Wednesday, July 30, 2008

weekly letter

July 30, 2008
Greetings to all!
Last Sunday's violence at (and against) a Tennessee church has cast an unexpected spotlight on "liberal" religion.  So what response does liberal religion offer to such an experience of violence and/or other ambiguities in this world?  Consider these thoughts from a Unitarian writer in a chapter titled, "Liberal Religion: Some Beliefs."
     What we need for a faith is not something to hate or fear, but something to love and trust.  What most of us need is to be inspired by the life we live, to be filled with a spirit of life which gets us out of bed in the morning and about our business of making the lives of the people in the world...better for our having got out of bed that morning.  We need to be inspired  to use whatever we have left of our own life as a gift of something precious which will never be repeated.
     We have a faith that we must look at the truth of the suffering world.  We do not want to look at the suffering world, and we know that we do not have to look at the suffering world.  There are many ways we can divert our eyes, but we believe that we must look, and when we look, respond.  We are aware of our limitations in making as full a response as we can, but despite our evasions and procrastinations we turn back again to look at the suffering world and to respond to it.  That reality commands us.  
     Though we may differ in our faiths, we can reach out to one another when we are bruised and hurt, and even when we may not have the power to heal the wounds and restore the losses of others, we can help make those wounds and losses bearable.  We show our true faith by our works, and what we do or leave undone tells more about what we believe than any creed or statement of belief.
(from Cycles of Reflection, by Robert E. Senghas)
In Memory:  We are saddened to report the recent death of Walnut Hill Church Friend Frank "Skip" Dean.  Services for Skip were held at Walnut Hill Church on July 24, with burial in the Walnut Hill Church Cemetery.  Our ongoing sympathies and prayers are with Martha and her family. 
The Scripture lessons for Sunday, August 3, the Sacrament of Holy Communion
     Genesis 32:22-31
     Romans 9:1-5
     Matthew 14:13-21
Men's Coffee - Walnut Hill men are invited to gather for coffee this Saturday, August 2, 8am, at Paneras (Richmond Rd).  Feel free to stop in for as long or short a time as your schedule allows. No rsvp required.
Sunday Conversations resume this Sunday, August 3, 10am, with focus on the Scripture lessons for the day (see above).  You are invited to join the conversation, enjoy a cup of coffee, or just listen in.
Hospitality - Hosts are needed for our after worship refreshments this Sunday, August 3.  Refreshments need not be elaborate, just something simple to gather around as we fellowship after worship.  Use reply email to inquire about hosting, or co-hosting, this Sunday's refreshments.
CROP WALK - The 2008 CROP WALK, an ecumenical event to support hunger relief efforts around the world, will be held at the end of September.  Walnut Hill has been represented in the walk for each of the last three years, the result being over $1,000 from Walnut Hill to support hunger relief efforts. An organizational meeting for this year's walk will be held on Thursday, August 14, at Second Presbyterian Church.  Use reply email or contact the church office (263-5304) if you would be willing to represent Walnut Hill at the organizational meeting.
A Ride to Church - We are currently looking for volunteers who would be willing to offer an occasional ride to church to a few of our fellow members who are no longer able to drive.  Contact Mike Ward for more information about this opportunity to make our Sunday worship and fellowship accessible to those who otherwise might not be able to attend.
Thanks to all who by their service in so many ways, obvious and not so obvious, made it possible for the Ward family to enjoy a restful vacation.  It is good to know that Walnut Hill's ministry is in the hands of so many good and able folks.
Peace to all.
Mike Ward

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

weekly letter

July 9, 2008


Greetings to all!


How about something light for your mid-summer reflection, like your choice of a pew at Walnut Hill on Sunday.  Maybe there's more to it than meets the eye.  Consider the following relative to your own experience.


     Most people cannot say exactly why they sit where they do, or why they would not feel right if they worshiped in another pew.  But they usually can remember the names of the people who have shared that pew with them, and who first brought them to that spot.  One father said that he used to sit across the church, and his son sat in this pew.  But his son went to Vietnam and never returned, so "I like to sit where he did before he left home."  One young person said, "This is where we have always sat," but he is new to the congregation and his family is a thousand miles away.  In a congregation with a long history, one older woman said she was unwilling to move because "I might be sitting in someone's pew, although of course they have mostly died.  Still, it is their place…" One gentleman said he sat where he did simply "because it is my seat."

     A minority of people do not take one consistent location.  Some will sit in one of two or three choices.  If pressed, they will usually recall the faces of those with whom they share those places, and moving is almost like visiting.  Others seem to want to "float" to visit with people, and to provide for their own need for "personal space." Even without a place, their space has a sense of others, a relationship to the worshiping community.

     The pew and the sanctuary as a whole can be seen as a people-space.  Through the mixture of faces and experiences, empty space and physical objects begin to take on a sustained significance in our lives.  The act of worship becomes a "folk dance" in slow motion, a graceful gliding of people seeing the familiar and touching the friendly as they enter, take their places, renew their sense of the Lord's loving care, and "depart in peace."  As one sensitive pastor said of an old, stiff congregation, "Everyone is in the procession, not just the choir!"  It is the choreography of worship, as regular and as beautiful as any dance on stage.

