Message from Pastor Phil    

 
 
 
June 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

The Future. . .

The future does not just happen.  It does not just appear out of nothing, readymade.  It is created, shaped into being, coaxed into existence, prodded into reality, by the efforts, decisions, actions, and force of will, by those who understand their role in being “co-creators with God.”    

If we just passively wait for the future to arrive, it will either be shaped by the inertia of the past, or, it will take its form from the efforts and decisions of others. 

Inertia is the energy of the past, the force of history.  It is one of the most powerful forces in shaping the future.  This past month we have seen these forces expressing themselves once again on our televisions as we witnessed the Palestinians and Israelis once again killing each other’s children.  This inertia is thousands of years old and neither side in this conflict has the courage, insight, or will, to decide on a future that is different than the past.

If we want the future to look like the past and continue the set trajectory, there is little we need to do.  This is true in global politics, national politics, church visioning, and personal financial and personal health well being.  On the other hand, if we want the bathroom scale to give us different numbers when we stand on it, or if we want our bank statement to give us different numbers, or if we want peace in the Mid-East, we need to make different choices than what were made in the past. 

The future is created out of choices made today.  Brick by brick, calorie by calorie, dollar by dollar, choice by choice, the future takes form and is born out of will and action expressed today. 

What do we want our church to look like in five years?  This time of discerning and choosing new leadership is a critical point in the life of a church.  It is time for us to remember, dream, and decide and act.  What Faith Community church will look like in five years will be directly related to conversations, decisions and actions taken in the next few months.

Be a part of it!

We are having a special meeting on June 6th, right after church, for us to regroup and participate in this shaping of our future.

Be there! 

Pastor Phil  

 
 
 
 
 
May 2021
 
Dear Faith Community,

In just a few weeks we will be celebrating Pentecost! 

We are to think of ourselves as an Easter people, filled with Pentecostal power!

Pentecost is the birthday of the church.  The church is to be thought of as the resurrected body of Christ.  We accept that we are filled with the Spirit in the same way that Jesus was filled with the Spirit.  We accept that we are one with God the same way that Jesus is one with God.  And, we accept that we have been given the same mission that Jesus was given.  “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  John 20:21

Jesus understood his mission as one of revealing his oneness with God.  Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  Over and over he claims and teaches the radical truth that he is ONE with God and that we can be ONE with Him.  We are invited into this ONENESS.  As this truth is embraced, all of the false lines of distinction and enmity are erased.  We can start to believe that God does love the whole world (not just us), and that it is possible to love each other because we are all of God.

Easter shows God’s solution compared to the world’s solution.  Good Friday reveals the world’s solution.  It goes something like this:  If you are afraid of something, silence it, shame it, ridicule it, mock it, and then if none of that works, kill it.  God’s Easter solution went something like this:  If you fear something, understand that love casts out all fear.  It challenges us to love our neighbors.  Not just the nice ones who look like us, but the ones who are very different from us in language, beliefs, customs and nationalities.  The Easter God is the God John was talking about, when in defining God he proclaims that God IS Love!

Prayer:  God, help me to get over myself and my fear.  Help me to listen to your word more than I listen to the world’s fear based narratives.  Help me to believe that you are not only with me, but that you are ONE with me. Help me to know that as I trust this, I will naturally and joyfully do your will and express your nature – LOVE.

It is so good to see you in church again!  This year of Covid has been a hard go, but it feels like we are coming out of it.  Most of us have had our shots and we are feeling better about being out and about.  Yes, we still need to be careful, but, there is a growing sense that it is safe for us to be together again, with sensible and appropriate cautions.  Please come back to in-person worship according to your own risk assessments. 

We can’t wait to see you! 

Blessings and Peace,

Pastor Phil
 
 
 
 
 
April 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

Lent is an interesting time.  Probably more important than Christmas and Easter for spiritual growth because we deal with the great perplexing questions and paradoxes of life.

During Lent, assumptions are set on end and previously held beliefs get reversed.  We deal with temptations.  Not just those pesky naughty impulses to do the things that we know we shouldn’t, but the big ones, the ones that would divert our lives into directions of culture defined success  rather than true life defined success.  Temptations to sell our lives for the proverbial “mess of    potage.”  Temptations to become invisible and to “not get involved,” when we have been called to “let our light shine.”  Temptations to force our behavioral truth on others through legislation or shaming, rather than letting the spirit perform the work of grace on others. 

