Thoughts and reflections from Liberty’s Pastors

December 12, 2019

Dear Friends:

In a moving moment in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, the characters, on their last evening in Narnia, enter a small, ancient stable to discover it is far larger than expected:

“It seems that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places.”
“Yes, it’s inside is bigger than its outside.”
“Yes,” said Lucy. “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

This reawakens my heart to the sheer wonder of the incarnation.

How did those stable walls not burst so many years ago? Jesus was bigger than all creation, bigger than the universe itself, and yet came to us as a vulnerable infant, born in a stable in the backwoods of Bethlehem. And He comes to us again this season – the Emmanuel, God with us, the very Savior of the world – wreathed in flesh and warm in our waiting arms.

May we take a few moments this Advent to ponder this great gift of love and open our hearts to welcome Him anew.

As Phillips Brooks writes in the familiar Christmas carol:

No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

With all Advent Blessings,
Becky

December 5, 2019

Dear Friends:

As Christmas grows ever closer, I find myself drawn to the prophecies in the Old Testament that give us a picture of the life-changing (world changing!) impact of the birth of Christ. The One whose birth split history in two still comes to us now – this day – to transform our lives. Listen to how Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, describes Jesus’ coming (Luke 1:67-80):

By the tender mercy of our God,
The dawn from on high will break upon us,
To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.

Christ is our dawn – He is our bright morning star (2 Peter 1:19).  Through all the busyness of these next Advent weeks, may we experience His dawn in a new, transforming way.

In the peace & light of the Emmanuel,
Becky

November 28, 2019

Dear Friends:
On this Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to offer an alphabet of thanks…

A is for the Amazing Grace of our great God
B is the Buckeyes (What else could it be?!)
C is for Counting our blessings, great and small
D is for Deacons, who greet us every Sunday with a smile
E is for Elders who lead us with energy and grace
F is for fellowship around the table
G is for Gift – the gift of God’s only Son
H is for His Place, and sharing a warm meal
I is for Integrity, living as the persons we are called to be
J is for Jesus, who walks with us each day
K is for Kingdom – May God establish His here on earth
L is for Liberty and the Love that we find here
M is for Mary & Martha – who remind us to stop and listen to Jesus even in all our busyness
N is for Neighbor – the person we hope you’ll invite to worship
O is for the Open Arms church we partner with in El Olvido!
P is for Pickle Jar – making a difference to those in need
Q is for Quotidian* – the everyday moments for which we stop and give thanks
R is for Rotation Workshop – Our great Sunday children’s program
S is for Stephen Ministers – Ready to be a caring friend
T is for Thanksgiving – John & I give thanks for you each day
U is for that great promise: “Underneath are the everlasting arms” (Dt. 33:27)
V is for Vision to lead our church ever forward
W is for Wholehearted – giving 100% to the Lord
X is for Christ, the first Greek letter of His Name
Y is for the Youth that spill out of every corner of our building
Z is for zeal- Never be lacking in zeal says Paul! (Romans 12:11)

(* – Okay, you come up with a better Q word!)

This is my alphabet of thanks – you may want to write your own!

This Thanksgiving, John and I give thanks for each of you and the blessing that Liberty is in our lives. Traveling mercies on those who journey this holiday, and may we remember that Jesus joins us at every meal.

Blessings,
Becky

November 21, 2019

November 14, 2019

“Do good, be rich in good works, be generous and ready to share….” ~1 Timothy 6:18

Dear Friends:
Our youngest child did a semester studying abroad in Italy (okay, studying may be a stretch). She traveled with friends on the weekends to all sorts of amazing places all over Europe. She took every train and flew every discount airline (which made my mother’s heart pound) and stayed in hostels that were an adventure in themselves. One was even called The Funny Farm. I guess for 20 bucks a night you can’t be picky! She kept a blog of all these adventures, full of stories from her travels and photographs of the highlights (Emily and friends in the tree that the Sound of Music children swung from…Emily and friends eating gelato…you get the idea!)

