Message from 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 
 
 
 
 
December 2020
 
Dear Faith Community,
Are you ready for Christmas?

I was asked that question for the first time today.  Ready for Christmas?  I think the person was joking and wanted to be the first person to ask, so I smiled and lied, “Of course, I’ve been ready for weeks!”  

Ready for Christmas.  What does that mean?

Oh, I know when people ask it, it means, “Have you bought all the gifts yet that you are going to give?  Is your house all decorated and tree trimmed?  Have you got your Christmas cards sent?  Have you got your turkey, ham or tofurkey yet?”  

If that is what it means to be ready for Christmas then, no, I am nowhere near ready.   

This year I want to be ready for Christmas in a different way.  

This year I think I will be ready for Christmas when I have lifted my eyes above the horizon of my busy little life and see into the drama that God sees unfolding.  All the possibility of untraveled paths, the potential of unexpressed dreams.  

I will be ready when I allow myself to feel the pain of God as He/She sees the suffering caused by indifference and selfishness.  “The people who have walked in darkness. . .”

I will be ready when I burn with a realization that God wants to enter into the human drama by being born in a quiet corner of my life and grow and be expressed through my living.   “. . .have seen a great light.”  

I will be ready when hope flickers like a candle in a deep part of me driving out shadows of tired indifference and bored self-absorption and rises with an insistent chorus of Joy to the World! 

 

This has been a difficult year.  We have been challenged in ways that we have not been challenged before.  We have dealt with a virus that has taken many lives and has damaged our economy in significant ways.  We have dealt with viral misinformation and a resurgence in beliefs that we though had been dealt with in WW2.  There is darkness all around us and yet we are called to see light in that darkness and to live in hope.  This is a season where we talk about joy yet many of us are sad.  My prayer is that we ground ourselves in the story of Christmas and that it lifts us to places of hope, comfort and joy.  Christmas is something that we are to experience together.  Our togetherness will be different this year but it is essential that we do everything we can to create this togetherness. 

Not ready yet, but I’m getting there.

Pastor Phil

 
 
 
November 2020
 
Dear Faith Community,
November is upon us.

We are within days of an historic election.  No matter which way it goes, some will be elated, others will be devastated.  The question before us is, will we be united or untied.  The only difference in those two words is where the “i” finds itself.  I pray that the “I” finds its right place in America and we rediscover what it means to be, “we the people.”   

We are months into a global pandemic that has claimed well over two hundred thousand American lives, and we still don’t seem to have it beat.  It has affected every aspect of our lives and only by learning how to be united can we put this behind us.    

We are weeks away from Thanksgiving where we remind ourselves that in spite of these days and months we do have a lot to be thankful for.  We are weeks from Advent where we will be reminded to look for “that light that shines in the darkness,” and we begin the annual pilgrimage toward the manger.

I am so thankful for our theological moorings, our spiritual foundation as we face what feels like unprecedented threats, dangers and challenges.  We are grounded in a theology of hope, liberty, justice and compassion.    

We are sent into the world as ambassadors of truth, mercy and goodness.  The church rises and becomes its best self when facing hardships and challenges. 

This is our moment to shine! 

Blessings and Peace,

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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