During Lent, we have seen Jesus redefine some of humanities most cherished and foundational illusions.  The whole idea of “Messiah,” redefined.   We had always thought of Messiah as a super-man who would come and save us.  The longing for this archetype lives on in our movie         fantasies to this day.  The superhero, action hero, westerns, and virtually all of our police/detective movies are all fantasies that betray this deeper longing.  We are so susceptible to this longing that we repeatedly fall for the “politician messiah” who makes the most outlandish promises, the eastern guru messiah, who promises “enlightenment,” the “latest gadget” that will define and save you, the latest scientific breakthrough that will, “save the world.”  When Jesus told the disciples that he was going to “suffer and die,” this did not fit the superhero messiah model and Peter tried his best to educate him.  We don’t want our messiahs to suffer and die, we want them to be big and strong so that we can continue to be weak and helpless.  As long as we can remain weak and helpless, nothing is our fault.  

Then the whole idea of the Temple got a major revision.  This idea that you have to meet God in a certain place in a certain way.  That there is a special class of special people who can either grant or deny you access to the holy.  We have always loved the idea that there are certain places where God IS, because that means, everywhere else, God ISN’T.  We like a contained God that we can go to God when WE want.  The idea of an “un-contained” God who is part of our everyday living is disconcerting to say the least.

The cross – the most gruesome means of execution ever devised – becomes seen as a door way to life, and death itself becomes a victory.

It is important to spend time wrestling with the paradoxes of Lent, otherwise the glory of Easter slips off the narrow path that leads to a higher truth and becomes just another feel good superhero fantasy.

Lent, properly embraced, leads to death, and then to an empty tomb, and then to living a life on the other side of stones being rolled away, and being free in ways that couldn’t even be imagined in the Good Friday world.

The journey through Lent leads to us becoming an Easter people.  A people not confined or limited by the categories of the Good Friday world.

Happy Easter!  Welcome to the unlimited skies of resurrection living and dreaming!

Pastor Phil
 
 
 
March 2021
 
Dear Faith Community,
It seems to me that life is a kind of bewildering dance of two forces.  Each derives its being from the other and without the other each would collapse into nothingness just as one side of a coin could not exist without the other.   “Up” has no meaning if there is not “down.”  

One dance partner is named Random, the other is named Order.  Dancing with Random there is a wild song playing. Chaos, accidents, surprise, curiosity, luck, blessing and grace.  Dancing with Order, the steps are logic, reason, laws of nature, traceable and predictable lines of consequence and outcome, choice, personal responsibility, reaping what you sow, reward for diligence, hard work and sound choices.

These two dance partners are playing their music all the time.  They each want to dance and each courts our affections and demands our respect.  If we favor one and neglect the other, the neglected force will break in on us like a wounded lover and make a very unpleasant scene.

If we dance well with “order,” careful to make good plans and sound choices, taking personal responsibility for our lives, no doubt we will reap many of the consequences of making good choices.  Order offers predictable rewards and outcomes.  With sound choices we may have healthy finances, stable relationships, and good retirement plan.  However, just when we think we have it all figured out and are masters of our own destiny, are “self made,” and maybe a little smug as we look at others who obviously haven’t made as good choices, we may get a knock on the door from Random, that jilted neglected dance partner. 

Random shows up and because we haven’t danced when it brought good things like family of origin, place of birth, chance meeting that issued in a job, chance intersection that resulted in going to a particular university, that resulted in meeting a special someone, that resulted in marrying that special someone, it feels jilted.  It feels neglected when we haven’t recognized or danced when an idea just “popped into our heads” at the right moment or when “coincidences” have lined up to give us that job we so desired, so we don’t know the dance steps.  Then, when Random shows up with a corporate downsizing, or a school shooting, or a hurricane, or that uncomfortable look on a Doctor’s face when they say, “Yes, it is malignant,” or, a global pandemic, since we haven’t learned the steps, we can feel lost and hopeless.  

Someone has said, “We make our plans and God laughs.”  That is a little cynical and the answer is not, not to make plans.  One of the dance partners is Order, and Order rewards those who plan and execute well.  It’s just that if the only dance steps we know are the ones from the Order play-set, when Random shows up demanding equal time, we won’t know the steps to, “Surprise, You’ve got Cancer,” or that familiar hit, “Crap, the Stock Market just Crashed” and  “There Goes My Retirement,” or that perennial favorite after natural disasters, “What did I do to Deserve This.” 

Learn to dance with both partners.  Dancing with Order we learn the steps to resourcefulness, diligence, fortitude, and the joy of hard work.  Dancing with Random we learn the steps to humility, wonder, curiosity, empathy, perseverance and grace. 

Welcome to Lent and enjoy the dance!    

Pastor Phil

 

 
 
 
January 2021
 
 
Dear Faith Community,

Happy New Year!

Bringing in the new year is a wonderful notion!  It is this idea that with the turn of a calendar page the difficulties of the previous year can be left behind and we get to start the next period of time with a clean slate.  Troubles are in the past and the future is unhindered, unfettered and unrestricted by the challenges, failures and troubles of the past year.

Wouldn’t that be nice!  If only it were that easy.  If it were that easy I would strongly suggest that we have several, “New Years” each year. 