I still love reading the blog of her adventures, except for one thing: There is always a mom reference that is guilt- inducing. She’ll show a photo of everyone eating pizza and say, Yes, Mom, we are making sure to get protein, too. Or she’ll show the hostel and note: Yes Mom, we always lock the doors. Or: No, Mom, we don’t talk to strangers! There is barely an entry without my name on it – and not in a good way!

It is stewardship time at Liberty, and I realize that for some of us, that feels a bit guilt-inducing. Hearing about giving makes us all squirm a little…. Sex and politics are no longer verboten topics in everyday discourse, but how we give our money remains a private topic. And we think we know what everyone else is thinking about us! So, in the privacy of reading this Link here are two things to consider:

  1. Pray about your giving. It’s okay not to want to talk about it with others but do discuss it with God!
  2. Remember that as we talk about stewardship, we are always referring to both our treasure and our talents, to both how we give funds and how we give of our time.
    Please know that we are deeply appreciative of your gift of time. And the good news is that it doesn’t cost a thing!

Friends, stewardship is everything we give to the Lord – and that includes our time, our talents, and our money. Know that as you give in any way that you can, it will be a blessing not only to you, but to others.

Digging into Liberty with you,
Becky

November 7, 2019

“Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” ~2 Corinthians 5:17

Dear Friends:

I have been thinking a lot about front porches lately. In a divided world, and in the midst of such divisive politics, I miss the front porch community my grandparents had. Every evening after supper, we would sit out on the front porch swing and greet neighbors as they walked up and down the street. Sometimes they would come up and “sit awhile”, other times they would wave and call out a greeting and keep on strolling. Sometimes there were even jars of jam or green beans or other fresh veggies exchanged from the back garden. But there was always community – always folks greeting one another. And yes, it wasn’t Hallmark perfect – my oh-so Presbyterian grandmother would occasionally whisper, “She’s Catholic!” in my ear as someone passed (I suppose as we whisper our political party these days). But there was still conversation and a sense that folks were together.

So now is the time to do the work of faith: to build community, to share grace and love and even forgiveness. Now is the time to listen and to reach across the chasm to build bridges with one another – particularly those who are different than us – in political views, in race, ethnicity, abilities, or background. Which doesn’t mean that we abandon our philosophical differences; it just means we focus on all we hold in common. And make sure that everyone knows that they, too, are a part of the neighborhood.

Walking this path with you,
Becky

October 31, 2019

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JOHN

Dear Friends,
As we come to the end of our 2018-2019 RENEW campaign, a look around our campus shows the result of extensive building:

  • The Barn has been completely re-sided—and beautified!
  • The Youth Room has been renovated, becoming a welcoming space for our busy youth ministry.
  • Fearing Hall is nearing completion as a renovated and comfortable meeting space for groups and classes.
  • The entire HVAC system in the Barn—from boilers to chiller to thermostats—has been completely replaced and updated.
  • The offices in the Administration building are also enjoying new central HVAC. (No more window AC units!)
  • Our parking lots are well-illuminated with new and improved lighting.

It has been a busy and productive two years.   The Session wants to thank all of you for your generous support of the RENEW initiative. Now that the cranes, backhoes, mixers, and crews have finished their work, we want to invite you to personally dig into Liberty.

Dig into Liberty. 

Liberty offers dozens of missions, studies, groups, and opportunities for you to dig into your faith.  Did you know:

  • 3,000 people worshipped at Liberty last Christmas Eve.
  • More than 150 people participated in our 2019 Walls Builds.
  • Every week there are 14 Bible studies that meet for middle-schoolers through adults.
  • Our Vacation Bible School donated over 300 backpack “comfy kits” for foster
    children in Central Ohio this summer.
  • 60 young people were confirmed in 2018-2019.
  • Liberty’s Deacons, in addition to greeting you every Sunday at the door, host coffee hour, make & deliver meals for those who are home after an illness, practice to make sure Liberty is safe, and have more fun at meetings than anyone realizes.
  • 110 New Members joined Liberty in 2018-2019.
  • The Pickle Jar distributed more than $28,000 to residents of the Delaware community who needed emergency financial assistance.
  • Liberty Early Education Center was chosen as best preschool in Delaware for 2019 for the second year in a row.
  • All those children on the stage every Sunday!