(from Making the Small Church Effective, by Carl S. Dudley)


Preaching in July:  Over the next several weeks we welcome guests to our pulpit including…

            *the Rev. Dr. John Cavendish, Walnut Hill Pastor Emeritus, on July 13.

            *the Rev. Dr. David Sharrard, Lexington Theological Seminary Professor of Pastoral Care, on July 20.

            *the Rev. Dr. Eric C. Mount, Centre College Professor Emeritus of Religion, on July 27.


Morning Worship will be held at the regular 11am time over the next three Sundays, with nursery care, children's Sunday School, and after worship fellowship as usual.


Sunday Conversations Bible Study and topic discussions will be dismissed for the next three Sundays (July 13, 20, 27). Watch for the Sunday Conversations to resume on Sunday, August 3, 10am. 


Sunday School in session:Throughout the summer weeks Sunday School continues to be available for children at 11am during morning worship.  Each Sunday's lesson is self-contained, so if your family is doing a lot of traveling, your children will not feel left out at all even if they miss a few Sundays.  We also welcome grandchildren who might be visiting over any given Sunday.  It's great to see both familiar and new faces from week to week.  Contact Lauren Fouts for more information regarding Sunday School.


Men's Coffee:  This is an early notice for the Men's Coffee on Saturday, July 19, 8am, at Paneras on Richmond Road. Men are invited to drop in for as long or short a time as their schedule allows.  No rsvp required.  Please mark the date and time on your calendar as this will be the only notice for the meeting.


Hospitality Sign-Up:  A new hospitality sign up sheet has been posted in the Sanctuary foyer for the remaining weeks of summer and into the fall.  Take a moment to check sign up sheet and volunteer to host or co-host our refreshments for a Sunday upcoming.  Thanks to all who provide hospitality from week to week.


Thanks to….Angela Hurley and the choir for their worship leadership last Sunday; Phil Bloomfield for preparing the Communion elements; Bob and Natalie Watt, Phil Bloomfield, Julie Swim, and William Ward for their assistance during worship; Nell Horman and Witty Rea for their assistance with the children during the worship hour; Barbara and Bob Berryman for our after worship refreshments; Martha DeReamer for editing our July/August printed newsletter that will arrive at your home this week.


Look for your next weekly letter on or about July 30.


Peace to all.


Mike Ward

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

weekly letter

July 2, 2008
Greetings to all!
Independence Day is upon us and with it, between the fire works and cookouts, an opportunity to recall and appreciate our nation's Founders.  Much discussion these days about the Founders focuses on what they might have believed, or not believed, religiously speaking.  In a letter written on March 9, 1790, an aged and ailing Ben Franklin describes his own beliefs.
     I believe in one God, creator of the universe.  That he governs it by his Providence.  That he ought to be worshiped.  That the most acceptable service we can render to him is doing good to his other children.  That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.  These I take to be the fundamental principles of all sound religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever sect I meet with them. 
     As to Jesus of Nazareth...I think the system of morals and his religion as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have...some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.
(as found in American Gospel, Jon Meacham)
The Scripture lessons for Sunday, July 6, the Sacrament of Holy Communion:
     Leviticus 25:1-12
     Romans 13:1-7
     Luke 4:14-21
Men's Coffee:  Men are invited to gather for coffee this Saturday, July 5, at Paneras on Richmond Road.  Feel free to stop in for as long or short a time as your schedule allows.  No rsvp required.
Sunday Conversations continue this Sunday, July 6, 10am, in Trinity Hall.  In light of the Independence Day holiday, our conversation will focus on aspects of "Religion in Public Life."  Feel free to join the conversation, enjoy a cup of coffee, or just listen in.
Sunday School for older children and youth will be dismissed for the holiday weekend, Sunday, July 6.  Older children and youth are welcome to remain in the Sanctuary for the entire worship service on Sunday.  The nursery will be staffed as usual for infants and small children.
A Sign of Appreciation:  Walnut Hill has lately received a photograph of the plaque installed in the newly built volunteer workers dormitory at the Grace United Methodist Church in Lucedale, Mississippi.  The dormitory will be used to house work groups staying in the community while engaged in post-Katrina rebuilding projects.  Through a combination of allocated and specially donated funds, Walnut Hill provided the H/VAC system for the building's living quarters.  The plaque acknowledges Walnut Hill's support of the project.  Check out the photo on the bulletin board in Trinity Hall.
An Invitation:  Temple Adath Israel (North Ashland Ave.) invites the Lexington community to its Sabbath Evening Service on Friday, July 4, 7:30pm, for a celebration of our nation's religious freedom and diversity.  The service will be in the traditional Sabbath Service form with interfaith participation.  The Rev. Cynthia Cain, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lexington and current president of the Interfaith Alliance of the Bluegrass, will deliver the evening address.
Peace to all.
Mike Ward