life beyond what we can measure.

Now we are challenged to live into the level of Love and Grace by striving to be like Christ. What does that look like? It looks like the stories from the Gospels that you have heard before. There are the stories of Jesus talking to people that defied what was considered appropriate, such as speaking to women of dubious reputation or people considered as sellouts or morally corrupt. There are also the stories of Jesus granting forgiveness to people who many believed undeserving of forgiveness, such as adulterers and handicapped people who had presumably sinned at some time, or the stories of Jesus feeding the hungry, even if they could have fed themselves and the stories of Jesus praising the least important people in society, people like widows and children.

In our world today, these ideas may defy modern measures of how we should live. Instead of sitting in judgement of others, we are called to love. Instead of amassing a wealth of things, amass a wealth of giving away to those most in need. We are encouraged to convert our tools of destruction into tools that provide food for the hungry.

I realize that we live in a world where this sounds like a pipe dream, yet nowhere in the teachings of Jesus does he say we are only expected to behave this way when everything is perfect. HE dared us to live this way in the real world. We are to love all of our neighbors, not just the ones who are like us. We are dared to forgive as God has forgiven us, because God forgave us when we hadn’t asked for it.

Let us live Christ-like in joyful response to the wonder of Easter morning. It is the only way to honor the one whose name we claim.

Shalom, Darrell