God is doing so much in and through Liberty Church. As you consider your financial support for God’s work at Liberty in 2020, we invite you to dig into Liberty – to make a spiritual investment that will last eternally.

Serving Jesus with you,
John

P.S.  As always, I encourage you to send in a pledge card so that the Session can do its best job in planning and prioritizing our life and work together in the coming year.

October 24, 2019

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JOHN

Dear Friends:

Over the past two years, the Session has been taking actions to increase the safety of our campus in the unlikely event of an active shooter. While we have never had an incident in over 200 years here as a church, the safety, security and overall preparedness of our members and staff is a top priority of the Session. The Session believes that creating a conscientious plan that is continuously reviewed and updated, and regularly practicing safety procedures, will help prepare our church in case of an emergency.

Liberty members should be aware of the four most important pieces of the Session’s security plan:

1) Doors to the Barn and to the Administration Building are locked on Sunday mornings after worship begins.  Volunteer door monitors let in latecomers and are prepared to alert the church of a threatening situation.

2) Door monitors, elders, deacons, staff and Church School teachers all carry alert whistles with them on Sunday mornings.  If they see something that is suspicious or threatening, they will blow their whistles.  If they hear someone else blow a whistle, they will also blow their whistles.  The sound of a whistle means we are in an active shooter situation.

3) If you hear an alert whistle (or you see something suspicious or threatening), please respond immediately with the “Run – Hide – Fight” protocol:

  • RUN: Exit the building as quickly as possible and leave Liberty’s property immediately, using 315 or Home Road.  Continue until you are in a safe place off church property.  Do not use your car.  To assist arriving police officers, do not carry your cell phone in your hand.
  • HIDE: If you are unable to leave the building safely, find a place to hide.  Use everything possible to create a barricade against the entrance to your hiding place.
  • FIGHT: If you are not able to exit or hide, use everything possible to resist the shooter – Bibles, benches, cushions, purses, keys, etc. In addition – as it is possible and safe to do so – pull any of the church’s fire alarms and/or call 9-1-1.

4) The Church School has a clearly defined protocol for infants, toddlers, and children in classrooms.  Do not attempt to reach your child – the teachers will prevent anyone from trying to reach them.

The Session encourages every Liberty member to be mentally prepared for an active aggressor incident, specifically:
review your normal routine at church on Sunday mornings.

 

  • Where are the closest exits for all the places you occupy?
  • Where are the best/closest hiding spaces?
  • What barricade materials are close at hand?
    (e.g. chairs, tables, boxes, benches, etc.)
  • What materials are available to fight against an intruder?
    E.g. items you can throw (Bibles, bench cushions, keys); items you can strike with (folding chairs, candle stands, etc.)

Again, we all know this is a highly unlikely scenario, but it is sensible to be prepared.  If you have any questions about Liberty’s security protocols, please contact me.

Serving Jesus with you,
Pastor John

October 17, 2019

Dear Friends:

“Now is the time for turning.” It is fall, and as we watch the leaves turn, we are reminded of the changes needed in our own lives. Our Jewish friends have just celebrated the holy day of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement. (Which I always remember as “at-one-ment” – confessing our sins and making ourselves one again with the Lord.) In the liturgy for this sacred observance, we find these profound words:

Now is the time for turning. The leaves are beginning to turn from green to red to orange. The birds are beginning to turn and are heading once more toward the south. The animals are beginning to turn to storing their food for the winter. For leaves, birds and animals, turning comes instinctively. But for us, turning does not come so easily. It takes an act of will for us to make a turn. It means breaking old habits. It means admitting that we have been wrong, and this is never easy. It means losing face. It means starting all over again. And this is always painful. It means saying I am sorry. It means recognizing that we have the ability to change. These things are terribly hard to do. But unless we turn, we will be trapped forever in yesterday’s ways.”

