From The Pastor’s Screen – October 2019

Musings on Transition


Rev John P. Gardner

Dear Friends,

The coming of autumn brings thoughts of harvest to mind, and the enjoyment of festivals that celebrate the plenty God has provided for the nourishment of life. As the psalmist reminds us: “The earth is full of God’s unfailing love” (Psalm 33:50). Yet another psalm credits God with crowning “the year with…bounty”; the hills are girded with joy, meadows are clothed with flocks, the valleys are decked with grain. (Psalm 65:9-13) And God’s people, awed by such wonder, “shout and sing together for joy.”

October is a busy, beautiful time of the year, full of orchard fruit, pumpkin orange, and fallen leaves. It is a transitional month: the routines of summer are retired; the first frost is not far off. Some folks are preparing to depart for winter residences, warmer climes. My goodness, they will be missed.

In the church the fall season provides time to reflect upon the theme of stewardship, and to consider how our resources, our gifts and offerings, serve to empower ministry and advance mission. For five weeks this fall (October 13-November 10) we will ponder “The Way” charted by Jesus (“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, John 14:6). Members and friends of FCUCC will be invited to share in Commitment Sunday on November 10 with a pledge of time, talent, and financial resources.

Throughout this stewardship time we will be using a Marty Haugen hymn from the Chalice Hymnal entitled, “Gather Us In” (No. 284). Haugen’s work as a contemporary hymn writer and composer has often found a receptive audience in UCC circles.

Raised and trained as a Lutheran, Haugen has since found a home working in the UCC. He writes with a clear vision and appreciation for God’s love that creates and sustains beloved community for all God’s children. No exceptions.

In the 4th verse of “Gather Us In”, Haugen has written:

Not just in buildings, small and confining, not in some heaven, light years away; here in this place the new light is shining; now is God present, and now is the day. Gather us in and hold us forever gather us in and make us your own; gather us in, all people together, fire of love in our flesh and our bone.

In the few months that I’ve shared your journey, I’ve learned that a unique “light is shining” in the ministry of FCUCC. It is evident in the congregation’s spirited and engaging worship, in the church’s mission and outreach, in every day of the week when the church’s doors are open wide, supporting a variety of programs that serve to transform people’s lives. Your participation is critical to funding and forwarding this vital gospel enterprise. So I appeal: please, when the time comes to make a commitment, be generous. Pledge your support to promote the work of FCUCC. In doing so, may we make plain “the Way” of Jesus, and exalt the God whose grace is ample and evident in this place.

John P. Gardner