Unfortunately, stepping into newness and dealing with the past is a little more difficult than giving a different number to the next period of time than the last period of time. 

Our faith gives us a sound way of dealing with the past.  It does not ask us to turn the page on it as if we are leaving it behind.  It asks us to remember.  It asks us to remember who we really are, children of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, once slaves in Egypt, children of the promise, people of the covenant, family of God, body of Christ, the baptized, and from that place of identity, to repent of any actions or values that fall outside the boundaries of that identity.  We are challenged to remember and be accountable so that we can grow and bear fruit. 

As people of faith we don’t so much make, “resolutions,” we instead pray that we will be faithful to the vision of “God’s will being done on earth.” We ask for strength to follow the call that has been placed on our lives when we decided to follow Jesus on this path, leading to “Joy to the World” and, “On earth peace. . .”   

This will be an exciting year at Faith Community!  We will do the work of remembering and of dreaming so that we are well prepared to recognize in a Pastoral candidate the gifts and passion that are necessary to lead this congregation in the next chapter of its story.  We will do the work of self-awareness, of discussing, of listening and sharing.  We will do the work of faithfulness in ministry so that the ministry of love and service continues in this time of search and call.  By next New Years you very well may have a new minister in place! 

Last year at this time, we had no idea that 2020 would be the year of a global pandemic, or, that it would be a time of racial awareness and reckoning, or, which way the political winds would blow.  Last year at this time, you had no idea that this would be the year of saying goodbye to a minister and beginning the process for choosing the next. 

We have no idea what 2021 will bring, but we can know this, that the God who has helped us through previous challenges, wars, calamities, tragedies, conflicts, and difficulties, will be with us as we face the challenges and possibilities that lie before us this year.  We got through previous difficulties by holding on to each other, by listening to the still small voice, and by believing that God is leading and guiding us.

Happy New Year! 

Pastor Phil 
 
 
 
A Message From Faith Community Council  September

Hello members and friends. 

We would like to Welcome Pastor Philip Price, his wife Vickie, and family into our fold. Again Covid19 will be playing a role in our welcome as we are still exercising social distancing.  We are anxious to experience his ideas.  Pastor Phil will be starting on September 14th, as our Leader and Teacher.  Welcome to Faith.   Here is a little introduction.
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Greetings From Pastor Philip Price, Interim Minister

I am so excited to have been selected to be your transitional minister! 

This “in-between” time is a critical time in the life of a church.  The work that we do now helps the church to know itself and to make the right choice.  Being clear on who you are is the most important factor in finding someone who will be a great match for your church.  We have remembering, dreaming and connecting to do.  Remembering will help us to mine the rich history of Faith Community UCC as there are elements of your past to be celebrated and reexamined.  Some of them may become beacons or guiding lights into your future.  Others may have lived out their purpose and are no longer expedient or necessary and must be let go to reach for ministry opportunities that are in front of us right now.  Dreaming will help us to be open to the Spirit and will remind us that God never expects us to be perfect or powerful, only available.  We will also work on strengthening the bonds between the members, with our denomination and with our community.   When Spirit meets available hearts, amazing things happen! 

My wife Vicki, and I, live in Glen Ellyn.  We have six children, most of them launched, one still in university.  And, we have five grandchildren!       

I have served large and small churches in Canada, California, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Illinois.  I have been the called minister in many of them and an Intentional Interim in several.

I am looking forward to getting to know you and together creating the vision and doing the work of discernment that will bring the next chapter of your ministry in Bensenville into being.

My start date is September the 14th, so, see you soon!

Pastor Phil

 
 
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Crossroads Kids Club at Tioga 

~ Faith Community in Action ~

One-by-one they arrive at the school – laden with curriculum notebooks – ready to show their identification – allowed to enter the fortress – coming with one purpose in mind – to share the love of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ with the Tioga Wolves! (That’s the Tioga Elementary mascot – the Wolves).
Our first afternoon of Crossroads Kids Club was a success! Nine 3rd-5th grade students attended with 13 volunteer mentor/teachers from Faith Community. This dynamic team is composed of the following people: Jan Zator, Virginia Skinkys, Kathy Dewart, Barb Seltzer, Heather Smith, Rexene Carlstrom, Sue and Keith Schmitz, Randy Putman, Leo Figueroa, Kevin DeCherrie, and Jim Hamill.
With the leadership of Pastor Catherine and Matt Armstrong (founder of Crossroads Kids Club) this tremendous team prevailed against the unexpected onslaught of PTA parents competing for space and attention while setting up their Book Fair in our shared space. But with awesome Bible storytelling, science projects, praying, singing, and dancing to the “Nae Nae” video, our Faith Community crusaders prevailed even over the offer by a mom of either soccer or Kids Club!
Energized by compassion, commitment, and craziness – this team will continue telling the story of God’s Love every Wednesday during the school year – until the last Wolves shall lie down with the lambs!
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