May we find the courage to turn from fear to faith, from callousness to kindness, from indifference to passion for serving our Lord.

With Fall Blessings,
Becky

October 10, 2019

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You….
I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step, You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days.
(Lyrics by Rich Mullins)

Dear Friends:

Tradition tells us that there was a special blessing in Jesus’ time that went: “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” In the first century, a rabbi’s students would follow him along the dusty roads of ancient Israel and would be covered by the dust kicked up by their rabbi’s feet as he led them. These followers traveled with their rabbis just as the disciples followed Jesus from place to place. Think about the stories of the gospels – Jesus calls the disciples to follow Him – and they drop everything to follow. Jesus walks from village to village, teaching, preaching, healing, and the disciples follow him, step by step in their well-worn sandals, hoping to gain some of His wisdom, his spirit, his power, his love.

Hence this ancient blessing, which meant that not only may you follow your teacher, but may you follow so closely that you are covered with the dust of His feet.

Friends may you follow the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life so closely, you are covered with the dust of his feet.

With Fall Blessings,
Becky

October 3, 2019

Dear Friends:
I hope you have had an opportunity to walk Liberty’s prayer labyrinth! Our labyrinth, by the Pathway to the Son, was given in memory of two beloved Liberty members, Brian and Megan Casey.

The labyrinth is an ancient way of prayer and meditation. Becoming popular in the Middle Ages, those who could not make the holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem used the symbolic prayer walk of the labyrinth. Chartres Cathedral in France has perhaps the most famous labyrinth of our time.

You will notice that this circular prayer path moves you slowly toward the center – and toward God. At the very center of our labyrinth is this Bible verse: “Be still and know that I am God.” ~Psalm 46:10. We invite you to do just that!

People who have difficulty sitting still to pray often find that walking and praying is helpful. If you tend to get distracted mid-prayer (and many of us do!), the labyrinth literally keeps you “on track.” When I walk the labyrinth, I recite short verses to myself, such as:

  • “Teach me your way, O Lord,” Psalm 27:11 or
  • “The Lord is near to all who call on Him.” Psalm 145
  • I also love to pray this promise from Psalm 116:
    Because He bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath.

A common prayer practice in a labyrinth is to pray for your “own” on the way in (family members, close friends) and pray for other people and places on the way out.

We are so excited to deepen our prayer lives through this beautiful labyrinth. Special thanks to Tom Wood and Wood Landscaping for their construction of the labyrinth.

With Prayers & Blessings,
Becky

P.S. Brochures to further your labyrinth walk are available in the Church Office, or here on the church website.

September 26, 2019

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” ~Luke 15

Dear Friends:

One of my favorite stories in scripture is known as The Parable of the Prodigal Son. Although, it is really the story of two prodigal sons—and one amazingly grace-filled father. You know the story, the focus is on the runaway son who demands his inheritance now so he can spend it on wine, women and song (or something like that!). Then there is the grumpy older brother, who is resentful of his younger brother, and I am guessing anyone who is not as “righteous” as he.

And the father? When the youngest son finally runs out of options and returns home, his father runs to him with open arms. Place yourself in that moment—and picture our heavenly father running to you with wide open arms. The son is welcomed home with a feast—not only literally, but in every sense of the word—a feast of forgiveness and love and grace by his overjoyed father. And the grace-impaired elder son? The father begs him to join in the feast, but he refuses.

The father in the parable then tells this resentful son, “Everything I have is yours.” Pause on that a moment—Everything – Everything I have is yours. This is a promise not only to two beloved sons, but to each of us. Everything in God’s hands is given to us—mercy, grace, unfailing love, unending faithfulness, new life.

How would your life be different today if you really believed God was saying these words to you?

With Fall Blessings,
Becky

September 19, 2019

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KYLE

Dear Friends:

This past weekend, I was serving with 12 other Liberty members with CrossRoads Missions in Louisville, Kentucky. One of the things I like most about serving—particularly as a church—is that it gives me new perspective on how other people are seeking to live out their faith in their own communities. An effective way of sharing the good news of Jesus in Delaware doesn’t always work elsewhere. Serving others, knowing their challenges and how they sought to overcome them, seeing their resilience in action inspires me to come home and face my own challenges head on.

One church we served, Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church, had one of these inspirational stories. An historic church in a declining neighborhood, it had been scheduled for closure more than 20 years ago. But God had other plans. A new pastor came along and brought with her new ideas. Their historic church building burned to the ground ten years ago last winter. But God had other plans. With the help of other churches in the area, they bought the abandoned storefront next door, converted it into a church, and added space for other ministries, too. It’s stories like these that confirm for me that God is bound and determined to set the Gospel loose in our world.

So often, I find that serving others—holding out the hope of Jesus for others—leads to a fresh injection of hope in my own life. If you’re looking for a place to serve, I invite you to find a member of our mission committee and ask about how you can serve others as part of the Liberty family. I promise you’ll do more than serve others, you will find your own faith strengthened, too.

Grace and peace,
Kyle

September 12, 2019

Dear Friends:

Our fall sermon series, Words to Live By, will explore those passages of scripture that capture the core of our faith – and that our pastors are passionate about! We will discover together how the Bible is not just full of words to consider – but words that are life-changing. As the Rev. Tim Keller observes, “The gospel is good news, not good advice.” Scripture is a map for life, and together we will study that map through powerful passages from both the Old and New Testaments. Together, we hope to live out that great commandment from Deuteronomy 6:5-9:

You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

May we write these words on our hearts.
Blessings,
Becky

PS: Work continues the Old Hall – soon to be transformed into Fearing Hall! Here are a few photos of our progress!

  

September 5, 2019

FROM THE YOUTH NOMINATING COMMITTEE:

Dear Friends:

On September 24, 2017, the congregation elected the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC), charged with finding a successor to Todd Tracy in our Youth position. We agreed from the start to search both for ordained pastors focused in youth ministry as well as non-ordained youth directors.

We advertised the job opportunity widely:

  • At five Presbyterian seminaries (Princeton, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Chicago & Dubuque) and at three other seminaries
    (Fuller Seminary, plus the Methodist and Lutheran seminaries in Columbus).
  • At 20 Christian colleges in the Midwest which offer majors in ministry.
  • On five youth ministry job-sites, as well as on Indeed.com.
  • Becky, John, and Kyle reached out to their contacts to identify possible candidates.
  • John & Becky conducted interviews at Princeton Seminary.

Here was our process:

  • Since January 2018, the APNC received 176 résumés.
  • If a résumé showed promise, we asked applicants to submit answers to six supplemental questions.
    (27 applicants were sent these questions)
  • If the APNC continued to be interested, a 45-minute interview was scheduled.
    (11 candidates were interviewed)
  • If the candidate was still viable, reference checks were made (for four candidates).
  • Finally, our top-ranked candidates were invited to spend a weekend in Columbus for further interviews.
  • Throughout this process while the APNC was evaluating candidates, candidates were also evaluating the available position at Liberty – and specifically if they truly wanted a youth position.

After 20 months of searching:

The Associate Pastor Nominating Committee enthusiastically recommends that the Session hire Tanya Karn, Liberty’s interim Director of Youth & Family Ministries, to become our Director of Youth & Family Ministries.

Tanya has been involved with Liberty’s youth ministry since 2015 as a youth assistant, and as interim Director since 2017 (her husband of three years, R.H., has been a youth assistant at Liberty since 2010). Tanya has a real and contagious Christian faith and has done a strong job leading our youth over the past two years. We believe she will continue to provide very positive and faithful leadership in the coming years.

We thank the congregation for the opportunity to serve in this important role.

Brenda Lucas, Chair
Brad Carleton  
Anna Gardner 
Angie Hurd 
Mike Kivett
Tracey Scott
Pastor John Hart

August 29, 2019

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving. ~Colossians 3:23-4 

Dear Friends:

How did you all start out in the world of work?

On this Labor Day weekend, I can’t help but think about the various jobs that I have held over the years. My first job, when I was 13, was babysitting. I earned 50 cents an hour and all the cookies I could eat.  Then my last summer before college, I was hired as a waitress at the local Big Boy’s restaurant.  I worked the night shift, from 4;00 in the afternoon until midnight four nights a week. Of course, there were perks to the job… I was given a free uniform. Remember the old Brownie uniform? That’s kind of what my waitress outfit looked like: brown skirt, white blouse, with a little orange bow tie. The crowning touch was the hairnet over my cool Jane Fonda haircut (!).

But I did learn a lot that summer.

I learned how to balance five plates at once without using a tray, how to keep smiling even when being called out by a customer, and I learned a lot about money that summer.  I learned that teenagers rarely tip, business folks tip fairly well, and truckers tip best of all.  All in all, it was a fruitful summer.

On this Labor Day weekend, I find myself turning to Paul’s words to the church at Colossae:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord….”

The priest Benedict (@500 A.D.) took Pauls’ words seriously, reminding his fellow monks that everything they did – from the dishes to weeding the community garden – was God’s work and therefore holy. Even the rake in their hands was holy. A mom in her blog recently reflected on this idea: “I take the sponge and rinse it in the sink. Nothing in this kitchen is all that special. I’ve been living as if my daily, mundane tasks—the brushing of my son’s teeth, the kissing of his scraped knees—as if they were nothing significant. I’m mesmerized by St. Benedict’s words…. Suddenly my life, the very sippy cup I fill with milk and raise to my boy’s lips, is an instrument of worship. How did I miss it before? How was I so sure that God did not value my unimpressive daily life?” 

What are the tools of your trade?

A stethoscope? Keyboard? Truck? Needle & thread? Your sales pitch? Heavy textbooks in your backpack? iPad? All are holy.

All work matters to God.  May we do it all for the Lord.

Blessings,
Becky

August 22, 2019

So, God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. ~Genesis 1:21

Dear Friends:
This Sunday at 10:00 a.m. is Blessing of the Animals! Liberty will be the host to a wagging, squirming, wriggling, fluttering array of beloved creatures. The Bible reminds us that in the beauty and diversity and complexity of the natural world, we see the hand of the Creator.

Father Zosima, in The Brothers Karamazov, exhorts his congregation:

“Brothers…love all creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”

We bring our pets to worship to receive a blessing.  We, of course, are blessed in turn: blessed by our pet’s faithfulness, affection, care. We are blessed by how they expand our family and our hearts.  The German mystic, Meister Eckhart, proclaimed:

“Every creature is full of God and is a book about God.”  

Amen!

Please join us for this furry, feathered, finned celebration – and invite a friend!

Blessings,
Becky

August 15, 2019

Dear Friends:

What a great Heritage Sunday! Many thanks to everyone who helped to make it happen – and who celebrated 209 years on the banks of the Olentangy River with us.

We have some more amazing August Sundays coming up! This Sunday, August 18, is Rally Day with “Touch-a-Truck”, Food Trucks, a Bounce House, Blessing of the Backpacks, and information on 101 ways to grow in faith and outreach thru Liberty. Then on the 25th, it is Blessing of the Animals – with our own St. Francis!

So, what’s the catch? It’s all a celebration – but we are also hoping that you will take advantage of these special Sundays to invite a friend. In fact, I’d like you to think of these coming Sundays as “Friend Days” – where we share the joy by inviting someone to join us.

The single most effective way to grow the church is by the power of a one on one invitation. Church consultants say that 80% of the people in a church first came “because a friend or relative invited them”. George Gallup Jr. surveyed non-churchgoers and was surprised to find that “70% of all people who do not now attend a church responded that if someone invited them, they would react favorably”.  Contrast these statistics with another statistic found in a recent Presbyterian publication, which concluded that “the average Presbyterian invites a friend to worship once every 24 years”. (No wonder we are known as the frozen chosen!) Do take the time to invite a friend, a newcomer to the neighborhood, a new face at the office, to join us in one of these special worship services and to discover (maybe for the first time) God’s great love for them in Jesus Christ.

See you Sunday!

Blessings,
Becky

Thank you to the Second Stringers and Fellowship Team for a great Heritage Sunday and Chicken BBQ! Special thanks to our Fellowship Elders Kristopher Steele, Angie Campbell and Melinda Wood, and to our firepit crew: Kris Steele, Jim Beck, Kevin Futryk, Jim Hardy, Todd, Griffin & Bennett Koehn, Gary Ufferman, and Wayne Wentz.

August 8, 2019

Dear Friends:

You have seen the headlines:

“Ohio Comes Together to Mourn Shooting Victims” (Columbus Dispatch)
“Carnage Numbs Nation” (The Star Tribune)
“Shaking a Bewildered Nation to its Core” (NY Times)
“Sorrow, Anger: Nation Mourns“ (USA Today)

The events of these last days are bewildering, heart-breaking, impossible to comprehend.

How can there be such hatred, such violence? How can it happen here in our great nation, over and over again? Why? What can be done? We are almost numb to the violence these days…almost. But then we watch parts of the scene or read about the victims, and something shatters inside of us.

Scripture speaks to our hearts, even in this.

Especially in this. There are times in our lives and in our nation when lament is the only response possible. I find myself turning to Psalm 137“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” and Dayton, and El Paso, and Orlando, and Parkland, and….

We often don’t know how to respond.

But, as followers of Christ, we can respond in love. We can pray. We can send help. We can build bridges with people who are different than us. We can decry racist chants and inflammatory oratory. We can speak up. We can extend the circle of Jesus’ embrace.

Above all, let us pray for those who have lost loved ones. I also want us to pray for our nation. We are people who have hope in Christ even when the worst happens. Let’s hold onto that hope and share it with those with whom we come into contact, with love and grace.

Lord, we are in shock and grief. The hatred and violence of this past week is so dark that it takes our breath away. We pray for the families and friends of those who died. Help them to know your hope and care even when the grief feels unbearable. Be with the injured as well. Heal them. Surround them with your comfort and care. We thank you for our first-responders and police and medical personnel, and all who rushed in to save countless lives. Comfort us as we lean on your love and compassion in the face of this deep loss. In Christ, who is our Hope. Amen.

Blessings,
Becky

August 1, 2019

“Do not come any closer,” God said (to Moses). “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3)

Dear Friends:

It is so exciting to see the construction work going on inside the Old Hall!  By the time the Hall is finished this fall, it will no longer be an Old Hall.  It will be the newly renovated “Fearing Hall”, named after longtime Liberty member Doris Fearing. It will also be a reminder of the faithful, faith-filled, ongoing commitment of each of you to Liberty, and to Liberty’s ever-growing mission and ministries. Great learning, sharing, fellowship and, yes, a million meetings will unfold in that renewed space.  Talk about holy ground.

Whenever Liberty is undergoing a construction project, (and we’ve had quite a few!), I turn to C.S. Lewis, who reminds us that it is not only our buildings that are under construction.  Each of us, as believers, are under construction, too. Lewis writes:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Now THAT is a construction project!

See you under the oaks this Sunday,

With Warm Summer Blessings,
Becky